In Brief

In Nestor Stephen thinks of money he borrowed from "Temple," a university companion previously represented in Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist. In Proteus he recalls the "oval equine faces" of Temple and three other men. The character was based at least in part on a young man from the west of Ireland named John Elwood who was starting medical studies at Dublin's Catholic university just as Joyce was finishing his undergraduate education there. Temple plays the tiniest of roles in Ulysses, but one thing known about Elwood, his habit of calling people "Citizen," suggests that he entered the novel in another way.

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Igoe reports that Elwood was born to a shopkeeper and his wife in County Roscommon on 17 July 1881, about half a year before Joyce's birth. He attended Summerhill College in Sligo and studied medicine at University College, Dublin (the "Catholic University" founded by Cardinal Newman) starting in 1900. He began practicing medicine in Dublin but then moved back to County Roscommon, where he worked as a physician and dabbled in projects of agricultural improvement. Igoe adds that he "was known for his kindness. One stormy night he went out on a call to a poor and needy person. Travelling on foot over wet fields and bogland to reach the cottage of his patient, he contracted a chill resulting in pneumonia" and died on 27 March 1934. He is buried in the Kilruddane graveyard.

Joyce reportedly came to know Elwood through Oliver St. John Gogarty. They apparently had a friendly relationship, but Temple does not receive affection from anyone in the autobiographical fictions. He is a hotheaded political idealist of strange appearance and manner. Stephen Hero introduces him as "a raw Gipsy-looking youth with a shambling gait and a shambling manner of speaking. He was from the West of Ireland and he was known to be very revolutionary." One scene finds him drunkenly declaiming to a group of young men who are all laughing at him. Attempts to articulate difficult words leave his mouth "flecked with a thin foam." Part 5 of Portrait confirms the foamy mouth and "gipsylike" appearance and adds a few more details. Temple is "A lean student with olive skin and lank black hair" and dark eyes. His face is said to be "equine in expression." He has "an indistinct bleating voice" and alternates between listening raptly to others and blurting out enthusiastic opinions of his own. Other students alternate between ignoring him and deprecating him.

Stephen, however, does neither. At one point, when Temple asks him, "do you believe that Jean Jacques Rousseau was a sincere man?," Stephen laughs out loud and says, "He was like you, I fancy... an emotional man." But the implied criticism does not deter Temple from saying of Stephen a moment later, "He's the only man I see in this institution that has an individual mind." When Cranly verbally attacks him, Temple poignantly confesses that "I’m a ballocks...I am and I know I am. And I admit it that I am.... But he...he is a ballocks, too, like me. Only he doesn’t know it." Unlike Cranly, Stephen listens respectfully. His relatively sympathetic reception may owe much to Temple's reverence for Stephen, which was true also of his real-life model: Gordon Bowker observes that "Elwood considered Joyce 'a great artist'" (132). 

But Temple's religious views may also play a part. Some of what he says about the Catholic church in A Portrait sounds a lot like the young Joyce: "if Jesus suffered the children to come why does the church send them all to hell if they die unbaptised? Why is that?... / Because the church is cruel like all old sinners." In My Brother's Keeper Stanislaus Joyce remarks that his brother "puts some of his anger into the mouth of 'Temple'. Jim used to say that the Church was cruel like all old whores. In the novel he modifies the phrase" (11). Temple also mocks the doctrine of Limbo: "Hell... I can respect that invention of the grey spouse of Satan. Hell is Roman, like the walls of the Romans, strong and ugly. But what is limbo?... / Do you know what limbo is?... Do you know what we call a notion like that in Roscommon?... / Neither my arse nor my elbow!" His emphasis on the Romanness of Catholicism may remind readers of Stephen's very worldly God in Scylla and Charybdis: "the lord of things as they are whom the most Roman of catholics call dio boia, hangman god." Stephen also talks about Limbo in both that chapter and Oxen of the Sun.

Temple's political views are equally pronounced but not so clearly aligned with Stephen's: "Three cheers for universal brotherhood!... / I'm a believer in universal brotherhood.... Marx is only a bloody cod.... / Socialism was founded by an Irishman and the first man in Europe who preached the freedom of thought was Collins. Two hundred years ago. He denounced priestcraft, the philosopher of Middlesex. Three cheers for John Anthony Collins!... I admire the mind of man independent of all religions." Without supplying any details, Ellmann writes that Elwood "would later become in turn Sinn Féiner, British imperialist, and fascist" (131). Joyce almost certainly reacted coolly to his politics. His exact opinions cannot be known, but he appropriated one trait in a most unflattering way.

In his biography Oliver St John Gogarty, Ulick O'Connor writes: "Elwood professed Socialism, was a member of the IRB, the secret physical force organization, and was known as 'Citizen' from his habit of addressing people in that mode" (58). Bowker writes of Joyce's "companions in nocturnal mischief" that "The group had acquired another member in John Elwood, a Republican who, Jacobin-style, called everyone 'Citizen', the title Joyce chose for his bigoted Irish nationalist in Ulysses" (99). Joyce's Citizen is more (and less) than simply a fictionalized version of Michael Cusack. John Elwood appears to have gone into the character as well. It seems quite possible that the barhounds of Cyclops who jokingly address one another as militant revolutionaries are based on banter that Joyce heard in his youth:

— Stand and deliver, says he.
— That's all right, citizen, says Joe. Friends here.
— Pass, friends, says he.

Although Temple largely disappears in Ulysses, then, some of his real-life model appears to live on in a new avatar.

JH 2022
James Joyce (second from left, standing) with some classmates and teachers at the time of his graduation from University College. Source: www.ucd.ie.