Volume 7, Number 2

July 2009

Download pdf

Table of Contents


Contact Information

Joyce’s Ulysses
in Argentine Literature

By Carlos Gamerro (1)

Translated by David Barnwell


Ulysses is probably the foreign novel which has had most influence on Argentinean narrative fiction. At times it seems to be as much ours as if it had been written in Argentina. And in a way it was. Ulysses was published in Paris in 1922, and its odyssey through Argentinean literature began, as might be expected, with Jorge Luis Borges. As early as 1925 Borges boldly claimed ‘I am the first explorer from the Hispanic world to make landfall on Joyce’s book’. A year earlier he had attempted what may very well have been the first Spanish version of the text, a translation, in a heavily Buenos Aires dialect, of the final part of Molly Bloom’s soliloquy.

In his article ‘El Ulises de Joyce’ (Joyce’s Ulysses), Borges said that he approached Ulysses with ‘the vague intensity exhibited by ancient travellers upon discovering a land new to their wandering surprise’. He was quick to anticipate the question inevitably asked of everyone who reads this endless novel: ‘Did you read it all?’ Borges replied that he had not, but that even so he knew what it was, just as one can know a city without having walked down every one of its streets. More than just a caprice, Borges’s response in fact represented a shrewd methodological statement: Ulysses should be read as one might walk through a city, making up an itinerary, sometimes retracing one’s steps on the same streets and completely ignoring others. Similarly, a writer cannot be influenced by all of Ulysses, but rather by one or other of its chapters, or one or other aspects of the book.

Borges did not imitate Joyce’s styles and techniques, but the young 25-year-old Borges was fascinated by the breadth of the Joycean enterprise, the concept of a total book. The book of sand, the library of Babel, the poem ‘La Tierra’ (The Earth) that Carlos Argentino Daneri tries to write in ‘El Aleph’, all spring from Borges’s fascination with Joyce’s novel. Like the total poems of Dante Alighieri or Walt Whitman, or the Polyolbion of Michael Drayton, they suggest the possibility of putting all reality into one book. In his later years Borges continued trying to deal with this book that most obsessed him. ‘Ulysses is a kind of microcosm, isn’t it? It includes the entire world, although of course it’s pretty long, and I don’t think anyone has read it all. A lot of people have analysed it. But as to reading it in its entirety from beginning to end, I don’t know if anyone has done it’, he said in one of his conversations with Osvaldo Ferrari.

What is fundamental in Borges, especially when he dealt with infinite dimensions such as the universe or eternity, is to condense. He worked through metaphor and metonymy, never by piling up detail. In Ulysses, Joyce expanded the events of one day into 700 pages, in ‘El inmortal’ (The Immortal), Borges compressed 2,800 years into ten. Faced with the ambition of Daneri, ‘Borges’ (the Borges character in ‘El Aleph’) sums up Aleph in a paragraph that suggests both the vastness of the Aleph and the impossibility of putting it into words. Joyce, on the other hand, might have worked like Daneri, though with more talent. ‘His unceasing examination of the tiniest minutiae of consciousness obliged Joyce to overcome the fleetingness of time with a calming gesture, as opposed to the frenzy with which English drama encapsulated a hero’s entire life into a few crowded hours. If Shakespeare – according to his own metaphor – put the deeds of ages into one revolution of a sand-dial, Joyce inverted the process, and the single day of his hero unfolds into the many days of his readers’, Borges comments in the essay referred above.

