On this day…9 November

By 9 November 1919 Joyce had fixed on the style for ‘Nausicaa.’

Having completed ‘Cyclops’ before leaving Zurich, Joyce started into the next episode of Ulysses, ‘Nausicaa,’ on his return to post-war Trieste, despite the unpleasant conditions in which he found himself living.

Unable to find a flat in overcrowded post-war Trieste, Joyce and his family moved into a small apartment already occupied by his brother Stanislaus, his sister Eileen and her husband and children. The Scuola Revoltella, where Joyce had taught before the war, had now become the Istituto di Commercio ‘Revoltella’ and Joyce was re-employed there, but he found the prospect of returning to teaching ‘damn unpleasant.’

Joyce also found Trieste boring after the life he had enjoyed in Zurich. There was plenty of good opera in town but Joyce couldn’t go as someone had sold his dress suit and he couldn’t afford a new one. Stanislaus, released after four years of internment in Austria during the war, had too much to do and was too keen on enjoying life with his own friends to take any interest in Joyce or Ulysses.

Perhaps the most significant difference between Zurich and Trieste was the absence of Frank Budgen. In Zurich, Budgen had been Joyce’s sounding board, someone with whom he explored and discussed his ideas about Ulysses as he was writing. Now, back in Trieste, Joyce discovered the ‘great privation’ of living without Budgen near at hand, and in the letters he wrote to Budgen, he’s always asking if Budgen can possibly come to Trieste. ‘Writing Ulysses,’ he told Budgen, ‘is a tough job enough without all this trouble.’

By 9 November 1919 Joyce had figured out the style he wanted to use for the ‘Nausicaa’ episode, though he wrote to Budgen around that time to say he had not written a word of ‘Nausicaa’ ‘beyond notation of flapper’s atrocities and general plan of the specially new fizzing style,’ to which he appends a mock Patent Number. Despite the unpleasantness of life in Trieste, Joyce started writing ‘Nausicaa’ and by 3 January 1920 he could tell Budgen that he had written less than half of it and was hoping to have it finished by his birthday, 2 February.

That letter of 3 January also contained a more detailed description of the style Joyce was employing for ‘Nausicaa,’ a ‘namby-pamby jammy marmalady drawersy (alto là) style with effects of incense, Mariolatry, masturbation, stewed cockles, painter’s palette, chit chat, circumlocution, etc., etc.’ A couple of days later Joyce also wrote to his Aunt Josephine asking her for details of the Star of the Sea church and surrounding area for use in ‘Nausicaa.’


Sources & Further Reading:

Ellmann, Richard: James Joyce – new and revised edition, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982.

Joyce, James: Letters of James Joyce, vol. I edited by Stuart Gilbert, London: Faber & Faber, 1957.

Norburn, Roger: A Chronology of James Joyce, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004.


Note: In his correspondence, Joyce mostly uses the spelling ‘Nausikaa’ but in the schemata he gave to Carlo Linati and Stuart Gilbert he uses ‘Nausicaa,’ the spelling now generally used.