28 April 2005


In February 1912, just as he turned 30, Joyce was unable to pay the rent on his rooms in Trieste, and with the sword of eviction hanging over his head, gave a couple of lectures at the Universita Popolare to earn a few bob. He took as his subjects the two English writers he most admired, William Blake and Daniel Defoe. Much occupied as he was with questions of national characteristics and cultural identity, he zeroed in on Defoe's everyman, Robinson Crusoe, with the contention that Crusoe was Englishness incarnate:

...the manly independence, the unconscious cruelty, the persistence, the slow but effective intelligence, the sexual apathy, the practical and well-balanced religiosity, the calculating silence.

There is Anthony Blair in a nutshell, I realise.


Anonymous said...

Wow. That really IS Tony Blair. J

Anonymous said...

Sexual apathy? Surely that's a bit lazy. This is a man still interested in sleeping with his wife when most with a similar work-load would struggle to get interested in a fling/mistress/secretary.

sbs said...

Interesting, anon. Bracket that phrase if you like. The parallels are of course inexact. I wonder what Joyce's Italian was for that. I take him to be talking of an English aversion to sexual discourse, not marital intercourse.