Joyce and Borges had styles that were almost opposite - if we can even talk about one style in the case of Joyce. Borges catalogued these styles in his Evaristo Carriego. There was the ‘reality style’ appropriate to a novel, exact, all-consuming, the Joycean style par excellence. And there was the style that Borges cultivated, that of ‘remembrance’, tending towards simplification and economy of language and event. ‘Night appeals to us because it suppresses irrelevant details, just like memory’, he adds in his poem ‘Nueva refutación del tiempo’ (New Refutation of Time), while ‘La noche que en el sur lo velaron’ (The Night that they kept Vigil in the South) contains the line ‘night, which frees us from our greatest grief, the prolixity of reality.’ What Borges calls the ‘reality style’ is of course the perception style, which defines the aesthetics of realist fiction and reaches its apogee in the nouveau roman. Contrasting with the systematic and articulate description created by someone from the model set before him, memory is essentially ‘holding onto isolated elements’. In this context, forgetting is not the opposite of remembering, but rather its fundamental creative mechanism. Except, of course, if one is Funes, whose memory holds no forgetfulness and would thus be incapable of writing stories. Or Marcel Proust, for whom memories are more vivid and detailed and intense than what he sees in front of him. ‘Funes el Memorioso’ (Funes, the Memorious) can in fact be read as Borges’s joke on Proust (a writer in whom, unlike most of his contemporaries, Borges had little interest).

What brings Borges and Joyce together is their literary setting. Both writers were from marginalised Western countries, colonial or neocolonial. Out of that limitation they were able to create literature which encompassed all culture, both their own and that of the colonial master, even refining the language of that master. Joyce taught the English how to write in English, Borges did the same for the Spanish.

While Borges may partly be defined as the first reader of Ulysses, Roberto Arlt defines himself as the one who could not read it. In 1931, in the preface to his novel Los lanzallamas (The Flame Thrower), he wrote angrily: ‘On the other hand, some people are scandalised by the brutality with which I described certain perfectly natural situations in the relations between the sexes. Those same society pages have spoken of Joyce, rolling their eyes. This springs from the spiritual delight occasioned by a certain character in Ulysses, a man who eats shall we say an aromatic breakfast in his toilet, sniffing the stink of what he has just defecated. But James Joyce is English. James Joyce has not been translated into Spanish, and it is considered good taste to speak of him. The day that James Joyce becomes available to all, the society pages will invent a new idol, who will be read by no more than a half-dozen of the initiated’.

There was a happy time when the choice between Borges and Arlt was put forward as the Scylla and Charybdis of Argentinean literature. (Lately, with even less success, there has been an effort to replace this with the choice between Borges and Walsh.) It is certainly clear that between 1925 and 1931 Ulysses divided the literary world: there were those who could read it and those who could not. ‘I am the first person to read Ulysses’ boasted Borges. ‘I’ll be the last to read Ulysses,’ declared Arlt just as proudly ‘and that makes me who I am.’ In the words of Renzi, a character in the novel Respiración artificial (Artificial Respiration) by Ricardo Piglia: ‘Arlt gets away from the tradition of bilingualism. Arlt is outside of it, he reads translations’. If throughout the nineteenth century and even as late as Borges, we see the paradox of a national literature that is built out of the split between Spanish and the language in which it is read, which is always a foreign language, ‘Arlt does not undergo this split […] He is in contrast the first to defend reading translations. Take a look at what he says about Joyce in the prologue to Los Lanzallamas and you’ll see’.

