Epiphany

He hears confessions without giving absolution: a guilty priest.

His silence means that he has an answer to what puzzles me.

His speech has neither the rare phrases of Elizabethan English nor the quaintly turned versions of Irish idioms which I have heard with Clancy. I hear in its drawl an echo of the Dublin quays, given back by the decaying seaport from which he comes, and in its energy an echo of that flat emphasis of Wicklow pulpits.

He asked me if I would deflower a virgin.

He has one epitaph for all dead friendships: A Sugar.

He spoke to me as: my dream man.

On the steps of the National Library he dislodged an old figseed from a rotten tooth.

He said that I was reared in the lap of luxury.

He did not think that Nicholas Nickleby was true to life.

He is exhausted.

He calls a clock a wag-by-the-wall and Yeats a go-by-the-wall.

(This is an excerpt from a journal kept by James Joyce while living in Trieste. These are notes for his novel Stephen Hero, which he in turn destroyed, but ultimately provided the framework for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man).


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