Pro Cathedral to celebrate Joyce’s works once banned by the Vatican – The Irish Times

In 1933, when it was finally banned in the United States, the language of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses was described by a famous American Jesuit priest as “foamy, scrofulous, putrid, like excrement of the spirit.” The words are listed in the dictionary, but never in the writings or on anyone’s tongue except the lunatics or the lowest human dregs. The critics said what courage. Sexual neurotics said it was beautiful. The normal person said I’m sick.

So wrote Father Francis X Talbot, then literary editor of the Jesuit publication in the United States.

“Only a person who had been a Catholic, only a person with an incurably sick mind, could be so diabolically venomous towards God, towards the Blessed Sacrament, towards the Virgin Mary. But the ‘Ulysses’ case is closed,” a- he writes.

“All the curiosity caused by the extraneous circumstances of its ban is over. It has now been reduced to a simple book. It will be discussed, no doubt, in the small literary pools of amateurs and young radical Catholics. But for most of it is in the grave, fragrant,” he wrote. Father Talbot, it seems, was mistaken.

Not all Jesuits think the same, among them Father Brendan Staunton SJ, chaplain of Dublin’s Pro Cathedral. He has invited former RTÉ radio actor and producer Gerry McArdle to host James Joyce readings to mark Bloomsday next Thursday at St Kevin’s Oratory in the Cathedral.

Among the planned excerpts are some of Ulysses and Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, both of which were also on the Vatican’s banned books index before the practice was abolished in 1966 by Pope Paul VI.

Thursday’s event, which begins at 11:30 a.m. and is expected to last about an hour, is Joyce’s first reading in the Cathedral Pro and will include the (in)famous Hellfire Sermon from The Portrait as well as excerpts from ‘Ulysses on Father Conmee, a Jesuit priest who was on the staff of Clongowes Wood College Co Kildare and Belvedere College in Dublin when Joyce attended both.

The main player is Gerry McArdle, who plays Buck Mulligan in the famous – often described as definitive – 1982 RTÉ recording of Ulysses. He will be aided and abetted by singer Raphael Kelly, who is well known in Dublin musical circles – All are welcome.

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