How the god (No) disappeared from Dublin – de Gruen Amsterdammer

James Joyce, 1926

Bernice Abbott / Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

“Ulysses” One angry reviewer wrote shortly after the book was published, “full of horrible and disgusting blasphemies against the Christian faith and against the holy name of Christ—until recently blasphemy was associated with the most pernicious satanic orgies and black sin.”

in Joyce Ulysses Christianity is ruthlessly mocked and mocked and in conservative, primitive Catholic Ireland not everyone found this interesting. “The appalling blasphemy of blood” was criticized by many critics. Joyce, another reviewer, protested Describe Not only sin to the Holy Spirit, encourage her

These reactions may seem a bit exaggerated today, even considering the two main characters in Ulysses, Stephen Daedalus and Leopold Bloom, both convinced atheists – Bloom also has a Jewish father – and that other Dublin residents could hardly make up a sentence without taking God’s name in vain. by Christ, A drunken barber yells about Bloom, I’ll think of that bloody man for using the holy name. Jesus, I will crucify him.

Ulysses It begins with the rebellious Buck Mulligan performing a parody of the Divine Liturgy over a bowl of shaving cream: Raise the bowl high and pass: Introibo ad altare Dei. The novel culminates in a fictional black mass – “Introduction to Altari Diapoli” Mulligan shouts here, clutching a blood-stained wafer – ending with a dreamy monologue by Molly Bloom, passionately fantasizing about sex with a priest.

“I left the Catholic Church six years ago, because I hate her so badly,” Joyce wrote to his girlfriend Nora Barnacle in 1904 (he would be 22 years old). Now, he tells her, “I am making war on her with everything I write, say, and do.” Because of his hatred of the church, he did not want to marry Nora, and they did not marry until 1931 for tax reasons. They did not baptize their children, and when Joyce was dying and Nora’s priest asked if he would like to receive the last rites, she said, “No, I can’t do that to him.”

He liked to compare himself to Jesus

Joyce may have hated the church, but the hateful relationship is still one. On the one hand, he often and forcefully declared his hatred of Roman Catholicism. He found the fortunes of the Church abhorrent and dismissed the Catholic rites as “superstition and idolatry”. He once said, “The church is an old whore, a whore who presents herself surrounded by perfume, songs, flowers and music.” At the same time, he also found the splendor of the church impressive and loved to attend mass – for aesthetic reasons, he said, not for religious ones. When someone once asked him exactly when he left the church, he replied: “Only the church can say that.”

Joyce, like almost everyone in Ireland, attended Catholic schools. He studied at the Catholic University and had a deep knowledge of church doctrine, the Bible, and catechism. Throughout his life, he remained interested in church history and the life philosophy of theologians such as Saint Thomas Aquinas and Irish saints.

Religion remained deeply entrenched in his thinking – you can’t get eggs out of a cake once you bake them. Indeed, Joyce celebrates in Ulysses Sacrilege as a kind of blasphemous high priest, however, is peppered with religious ideas and metaphors. Joyce’s characters endlessly discuss (apostate) bishops, saints, and atheism. The book is from an astonishing number of priests, many of whom are not portrayed very favorably, and the penultimate chapter is written as a parody of catechism. One angry reviewer wrote: “Only a man who was once a Catholic can be so poisonous against God, against the Eucharist, and against the Virgin Mary.”

Professors have been arguing for decades about whether Joyce’s attitude toward the church was rebellious or simply an admiration for the faith. One does not exclude the other. TS Eliot once complained about the lack of “first-class blasphemy” in literature, because it only stems from genuine religious conviction. “Unbelief depends on faith,” said author J.K. Chesterton. “If anyone doubts this, let them try to think of blasphemous thoughts about Thor.”

What is certain is that Joyce thought of his career as a writer from a religious perspective. He liked to compare himself with Jesus (although outwardly he looked more like a devil; a neighbor in Zurich called him “Hare the Devil”) and was fascinated by the similarities between the artist and the figure of Christ. At the end of the autobiographical novel, A painting by the artist in his youth Where we read how Stephen Daedalus turned away from the church, Joyce compared the artist to God: “The artist, like the God of creation, remains within, behind, above or above his handiwork, invisible, polished from existence, indifferent, mating his nails.”

Or as he wrote to his brother Stanislaus, “Don’t you think what I do is a lot like the Divine Liturgy?”

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