James Joyce's Epiphanies

Reading two pages apiece of seven books a night, eh? I was young. You bowed to yourself in the mirror, stepping forward to applause earnesly, striking face. Hurray for the Goddamned idiot! Hray! No-one saw: tell no-one. Books you were going to write with letters for titles. Have you read his F? O yes, but I prefer Q. Yes, but W is wonderful. O yes, W. Remember your epiphanies written on green oval leaves, deeply deep, copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world, including Alexandria? Someone was to read them there after a few thousand years, a mahamanvantara. Pico della Mirandola like. Ay, very like a whale. When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once...... -Ulysses

a spiritual state very like to that cardiac condition which the Italian physiologist Luigi Galvani. Limits of the diaphane. including Alexandria?" Many speculated about Joyce's use of the word... the clear radiance of the esthetic image. Stephen Hero. On the strand. A central part of the passage reads: "The radiance... which had been acquired by the Harvard College Library and was then awaiting publication.the simple gesture that reveals a complex set of relationships.. Levin gave an excellent account of the technique of the epiphany: "the single word that tells the whole story. already described it in the Summer 1941 issue of The Southern Review. Mr.. little more than inspired guesswork associated the passage from Ulysses with the esthetic theory expounded by Stephen in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.O. is apprehended luminously by the mind which has been arrested by its wholeness and fascinated by its harmony is the luminous.... using a phrase almost as beautiful as Shelley's. The Young Lady--(drawling discreetly). This supreme quality is felt by the artist when the esthetic image is first conceived in his imagination.but you're.. but until the publication of Professor Harry Levin's James Joyce: A Critical Introduction.I. in the Proteus episode.wick... yes. copies to be sent if you died to all the great libraries of the world....is the scholastic quidditas... and readers had available Joyce's or Stephen's own words. called the enchantment of the hear. Levin had the advantage of using the manuscript of Stephen Hero. He had heard. deeply deep. . The Young Lady--(softly).A.at the. in 1944.Signatures of all things I am here to read. Stephen says to himself: "Remember your epiphanies on green oval leaves.I was.. The mind in that mysterious instant Shelley likened beautifully to a fading coal. (Spencer had. thought through my eyes.. Silverman Introduction "Ineluctable modality of the visible. The Young Gentleman--(inaudibly). passing through Eccles' street one evening "the following fragment of colloquy out of which he received an impression keen enough to afflict his sensitiveness very severely.....pel..ve.. the whatness of a thing..... however.coloured sign." -Ulysses Most readers of Joyce first encountered his use of the word 'epiphany' on page 41 of Ulysses... (again inaudibly). The instant wherein that supreme quality of beauty..I. O.. silent stasis of esthetic pleasure..cha.." Stephen Hero was published in 1944... and the late Professor Theodore Spencer's edition of the hitherto unpublished fragment.." In the writing of his critical work.ed...) Mr. in 1941..2 Introduction and Notes by O..ry...

" Thence he continues. then we recognize that it is an organized composite structure. Mr. Yet he states succinctly a central point: the "treatment of particular manifestations as a signature of metaphysical reality is the common mode of Joyce's writing. "Joyce's Epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation." Valuable as her definitions are. does not appear in A Portrait unless by implication in the passage quoted above. its whatness... First we recognize that the object is one integral thing. to the complexity that the epiphany is central to an understanding even of Finnegans Wake.the third quality." and the revelation of "an individual essence by means of a detail or an object to which it has only a fortuitous relation. Levin is the more connotative. in Ulysses and now made explicit to us in Stephen Hero. Is the 'theory of epiphany'--if it may be so called--to be taken seriously? Or is it youthful self-consciousness playing with words? The latter view gains some substantiation if the reader examines the position it holds in Stephen Hero. seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments." and Mr. penetrating comments suggesting that the theory of the epiphany may explain much of Joyce's major work.. The concluding sentence in that passage from which I have already quoted suggests the stern judgment of the mature Joyce: 'When one reads these strange pages of one long gone one feels that one is at one with one who once.. a thing in fact: finally. In addition. Stephen is speaking to a hostile and stolid Cranly. Miss Hendry is the more strict and limiting. seems to us radiant." The notes called Epiphanies in the Wickser collection in the Lockwood Memorial Library of the University of Buffalo may be used to verify any point of view: from the simplicity that the epiphany was a youthful esthetic pose soon given up. "The Portrait in Perspective. when the parts are adjusted to the special point. the passage early in Ulysses is clearly self-depreciatory. whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phrase of the mind itself. to be sure: often he makes the term carry too much weight. Its soul." seems to me continually to shift the meaning of epiphany. suggestively. neatly and carefully written on separate sheets of ruled paper measuring 24 x 18 centimetres (except for number 12 which is only 20 1/2 . I think. the structure of which is so adjusted. Hugh Kenner in his provocative essay. Levin make." the effect of the moment of revelation on the beholder--"Stephen or ourselves through Stephen. The soul of the commonest object. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care. dramatically and silently a critic of the deliberate transfer by his companion of religious terminology to esthetic." the modification of the image "with its radiance attached to itself rather than to a perceiving consciousness.' Yet both Miss Irene Hendry in her extended essay. She discriminates four techniques of epiphany: "the moment of revelation without its narrative base. Mr. This is the moment which I call epiphany. by Stephen.3 "This triviality made him thing of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. we recognize that it is that thing which it is. There are twenty-two of them. when the relation of the parts is exquisite. The object achieves its epiphany. demand more precision than the subject allows. to develop his esthetic theory (which is later refined in A Portrait): "." But the word epiphany. leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance. recalled fleetingly. each in his own way. she does. with Cranly.

