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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Obituary for James Joyce's grandson

James Joyce statue on North Earl Street near its junction with O'Connell Street in Dublin, by sculptor Marjorie FitzGibbon. Creative Commons photo. 

I meant to blog about this earlier; Stephen Joyce, the last surviving direct descendant of James Joyce and the famous author's grandson, died on Jan. 23, and the New York Times ran an interesting obituary.   The obit says Stephen Joyce was "the formidably rigid gatekeeper of that Irish author’s coveted literary estate."

This seems to be a charitable way of putting it. The Times obit offers some examples of how Stephen Joyce performed his "gatekeeper" duties:

He rejected the request of one author whose work was being published by Purdue University because he deemed the nickname of Purdue’s sports teams, the Boilermakers, to be vulgar.

When a 23-year-old Irish composer wanted to use 18 words from what his request identified as “Finnegan’s Wake,” Mr. Joyce’s denial arrived accompanied by a spelling lesson (“Its ‘Finnegans Wake,’” he wrote back, apparently deliberately misspelling “it’s”), and added, to boot, “To put it politely and mildly, my wife and I don’t like your music.”

In 1989, Mr. Joyce required Brenda Maddox, the author of “Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom,” to delete an epilogue on Lucia Joyce in exchange for permission to quote other Joyce material in the book.

In 2000, the Joyce estate demanded a royalty payment of $40,000 for a public reading of a letter from Beckett to Joyce to celebrate Bloomsday. The Beckett estate had asked for $30.

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