Friday, May 21, 2010

James Joyce | Ulysses | 1922

Dear Bags Comisky,

It must have been Richard Ellmann who suggested that Joyce settled his father’s scores by creating characters who were unflattering portraits of people who’d wronged him. In the Eumaeus chapter of Ulysses, when Leopold and Stephen pass behind the Customhouse (a spot I've visited just to be where you were mentioned!), Leopold informs Stephen that Bags Comisky, who he believes Stephen knows, “was lagged the night before last and fined ten bob for a drunk and disorderly and refusing to go with the constable.”

Since we share the same last name, I wanted to thank you for providing me with a topic for cocktail parties when conversation is faltering, a topic that usually convinces people I'm a self-absorbed bore, and for providing me with a nickname for one of my nephews, who regularly gets hauled off to jail for being drunk and disorderly. Whatever you did to John Joyce to make it into Ulysses, I’m glad it wasn’t bad enough for you to be portrayed as the old pervert in “An Encounter.”

Stay warm,
Kurt Cumiskey