Friday, August 3, 2007

Vivien Igoe's "Joyce's Dublin Houses & Nora Barnacle's Galway"

Review (cross-posted at Amazon US) of this 140-page guide (Wolfhound Pr. 1997). A new version expanded to 208 pp. (shown here, Lilliput Pr.) appeared in June 2007 but I haven't seen it; the basics in the older edition should remain the same. Perhaps URLs & updated transport data are added for the itinerary supplement that carefully leads you around by bus to Joyce's Dublin houses, each residence given a few pages per biographically organized chapter) and their environs. This handsome vademecum fits the hand, pleases the eye, and informs the mind of the Joycean pilgrim searching not along the streets for Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, the denizens of Nighttown or the cast from "Wandering Rocks"-- but their engenderer in his native habitat. This parallels not only the ubiquitous electronic and print guidebooks for walkers recreating Bloom's steps, but academic maps for the fictional counterpart, the topographical dictionary by Ian Gunn & Clive Hart, "James Joyce's Dublin," (Thames & Hudson, 2004). Igoe's title speaks for itself.

Igoe, a Joyce scholar and former curator at the Sandymount museum, gives requisite passages from Joyce's fiction, period and recent illustrations, and comprehensive but not mind-numbing biographical details that guide armchair visitors as well as direct real tourists. Neil Hyslop's handsome, readable, and hand-lettered maps recall the elegant ones that used to grace endpapers of historical hardcovers. They are easy to consult, spare enough not to be cluttered with extraneous information, and large enough to be accurate and not merely decorative.

(Blog note: An earlier entry a few days ago ties into two relevant websites: archive of postcards and period photos matching the text of "Ulysses," and Eishiro Ito's chronologically organized charts of his snapshots as he followed along Igoe's trail blazed in both Dublin and Galway.)

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