Pleasant old times

Pleasant old times

In Brief

The markedly Jewish train of thought initiated in Calypso by Bloom's encounter with Dlugacz and the Zionist ads in his butcher shop continues as he thinks back to his earliest married years in the heavily Jewish quarter on the south central side of the city, near the Grand Canal. He and Molly lived first on "Pleasants street," and in subsequent years on two nearby streets (Lombard Street West and Raymond Terrace), all of them within easy walking distance of the house that Bloom grew up in. During those early years the Blooms had multiple Jewish friends living close by, some of them no doubt people that Bloom knew from his family of origin. Punning on the street name, he remembers "Pleasant evenings we had then," "pleasant old times." But the friendships did not endure, because of Bloom's apostasy and his desire to integrate into Gentile society.

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Bloom thinks in Oxen of the Sun of "the old house in Clanbrassil Street" where he was raised. Ithaca identifies the address there as "52 Clanbrassil street." Clanbrassil is a main thoroughfare in south central Dublin, running from the Grand Canal north toward the river, and changing its name to New Street and then Patrick Street as it approaches St. Patrick's Cathedral.

For about four years after their marriage in 1888, the Blooms lived on "Pleasants Street." The western end of Pleasants lies barely a quarter of a mile northeast of the Clanbrassil house. "Lombard Street West" (recalled in Hades, Lestrygonians, Sirens, Nausicaa, and Penelope), where the Blooms lived in parts of 1892 and 1893, begins at Clanbrassil mere feet from the house that Bloom was born in, and extends less than a quarter of a mile to the east. "Raymond Terrace" (mentioned in Hades and Penelope), where Rudy was conceived early in 1893, is not really a separate street, but rather a row of houses fronting the South Circular Road. It lies at the southern end of Raymond Street, which runs parallel to Clanbrassil a couple of hundred feet to the west.

Two other streets mentioned in Calypso lie in the same area. Saint Kevin's Parade is a short, twisting, bifurcated street just a block north of Lombard. Arbutus Place is an even shorter street that begins at Lombard and runs south for only one block, dead-ending before it reaches St. Vincent Street South. Bloom thinks of these streets because when they lived in the neighborhood he and Molly were friends with several Jewish couples. He thinks of "poor Citron . . . in St. Kevin's Parade," who had a "basketchair" that Molly sat in, and of "Moisel . . . Arbutus Place." Cyclops notes that Moses Herzog, the Jewish moneylender whose complaint has sent the unnamed narrator up to Arbour Hill, lives in "13 Saint Kevin's parade."

In The Jews of Ireland, Louis Hyman observes that an Israel Citron did in fact live at 17 St. Kevin's Parade; he was listed in the 1904 Thom's as J. Citron, apparently a mistake for I. (329). Joyce's fictional Citron was almost certainly married, because Molly thinks in Penelope of the voyeuristic student, Penrose, "that stopped in no 28 with the Citrons." (Her address, it should be noted, does not agree with the one listed in Thom's.)

"Moisel" was likewise married: Bloom thinks in Hades of "Molly and Mrs Moisel" being pregnant at the same time—"Funny sight two of them together, their bellies out." Gifford observes that a man named M. Moisel lived at 20 Arbutus Place in 1904, but Hyman associates the fictional character with Nisan Moisel, who had two sons named Elyah Wolf Moisel and Philip Moisel. This fits with a death that Bloom thinks of in Ithaca—"Philip Moisel (pyemia, Heytesbury street)"but Nisan was born in 1814, more than half a century before Bloom, so it seems exceedingly unlikely that he should be considered the model for Bloom's friend. (Heytesbury Street too is in the neighborhood. On the map reproduced here, it can be seen intersecting with the west end of Pleasants Street.)

According to Hyman, Bloom's third Jewish friend, "Mastiansky with the old cither," is Joyce's mistake (substituting "t" for "l") for a grocer named P. Masliansky who lived at 16 St. Kevin's Parade. In the book his given name too is different: "Julius (Juda)," according to Ithaca. In Hades and again in Ithaca Bloom recalls conversations that he had with Mastiansky, and Molly seems to have had intimate conversations with his wife; she thinks that it would be better for Boylan to "put it into me from behind the way Mrs Mastiansky told me her husband made her like the dogs do it."

These old friendships from a Jewish part of town matter to Bloom not only because of the good memories that remain with him, but also because of the guilt that he harbors as a result of renouncing the Jewish faith. When his apotheosis turns sour in Circe, Mastiansky and Citron show up in orthodox garb to condemn him. They "approach in gaberdines, wearing long earlocks," "wag their beards at Bloom," and call him "Belial! Laemlein of Istria, the false Messiah! Abulafia! Recant!" Later in the same chapter, all three appear in a list of "the circumcised" (which Bloom is not) ritually bewailing his fall: "Bloom, broken, closely veiled for the sacrifice, sobs, his face to the earth. The passing bell is heard. Darkshawled figures of the circumcised, in sackcloth and ashes, stand by the wailing wall. M. Shulomowitz, Joseph Goldwater, Moses Herzog, Harris Rosenberg, M. Moisel, J. Citron, Minnie Watchman, O. Mastiansky, The Reverend Leopold Abramovitz, Chazen. With swaying arms they wail in pneuma over the recreant Bloom." (The initial O. before Mastiansky's name disagrees both with actual fact and with the name that Joyce gives him elsewhere in the book. Gabler's edition amends it to P.)

Ontario Terrace, where the Blooms lived in 1897, lies outside the heavily Jewish neighborhood referenced in Calypso, but not very far away. On the map reproduced here, it is in the lower right, just beyond the Grand Canal. Holles Street and Eccles Street, however, are not close.

JH 2017
Bloom's home of origin on Clanbrassil Street (red), Pleasants Street (blue), Lombard Street West (purple), St. Kevin's Parade (green), Raymond Street and Raymond Terrace (orange), and Heytesbury Street (black). Arbutus Place, not shown on this map, is in the area crossed by the red arrow, and Ontario Terrace is in the pink box. Source: Hart and Knuth, A Topographical Guide.
Photograph of September 1901 Jewish wedding of Esther Levin of Waterford and Myer Stein of Dublin at the Waterford courthouse, taken by Poole Photographic Studios and held in the National Library of Ireland. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Photograph of Israel Citron (1876-1951), reproduced by courtesy of Drs. Leslie and Ivor Citron. Source: Louis Hyman, The Jews of Ireland, Plate XVII.
The Goldwater poultry shop on Clanbrassil Street, in a 1965 RTE documentary. Source: