Joyce met Ettore Schmitz in 1907 in Trieste, which at that time was
still in Austro-Hungaria. Schmitz was forty six and twenty years older
than Joyce. They met in Berlitz, the language school where Joyce was trying
to earn his living by teaching English, and Schmitz was thert trying to
improve his (already good) knowledge of English for business purposes.
As Stanislaus Joyce, James Joyce's brother, remembered, Joyce "did
not take the business seriously, nor was he a very regular teacher"
(1, 5). It's hardly probable that Schmitz could learn a lot in Joyce's
class (except perhaps a couple of the "fable[s] by the daughters of
memory" (Nestor 25 (1))), but that
meeting marked the beginning of the two authors' friendship. By that time,
Schmitz had already published two novels, Una Vita and Senilita,
under the alias Italo Svevo, but none of them won him any recognition from
the public; Joyce's achievements in the literary career amounted to several
articles in various reviews and three short stories in The Irish Homestead,
"the pig's paper" (1, 6). Joyce had highly appreciated both books
by Svevo, and Svevo, on his part, praised the recently finished story by
Joyce, The Dead. Years later, thanks to Joyce and his contacts,
Svevo's novel Confessions of Zeno (1925) was to be published in
French translation and received an adequate reception in France.
It is most likely that it was Svevo who introduced Joyce to Otto Weininger's
Sex and Character. In As a Man Grows Older (the title for
the English translation of Senilita was Joyce's suggestion) Svevo's
main character already showed a lot of "Weiningerian Jew's" characteristics,
although Sex and Character was printed seven years later, in 1900:
Weininger's dissertation best summarized the ideas of Jewish self-hatred
and misogyny, not uncommon in the turn-of-the-century Austria. As a matter
of fact, in many respects Svevo was more influenced by Austrian writers
and philosophers than by Italian ones: Edouard Roditi names Robert Musil,
Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Kafka, Otto Weininiger, Sigmund Freud (2, 11).
The protagonist of Confessions of Zeno writes his autobiography
as the home-made psychoanalysis that is not exactly Freudian; Zeno (as
well as Emilio in As a Man Grows Older) is not able to realize any
of his multiple intentions, and his passive attitude to the outer world
sometimes reminds of Schnitzler's protagonists but in an exhaggerated,
almost satirical way; he also lacks Weininger's apocalyptical pathos, and
being as bitter and "preoccup[ied] with health and disease" (3,
435) and death as they are, neither Emilio nor Zeno commit suicide, quite
the opposite of Otto Weininger who after having written Sex and Character
shot himself at the age of twenty-one, as if to provide an example to the
desperate human race.
Weininger, with his sad fate and outstanding talent to mix up philosophy,
poetry and real life, must have added certain focuses to Joyce's interest
in Jews. It is hardly possible that Joyce's decision on Bloom's nationality
was an incidental one. Robert Adams writes: "Bloom is Jewish because
Joyce as an artistic outcast and voluntary exile identified with the Jews;
their status as special vessels of divine purpose and their long history
of pariah treatment corresponds with the conditions of the author"
(4, 122). I do not believe that Bloom was really aware of his divine purpose
(exept in the hallucinatory form in Circe), and neither do I agree
that Bloom is Joyce's alter ego, as Adams implies. It seems more
credible that Joyce made Bloom a Jew because Bloom (like Odysseus) is a
traveller, an explorer, a stranger. Living in exile, Joyce still persisted
in writing about Dublin, his homeland, as an out-sider, or, in Stephen's
words, "one who has faded into impalpability […] through absence"
(Scylla and Charybdis 180). Unlike Joyce, Bloom is an insider outcast,
and in this respect is similar in his attitude to Joyce's Triestine friend
Svevo and his literary heroes. Svevo's father was German-Jewish and his
mother was Italian; his literary pseudonym translates as "Italian
Swabian". Zeno in Confessions is a Jew and speaks Italian,
German and Triestine dialect which is an admixture of Italian, and German
and Croatian. Bloom can speak German, too, and he adores Italian. His family
comes from Hungary (or, strictly speaking, Austro-Hungary), and he has
a certain "progenitor of sainted memory [who] wore the uniform of
the Austrian despot in a dank prison" (Circe 448) and who is mentioned
again in Ithaca: "she [Milly] had blond ancestry, remote, a
violation, Herr Hauptmann Hainau, Austrian army" (Ithaca 605). Bloom's
father Rudolf Virag committed suicide - the typical fate of a Weininger's
self-loathing Jew. There is a number of correspondences between Bloom and
Svevo's protagonists, and they are all related to the authors' perception
of the anti-Semitic and misogynist theories (and banalities) standard for
the turn-of-the-century Austria, especially on the instant of Weininger.
