Inside Spencer: The KSRL Blog

Bloomsday 2013: Buck Mulligan / Oliver Gogarty Edition

June 16th, 2013

Each June 16th, fans of James Joyce’s Ulysses celebrate “Bloomsday” in commemoration of the day on which the novel is set.  The annual fête (often marked by marathon readings) takes its name from the modernist classic’s central character, Leopold Bloom.

Though the novel belongs primarily to Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, or (in the last episode) Molly Bloom, it is another character who graces its famous first sentence: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed.”

Picture of the first page of the first episode of Ulysses (1922)

First page of the first episode of Ulysses by James Joyce. Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922.
Call Number: Joyce Y116. Click image to enlarge.

Buck Mulligan, the flippant friend of Stephen Dedalus, was in part modeled after a friend from Joyce’s younger days, Oliver St. John Gogarty.  According to Joyce’s biographer, Richard Ellmann, the two young men met at the National Library of Ireland when Joyce was approximately twenty.  Both had medical aspirations and wrote poetry, though only Gogarty would go on to become a doctor.   While Gogarty admired Joyce’s writing, Joyce was less enthusiastic about his new friend’s, which he felt lacked weight and depth.  Joyce did, however, appreciate the satire and bawdiness of Gogarty’s more humorous poems, and he incorporated this into Mulligan’s verse in Ulysses.

Perhaps somewhat to his chagrin, Joyce found himself in Gogarty’s company in his first book appearance. Both men had poems titled “Two Songs” published in the annual anthology The Venture (1905). By this time, Joyce and Gogarty had already fallen out.  Ellmann notes that from the outset the friendship between the two would-be writers was also a rivalry. The character of Buck Mulligan in Ulysses is entertaining in his wit and pleasure-seeking, but he is also depicted as insensitive and disloyal.

Image of the cover of The Venture, 1904

Image of Two Songs by James Joyce, published in The Venture (1905)  Image of "Two Songs" by Oliver St. John Gogarty

Which young writer’s poems are more to your taste?: “Two Songs” by James Joyce and “Two Songs” by Oliver
St. John Gogarty from The Venture; An Annual of Art and Literature. London: John Baillie, 1905, p. 92, p. 138.
Call Number: Joyce Y243. Click images to enlarge and read poems.

Readers curious to investigate Gogarty through his own words will find plenty to peruse in Spencer’s collections. Gogarty published verse, plays, novels, and memoirs.   His  book, As I Was Going Down Sackville Street: A Phantasy in Fact (1937), offers depictions of writers he knew, including Joyce, Yeats, and George Moore, as well as the politicians with whom he associated, such as Arthur Griffith and Michael Collins (Gogarty performed the autopsies on both of these men and subsequently served as a Free State senator).

For those eager to delve into Gogarty’s more obscure writings, Spencer Research Library holds a copy of his play Blight the Tragedy of Dublin: An Exposition in 3 Acts  (1917), published under the pseudonym “Alpha and Omega.”  Even scarcer is Gogarty’s eight-page pamphlet “A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh” (1921), which provides insight into his work as a doctor.

Image of the medical pamphlet, "A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh" by Oliver St. John Gogarty

“A Suggested Operation for Turbinal Catarrh” by Oliver St. John Gogarty. Dublin: pr. for the author, 1921.
Call Number: C3118. Click image to enlarge.

Since this medical pamphlet is indeed rare (the only other copy recorded in WorldCat is housed at the National Library of Ireland) we’ve scanned it and posted it in its entirety here.  So this is what “Buck Mulligan” was up to when he wasn’t composing ribald rhymes!

Photograph of Oliver St. John Gogarty's signature from a 1924 letter to P. S. O'Hegarty.

Signature of Oliver St. John Gogarty, taken from a letter to P. S. O’Hegarty,
17 September, 1924. Call Number: MS P215:1a.

Searching for more Bloomsday fun?  For a list of Ulysses “firsts,” check out last year’s Bloomsday post.

Elspeth Healey
Special Collections Librarian

Representing the Countess: Constance Markievicz in the Poetry of Eva Gore-Booth & W. B. Yeats

April 25th, 2013

This week’s post comes from undergraduate public services student Meaghan Moody, who during this last week of National Poetry Month examines poetic depictions of Irish nationalist Countess Constance Markievicz.

On Monday, April 24th, 1916, Irish nationalists seized strategic infrastructure in Dublin to expel the British and establish an independent Irish Republic. Among these insurgents was Constance Markievicz (1868-1927), who served as second in command under Michael Mallin of the Citizen Army force in St. Stephen’s Green.  Markievicz was sentenced to death for her involvement in what became known as the “Easter Rising,” but the sentence was later commuted to life in prison based solely upon her sex. Markievicz is remembered and celebrated for her fearlessness, her intrepid nature, and her radical military dress. In the image below, you can see her in her full military regalia.

Image of Constance Markievicz excized from the Tatler, Nov. 28, 1917.

“A Rebel Leader” (Constance Markievicz) [image excised from the Tatler, Nov. 28, 1917]. Call Number: O’Hegarty Q38.

While conducting research for my English 530 course, Irish Renaissance Literature, I came across two strikingly similar depictions of the Countess by two Irish writers with diverging political beliefs. W.B. Yeats, a cultural nationalist, and Eva Gore-Booth, a pacifist suffragist and Constance’s sister, both fundamentally condemned the Rising and its resulting violence. They both also depict Markievicz and her subsequent imprisonment in their poetry.

W.B. Yeats knew Markievicz in her youth. He preferred his memory of her innocent beauty and rejected her involvement in politics.

Cover of  Yeat's Michael Robartes and the Dancer  Image of Yeats's poem "On A Political Prisoner"

Cover and “On A Political Prisoner” from W. B. Yeats’s Michael Robartes and the Dancer. Churchtown, Dundrum: The Cuala Press, 1920. Call Number: Yeats Y45. Click images to enlarge.

Eva Gore-Booth, too, disapproved of her sister’s involvement, but, unlike Yeats, depicted Constance as an ethereal, spiritual being, as seen in this poem that she sent the imprisoned Constance for Christmas.

Image of Cover of Eva f Gore-Booth's Broken Glory  Image of Eva Gore-Booth's poem "To Constance--In Prison"

Cover and “To Constance–In Prison” from Eva Gore-Booth’s Broken Glory. Dublin; London: Maunsel, 1918. Call Number: B11104. Click images to enlarge.

In her prison letters, Markievicz reflected on herself as a poetical inspiration, remarking, “I love being in poetry and feel so important!”

Though she recognized her sister’s aversion to violence, Markievicz took pride in the role she played in the Easter Rising and felt a sense of honor in her subsequent incarceration. She wrote to Eva, “Don’t worry about me. I am quite happy. It is in nobody’s power to make me unhappy. I am not afraid, either of the future or of myself.”

Meaghan Moody
Public Services Student Assistant

Source consulted: Weihman, Lisa. “Doing My Bit for Ireland: Transgressing Gender in the Easter Rising.”  Éire-Ireland 39.3&4 (2004) 228-249.