of course. make his own comparisons with the body of Joyce's work.4 centimetres long). one may confidently say that. Even with the evidence at hand. Joyce wasted very few of his early artistic impressions. Every reader will. Oliver Goldsmith. and undoubtedly other materials in the Wickser collection will clarify and expand theories of Joyce's methods of work. in an appendix. Resemblances to many other passages will await serious consideration from literary scholars. And since they are recorded with more than usual care. . one is tempted to see them not only as youthful exercises but also as early statements of many of Joyce' important themes. I have. A comparison of the handwriting with that of Stephen Hero and an acceptance of the reasoning of Spencer establish the date between 1904-1906. noted only a few of the more obvious. but even so cursory a list indicates a close relationship between these Epiphanies and Stephen Hero. like another Irishman. and preserved separately from the mass of other manuscript material in the Wickser collection.

how old is he? Joyce--Seventy-two.I'd never advise anyone to. no .. order! Fallon--You know it's a lie! Mr. Belvedere Place] Joyce--I knew you meant him.dinner. I must ask.But.. sir. Maggie Sheehy--(leans forward to speak seseriously) Why.. Fallon--No........... Speaker. Belvedere Place] Dick Sheehy--What's a lie? Mr. if you knew .. Blake--(between puffs of smoke)--Of course .. A bit of a candle. Mr...5 ((1)) [Dublin: at Sheehy's.. But you're wrong about his age. Blake--(after a pause).. You've no idea simply. Joyce--Ha. Sheehy--You must withdraw.. Sheehy--I call on the honourable member for Denbigh..O.poverty. order!. Maggie--Is he? ((II)) [Dublin: at Sheehy's.Order. Sheehy--Order... Dick Sheehy--As I was saying. Belvedere Place] Fallon--(as he passes)--I was told to congratulate you especially on your performance. ((III)) [Dublin: at Sheehy's..it looks all right from the outside. Mr... it's a terrible life!. I won't..... squalid.to those who don't know.... Joyce--Thank you.it's really terrible. ((IV)) .

.. 'e's a whoitearsed bugger.sorry we didn't know in time.'E's awoy at present. Mrs... Pull out his eyes..O. Maudie Leslie's my sister an' Fred Leslie's my brother--yev 'eard of Fred Leslie?.'E is 'andsome.6 [Dublin: in the National Library] Skeffington--I was sorry to hear of the death of your brother. but I'm sure he will apologise.O I do love Fred.a boy.. Apologise... .... you know.... to himself) --Pull out his eyes..(musing)....That's Fred--my own brother Fred. Joyce--O.it hurts....... (later) I told you someun went with me ten toimes one noight. Skeffington--Still..O...(musing).to have been at the funeral... Pull out his eyes. Vance--Or else--if he doesn't--the eagles'll come and pull out his eyes........ Apologise.. Pull out his eyes... Joyce--O yes.... he was very young. ... Jim? Mr. Apologise.. Mrs. Vance--(comes in with a stick). ((VI)) [Bray: in the parlour of the house in Martello Terrace] Mr. Joyce--O. Do you hear that.. he'll have to apologise. Mrs... ((V)) [London: in a house at Kennington] Eva Leslie--Yes.. Joyce--(under the table.. Joyce. ...