The following chapters are an attempt to analyze how similarly or differently
and to what extent Joyce and Svevo dealt with these two issues.
Several sources agree that Joyce was familiar with the Weininger's
book: Ralph Robert Joly (1982) Richard Ellmann (1982), Ira Nadel (1989),
Natania Rosenfeld (1995). As Rosenfeld points out, Joyce probably read
it in the German original - in his letter to Frank Budgen Joyce gives such
a description of a woman: "perfectly sane amoral fertilisable untrustworthy
engaging shrewd limited prudent indifferent Weib" (5, 285). The usage
of the German word "Weib" following the misogynist interpretation
suggests a reference to the book.
Weininger's concept of woman is based on the similar commonplaces,
but he makes a reservation that he speaks about an "ideal", "absolute"
woman. He delivers the famous pseudo-scientific formula which explains
that a human being consists of a certain percentage of an ideal man ("M"
for "Mann") and an ideal woman ("W" for "Weib")
(6, 4). While the masculine part is positive, rational and productive,
the feminine one is declared to be deconstructive, illogical, animalistic,
amoral - much closer to matter than to spirit.
Both Svevo and Joyce metaphorically equate women with flesh. When Carla
decides to abandon Zeno, he describes his longing for her as follows: "She
was running away from me, it was clear; farther and farther away. I began
running madly after her, making hasty leaps like a dog who has had tasty
bits of meat taken away from him. […] I felt lost and like a dog who, when
he can no longer get the desired morsel, worries with his teeth the person
who has refused it to him […]" (3, 279-280). Like Weininger's and
Svevo's women, Joyce's women are all pure flesh and no character: "Colours
affect women's character, any they have" (Circe 474). But Joyce inverts
the scheme that Weininger kept in mind: the intuition, connection to nature,
flesh are an affirmative, and the reason is a negative. Moreover, the flesh
is feminine - in the same letter to Budgen Joyce writes: "[Penelope]
begins and ends with the word yes. It turns like the huge earth
ball […] its four cardinal points being the female breasts, arse, womb
and cunt expressed by the words because, bottom, […] woman, yes"
(5, 285). In the initial paragraph of Oxen of the Sun, the creation
is decribed as follows: "In woman's womb word is made flesh but in
the spirit of the maker all flesh that passes becomes the word that shall
not pass away."(Oxen of the Sun 372) In Calypso, the first
episode of the Ulyssian wanderings, Bloom appreciates Molly's "ample
bedwarmed flesh" and affirms: "Yes, yes." (Calypso 59) In
that respect, the "womanly" Bloom is superior to Stephen, whose
restless reasoning does not bring him any closer insights.
I would like to quote the letter to Budgen again: "[Molly] is
der [sic.] Fleisch der stets bejaht (the flesh that always
affirms)" (5, 285) This feminine affirmation reaches it's climax on
the final page, when Molly, falling asleep, half thinks, half dreams of
Mulvey, whom she confuses with Bloom. Elfriede Poedler, in an essay on
Molly's sexuality, interprets this as "ecstatic absorption in sexual
union," "the end to and perhaps source of all male endeavor and
achievement" (7, 234). Certainly, Penelope can be considered
as a "powerful mystification of feminine sexuality" (ibid.),
but I would not insist that the Joyce's view on femininity is "diametrically
opposed to that of Weininger" (ibid.). Joyce's attitude is quite different
indeed. He is neither "das Fleisch das stets bejaht" nor Goethe's
Mephistopheles, "der Geist der stets verneint (the spirit that always
negates)" (2), and his answers would
be like Bloom's response to Bella's Fan in Circe: "Nes. Yo."
(Circe 475) No statement in Ulysses can be taken for granted; they
all are polymorphous. Where Svevo remains only remotely satirical toward
Weininger, at the same time partially sharing his ideas, Joyce reflects
on them with a profound knowledge, yet with an elaborate ambivalency. Here
is an example to make it clear.
