Joyce truly wrote historical fiction. Anyone knowing Stead would recognize Stead's famous crossheads in the windy "Aeolus" chapter of Ulysses, plus some of Stead's ideas there and elsewhere. His "Be a Christ" doctrine--by which any person acting as Christ would do in a given situation is a Christ, whether he call himself heretic or atheist--explains "Florry Christ, cosmic force" (U 2195) and "You call me up by sunphone any old time" (U 2207) expresses Stead's "prayer telephone." The antics of "Circe" seem transparenr enough when fortified with Stead's "Maiden Tribute" information; he likened London brotheldom to the world of Circe. My favorite is the section with the Millionairess, Noblewoman, and Feminist applauding Bloom (U 1460-1470) because these truly occupied the platform when he spoke to an overflow audience after his release from jail.

The Shem section of Finnegan's Wake is filled with Steadisms: "romeruled stationery" (185.5) reflects Stead's "Vatican, London" letterhead. Making ink out of excrement is shorthand for Stead's metaphor describing the Maiden Tribute investigation: "For days and nights it is as if I had suffered the penalties inflicted upon the lost souls in the Moslem hell, for I seemed to have to drink of the purulent matter that flows from the bodies of the damned." What we like at this time is found in the Pall Mall Gazette in 1888, an historic precedent for writing over "the only foolscap available, his own body" (185.35):

A solicitor told an anecdote of a teaching barrister: "The learned counsel received papers stating a case for his opinion. A man (so they stated) had been suddenly taken ill at sea; he wished to make his will, but no paper or writing material of any kind was forthcoming; in this extremity the one resource was to tatoo the dying man's last wishes upon the skin of his own back; he himself tatooed his signature upon his leg in front; the witnesses tatooed theirs upon his back. The man died; his skin was taken off, and the will was now, if possible, to be proved. One question in dispute is whether his own signature was good--whether in fact, there was sufficient 'solidarity' between it and the body of the document, and so forth....[After further pondering and debate] an explosion of laughter soon gave the problem a somewhat quicker solution than [the barrister] had expected. The day happened to be the 1st of April.


W.T. Stead / Influence on Joyce / NewsStead / The Editor

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