Early on it was said, and it continues to be said, that even with three versions of the book now in Spanish, Ulysses is literally untranslatable. Perhaps for that reason several authors in different parts of the world - Alfred Döblin with Berlin Alexanderplatz, Luis Martín-Santos with Tiempo de silencio (Time of Silence), Virginia Woolf with Mrs. Dalloway, the female Ulysses - took on the task of rewriting it by setting the action in their own worlds, a kind of radical translation. Leopoldo Marechal, in his Adán Buenosayres, took on the ambitious task of writing the Argentine Ulysses. Adán Buenosayres follows Joyce’s Ulysses in minute and highly planned detail. Its systematic use of Homeric parallels towards the end (in “Viaje a la oscura ciudad de Cacodelphia”(Voyage to the Dark City of Cacodelphia)) gives way to echoes of Dante. Borges always expressed surprise at critics’ enthusiasm for the Homeric parallels in Ulysses, and used his short story ‘Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote’ (Pierre Menard, author of Quixote) to poke fun at them indirectly: ‘One of those parasitical books that put Christ on a boulevard somewhere, Hamlet on the Cannebière in Marseilles or Don Quixote on Wall Street’. This aspect was of special interest to Marechal, and in his work at some length appear the shield of Achilles, Polyphemus, Circe, the Sirens and the descent to hell. He also shares with Joyce the ambition of recapturing the epic tradition for the novel. The confessed Catholic Marechal seeks to rediscover the epic spirit, while the renegade Catholic Joyce, enemy of any philosophy that would distance us from earthly life in all its richness, would have been fascinated by what Marechal in his ‘James Joyce y su gran aventura novelística’ (James Joyce and his Great Novelistic Adventure), called ‘the demon of the letter’. ‘Joyce concludes by giving prominence to the means of expression, to such an extent that the continual interchange of resources and the free play of words make us lose sight of the scene and characters. It does not stop there, because there is a “demon of the letter” and it is a fearsome devil. To judge by his last work, the demon of the letter completely took over Joyce.’

Though begun in the early 1930s, Adán Buenosayres was not published till 1948. Three years earlier the moment foretold by Arlt had arrived - in 1945, scarcely three years after his death, the first translation of Ulysses into Spanish was published. This appeared in Argentina and the translator was the relatively unknown J. Salas Subirat. This translation was followed by two more, both carried out in Spain. The Argentinean version undoubtedly has the most errors, but it also has many fine elements, and when we consider that the Argentinean had no access to the vast critical apparatus that his successors were able to avail of, his achievements can be considered to be of epic proportions. Further, they are a melancholy reminder of an era when Buenos Aires could be considered capital of Hispanic culture.

Many Latin American novelists of the 1960s took William Faulkner as a model. This was at least partly because Faulkner, like so many of them, belonged to the Caribbean, while the Faulknerian formula of combining a regionalist and rural literature with the latest modernist techniques is in fact the formula of the Latin American literary boom, from Mexico to Uruguay. In the case of Argentina, however, literature in the twentieth century moves definitively from country to city, moreover to a cosmopolitan city and one marked by European immigration. Joyce, who took on single-handed the task of getting rid of Irish pastoralism – the literature of the ‘Celtic Revival’ of Yeats and his followers – and putting in its stead a modern and urban literature, has for that reason been our model, rather than Faulkner. The rural towns of inland Argentina, especially those parts of the pampas where there was large-scale foreign settlement, are those most commonly depicted in our fiction (Rodolfo Walsh, Manuel Puig, Haroldo Conti, Osvaldo Soriano, César Aira) and they can be characterised more by their aspirations to the culture of Buenos Aires than by their own traditional culture. An example of this is the town of Coronel Vallejos in the work of Puig.

Puig confessed that he had never read Ulysses in full, feeling that it was enough to know that each of its chapters is written in its own style, technique and language. Already in his first novel, La traición de Rita Hayworth (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth), some chapters are purely in dialogue, others in interior monologue, and still others in what might be termed low styles such as the letter, school composition, young girls’ intimate diaries, anonymous writing. Boquitas pintadas (Painted Lips) seems to spring from the pop chapter of Ulysses, ‘Nausicaa’ (a teenage girl’s interior monologue, her sensibility, soul and language formed from women’s magazines, and The Buenos Aires Affair is the most consistently Joycean of all. If Borges adopted the cultured or postmodern aspect of Joyce, it was Puig who saw the way the postmodern wind was blowing, with its camp and pop, even kitsch, and its mass culture, so alien to Borges.