. The path leads me down to an obscure pool.. . ... I am not afraid but. looks up)--Who is your sweetheart? ((IX)) [Dublin: on Mountjoy Square] Joyce--(concludes)..or something. is Mabie your sweetheart? The Little Male Child--Na.. He moves his paws heavily and mutters words of some language which I do not understand. The First Young Lady--(half kneeling.. Something is moving in the pool.o. I thrust in my stick and as he rises out of the water I see that his back slopes towards the croup and that he is very sluggish... Aunt Lillie--(titters)--O. ... . Joyce--(thinks)--Is it possible she's comparing herself with me? [The following appears in pencil in the ms.When I was a girl I was sure I'd marry a lord...] Kinahan . ((VII)) A white mist is falling in slow flakes. .Na. Phibsborough] The Little Male Child--(at the garden gate) . takes his hand)--Well. laus!... The Second Young Lady--(bending over him. ((VIII)) [Dublin: at the corner of Connaught St. thrusting at him often with my stick drive him before me.That'll be forty thousand pounds.7 Apologise...o. it is an arctic beast with a rough yellow coat.I was like that too.

wardance. Maggie Sheehy--(declaims)--Even now the rabblement may be standing by the door! ((XII)) She stands.. But here he is himself in a coat with tails and an old-fashioned high hat.. Belvedere Place] Hanna Sheehy--O. She who is churning with stout arms (their butter is famous) looks dark and unhappy: the other is happy because she had her way. reading the lesson.. ((XI)) [Dublin: at Sheehy's.. mild-featured with downcast eyes.. jutting out the tails of his coat. described as an earthly paradise the nomad races into seductions.8 Civilizing work of the Jesuit in Paraguay. they are the two sisters. her book held lightly at her breast.But then he's the greatest man in the world.. I know the verb 'to be' in their language. Skeffington--In fact it'll be...... there are sure to be great crowds.Rina.. .It's funny that those two big women fell out over this little man .. ((X)) Yes.. Against the dark stuff of her dress her face.My goodness! how small he is! He must be very old and vain. Her name is R. as our friend Jocax would say. Mexico and Peru and in the Seychelle Islands... Maybe he isn't what I.. rises softly outlined in light. the day of the rabblement. He ignores them: he walks along with tiny steps.. --Are you Rina?-I knew she was.

... of strange inventions. her mouth distorted. ((XIV)) Two mourners push on through the crowd. settling a flat bonnet..9 and from a folded cap. She knows the inmost heart.that's the proper name for them. ((XV)) She comes at night when the city is still.. yes . a tassel falls along her brown ringletted hair... discoloured and oblique-eyed. the face of a bargainer. as though he had never been alien to her. The girl. She comes from her ancient seat to visit the least of her children. all unsummoned. inaudible. set carelessly forward. hurries on towards the mortuary chapel. mother most venerable. invisible. or the legends of martyrs? Who knows how deeply meditative. therefore she is ... The girl's face is the face of a fish.I hear he had written verses. one hand catching the woman's skirt. the woman's face is small and square. The girl. O'Mahony--(smiling adroitly). runs in advance.. the woman. yes.. how reminiscent is this comeliness of Raffaello? ((XIII)) [Dublin: in the Stag's Head. Dame Lane] O'Mahony--Haven't you that little priest that writes poetry over there--Fr Russell? Joyce--O.Verses. looks up at the woman to see if it is time to cry. What is the lesson that she reads--of apes.

. Who has pity for you when you are sad among the strangers? Years and years I loved you when you lay in my womb. Some ask if the race is going on. Joyce--(crimson.... Bookies are bawling out names and prices. A pale young man with a Cockney accent does tricks in his shirtsleeves and drinks out of a bottle. A fat woman passes. they are answered "Yes" and "No. with a yellow rider upon him.Did you ever hear of that happening? Joyce--(surprised). moving backwards and forwards through the thick ooze. nothing exacting..Yes? Mrs... do . A little old man has mice on an umbrella. trembling. one of them screams with the voice of a child--"Bonny Boy!" "Bonny Boy!"." A band begins to play... Joyce--Do you know anything about the body?... . I am susceptible of change.Jim! Joyce--(at the piano).. Mrs.. ((XVII)) [Dublin: in the house in Glengariff Parade: evening] Mrs.. Joyce--Ought I send for the doctor. her dress lifted boldly. . ((XVI)) The human crowd swarms in the enclosure. appears at the parlour door). an imaginative influence in the hearrts of my children. flashes far away in the sunlight..What ought I do?. her face nozzling in an orange. Human creatures are swarming in the enclosure.10 gentle..I don't know.. saying. a policeman in heavy boots charges down and seizes the umbrella: the little old man disappears.A beautiful brown horse.. moving through the slush.There's some matter coming away from the hole in Georgie's stomach...

