Like Mount Everest, everyone knows about Joyce’s Ulysses – but not everyone has ever reached it.
Published on February 2, 1922, James Joyce’s 40th birthday, this is a novel – some unfinished, others a shame for not having read.
This year, celebrating its centenary, Ulysses is getting attention.
When American artist Paul Cadmus painted this portrait in 1931, Cadmus was 27, his lover Jared French (Jerry) was 26 – and Joyce’s inclusion Ulysses was intentional. Banned in the US by custom censors, who suggested that the book may have occasioned “impure and lewd thoughts,” Cadmus celebrated the groundbreaking work.
Cadmus and the Frenchman, both artists, remained friends for the rest of their lives – even after the French were married in 1937. Paul, Jared and Jared’s wife Margaret founded PaJaMa, a collection photography – and their work celebrates gay identities at a time when all 50 states in the United States banned same-sex relationships.
Cadmus, born in New York, left school at the age of 15 to take classes at the US National Academy of Design and the Art Students League of New York.
In 1931 he and the French traveled in Europe, lived in Mallorca and returned to America in 1933 – where, a year later, the painting by Cadmus The fleet is in caused an uproar when it was exhibited in Washington DC.
A U.S. Navy admiral said the painting of sailors ashore represented “the most shameful, most despicable drunken brawl” and it was removed from public view until 2015. 1981. Cadmus .’s 1938 painting Sailors and Floozies similarly was deemed “unnecessarily dirty” by the US Navy.
Portrait of Cadmus, Jerry, depicting the world of a young man. Relaxed, tanned and healthy, Jerry stared at the viewer. He’s in bed, he’s reading Joyce’s masterpiece, his finger marking the page. Did he finish the novel? Did he make it to that bed scene with Molly Bloom? Yes Yes? No no? We will never know.
This painting, now in the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio, was painted more than 90 years ago. Although the French and Cadmus have lived to old age (the French died in 1988 at the age of 82, Cadmus died in 1999 five days before his 95th birthday), this portrait, instantly striking and contemporary, still young and never old.
Today, October 16, is also the 78th birthday of poet Paul Durcan – and in his most recent collection, Wild Wild ErieDurcan wrote 50 poems in response to 50 works of art in the Toledo collection, including that of Cadmus. Jerry.
by Paul Durcan
Paul, dear Paul, gentle Paul with a big heart
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You knew, didn’t you, that when you asked me
Pose yourself between our sheets
With a copy of Ulysses – that pine green edition
Of the Bible with golden letters – you know that what James Joyce
The wonderfully wonderful novel is all about ‘HOMECOMING’?
That’s what you know, isn’t it, that’s what
Lying behind your portrait of me,
Your strong, your stubborn, your own little French Jerry?
Return of the lover to his lover;
The return of the boy to his mother and father.
“O such nipples, such armpits, such biceps,
Such fingers, such eyebrows, such elbows, such ribs. . . “You mumbled”
But it’s all really Joyce and his fiery Ulysses.
O Paul, dear Paul, dear Paul, with a big, tender heart
Your Jerry is lucky but sick waiting for you;
Lying here among the papers longing for you.
Paul, PLEASE go home
To your sweetheart, your true love, please, please, please, please.
© Paul Durcan 2016
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