The work of Rodolfo Walsh, which, in simplistic readings, even today in vogue, is seen only in terms of social activism and critique, always exhibits the presence of Joyce. Of an Irish family, in a country in which that community has fiercely maintained its cohesiveness through language, religion and tradition, and educated like Joyce in an Irish Catholic boarding-school, Walsh did not escape the influence of his quasi-compatriot, though in his case it was Dubliners and especially A Portrait of the Artist that left their mark on his ‘Irish Stories’. Like Borges, Walsh tended towards the laconic, and the prolixity of Ulysses may have seemed foreign, even hostile to him. Nevertheless, his pampas stories, such as ‘Cartas’ (Letters) and ‘Fotos’ (Photos) constitute - as Ricardo Piglia astutely pointed out -, little Joycean universes, a condensed rustic Ulysses.

His ‘Irish Stories’ have an autobiographical basis. When Miguel Walsh, a farm foreman who had taken the risk of trying to become an independent landowner, lost all during the notorious decade of the 1930s, two of his children, Rodolfo and Héctor, were sent to a boarding-school run by nuns in Capilla del Señor, Buenos Aires Province, and subsequently to the Instituto Fahy in Moreno. Both of these schools served the Irish community. ‘It is true that they are different to the others,’ said Walsh in an interview. ‘Clearly if we want to describe the tendency in writing style towards the widened use of words, that is to say a widening of the resources, we might call it epic in the sense that the stories and method are very small while the language is grandiose, and you can use this grandiloquent language for boys’ stories that I would never use even if I were writing an epic.’ The formula inverts that of Joyce: a scrupulously everyday language used for epic themes, an epic language used for minor stories, or, one might say, stories about minors. In the same interview Walsh admits that there is a Joycean influence in his Irish stories, although he claims that this is more in theme than in style. The atmosphere of these stories reminds us of the first chapter of the Portrait, though with one fundamental difference. Clongowes is a boarding-school for rich children, while the Instituto Fahy is for the poor. What follows from this is that for the Walsh family, the father’s ruin prompted entry into the boarding-school, while for Joyce, it forced exit from such a school. Joyce, for his part, focuses principally on the indelible mark that a Jesuit education can leave on a young man’s soul, his own. Walsh on the other hand is concerned with the boarding -chool as a whole, and is more worried about the emotional and physical damage that he suffered.

Joyce, who became a writer once he had cast off the two yokes of the Catholic Church and the duty to serve the Irish revolution, is hostile to any idea of ideological or political engagement. His work does not exclude the political (in fact it is steeped in politics—the short story ‘Ivy Day in the Committee Room’, the Christmas dinner scene in The Portrait, and throughout both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake). Yet that is all he does — he includes it. The mission of literature is nothing less than to ‘forge the uncreated conscience of my race’ and thus politics and religion are subordinate to it. In Chapter 5 of The Portrait, Stephen Dedalus puts forward his aesthetic theory: ‘I mean that the tragic emotion is static. Or rather the dramatic emotion is. The feelings excited by improper art are kinetic, desire or loathing. Desire urges us to possess, to go to something; loathing urges us to abandon, to go from something. These are kinetic emotions. The arts which excite them, pornographic or didactic, are therefore improper arts. The esthetic emotion is therefore static. The mind is arrested and raised above desire and loathing’.

Walsh’s reply appears in his story entitled ‘Fotos’:

Things to say to M:

The aesthetic is ecstatic.

Integritas. Consonantia. Claritas.

Aristotle. Croce. Joyce.


To hell with Croce.

No, my friend, now I get it. Art is for you people.

If anyone could do it, it would no longer be art’.

Jacinto Tolosa is the first to speak. He is a rancher’s son and aspires to be a poet and a lawyer. Mauricio, his friend, is outgoing and friendly, a lazy son of a businessman, a passionate but unsure photographer. Jacinto is using Joyce to convince Mauricio that photography is not art. It is tempting to establish a parallel between Tolosa’s view (photography is not art) and the view that would condemn Walsh’s documentary work (those verbal snapshots of reality) to a secondary aesthetic level. ‘Fotos’ is, among other things, a defence of the artistic validity of non-fiction, of forms such as testimonial or documentary art. Walsh had a clear vision of the implications of Joycean aesthetics: the aesthetic experience is sufficient in itself, there is no need to justify it by invoking its supposed usefulness to individual or society. The kinetic arts – didactic, moralising, political or pornographic – impose a certain line of conduct, they take us outside the work, towards some form of action – revolution, perhaps, or masturbation. For Joyce, literature modifies – creates – consciousness, it shapes the soul. It is so profoundly political that it cannot be subordinated to politics. Compromise is antithetical to art. William Butler Yeats wished to write poems fit to accompany men to the gallows, Joyce wrote stories and novels to immunise men against the foolish temptation to ascend the gallows’ steps.