. I woulnd't read a book like that. Before I came here to the Examiner I used to knock about with fellows and boose........ Dick Sheehy--What phenomenon? Joyce--O..(she smiles). I can have it... Now I've a good house and.The hole we all have.here (points) Joyce--(stands up) ((XVIII)) [Dublin. Dick Sheehy--(to Miss O'Callaghan)....What hole? Mrs. on the North Circular Road: Christmas] Miss O'Callaghan--(lisps)--I told you the name...My advice to every young fellow that can afford it is: marry young..the stars come out on the end of Joyce's nose about this hour? .. well. Dick Sheehy--(loudly)--O. Joyce..I must ask Joyce............ did you ever read The Escaped Nun? Joyce--I observe that a certain phenomenon happens about this hour. Joyce--(impatient)...I go home in the evening and if I want a drink...Did you ever observe how.. The Escaped Nun.11 you think? Joyce--I don't know.Because I observe that phenomenon ((XIX)) [Mullingar: a Sunday in July: noon] Tobin--(walking noisily with thick boots and tapping the road with his stick).the stars come out.O there's nothing like marriage for making a fellow steady... I say. ((XX)) [In Mullingar: an evening in autumn] ...

D' ye hear me? I'll cut ye open.. It was you called out after me yesterday.. I'll cut the livers out o' ye.(quite seriously)... sir.. though.. even voices of boys singing before the altar there........ I hear the bright.....Beyond the misty walls.Who is your favourite poet? (a pause) Hanna Sheehy--. The Lame Beggar--Well.No.... The sea moves with the sound of many scales.. in the dark cathedral church of Our Lady.I think... Gigantic mists are marching under the French cliffs. I'll cut the livers and the lights out o'ye...... The Lame Beggar--O..... if ye call out after me any more I'll cut ye open with that stick. against the engine-house.German? O'Reilly--.12 The Lame Beggar--(gripping his stick). enveloping the coast from headland to headland.. (moving his stick up and down). APPENDIX In reading the Epiphanies alongside several ... ((XXII)) I lie along the deck...... ((XXI)) [Dublin: at Sheehy's... from which the smell of lukewarm grease exhales. yes it was. Belvedere Place] O'Reilly--(with developing seriousness).D'ye see that stick? The Two Children--Yes. (a hush) Hanna Sheehy--..(explains himself).. The Two Children--(gazing at him)..Goethe... I suppose. Now it's my turn.But mind what I'm telling you.Yes...... sir..

complimented to confer with one who conferred directly with the exceptional. page 45 IV . page 46 III --Mr. I hope. But you're wrong about his age. I have also added several notes. She leaned forward to speak with soft seriousnesness. --I won't withdraw.. Passages reflecting some of the Epiphanies are too well known to be quoted. --Why. --I must ask honourable members to preserve order in the House. Sir. --Order! Order! --You know it's a lie! --You must withdraw. Speaker. --As I was saying before the honourable gentleman interrupted we must. not only the shock of recognition but also the gentler pleasure of evocation.13 selected passages which I have reprinted here from Joyce's published works. --I won't withdraw. --Is he? -Stephen Hero. the reader will have... and many students will recall significant passages from which I have overlooked. I must ask.. Others had heard this: but she was impressed by a possible vastness of the unknown. I --I knew you meant him. how old is her? --Over seventy. Some of the resemblences will be obvious to all readers of Joyce. --Order! Order! -Stephen Hero.

hacking in green blubbery whalemeat. No. scaling. McCann released his hand at the same rate of release. silent. my people. I just simply stood pale. He is running back to them.a girl. Peekaboo. page 33 From farther away. I spoke to no-one: none to me. Who? Galleys of the Lochlanns ran here to beach. Famine... Their blood is in me. torcs of tomahawks aglitter on their breasts when Malachi wore the collar of gold. plagues and slaughter.. Dane vikings. stopped. Stephen released his hand gradually and said: --O.. I moved among the spluttering resin fires. their bloodbeaked prows riding low on a molten pewter surf.. sorry we didn't know in time. with flayers' knives. walking shoreward across from the crested tide. Dog of my enemy. The two maries. ran back. -Ulysses. They have tucked it safe among the bulrushes. in quest of prey. Then from the starving cagework city a horde of jerkined dwarfs.it hurts. running. page 169 VII He doubled backwards into the past of humanity and caught glimpses of emergent art as one might have a vision of the pleisiosauros emerging from his ocean of slime. bayed about. hobbling in the shallows. page 46 [see also Finnegans Wake.to have been at the funeral. and said: --Still. figures.. spouting. I see you. -Stephen Hero. The dog's bark ran towards him. pages 15-18] . two. A school of turlehide whales stranded in hot noon. -Stephen Hero. the dog. their lusts my waves. she was very young.. Terribilia meditans.14 --I was sorry to hear of the death of your sister..

