Wellington Quay

Wellington Quay

In Brief

New space-time. Section 10 of Wandering Rocks is anticipated in the previous section when Lenehan and M'Coy see a "darkbacked figure" perusing the books on a cart "under Merchants' Arch." In the new section Bloom is seen looking at books inside a shop rather than at an outdoor cart, but he is almost certainly the same man and he appears not to have wandered far from the covered archway. He is probably on Wellington Quay––where Lenehan and M'Coy were last seen walking, and where Bloom will be seen walking at the beginning of Sirens. This section has two interpolations, both anticipating section 19.

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In James Joyce's Dublin Ian Gunn and Clive Hart suggest that the bookshop could possibly be Francis Fitzgerald's at 1 Merchants' Arch and 15 Temple Bar, but they think it is more likely on Wellington Quay. Ithaca informs readers of Bloom's "bookhunt along Bedford row, Merchants' Arch, Wellington Quay," with the suggestion that he not only visited those streets but did so in that order. Hart observes that it is "possible that the order given in Ithaca is not correct. Early in Sirens Bloom's progress down the quays contains a passage listing establishments in the wrong order" (52). But if it is correct, Bloom has moved west from Bedford Row along Temple Bar, turned north through Merchants' Arch, and ended up on Wellington Quay, from which he will be seen wending his way to the Ormond Hotel at the beginning of Sirens.

Slote and his collaborators have much to say about a particular bookseller's on this quay, noting that Joshua Strong had ceased doing business by 1904 but was listed in earlier editions of Thom's directory as a "foreign bookseller and librarian at 26 Wellington Quay." They quote from J. F. Byrne's Silent Years: "Josh Strong was the name of the man who owned the bookshop, and he was a Jew. In the little window of the shop the passersby on Wellington Quay could see a few selected books which had been hung in the window with their pages spread at some illustrations with popular appeal.... And hanging prominently in the window with its pages open at a colored illustration of a fecund uterus, was a small, thick book called Aristotle's Masterpiece" (18-19). This of course is the book that Bloom thinks about throughout the first paragraph of the section.

Strong's shop, Slote observes, "was a small area partitioned off from Aaron Figatner's shop at the same address"––a fact which coheres with one's impression that Bloom is standing in a crowded little space, with the proprietor going in and out through a "dingy curtain" to procure more books and talk to some unseen woman in the back. Joyce's portrait of an uninhibited and uncouth shopkeeper also fits with Byrne's report: "Josh was a real 'card'––a veritable oddity even among owners of second-hand bookshops in Dublin––and he didn't seem to care about anything or anybody" (19). He had an elder brother who ran a bookshop in nearby Merchants' Arch, and Slote notes that the 1897 edition of Thom's directory lists a John Strong who had "a bookshop at 15 Temple Bar and a stall at Merchants' Arch, which is where Bloom had been previously. By 1904, John Strong's business had been taken over by Francis Fitzgerald"––the bookseller whom Gunn and Hart identify as a possible alternative to one on Wellington Quay.

All the pieces of this particular puzzle appear to fit, including the interesting detail that the Strongs were Jewish––a fact which would suggest that Bloom likes to patronize the shops of fellow Jews, even though he declines Dlugacz's apparent invitation to fraternity in Calypso. Gunn and Hart add one more interesting detail. The budget for Bloom's day in Ithaca suggests that he does not buy Sweets of Sin but instead "hires it––at notable expense: '1 Renewal fee for book 0.1.0'. Consider also Bloom's response to the offer of Tales of the Ghetto: 'That I had'." The entry for Fitzgerald's in Thom's directory, they note, "contains no indication that he lent as well as sold books. However, his predecessor at the same address, John Strong, described himself and his business as 'bookseller and lending library, book mart'." They do not provide any information about Josh Strong, but it seems reasonable to suppose that he may have operated on a business model similar to his brother's.

Perhaps because the narrative of section 10 is so closely linked with that of section 9, it contains yet two more interpolations from the action of section 19 (making a total of four across the two sections). The first of them references a character already glimpsed in section 1: "On O'Connell bridge many persons observed the grave deportment and gay apparel of Mr Denis J Maginni, professor of dancing &c." Hart notes that the mention of "many" people observing Maginni sets up a contrast with the sentence that follows: "Mr Bloom, alone, looked at the titles" (Critical Essays, 208). The dancing master's gay apparel and flamboyantly public display on the busiest bridge in town stand in sharp contrast to Bloom, attired in black, closeted in a small shop, privately preoccupied with the sexual appetites of his wife.

But the glimpse of Maginni on the bridge also should be set beside his two other appearances in the episode. In section 1 he was seen on the northeast side of town, heading south toward the river. Here he crosses it, still moving south. In section 19 he will be spotted "Opposite Pigott's music warerooms" at 112 Grafton Street. Surely some kind of significant patterning is implied by this journey. Father Conmee, emblematic of the Church, makes a long journey to the northeast in section 1, greeting people all along the way. The viceroy, ruler of the State, does the same in section 19, moving east and southeast and receiving salutes all the way. Maginni's southerly journey, starting in section 1 and ending in section 19, with a midpoint here in the midmost section, also involves public display. He can perhaps be seen as the representative of Art.

A second interpolation glances at the "elderly female" glimpsed in the preceding section:  "An elderly female, no more young, left the building of the courts of chancery, king's bench, exchequer and common pleas, having heard in the lord chancellor's court the case in lunacy of Potterton, in the admiralty division the summons, exparte motion, of the owners of the Lady Cairns versus the owners of the barque Mona, in the court of appeal reservation of judgment in the case of Harvey versus the Ocean Accident and Guarantee Corporation." This sentence comes immediately after Bloom's response to The Sweets of Sin: "Young! Young!" As in Calypso, where he seesawed between warm sunlight and a warm bed and the despair of feeling old and cold, here again Bloom hangs between vitality and senescence.

In section 19 the old woman is shown preparing to enter the offices of Reuben J. Dodd, having walked down the King's Inn Quay "Past Richmond bridge" and onto Ormond Quay Upper. In section 10, however, she is seen leaving the Four Courts building. This interpolation resembles the one in the previous section that showed Richie Goulding walking through the entrance hall of the Four Courts rather than standing in the porch. Both interpolated actions occur earlier, and therefore in slightly different spatial locations, than the ones in section 19, where first Goulding and then, seconds later, the old woman see the viceregal cavalcade pass by. The order in which the actions are presented imparts a sense of temporal succession within 9-10 and 19, and also between them.

John Hunt 2023