All women are naturally unfaithful, according to Weininger: "There
is no wife who has not been untrue to her husband in thought, and yet no
woman reproaches herself with this. For a woman pledges her faith lightly
and without any full consciousness of what she does, and breaks it just
as lightly and thoughtlessly as she pledged it." (6, 134) The misogynist
stereotype on woman's unfaithfullness is brought to the extreme in Sex
and Character. As Alberto Cavaglion has observed, the chapter on "Maternity
and Prostitution" includes a passage that deals with telegony and
is based on a rather dubious paragraph from Darwin's The Variations
of Animals and Plants under Domestication. Darwin mentions in passing
the Lord Morton's report to the Royal Society about having witnessed a
case of telegony on his own farm: An Arabian mare bore a hybrid to a quagga,
and after that produced two colts by an Arabian horse. These colts, in
some ways, resembled quaggas, and Darwin summarizes: "Hence there
can be no doubt that the quagga affected the character of the offspring
subsequently begot by the black Arabian horse" (8, 435). In "Maternity
and Prostitution" Weininger cites the case of Lord Morton's mare as
a conclusion to his speculations about paternity. He writes: "Paternity
is a miserable deception; for it always must be shared with an infinite
number of things and men. […] White women who have had a child with Negro
later often bear children to a white man, yet the children manifest unmistakable
characteristics of the Negro race. […] [The mare], after having borne once
the quagga's bastard, had much latter two colts by an Arabian stallion,
who bore evident signs of the quagga" (6, 158).
Svevo alludes to these quasi-genetic considerations in one episode
of Confessions, where Zeno and Carla at last separate from each
«I tried to talk to her, though my lips were trembling too - but with
desire. I said she did not seem to know how much she meant to me, and that
she had not the right to dispose of herself like that. The scientific proof
of what I wanted to say passed through my mind - to wit, Darwin's famous
experiment on an Arab mare - but thank God I don't think I mentioned it.»
I agree with Cavaglion that Svevo quotes the Weininger's exaggerated
interpretation rather than the initial source in the Darwin's article:
"When Svevo finds himself in the position of mentioning a scientific
tractate, he more willingly leans on a text that is not strictly orthodox
- in other words, a text like Sex and Character" (9, 241).
But although this episode is full with misogynist connotations, they are
made in an ironical way, and, after all, Zeno does not mention "the
mare case" to Clara. The reason can only be that, he does not completely
believe in this insinuation, and in his despair, he simply resorts to this
argument, all the time aware that it is only a fib. Zeno is not exactly
a virile hero, and his misogyny is not more than a retreat or suppressed
rage. Being critical with himself and by his ironic attitude in general,
he is secured from discontents of the outer world, even from his own sentiments,
so that he will be ultimately released from suffering emotions and will
be able to say: "Pain and love - the whole life, in short - cannot
be looked on as a disease just because they make us suffer" (3, 445).
Even more distant than in Confessions, Weininger's telegony
is reflected in Ulysses. I see the shadow of the Lord Morton's mare
in Milly's desription:
«What other infantile memories had he of her?
15 June 1889. A querulous newborn female infant crying to cause and
lessen congestion. A child named Padney Socks she shook with shocks her
moneybox: counted his three free moneypenny buttons, one, tloo, tlee: a
doll, a boy, a sailor, she cast away: blond, born of two dark, she had
blond ancestry, remote, a violation, Herr Hauptmann Hainau, Austrian Army,
proximate, a hallucination, Lieutenant Mulvey, British navy.
What endemic characteristics were present?
Conversely, the nasal and frontal formation was derived in a direct
line of lineage which, though interrupted, would continue at distant intervals
to more distant intervals to its most distant intervals.» (Ithaca
"Blond, born of two dark" looks like an allusion to Weininger's
mulattos of two white, only vice versa - Joyce once again uses his favorite
technique of reversed scheme, as he did, for example, with Goethe's "der
Geist, der stets verneint." Joyce gives a logical explanation to Milly's
fair hair, reminding of the blond ancestor, who is nevertheless "remote".
The "proximate" one is Lieutenant Mulvey - Molly's first love.
We know that Molly and Mulvey had no sexual intercourse: Molly was like
Miss Douce, "fingered only" (Sirens 272). But it is inessential,
since "First kiss does the trick. The propitious moment. Something
inside them goes pop. […] Remember that till their dying day. Molly, Lieutenant
Mulvey that kissed her under the Moorish Wall beside the gardens"
(Nausicaa 353). Mulvey is also named as the first in the list of
Molly's "lovers" in Ithaca. Hence, the fact that Milly
is blond is explained in two different ways: on the one hand, and logically,
she had inherited it from a distant forefather, on the other hand - it
stems from Mulvey, whom her mother met before her father. In this context
"a doll, a boy, a sailor, she cast away" also suddenly appears
as the reference to Weininger's peculiar "things and men" with
whom the paternity is nessecarily shared. Mulvey is said to be "proximate,
a hallucination". Bloom thinks about Mulvey kissing Molly in Nausicaa,
but it is not a hallucination. Searching Circe, the "hallucinatory
chapter", I find one of Bloom's metamorhoses, or reincarnations:
«BLOOM (Produces from his heart pocket a crumpled yellow flower.)
