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Vain Fortune’

In response to:

Huston's Joyce from the March 3, 1988 issue

To the Editors:

In the notice of the movie The Dead [NYR, March 3] you quoted the long and beautiful passage about the snow falling over Ireland. But like others, you did not refer to the source of this great image, i.e., George Moore’s Vain Fortune (1895).

Joyce seems to have denied knowledge of the passage in Moore, but in the collection of Irish literature formed by the late James Gilvarry, there was a copy of Moore’s book, with Joyce’s signature, dated March 1907. That Joyce denied knowledge of the origin seems to indicate a sense of the importance of the passage for Joyce.

Gabriel Austin

New York City

Denis Donoghue replies:

I’m afraid Gabriel Austin is in error. The relation between the scene in Vain Fortune where the hero, Hubert Price, states out the window while his wife sleeps has long been known to students of Joyce. It was thoroughly and judiciously examined in Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce (1959). Joyce never denied that he knew the book. In The Day of the Rabblement he praised it as “fine, original work.”

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