Anti-Semitism/Anti-feminism in Giacomo Joyce
AbstractAs many critics have discussed, Otto Weininger's Geschlect und Charakter (1903) seems to have inspired James Joyce to write Ulysses. Weininger's view is summarized by Marilyn Reizbaum: "Just as the woman is the negative force in every human being, so too, according to Weininger, is the Jew." This paper aims to discuss anti-Semitism and anti-feminism in Giacomo Joyce from Weininger's perspective.
Giacomo Joyce, which Joyce wrote in Trieste, presumably between 1912 and 1914, is considered to be an "etude" linking A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, almost free from Jewish elements, with Ulysses, full of Jewish names and elements. Trieste, in Joyce's time, was located on the border between Western Europe and East Europe, or if one applies Edward Said's definition of the "Orient," between Europe, familiar to Joyce, and the "Orient," strange to him. For Joyce, the Jews are an Oriental people.
Giacomo Joyce is a sketchbook of luscious fantasies in which Giacomo traces his desire for the "mystery lady.” It is full of sexual-oriented or anti-feminist overtones, but it does not have an "intentional" anti-Semitic/anti-feminist tone. For Giacomo or Joyce, the pupil is a seductive exotic lady who happens to be Jewish. Composing this mental sketchbook, Joyce must have practiced writing from a Jewish perspective. Thus, Joyce borrowed two concepts from Weininger, "Jew as a womanly man" and "self-hating Jew," for his works, Giacomo Joyce and Ulysses.
Keywords: James Joyce, Giacomo Joyce, Anti-Semitism, Anti-feminism,
Otto Weininger, Geschlect und Charakter (Sex and Character)
full version is available in The Journal
of Policy Studies, Vol.7, No.2
(Policy Studies Association Iwate Prefectural University), February 2006, 277-288.
Copyright 2006 Eishiro Ito
Giacomo Joyce, which James Joyce
wrote in Trieste, presumably sometime between 1912 and 1914, is
considered to be an "etude" linking A
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, almost free from Jewish
elements, with Ulysses, full
of Jewish names and elements. Different from Joyce's major novels
whose main locale is Dublin, the setting of Giacomo Joyce is in Trieste.
It is the author's fragmental mental sketches, rather than a
novel. The title "Giacomo Joyce" was given by Richard Ellmann,
the biographer who introduced the manuscript on which, on the upper
left-hand corner of the front cover, the Italian form of the author's
name "Giacomo Joyce" is inscribed. As Ellmann noted, Joyce
certainly allows that the hero is to be identified with himself, for he
calls Giacomo "Jamesy" and "Jim," and once appeals to his wife as
"Nora" (GJ xii & 15).
Trieste was located on the border between Western Europe and Eastern Europe, or more precisely, between Europe (familiar to Joyce) and the "Orient" (strange or exotic to him) in Edward Said's definition.1 For Joyce, the Jews are an "Oriental" people. The census of 1910 revealed that Trieste had 5,495 Jews according to John McCourt's Years of Bloom (222).
Giacomo Joyce is a sketchbook of luscious fantasies in which Giacomo traces his desire for his "dark lady" or the "mystery lady," who is most commonly identified with any of Joyce's three middle-class Jewish students: Amalia Popper, Emma Cuzzi and Annie Schleimer. All of them were highly educated, independent and spoke at least three different languages (McCourt 199). Vicky Mahaffey argues in States of Desire that "Giacomo Joyce has sexist and anti-Semitic overtones that are essential to an understanding of the operations of prejudice and the power of art" (151).
As many critics have discussed, Otto Weininger's Geschlect und Charakter (1903), or its first English translation Sex and Character published by William Heinemann (1906), or its first Italian translation by Giulio Fenoglio (1912), seems to have inspired James Joyce to write Ulysses. Weininger's view is summarized by Marilyn Reizbaum: "Just as the woman is the negative force in every human being, so too, according to Weininger, is the Jew."2
This paper aims to discuss anti-Semitism and anti-feminism in Giacomo Joyce from Weininger's perspective.
Otto Weininger (1880-1903)
was born on April 3, 1880 as the second child of an accomplished
Jewish artisan in Vienna. At the age of 18, he entered the
Faculty of Philosophy of the University of Vienna, ignoring his
father's wish that he should study languages. He converted
Christianity (Protestantism) on July 21, 1902, the day he became a
doctor of philosophy. He completed Geschlect und Charakter, which was
first published in German in May 1903. Soon after the
publication, he went to Italy to await results. There appeared to be
none, and during the next four months an intellectual malady, described
by his friends as "a too grave sense of responsibility," became acute.
On October 4, 1903, he committed suicide at the age of
twenty-three. His sudden suicide after conversion reminds
the Joycean reader of the suicide of Leopold Bloom's father Rudolph
Bloom (formerly called Rudolf Virag) at his own Queen's Hotel, Ennis,
County Clare on June 27, 1886 (U
After Weininger's death, however, Geschlect und Charakter ironically received a favored reaction from numerous readers and it has been re-published many times in a number of European languages.
Geschlect und Charakter is a voluble and unsubstantiated treatise, which "proved" that women and Jews did not possess a rational and moral self and, therefore, neither deserved nor needed equality with Aryan men or even simple liberty. Weininger was not the first Western thinker to offer a racist and misogynist vision of the world. The most notable work of this genre was the German psychiatrist Paul Julius Möbius's Über den Physiologischen Schwachsinn des Weibes (On the Physiological Feeble-Mindedness of Woman, 1900). This presumably greatly influenced Weininger, as Möbius criticized Weininger's work as an imitation or an adaptation of his work (Takeuchi 395). The Jewish-Italian psychiatrist, anthropologist and criminologist Cesare Lombroso's L' antisemitismo e le scienze moderne (Anti-Semitism and the Modern Science, 1894) would have been more influential because Lombroso, as a Jew, disparaged his coreligionists and asserted that prostitution is the female version of crime and that it is women's sexuality that makes all women potential criminals. However, Weininger's work has had a remarkable impact on numerous writers including Karl Kraus, Elias Canetti, Franz Kafka, Hermann Broch, Gertrude Stein, D.H. Lawrence, Joyce, and philosophers like Sigmund Freud and Ludwig Wittgenstein. The original German word "Geschlecht" used for the title can mean both "race" and "sex."
