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This article is taken from PN Review 202, Volume 38 Number 2, November - December 2011.

Once Upon a Time in County Cork Marius Kociejowski
The Irish poet and novelist Martina Evans (née Cotter) when it came time came for her to paint her living room she sought to replicate the blue of the covers of the Shakespeare & Company first edition of Ulysses (1922). James Joyce permeates, no, soaks, her talk. 'Chrysostom is mentioned on the very first page,' she told me with all the zeal of one who has just opened up a pharaoh's tomb. 'What Joyce is actually referring to are the gold fillings and the well-fed mouth of Malachi Mulligan. A bit later, in the Proteus episode, he compares his own teeth to empty shells and calls himself “toothless Kinch, the superman”. Joyce had terrible problems with his teeth. When he went to Paris he screamed with every mouthful of French onion soup.' She paused. 'What do you call it? Onion soup? You don't call it French onion soup when you are in France, do you?'

When she speaks - softly, quickly, cramming more words into a minute than many people do in five - even the asides have asides. And there's the lovely turn of phrase too. She mentioned some woman having eloped with a sewing machine. What can it mean, I ask myself. What does it matter, though? There is a zone where all such verbal felicities are poetically rather than literally comprehensible. It set me to wondering whether in this world journey through London the most unfathomable of all countries is not the one from whence my ...


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