In Juan José Saer, Joyce’s influence at first glance seems less obvious, except perhaps in his novel El Limonero Real (The Royal Lemon Tree). Yet his particular style results from the conjunction of the flood of words in Faulkner’s stories (he was in essence a disciple of Joyce) with a fondness for the minute French objectivism of Alain Robbe-Grillet and others. It is worth mentioning that French objectivism is evident in Chapter 17 of Ulysses, ‘Ithaca’. Saer's interest in Ulysses is in any case evident in his critical articles, for example the one entitled ‘J. Salas Subirat’ published in Trabajos (Works):

J. Salas Subirat’s Ulysses (the imprecise initial lent his name a rather mysterious air) kept coming up in conversations, and his countless verbal inventions were interwoven in them without any need to be explained. Anyone between 18 and 30 who aspired to be a writer in Santa Fe, Paraná, Rosario or Buenos Aires knew them by heart and was able to quote them. Many writers of the generation of the 50s or 60s learned some of their narrative resources and techniques in translation. The reason is very simple. The turbulent river of Joyce’s prose when translated by someone from Buenos Aires dragged with it the living speech that no other author - with the possible exception of Roberto Arlt - had been able to use with such inventiveness and freedom and clarity. The lesson from that work is clear. Everyday language provides the energy that fertilises the most universal literature.’

Joyce finished the task begun, among others, by Gustave Flaubert and Henry James, those who wiped out the traditional nineteenth century novel and heralded modernism in its place: to have done with the omniscient and personalised narrator, the spokesman for an author who in G. K. Chesterton’s critique of Thomas Hardy, ‘personified the universe in order to give it a piece of his mind’; to abandon stylistic unity within books and between an author’s books, to multiply points of view. Faced with all this variation, Joyce chooses one fixed point: the terrain. Dublin is the scene of all his fiction, the same people reappear in different novels and short stories, their stories go on from book to book. Once this foundation is established, all else fluctuates. Dublin is a very real city in the early chapters of Ulysses, in Chapter 15, (‘Circe’) it is a city of dreams (not to mention Finnegans Wake), in Chapter 14 (‘The Oxen of the Sun’) it is different cities at different times. Faulkner was the first to learn from this: keep the territory, but vary the language, the style, the timeframe, the levels of fictive reality. However, unlike Faulkner and his fictional Jefferson and Yoknapatawpha, Joyce opted for a real city, and did so to the fullest: ‘If the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book’. And he was right. In its representation of Dublin, Ulysses is not just realist, but real. If Joyce places a certain house, business, or tree in his city of paper, it is because that is where it stood in the city of bricks and stone. Aside from his extraordinary memory, Joyce spent his time writing to relatives and friends to confirm the accuracy of his descriptions. In Chapter 10 (‘The Wandering Rocks’), we follow several characters in their wanderings though the city. Readers who took the time to follow the trajectories in the book have shown that its timeframes coincide precisely with those of real life. (Joyce wrote this chapter with the aid of a map of Dublin and a stopwatch). It is thus surprising to realise that Joyce carried out this minute verbal reconstruction of Dublin from exile, without even once returning. Surprising, that is, from the practical point of view. From the emotional point of view, however, it is perfectly logical, for one only reconstructs so obsessively what one has lost for ever. Joyce’s Dublin in this respect is like Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s Havana, perhaps the most Joycean of Latin American writers. His novels Tres tristes tigres (Three Sad Tigers) and La Habana para un Infante Difunto (Havana for a Dead Prince) are, like Ulysses, detailed pictures of a beloved city that has been lost forever. The difference is that Joyce did not want to go back, while Cabrera Infante could not.

