Chamber Music: Annotated James Joyce Author
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Chamber Music by James JoyceAlthough the title has been widely reported to refer to the sound of urine clinking in a chamber pot, this is a later Joycean ornament, lending an earthy touch to a title first suggested by her brother Stanislaus and that Joyce (in time of publication) had come to dislike me: The reason I don't like Chamber Music as a title is that it is too accommodating, he admitted to Arthur Symons in 1906. I would prefer a title that repudiates the book without disparaging it completely.Richard Ellmann reports (from a 1949 conversation with Eva Joyce) that the connotation of the urinal originates from a visit he made, accompanied by Oliver Gogarty, to a young widow named Jenny in May 1904. The three of them drank porter while Joyce read the handwritten versions of the poems aloud and, at one point, Jenny withdrew behind a screen to make use of a chamber pot. Gogarty commented, There is a critic for you! When Joyce later told Stanislaus this story, his brother agreed that it was a favorable omen.In Ulysses, Leopold Bloom reflects: Chamber music. I could make a pun on that.In fact, the poetry of chamber music is not at all obscene, nor does it recall the sound of urine tinkling. Although the poems did not sell well (less than half of the original print run of 500 sold in the first year), they received some critical acclaim. Ezra Pound admired the delicate temperament of these early poems, while Yeats described I hear an army charging the earth as a technical and emotional masterpiece. In 1909, Joyce wrote to his wife: When I wrote [Chamber Music], I was a lonely boy who walked alone at night and thought that one day a girl would love me.


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