James Joyce in Australia

by
June 1982, no. 41
'James Joyce in Australia' by D.J. O'Hearn

James Joyce in Australia

by
June 1982, no. 41

If James Joyce had ever visited Australia it is unlikely that he would have come up with anything like D.H. Lawrence’s Kangaroo. For one thing, as with most Irishmen, his interest in landscape was negligible; for another, his sense of play and his myopia would not have allowed him to romanticise the great Australian bush, much Jess the suburban sprawl. He might have felt somewhat at ease in the ‘Loo or the Rocks area, in Gertrude Street, Fitzroy or Little Dorritt Street in Carlton, or perhaps by the Yarra at Burnley. But why fantasise? The man who had to scrounge and borrow to pay his fare from Dublin to Trieste, who lived most of his life in extreme poverty and on handouts from friends, could not have afforded the passage to Australia, even had he wished. (He did, however, once apply for a job with the South African civil service.) Of his three major (and dozens of minor) money-making schemes – busking at the seaside resorts of England, establishing the first cinema in Dublin, and securing the Donegal Tweed licence for Trieste – only the latter came to reality and, to his surprise, few of the denizens of that polyglot city rushed to bedeck themselves in Irish tweed. Joyce, it appears, was not much of a traveller, a businessman, or an economic genius.

'James Joyce in Australia' by D.J. O'Hearn

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