This is the flower in question. It was given me by a man I don't know his
name. (Plausibly.) You know that old joke, rose of Castille. Bloom.
The change of name Virag. (He murmurs privately and confidentially.)
We are engaged you see, sergeant. Lady in the case. Love entanglement.
(He shoulders the second watch gently.) Dash it all. It's a way
we gallants have in the navy. Uniform that does it. […]» (Circe
Bloom appears in the navy uniform - like Milly's doll, "a boy,
a sailor", whom she had cast away. Bloom believes that uniform attracts
women: "Redcoats. Too showy. That must be why the women go after them.
Uniform. Easier to enlist and drill" (Lotus Eaters 69). Bloom,
for a moment, turns into Mulvey. Considering all this, it is only consistent,
that Molly confuses them in her half-dream: Following Weininger's telegony,
Mulvey, as Bloom, is inscribed into her bejahendes, ficle, changeablefemale flesh. The question about Milly's "endemic characteristics"
reminds one, again, of the Lord Morton's mare and its offspring. The answer
is a caricature of Weininger's pseudoscientific style, and it states that
no anomalies can be found that would allow any suspiction about Milly's
Unlike the Svevo's book, where Weininger's telegony is present as a
common place misogynist superstition, in Ulysses it achieves the
status of a myth. Joyce rejects the assumption that a child can bear any
characteristics of mother's former lovers, speaking of Mulvey as "hallucination",
but at the same time it is Mulvey who is the "proximate" influence.
It is also very ambiguous, to what extent the hallucinations of Circe
are dreams or reality. In my opinion, Joyce treated Weininger's "theory
of descent" as a Platonic idea that doesn't need to be neither right
nor wrong - it exists as an idea in the air and is able to influence Bloom's
mind, and, thus, it must be dealt with. There is no doubt that Joyce knew
that the idea was an obsessesive falsification, yet what belief is different
from that? Everything that can move a human soul is of interest for Joyce.
The metaphysical Weiningerian idea that the female body and character
are the subject of changes under the masculine influence is, again, present
both in Svevo and Joyce. Like Molly's body is influenced by the characteristics
of her lovers/suitors, the personality of Angiolina, Emilio's (extremely)
unfaithful mistress, is constructed merely of the characteristics she had
borrowed from her men. When Emilio re-establishes their affair one year
after the breakup, he finds out that in the meantime she had not been alone.
His rival taught her certain new, rather sharp and sometimes witty expressions,
and some indecent puns:
«[...] He was convinced that if he were to meet this individual he
would have recognized him by certain gestures which she must have imitated
from him. [...] [H]e thought he could discover in Angiolina's voice certain
intonations copied from the grave and slightly haughty tones of Leardi.
Sorniani had probably taught her something too, and even Balli had left
some traces of himself [...]. Emilio, however, failed to recognize himself
in any single word or gesture of hers. He thought once with bitter irony:
'Perhaps there is no more room for me'» (10, 200-201).
While Svevo's and Joyce's female protagonists may seem similar, the
male ones do not. The passive but realistic Bloom is altogether different
from weak and "bovaryste" (2, 13) Emilio and Zeno. Svevo's
men and women are at (sex) war, but Joyce's Bloom and Molly end up "[a]t
rest, relatively to themselves and to each other. In motion, being each
and both carried eastward, forward and rearward respectively, by the proper
perpetual motion of the earth through everchanging tracks of neverchanging
space" (Ithaca 646). While Svevo's women are again and again
revealed as vessels of ill nature, like Angiolina, who is said to be "the
victim of a universal law" (10, 132), Bloom and Molly are both such
victims of another universal law according to which everybody is damned
to stay alone in the world - regardless of gender, sex, or character.
