JAMES Joyce may be among Ireland’s most famous writers, but it seems not everyone in his homeland is familiar with his words.
The Irish central bank has been forced to apologise for misquoting a passage from the novelist and poet’s most famous work, Ulysses, on a new commemorative coin.
In chapter three of his 1922 modernist classic, Joyce wrote: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read.”
A special €10 coin, which went on sale in Ireland yesterday, priced €46, depicts these lines pouring out of the top of the writer’s head in a stream of consciousness. However, a surplus “that” features in the second sentence.
The Irish central bank said that the coin – an issue of 10,000 – was an artistic representation of Joyce and his text, and was “not intended as a literal representation”.
However, the bank said it accepted there was an issue with its internal processes and was reviewing those.
The coin, which was minted in Germany, remains on sale, but the bank said it would inform purchasers of the error.
“The coin will continue to be available for purchase. Anyone purchasing the coin will be informed as to the error in the text. Anyone who may already have purchased the coin and wishes to return it will be facilitated with a full refund,” a statement from the central bank said.
The erroneous lines on the front on the coin are taken from the beginning of chapter three of Ulysses, where Stephen Dedalus walks alone along Sandymount Strand reflecting.
Joycean scholar Terence Killeen, said the error was “very unfortunate”.
“One would expect accuracy on an item like this. It’s a direct quotation from Joyce, so I don’t think it’s a trivial thing really,” he told the Irish Times.
At the launch at University College Dublin, central bank governor Patrick Honohan said: “The coin’s design, combining portrait and concept in an original manner, reflects Joyce’s standing as one of the leading figures in the modernist movement.”
Joyce is widely regarded as one of the most important writers of the 20th century. Ulysses has been hailed as a masterpiece, but when it was first published, it was viewed as obscene and was banned in the United States and in Ireland, where it remained prohibited until years after the author’s death, in 1941.
Joyce left Ireland in 1904 with his wife Nora Barnacle and only made four return visits to his homeland, the last of those in 1912.