The choices made by Joyce and Faulkner determined those of their Latin American followers. Mario Vargas Llosa and Juan José Saer founded literary territories in real cities, such as Lima and Santa Fe. Juan Carlos Onetti, Gabriel García Márquez and Manuel Puig did the same with fictional lands: Santa María, Macondo and Coronel Vallejos. The novel Respiración artificial, by Ricardo Piglia, is a fictional essay in the style of some of Borges’s short stories, such as ‘Pierre Menard, autor del Quijote’ or ‘Examen de la obra de Herbert Quain’ ('An Examination of the Work of Herbert Quain'). It includes multiple reference to, and reflections about, the work of Joyce. All the authors we have mentioned selectively draw on Joyce. They adopt some of his techniques (Marechal, Puig), some part of his referential universe (Walsh), or they write about Joyce himself in their work (Borges). Piglia tries to do all of this at the same time. He uses three Joycean techniques, stylistic parody, quotation and cryptic allusion, and applies them to Joycean themes and texts. The ‘Joycean material’ of Respiración artificial opens precisely with a comment on the omnipresence of parody: ‘There are no more adventures, just parodies. […] Where there used to be action, experience, passion, today there are just parodies. I tried to tell Marcelo this in my letters, that parody has taken over from history. Isn’t parody the very negation of history? […] He [Joyce] would I think have accepted his idea that only parody exists (because really, what was he but a parody of Shakespeare?).’ These words are from Tardewski, a Polish intellectual who remained stuck in Argentina – it is not hard to see in him a fictional version of Witold Gombrowicz, who knew Joyce in Zurich. Tardewski then asks: ‘Do you like his work -Joyce’s work?’ ‘I don’t think there’s another writer in this century’, replies Renzi. ‘Okay,’ responds Tardewski, ‘but don’t you think he was a little too realist?’ To which Renzi replies: ‘Basically, […] Joyce dealt with one problem: How to narrate real events.’

A line further down, Renzi goes out to buy cigarettes, and in the bar listens to a story told in colloquial language, about a man who murdered five of his brothers by sticking a needle into their throats. Much later, near the end of the novel, Tardewski decides to answer Renzi back, commencing a polemic that might well be titled ‘Franz Kafka or James Joyce?’:

I do not share your enthusiasm for James Joyce. How can you compare the two? Joyce […] is too … how can I put it?... hard-working. An acrobat. Someone who performs sleights of words the way others perform sleights of hand. Kafka, on the other hand, is the tightrope walker, with no net […] Joyce carries a placard that says “I overcome all obstacles” while Kafka writes in a notebook and keeps this inscription in his jacket pocket: All obstacles overcome me. […] Better to keep quiet than speak about the unspeakable, as Wittgenstein put it. How can one speak about the unspeakable? That is the question that Kafka tried to answer. […] What would we say is unspeakable today? The world of Auschwitz. That world is beyond language, it is the frontier bound by the barbed wire of language. […] Wittgenstein saw clearly that that the only work that might match his own was the fragmented work of the incomparable Franz Kafka. Joyce? He sought to awake from the nightmare of history in order to perform pretty acrobatics with words. Kafka, in contrast, awoke every day to enter that nightmare and write about it.

Piglia, it must be pointed out, speaks not just about but indeed from the other side of the wire: his novel was written and published in an Argentina that had been turned into a concentration camp by the last military dictatorship. In this context, the quote from the famous closing passage of the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus acquires a second meaning, though without losing its primary meaning: ‘What we cannot talk about we must pass over in silence’, a sentence that may be linked to another posted by the military dictatorship on the Obelisk, the symbolic centre of Buenos Aires: ‘SILENCE IS HEALTH’.

