Book of the Week

Katherine Mullin, James Joyce, Sexuality and Social Purity, Cambridge University Press, 2003. This marvellous book by my friend Katy Mullin arrived yesterday. I’ve only just glanced through it, but it’s obviously going to be a cracking read. Against the dreary old image of Joyce as an apolitical writer whose innovations were primarily stylistic, Mullin anatomises Joyce’s lifelong interest in the complexities of early twentieth-century smut and details the ways in which his long-running and thoroughly political battles with the censors and the “social purity” movements of his day are carefully and rather deeply inscribed in his books, from the enigmatic encounter with the “queer old josser” in Dubliners through to the Nighttown episode in Ulysses. Everything is here, from masturbation to the mutoscope, in a riveting scholarly volume which makes the reader like and admire James Joyce even more than before.

Back on Track

It’s the first day of the new month (Thermidor, since you asked — see the French calendar above), and it’s probably time to start writing in the Virtual Stoa again.

The two month gap began in early May, after I poured a glass of red wine into my laptop computer, which turned out not to like red wine quite as much as I do. And while things were only vastly inconvenient on the computer front for a week or so afterwards, I lost the habit of regular posting to the VS and was then Very Busy for most of the last ten weeks, making the final corrections to my dissertation MS, listening to an implausible amount of reggae, shuttling back and forth between Rome and Oxford, marking a lot of exam scripts and doing a fair amount of teaching, too.

From time to time I was tempted back to the blog — especially after the publication of Andrew Motion’s “rap” to celebrate the 21st birthday of Prince William. But I was able to resist.

With luck, then, the usual semi-regular posts will begin to appear in this space again from now on. Thanks for being patient.