According to Weininger, "Judaism is saturated with femininity,
with precisely those qualities the essence of which I have shown to be
in the strongest opposition to the male nature" (6, 204). Exactly
like females on males, Jews depend on the host cultures in which they dwell;
they are neither religious nor moral and possess neither a "free intelligible
ego" (6, 205) nor a genius - they need the Aryans to survive. Furthermore,
Weiniger asserts that the anti-Semitism is much more common among the Jews
themselves than among the pure Aryans. He explains this phenomenon as follows:
«People love in others the qualities they would like to have but do
not actually have in any great degree; so also we hate in others only what
we do not wish to be. [...]The Antisemitism of the Jews bears testimony
to the fact that no one who has had experience of them considers them loveable
- not even the Jew himself.» (6, 203)
He concludes that "[t]o defeat Judaism, the Jew must first understand
himself and war against himself. So far, the Jew has reached no further
than to make and enjoy jokes against his own peculiarities" (6, 207).
Weininger's exorcist struggle against himself ended in the complete self-extermination.
In many respects, Svevo's personages resemble this self-loathing stereotypical
Jew in their psychological characteristics. Emilio Brentani in the relationship
with his Aryan friend chooses the passive part, and in his decisions, he
shows himself dependent on Balli's boldness and strength:
«Emilio was influenced by him even to the point of walking, speaking
and gesticulating like him. Balli, who was a man in the true sence of the
word, submitted to no outside influence, and in Brentani's company had
almost the sence of being with one of the many women who were entirely
dominated by him.» (10, 41)
Emilio is being influenced by his manly friend exactly in the same
way as his mistress Angiolina is influenced by her lovers. It is this susceptibility
that makes Angiolina so disgusting for him, even though it is also a part
of his own personality.
Emilio envies Balli primarily for his easy success with women, and
secondly for his ability to create (Balli is a sculptor). Emilio himself
sometimes tries to write, but does not very much succeed in this work.
«[He had written] the story of a young artist whose intellect and health
are ruined by a woman. He had portrayed himself in the hero, his own innocence
and gentelness of nature. His heroine he had pictured after the fashion
of the time as a mixture of woman and tiger. [...] He had never known a
woman and that was how he imagined her [...].
He took up his pen again and wrote in one evening the first chapter
of a new novel. [...] [The next evening] he found that the truth he had
wanted to relay was less credible than the dreams which years ago he had
taken for true. [...] He laid down his pen. [...] He wanted to spare himself
all possible pain, and he did not feel strong enough to study his own incapacity
and to overcome it.» (10, 183-184)
Emilio created his first novel influenced by "time", or fashion.
His heroine is neither the reflection of his own experience nor the product
of his own imagination - she is a construct, based on the values of the
culture he was living in. According to Weininger, the Jews are not creative
by themselves; they are only good in borrrowing and developing ideas. Emilio
fails in turning his painfull experience with Angiolina into art; instead,
Balli, his Aryan and superior friend, creates Angiolina's sculpture.
Another typical trait of self-hating Jews, as Sander L. Gilman observed,
is the obsession with disease.
«[...] within the medical world of the nineteenth and the early twentieth
centuries, 'Jewishness' is an illness that cannot be cured through the
ministrations of medicine, for it is embedded in the very core of the Jew.
For fin-de-siècle medical science Jewish racial difference was statistically
measurable; Jewish pathologies were statistically evident. These pathologies
could be illnesses of the body or of the mind.» (11, 15)
Emilio, having internalized the thought of his own incapacity, his
mental degeneration, carries the thoughts of death in his body like a chronic
disease that became a habit with time: "The thought of death is like
an attribute of the body, a physical malady. Our will can neither summon
it nor drive it away. Emilio nourished himself for a long time on this
thought". (10, 283) Zeno, frustrated and exhausted by the psychoanalytical
exorcism, at last imagines himself sick with diabetes. His wife tries to
console him, but he is not unhappy at all: "But I loved my disease.
I thought with sympathy of poor Copler, who preferred real diseases to
imaginary ones. I agreed with him now. A real disease was so simple; you
had only to let it work its will". (3, 428) Another misfortune lie
in wait for him, though. The urine test showed that he had no diabetes.
Fortunately, World War I started shortly after and fulfilled his existence:
"It is only now that I feel myself definitely detached from my preoccupation
with health and disease. As I walk through the streets of our unfortunate
city I am conscious of being a privileged person who does not have to go
and fight and who daily has what he needs to it" (3, 435). In other
words, the exterior disaster substituted Zeno's personal suffering for
him . He exaggerates (rather prophetically, though) the destructive forces
of the war:
«We need something more than psychoanalysis to help us. Under the law
of the greatest number of machines disease will prosper and the diseased
will grow ever more numerous. Perhaps some incredible disaster produced
by machines will lead us back to health. [...] There will be a tremendous
explosion, but no one will hear it and the earth will return to its nebulous
state and go wandering through the sky, free at last from parasites and
disease.» (3, 448)
The only solution of the "women and Jews question" Weininger
saw in the cessation of these two evils' existence. Zeno's apocalyptic
vision is similar. However, his fatalism is very much rendered by his satire
and self-irony; Weiniger's negative force is lacking in Svevo, the disease
is for him a human component, and the end of Confessions doesn't
tell about the desired or inevitable apocalypse but, rather, of the stupid
recklessness of the diseased human mind. Zeno even seems to be happy to
have discovered that the rest of the world is no lesser sick than his own
body and psyche. He even becomes cured by this thought.
Numerous apocalyptic visions of Circe are not that universal:
Bloom's and Stephen's minds need to be exorcised from their suppressed
scruples and desires, but it happens on the level of and inside the human
mind -- the mind, not the globe does explode and scatter in nebulas of
theatre scenes before the reader. Circe is the chapter most filled
with notions of Bloom's Jewishness in the novel. J.J. O'Molloy's speech
(431-432) and doctor's conference (451-452) leave practically no stereotype
about Jews unmentioned. Throughout the chapter the motif of Bloom's feminine
(Jewish) character spins to reach its climax in the miniplay based on Leopold
(Bloom's first name) Sacher-Masoch's Venus in Furs. Weininger's
scheme of men and women as consisting of two components, M and W, is personified
by figures, which are, to various extents, hermaphrodites: "a hoarse
virago" (409), "Mrs Breen, in man's frieze overcoat" (418),
"VIRAG (his face impassive, laughs in a rich feminine key" (467),
"Bartholomona the bearded woman" (498), the womanly Napoleon
(499), and especially Bloom himself and Bella/Bello, the brothel owner.
In the beginning of the chapter, Bloom is said to have monthly headaches
(413), the euphemism standing for menstruation, and he feels discomfort
caused by "this moving kidney" (416), that probably alludes to
the Greek conception of gynecology: According to Hippocrates, the uterus
was a moving organ that was able to wander around a female body evoking
pains and sickness, or hysetria. Then, the panel of doctors concludes
that Bloom is "a finished example of the new womanly man" (451)
The Jewish body and mind were considered not only feminine, but also
sick. Roditi writes:
The Jew such as Weininger describes him consciously and Svevo perhaps
unconsciously, is indeed a victim of a psychological disease: living in
a society that considers him different and often treats him exceptionally,
he either tends to imagine himself more different than he really is, so
that he lives up to the character attributed to him, or else tries [...]
to ignore difference in treatment and to pretend that [...] there 'ain't
no such thing' as a Jew." (2, 12)
The turn-of-the-century medicine tended to explain psychological diseases
with physiological anomalities, or treated them as interdependent (Gilman).
So, not only the Jewish psychological pathologies, but their bodies as
well, were described as in various ways abnormal. The Jewish characteristics
had been counted, summarized and catalogued - such as the Jewish foot,
nose, skull, etc. The Jews were said to have inborn speech defects and
to be predisposed to tuberculosis. A further symptom of the Jewish disease
was their "oriental" sexuality - exaggerated, but incapable.
According to Fishberg, the Jews frequently have constipation and hemorrhoids.
(12, 216) Weininger claims that only women or men of the hysterical type
can be hypnotized (6, 168).
Following these guidelines one can reconstruct a rather perverse portrait
of Bloom. In Circe, Bello calls him "a flatfoot" (484);
he is worried about excrements: "Midway, his last resistance yielding,
he allowed his bowels to ease themselves quietly as he read, reading still
patiently, that slight constipation of yesterday quite gone. Hope it's
not too big, bring on piles again" (Calypso 66). J.J.O'Molloy,
defending Bloom, says: "He himself, my lord, is a physical wreck from
cobbler's weak chest" (Circe 431); the "disorders", from
which Bloom "is not totally immune" are "hypnotic suggestion"
and "somnambulism" (Ithaca 605). The "sins of the
past" (Circe 481) of which Bloom is accused are mostly things
he had thought, or written, or imagined, but never realized, such as: "he
telephoned mentally to Miss Dunne [...] while he presented himself indecently
to the instrument in the call box." (ibid.) Bloom's obsessions remain
illusive, phantasmagoric - not only in the hallucinatory world of Circe,
but in his relationships with Martha and Gerty, too. In a very different
way, Svevo's heroes are much more engaged in the distant effects of "the
alternately stimulating and obtunding influence of heterosexual magnetism"
(Ithaca 580) than in the direct sexual contacts as well. According
to Weininger, "[t]he erotics of the Jew are sentimentalism" (6,
215). Because of the excessive sensuality, the popular racist theories
rated the Jews primitive. Weininger points out several anthropological
Jewish distinctions: "The readily curling hair points to the negro;
admixture of Mongolian blood is suggested by the perfectly Chinese or Malay
formation of face and skull which is so often to be met with amongst the
Jews and which is associated with a yellowish complexion" (6, 202).
J.J. O'Molloy states that Bloom "is of Mongolian extraction and irresponsible
for his actions." (Circe 431) After that, Bloom greets the
court and sings a little tune:
«BLOOM - Him makee velly muchee fine night. (He begins to lilt simply.)
Li li poo lil chile
Blingee pigfoot evly night
Payee two shilly...» (ibid.)
Bloom turns into "an innately bashful" (Circe 432)
idiot whose language is more primitive than a little child's.
As to the aspect of the distorted Jewish language, it is to be found
both in Svevo and in Joyce. Svevo's pseudonym, "Italian Swabian",
expresses the dualism of his language - he writes in Italian being German.
Svevo was very fluent in German, as much as in Italian, and the greater
problem was that the Italian he had learned as a child was a local Triestine
dialect. As he began to write, he had to struggle against the difficulties
of writing in the "proper" Tuscan and received comments from
readers who claimed his Tuscan was not pure enough. The last chapter of
Confessions includes a passage expressing an almost Wittgensteinian
«[The psychoanalyst] has only studied medicine so he has no idea what
writing in Italian means to us who talk dialect but cannot express ourselves
in writing. A written confession is always mendacious. We lie with every
word we write in the Tuscan tongue! If only he knew how we tend to talk
about things for which we have the words all ready, and how we avoid subjects
that would oblige us to look up words in the dictionary! That is the principle
that guided me when it came to putting down certain episodes in my life.
Naturally it would take on quite a different aspect if I told it in our
dialect.» (3, 416)
The Triestine is mingled. It contains Croatian and German vocabulary
and many hybrid words. And still, according to Stanislaus Joyce, the readers
in Svevo's home city, these "semi-literates", declared his language
"not pure". (1, 7)
Throughout Circe, Bloom experiences troubles while speaking.
When he is arrested, he tries to utter "the pass of Ephraim"
(Circe 427), but fails. Then he tries to receive help from Myles
Crawford, the editor of the newspaper for which he works, who should verify
his "literary occupation, author-journalist" (Circe 428),
but Crawford's answer is: "Who writes? Is it Bloom?"(ibid.) In
Cyclops, Bloom's humanistic plea against "capital punishment"
is called "codology" by Mr. Narrator (Cyclops 290), and
in Circe a dead hand writes on the wall: "Bloom is a cod"
(Circe 453). Cod is a mangled "God". And the dead hand
writing on the wall alludes to the prediction of death. Is Bloom a false
Jewish God who will have to die?
One of the mostly quoted Weininger's sentences is "Judaism is
the abyss over which Christianity is erected" (6, 217). From his point
of view, the Judaism was worth existing just for giving birth to Jesus,
the Christian God. This idea is not foreign to Bloom: In Cyclops,
his argument against anti-Semitism is that Christ was a Jew. The difference
between Christians and Jews is that while the first are waiting for the
doomsday (the second coming), the latter are still expecting the Messiah
who has to give the land back to the chosen people. It means that potentially
any male of Jewish origin can happen to be the Messiah. The omen on the
wall tells that Bloom will die - in the sense that he is mortal and thus
is no Messiah. Furthermore, he is also not the Messiah's father because
his son had died.
In Circe, Bloom becomes aware of his Jewishness more than he
probably admits in the fully conscious state of mind. He is completely
assimilated - a satirical point is that he was baptized three times, thrice
as much as Stephen - but the Jewish componet still dwells in his mind,
partly as guilt, partly as consciousness of being treated differently,
which is identical to the guilt. As is usual with Joyce, however, the reader
is not supposed to take these important matters too seriously: Bloom's
relation to these both religions is best described in the episodes with
the "lukewarm pig's crubeen" and the "cold sheep's trotter"
(Circe 411-412). I assume that these two pieces symbolize, respectively,
the Judaism and the Christianity. Bloom does not obey kosher, and this
leaves a pale, lukewarm sence of guilt in his mind, for he does not dare
to buy a pig kidney from Dlugacz, another unorthodox Jew. He is cold towards
the Christianity and Christ the good shepherd. Finally, he lets the metamorphizing
dog eat both goods:
«[(...] He unrolls one parcel and goes to dump the crubeen softly
but holds back and feels the trotter.) Sizeable for threepence. But
then I have it in my left hand. Why? Smaller from want of use. O, let it
slide. Two and six.