What appears to be at issue in the Renzi-Tardewski polemic is not the relative merits of Joyce or Kafka, but the relevance of any poetry, if indeed it is a case of ‘writing poetry after Auschwitz’. The Pole Tardewski lauds Kafka, and Respiración artificial seems to give him the last word against his antagonist Renzi. Yet the author seems closer to his alter-ego Renzi, since both Respiración artificial as well as his subsequent novel, La ciudad ausente (The Absent City), are both closer to Joyce’s loudness than to Kafka’s inaudible murmur. This is exemplified by such things as the hyperliterary and often cryptic character of both books, their heterogeneous and fragmented textualities, their systematic use of allusion and parody, not to mention the long section dedicated to Finnegans Wake, and the inclusion of the character Lucia Joyce in La ciudad ausente. For to speak of that which cannot be spoken, of the Argentinean terror in this case, Joyce could have been at least as effective as the more predictable Kafka. This is shown not just in the two novels of Piglia but also in the work of his contemporary Luis Gusmán, who in En el corazón de junio (In the Heart of June) explores the subtle, perhaps imaginary links between the most famous 16 June in Irish literature, Bloomsday, and the most famous in Argentine history, Bombsday, 16 June 1955. He follows the steps of, among others, the Italian-Argentine writer J. R. Wilcock, who translated fragments of Finnegans Wake into Italian. A later foreign novel resorted to Kafka to tell the story of the Argentine dictatorship, which with unconscious irony dubbed itself ‘El proceso’ (2): The Ministry of Special Cases (2007) by Nathan Englander.

The difference is not just one of literary theory: Kafka focuses on the process of destruction and its results (the lives of Gregor Samsa, Joseph K., the apparatus of the colonial penitentiary); Joyce, on the beauty of the world that the forces which dominate Ireland (the British Empire, the Catholic Church, Irish nationalism) seek to destroy. He critiques these forces particularly through Stephen Dedalus, but he ultimately stresses the positive, in the lives of Leopold and Molly Bloom. Ulysses may not be for everyone, but its general tone is of optimism and celebration. It is nearer to Whitman than T. S. Eliot, Giovanni Boccaccio than Dante, Cervantes than Fyodor Dostoevsky. And this, to conclude where we began, is what Borges brings out in his poem ‘James Joyce’:

Between dawn and night lies universal history.

From the night I see before my feet the roads where the Hebrew walked,

Carthage laid low, Heaven and Hell.

Lord, give me the courage and joy to scale to the summit of this day.


1 Carlos Gamerro, Argentine author and translator, has taught seminars on Joyce and Borges at the Buenos Aires Latin American Art, has studied and taught Literature at Buenos Aires University (UBA), and teaches at present at the Universidad de San Andrés and at the Museo de arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA). His publications include the novels Las Islas (Simurg, 1998; Norma, 2007), El sueño del señor juez (Sudamericana, 2000; Página 12, 2005; 27 letras, 2008), El secreto y las voces (Norma, 2002), La aventura de los bustos de Eva (Norma, 2004; Belacqua, 2006), the book of short stories El libro de los afectos raros (Norma, 2005) and the books of essays El nacimiento de la literatura argentina (Norma, 2006) and Ulises. Claves de lectura (Norma, 2008). He is at present working on a translation/adaptation of Hamlet for the stage. .

2 Translator’s Note: ‘Proceso’ means both ‘Process’ and ‘Trial’.

Copyright © Society for Irish Latin American Studies, 2009

Published: 02 July 2009
Edited: 20 November 2009

Gamerro, Carlos 'Joyce’s Ulysses in Argentine literature' and the Irish-Argentine Dimension' in "Irish Migration Studies in Latin America" 7:2 (July 2009), pp. 177-184. Available online  (www.irlandeses.org/imsla0907.htm), accessed .

The Society for Irish Latin American Studies

 Copyright Information