Fred Ryan

Fred Ryan

In Brief

The smallest unpaid debt in Stephen's list in Nestor is owed to "Fred Ryan," a writer who with William Kirkpatrick Magee ("John Eglinton") co-edited a literary and intellectual magazine called Dana. In Scylla and Charybdis Stephen is seen trying to place his Shakespeare theory in this journal. Joyce's own record of submissions was mixed: the editors rejected his essay "A Portrait of the Artist" but published his poem "My love is in a light attire," which three years later he included in Chamber Music.

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Dublin-born Frederick Michael Ryan, a writer of strong socialist convictions with interests in science and economics, was some years older than Joyce. Nicholas Allen writes in the Dictionary of Irish Biography that he was born on 12 October 1873. (Gifford, Slote, and Igoe say 1876, but the exact date in Allen's account suggests better information.) Ryan made a living working for an accounting firm while practicing journalism on the side. He edited three small magazines (Dana, the National Democrat, and Egypt) and one newspaper (the English-language version of the Egyptian Standard). His own works included The Laying of the Foundations, a play about moneyed interests and the working class, which the Irish National Theatre (an organization which he helped found) produced at the Antient Concert Rooms in late 1902. In 1906 he published a book titled Criticism and Courage and Other Essays. He also wrote essays for various journals under his own name and the pseudonyms "Finian" and "Irial."

Dana, a monthly publication, began its run in May 1904 and closed down after the April 2005 issue. The title refers to a Celtic fertility goddess whom Stephen self-interestedly mentions in Scylla and Charybdis: "As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies...from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image." The journal was publishing writers of the Irish Literary Renaissance, and Stephen is angling to join their company. Later in the chapter he hears the voices of John Eglinton and others saying, "Synge has promised me an article for Dana too. Are we going to be read? I feel we are. The Gaelic league wants something in Irish."

At still another point in the library chapter Eglinton tells Stephen, "I don't see why you should expect payment for it since you don't believe it yourself." He continues, "You are the only contributor to Dana who asks for pieces of silver. Then I don't know about the next number. Fred Ryan wants space for an article on economics." In the interior monologue that follows, Stephen recalls the two shillings he owes Ryan: "Fraidrine. Two pieces of silver he lent me. Tide you over. Economics."

JH 2022
Contents of the September 1904 issue of Dana. Source:
The August 1904 issue in which Joyce's poem appeared. Source: