In Brief

Noting that his witticism about piers has gone unappreciated by the boys, Stephen thinks in Nestor of contributing it to "Haines' chapbook," recalling what Haines told him in Telemachus: "I intend to make a collection of your sayings if you will let me."

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As he thinks of contributing to this Collected Utterances of an Authentic Irishman, Stephen imagines himself as a sidekick to the English conqueror, at first a subversive one ("to pierce the polished mail of his mind"), and then, more realistically, as a sycophantish "jester at the court of his master." It is a role, he reflects, that many Irishmen have been willing to adopt: "Why had they chosen all that part?"

In Proteus, he will return once more to this question, metaphorically comparing his literary co-optation to the schemes of various noble "pretenders" to the throne of England: "For that are you pining, the bark of their applause? Pretenders: live their lives."

JH 2012
Henry VIII playing a harp in the company of his jester Will Somers, in the King's Psalter, dating probably from the later 16th century and held in the British Museum, London. Source: