Monday, 15 February 2010

James Joyce in Zürich

From Zürich's busy Central tram station where the blue&white trams crisscross each others tracks the no.6 rushes away up a zigzag hill and rattles on all the way to the end of the line, and almost gasping for breath one feels, halts at the Zoo terminus. The journey takes about 10 minutes, and conveniently brings the passenger to the gates of Fluntern Cemetery.

The passenger now becomes a pedestrian and clutching a piece of paper with a hand drawn map, conveniently supplied by a friendly bearded gentleman at the James Joyce Foundation° in Augustinergasse, makes his way along an avenue of birches to Joyce's last resting place; next to Nora Barnacle-Joyce and close to Elias Canetti.

The bronze statue of gentleman Joyce was done by Milton Hebald and was inaugurated on Bloomsday 1966, the 25th anniversary year of Joyce's death. It shows Joyce reading a book and smoking a cigarette. He casts a glance in the direction of Elias Canetti, or perhaps at his good lady Nora Barnacle-Joyce. This seeker of the resting places of the good and great is not at all sure.

The small sign, bearing the number, is seen in the snow. Genius has an official address:
James Joyce
(2 Feb 1882 - 13 Jan 1941)
Grave no. 80398
Fluntern Friedhof

The following untitled Poet-in-Residence pome is dedicated to the memory of James Joyce.-

with slow craft of time
we shall one day arrive
without our histories
and our surplus baggage

the writer's pen moves on
travailing on reflections
for he knows that no-one has
been here for all the time
°discover more about Joyce
via P-i-R's A-Z LINKS >>>


  1. A strange statue - as you say, very expressive of confusion. When I think of Joyce, I think of a certain muscularity in his prose, not reflected in this work. I don't know a lot about him, of course.

  2. Susan, you are really on the mark on both counts. Joyce set out to cause confusion - "enough there" to "keep the professors busy for generations" is what I think he said about "Finnegans Wake". And the "musucularity of his prose" you touch on is an interesting aspect too; via Dublin, Trieste, Paris, Zurich. Things bravely seen or imagined at a vanishing distance. A characteristic looking into the distance photo was taken in Zürich where too rivers come together and turbulence is caused. That's Joyce.

  3. I have now added a most excellent James Joyce link (see: A-Z LINKS) should anyone wish to avail hermself...

  4. I have always found Joyce pretty unreadable in spite of having a son who has read Finnigan's Wake a hundred times. But I don't find that poem unreadable Gwilym I think you have described death in a brilliant way.

  5. Yes, the Wake is really puzzling. Like a Yorkie Bar I can eat it in unmanageable chunks and only every now and again. At Zürich's James Joyce Foundation members meet every Thursday to read it. But I think you need a map of Zürich beside you to know for example that there's a river in Zürich called the Sihl (in FW "the silly post" is the post office near the Bahnhof) etc.
    Perhaps, I should try to read a page a day 'alongside' Dominic. Maybe he can guide my path!
    Dominic, what say you?

  6. :-) I'm living in Vienna too it's a especially place for my paint,
    best regard


  7. I like your artwork. Do you know Wolfgang Pavlik?

  8. What a touching statue. A very human way to represent the man, looking up from a book, having a fag. Who could want for more?

    Re The Wake. At the risk of sounding predictable, I'd love to do that but, having done it once, know that I haven't the time! I will put it on my list of things to do.

    The more I read your poem, the more I think I understand what it has to do with JJ.
    I used to belong to the FWAKE list (google and you'll find it) which was a great inspiration to those wanting to read it, I thought. That was some years ago, and I don't know how active it is now.

  9. Another great Joyce link!

  10. thank you for these links Dominic, and I understand why you have no time, for this man Joyce can take over your liffey and you flounder in his wake, he tried to suck me into his plot in Zürich, sent the softshoed messinger with the casualty hook: you might like to read chapter 10 with us, we start soon...

  11. Like the 'with' and 'without' lead ins to lines, and the rhythm.

  12. Thanks Gordon. Hope it's all going swimmingly on the planet of the two moons. I'll hope to send you a bit of dodgy doggerel in a Martian day or two.
    Best of bardic,


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