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Ulysses, James Joyce (1922)

Think Yiddish, dress Irish

by
Marc Tracy
September 17, 2013

The most obvious reason Joyce made his modern-day Odysseus a (thrice-baptized) Jew is that whole wandering thing. But Leopold Bloom’s Jewishness is most compelling when it is incidental. An anti-Semitic Feinian who wears an eye patch (it is the “Cyclops” chapter) demands to know what Bloom’s “nation” is. “Ireland,” he replies. “I was born here. Ireland.” As another character later says, “And after all, why can’t a jew love his country like the next fellow?”

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

Marc Tracy is a staff writer at The New Republic, and was previously a staff writer at Tablet. He tweets @marcatracy.

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