JOYCE, James & Nora: Victoria and Albert Museum Brief Guide [INSCRIBED JOINTLY BY NORA AND JAMES JOYCE for “Eil | Best Wishes | Nora Joyce | James Joyce | Jan 1931” on title page]

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JOINT INSCRIPTIONS BY JAMES AND NORA JOYCE ARE EXTREMELY RARE - IF NOT UNIQUE ON THE MARKET

Octavo. Printed stapled bright yellow wrappers. London: Crown Copyright Reserved, 1931. pp. 20. Photogravure frontispiece of the museum exterior. Two pages of plates, two pages of maps. Vertical crease where once folded, small inkstain to titlepage. . In fine condition.

INSCRIBED JOINTLY BY NORA AND JAMES JOYCE for "Eil | Best Wishes | Nora Joyce
| James Joyce | Jan 1931" on title page.
A family gift inscribed by Joyce and his wife to his sister Eileen. In 1910 Eileen had followed her brothers to Trieste. She had married a Czech, Frantisek Schaurek, in 1915 and the couple settled back in Trieste after World War I. Schaurek committed suicide in November 1926 when Eileen was away in Dublin (a bank clerk, he had been embezzling money from his employer). James Joyce heard the news
before his sister, but could not bear to tell her when she visited him in Paris on her return journey. Eileen reached Trieste to find her husband already buried, and demanded his exhumation before she could accept he was dead. Shortly afterwards, she and her children returned to Ireland.

This pamphlet was presumably sent by James and Nora Joyce ahead of a planned visit to London by Eileen, at a time when Joyce and his wife were themselves planning a visit to London for their somewhat belated wedding. From May to September 1931 they lived in Campden Grove "Campden Grave", as Joyce dubbed it), not far from the V&A.
Joyce's attitude towards the heartland of the British Empire was ambivalent. On the one hand, it was the home of those who had come to dominate Ireland and impose their language on its people. On the other, that imperial language was his bridge to Europe and beyond, and London was the publishing centre of the English-speaking world. He regarded the indigenous Irish language as isolating, despite also finding it fascinating, as he did all languages. English literature fed and liberated his imagination (notably the works of William Shakespeare and the Elizabethans, followed closely by Ben Jonson and William Blake), but, when mastered, it was also the literature against which he specifically rebelled. Later, after the creation of the Irish Free State, he resisted blandishments to become either a member of Yeats’s Academy of Irish Letters or to replace his British passport with an Irish one, although he never ceased to live imaginatively in Dublin and to declare his Irishness with pride. Joyce leased a flat in Kensington, West London, at 28b Campden Grove, just off Church Street and close to Kensington High Street. It was a somewhat dreary place in those days, a backwater of dull middle-class life. Elderly spinsters and retired army officers were his neighbours (the Joyces nicknamed it “Campden Grave”), though friends and acquaintances such as Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford had once lived in the neighbourhood, and Lewis still did.
Life in Campden Grove, Kensington was not as Joyce implied. He and Nora dined with Eliot, Padraic Colum, John Dulanty, the Irish High Commissioner, and the Lynds, and they attended concerts, theatrical events and visited museums. Joyce’s presence is recorded on the Electoral Register for Kensington in both 1931 and 1932 (and he was listed as liable for jury service). Usually, however, Joyce found Irish visitors enlivening. When Padraic Colum visited Campden Grove, he described what he called “the friendliest session I ever had with Joyce” and remembered Nora’s admiration at his being widely published in magazines. Why could not Jim do the same thing, she asked, instead of writing for obscure periodicals like Transition which hardly anybody read? “It is better to have one good trick than a dozen poor ones,” Colum told her, but she was unimpressed. Later Joyce remarked to him, “Isn’t it extraordinary that none of my family read anything I write?”

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