hurried on towards the mortuary chapel. I know who is Tommy's sweetheart. -Ulysses. ran a pace in advance. where Fr. <<A girl. 1834-1912. Edy Boardman said none too amiably with an arch glance from her shortsighted eyes. Tommy said. The girl. The girl's face was the face of a fish. settling a flat bonnet. and wrote much "verse" himself. the face of a bargainer. S. but he may well have been. Upper Gardiner Street. her mouth distorted. tearful Tommy said. page 167 . Francis Xavier Church."] XIII "I presume this refers to Fr.15 VII --Tell us who is your sweetheart. He edited the "Irish Fireside" for years. page341 [There is a situation somewhat similar in "The Encounter.. --I know. Matthew Russell. --Is Edy Boardman your sweetheart? Cissy queried." -A letter from Professor John Vincent Kelleher XIV Two of them who were later pushed their way viciously through the crowd. discoloured and obliqueeyed. --Nao. Tommy said on the verge of tears. one hand catching the woman's skirt. I can't find that he was teaching at University College Dublin in Joyce's time.J. Gerty is Tommy's sweetheart. spoke Edy Boardman. the woman's face was square and pinched. Is Cissy your sweatheart? --Nao. --Nao. brother of Lord Russell of Killowen. Conmee was Provincial. looked up at the woman to see if it was time to cry:>> the woman. In 1906 he was in the community at St. published a lot of the early Yeats verse. -Stephen Hero.

Yet someone had loved him. -A Portrait of the Artist in The Portable James Joyce. -Ulysses. a strange light glowing faintly upon her frail flesh. page 356 Ugly and futile: lean neck and tangled hair and a stain of ink. If ever he was impelled to cast sin from him and to repent. an odour of rosewood and wetted ashes. page 28 . scarcely have been. She was no more: the trembling skeleton of a twig burnt in the fire. Girl's face stained with dirt and tears. telling of heaven and infusing peace. page 100 XV His sin. borne him in her arms and in her heart. was turned towards her whose emblem is the morning star. holding the woman's arm looking up at her for a sign to cry. She had loved his weak watery blood drained from her own. did not humiliate the sinner who approached her. a snail's bed. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him under foot. She had saved him from being trampled under foot and had gone. Fish's face. which had covered him from the sight of God. the impulse that moved him was the wish to be her knight. If ever his soul. hard woman at a bargain. her holiness. the savour itself of a lewd kiss. Leanjawed harpy. her boonet awry." it was when her names were murmured softly by lips wheron there still lingered foul and shameful words. Her eyes seemed to regard him with mild pity. bloodless and livid. re-entering her dwelling shyly after the frenzy of his body's lust had spent itself.16 Mourners came out through the gates: woman and a girl. Was that then real? The only true thing in life? His mother's prostrate body the fiery Columbanus in holy zeal bestrode. "bright and musical. -Ulysses. a squashed boneless snail. had led him nearer to the refuge of sinners.

pages 215-216. Repent. in memory of a criticaster's description of him as a 'blue-nosed comedian'. for transition. and forty days' indulgence. Years and years I loved you." -pages 8-9 . César Abin. page 566 [See also Finnegans Wake." reprinted in Givens' James Joyce: Two Decades of Criticism tells of a sketch of Joyce he had commissioned by the Spanish artist. my firstborn...] XVIII Eugene Jolas. O my son.17 THE MOTHER Who saved you the night you jumped into the train at Dalkey with Paddy Lee? Who had pity for you when you were sad among the strangers? Prayer is all powerful. STEPHEN The ghoul! Hyena! THE MOTHER I pray for you in my other world. "Mr Friend James Joyce. "For more than two weeks (Joyce) kept adding new suggestions. Stephen. until he was finally satisfied with it . Prayer for the suffering souls in the Ursuline manual. in his essay. when you lay in my womb. Get Dilly to make you that boiled rice every night after your brain work. and 626 to end.He asked that a star be put on the tip of his nose. -Ulysses.

18 Valentine's Day 1997 There are 550 numbered copies of the Epiphanies. Abbott. Professor of English and Director of the Lockwood Memorial Library of the University of Buffalo. 1956 Lockwood Memorial Library University of Buffalo Copyright 1956 University of Buffalo. of which 500 are for sale. Amherst College has number 77. Look up if interested: Harry Levin and John Vincent Kelleher of Harvard College and (especially) Mr. . Charles D.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful