Friday June 29, 2012
Greatest Use of the Parenthetical ... Ever?
Louis Menand, who's too smart for this country, has, in the latest issue of The New Yorker, a good piece on a new James Joyce biography. As New Yorker writers are wont to do, he spends more column inches delivering his own mini-bio of the artist as young, middle-aged and old man than in actually reviewing the book. But it's a great read. It also includes my favorite recent example of the parenthetical.
Menand writes about Joyce's love of puns. He writes about the near autobiographical nature of his work. He writes about how some of his characters have the same names as the people they were based upon, and that's why Joyce never returned to Ireland, because he was afraid of libel suits. He writes about Joyce's favorite writer, Dante, “another exile, who created a verbal universe that he populated with old Florentine comrades and enemies, each caricatured with exquisite precision for all time, and who placed at the center of his imaginary cosmos a woman he had fallen in love with after seeing her on the street, Beatrice Portinari.”
Then he goes into Joyce's Beatrice, Nora Barnacle, a Galway girl, who, in 1904, was working as a chambermaid in Dublin when Joyce saw her on the street and asked her out. She didn't show for the first date. She did for the second. Menand writes:
They walked to Ringsend, on the south bank of the Liffey, where (and here we can drop the Dante analogy) she put her hand inside his trousers and masturbated him. It was June 16, 1904, the day on which Joyce set “Ulysses.” When people celebrate Bloomsday, that is what they are celebrating.
I read that last night. Laughed out loud. The entire piece can be found here: “Silence, Exile, Punning: James Joyce's chance encounters.”
In the meantime, other great examples of the parenthetical? Bueller?
...and yes I said yes I will Yes.