With regret he lets the unrolled crubeen and trotter slide. [...]»
The final vision, the culmination of Bloom's inner drama, is the appearance
of his son Rudy. He appears against the wall (perhaps the same on which
the premonition had been written) and reads a holy book "from right
to left unaudibly" (Circe 525), probably in Hebrew. The sheep
appears again: "A white lambkin peeps out of his waistcoat pocket."
(ibid.) I assume, Bloom dreams not only about his son, but also about the
Weininger's Sex and Character is a remarkable book because it
contains the quintessence of the two very common phobias for fin-de-siecle
obsessive: anti-Semitism and misogyny. These ideas certainly had impact
on the literature, and Joyce, whose aspiration was to reflect the inner
world in the context of his contemporary city life, just could not fail
to build these two topics into his book. I agree with the critics (Joly
(3), Poedler, Reizbaum, Rosenfeld) who insist that the mere presence
of the anti-Semitic and misogynist undertones in Ulysses do not
mean that he necessarily shared these ideas. After all, Bloom succeeds
in the struggle with Bella/Bello, and Molly even agrees to cook his breakfast
on the coming morning. And the box thrown by the hand of the evil Irish
nationalist never reaches Bloom's Jewish head.
In case of Svevo it looks differently. Anti-Semitism and misogyny are
most central for his novels, and even having successfully exorcized his
self-loathing and disenchantment with love, satire remains Zeno's only
weapon, according to Weininger - the only possible form of the Jewish art.
Zeno prospers in making fun of the psychoanalysis - for example, he imagines
(only to please his analyst) the dream in which he sucks his mother's left
foot, letting the right one untouched for his father (3, 422). In doing
so, however, he never gets out of the anti-Semitic discource - the psychoanalysis
in the mid-twenties was already considered the quintessentially Jewish
Joyce, Stanislaus. Introduction. As a Man Grows Older.
By Italo Svevo. Trans. Beryl de Zoete. Los Angeles: Sun&Moon Press,
Roditi, Edouard. "A Note on Svevo." Preface.
Confessions of Zeno. By Italo Svevo. Trans. Beryl de Zoete. London:
Svevo, Italo. Confessions of Zeno. Trans. Beryl
de Zoete. London: Secker&Warburg, 1962.
Adams, Robert. Surface and Symbol: The Consistency
of James Joyce's "Ulysses". New York: Oxford Unoversity Press,
Joyce, James. Selected Joyce Letters, ed. Richard
Ellmann. New York: The Viking Press, 1975.
Weininger, Otto. Sex and Character. London: William
Poedler, Elfriede. "Molly Is Sexuality: The
Weiningerian Definition of Woman in Joyce's Ulysses." Jews
& Gender: Responses to Otto Weininger, ed. Nancy Harrowitz and
Barbara Hyams. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.
Darwin, Charles. The Variations of Animals and Plants
under Domestication, New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1896.
Cavaglion, Alberto. "Svevo and Weininger (Lord Morton's
Mare)." Jews & Gender: Responses to Otto Weininger, ed.
Nancy Harrowitz and Barbara Hyams. Philadelphia: Temple University Press,
Svevo, Italo. As a Man Grows Older. Trans. Beryl
de Zoete. Los Angeles: Sun&Moon Press, 1993.
Gilman, Sander L. The Case of Sigmund Freud, Baltimore,
London: John Hopkins University Press, 1993.
Rosenfeld, Natania. "James Joyce's Womanly Wandering
Jew." Jews & Gender: Responses to Otto Weininger, ed. Nancy
Harrowitz and Barbara Hyams. Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1995.
1. All quotations from Ulysses
are taken from Joyce, James. Ulysses, ed. Danis Rose. London: Picador,
1997. Each quote provides the name of the corresponding chapter and the
2. Compare Rosenfeld, 217
3. Joly, Ralph R. "Chauvinist
Brew and Leopold Bloom: The Weininger Legacy." James Joyce Quarterly,
19, 2 (1982): 194-198.