Weininger's theories about Jews, which grew out of his theories about women, were popular in the early twentieth century: Jewishness was a state of mind, inferior to that of the Gentiles and the same was true of women in relation to men, thereby aligning what is Jewish with feminine or womanly.3
That these researches should be included in a work devoted to the
characterology of the sexes may seem an undue extension of my
subject. But some reflection will lead to the surprising result that
Judaism is saturated with femininity, with precisely those qualities
the essence of which I have shown to be in the strongest opposition
to the male nature. It would not be difficult to make a case for
the view that the Jew is more saturated with femininity than the
Aryan, to such an extent that the most manly Jew is more feminine
than the least manly Aryan.
This interpretation would be erroneous. It is most important to lay
stress on the agreements and differences simply because so many
points that become obvious in dissecting woman reappear in the Jew.
(Weininger 306) (Italics mine.)
The book contains spurious comparisons between races, for instance, Chinese and Jewish. The personal element in Weininger's work, that is, the relationship between his life and work, may have contributed more to Joyce's text than the work itself (JJJO 28).
As Reizbaum argues, if we use the text of Ulysses to document Joyce's connection with Judaism, then we are faced with irresolvable ambiguities.4 However, we might be able to interpret them as artistically significant―Bloom as Jew or non-Jewish Jew.
Joyce had many Jewish friends throughout his lifetime, especially in Trieste; Italo Svevo (Ettore Schimitz), Ottocaro Weiss, etc. Italo Svevo is also known to have been a Weiningerian: His characters in his main works including Senilita (As a Man Grows Older / Emilio's Carnival, 1898) and La coscienza di Zeno (Confessions of Zeno / Zeno's Conscience, 1923) showed Weiningerian Jewish characteristics of the self-hating Jew and misogyny, although Senilita was published five years earlier than Geschlect und Charakter. Joyce and Svevo first met at Berlitz School in Trieste in 1907. Joyce was an unenthusiastic English teacher there while Svevo was an enthusiastic student trying to learn English for his business. It is highly likely that Svevo introduced Weininger to Joyce. Ellmann mentions in his biography that Weininger's Geschlecht und Charakter contains theories that Joyce generally believed, such as, "The Jews are feminine people," although he does not make clear how well Joyce knew or read the book. According to Ellmann, some of the information about alleged ritual murders by Jews in the Eumaeus episode came from a protest meeting about a false accusation of ritual murder that the two men attended together in 1919 (463). Bloom's character, a womanly Jewish man, applies to Weininger's theories, particularly in the hallucination of the Circe episode where the (possibly Jewish) whore-mistress Bella Cohen, who corresponds with the witch Circe in the Odyssey, becomes defeminized "Bello" and turns Bloom both into a passive woman and into a pet as he longed for (U 15.2964-65). Weininger held that woman (like womanly man) is negation, is nothing, is non-existent, illogical, passive: "Her instability and untruthfulness are only negative deductions from the premise of non-existence" (Ellmann 463). "She is the sin of man," Weininger insisted (Ellmann 463). Joyce would have largely agreed with this view and probably initially applied it to characterization of the I-narrator of Giacomo Joyce, although he is described as a non-Jew who is a "non-existent, illogical and passive" married man, in love with a young Jewish lady.
The virgin reader of the mental sketchbook Giacomo Joyce may not understand
the background very well.
Who? A pale face surrounded by heavy odorous furs.
Her movements are shy and nervous. She uses quizzing-glasses.
Yes: a brief syllable. A brief laugh. A brief beat of the eyelids.
Cobweb handwriting, traced long and fine with quiet disdain and
resignation: a young person of quality. (GJ 1)
One would even wonder whether Giacomo Joyce is a fiction or not. Who is "A pale face surrounded by heavy odorous furs" (GJ 1)? The reader cannot know exactly whether she was a real person or a fictional character. The question "Who?" remains unsettled. With this description, one would imagine that she is a decent and educated young lady, although "with quiet disdain and resignation" implies her somewhat cynical personality. Then Giacomo launches forth on an easy weave of tepid speech, showing off his wide-ranged culture to her. Giacomo, a shy man, however, seems only to teach English and cannot do anything else to the lady who "never blows her nose" (GJ 2). All he can do is to observe her and teach English, nursing lascivious thoughts.
Then, the reader recognizes that she belongs to a different race called "Jews":
Rounded and ripened: rounded by the lathe of intermarriage and ripened
in the forcing-house of the seclusion of her race. (GJ 2)
"Intermarriage" here means "endogamy." If Giacomo knows that the mystery lady might not be a practicing Jew, however, "intermarriage" means "marriage with a non-Jewish partner." This has been called the "Second Silent Holocaust" which is considered to be a serious threat to Jewish survival. As Ellmann argues, Stephen Dedalus similarly insists that his Irish girl possesses "the secret of her race" in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (P 5.1664; Ellmann xxxii). Here Giacomo begins his erotic Oriental fantasy with the first of several harem images. Giacomo "sets up an implicit ratio, that Jewish culture is to the larger European society as the harem culture is to the larger (Near) Eastern society whence the Jews themselves originally came."5 When the "wings of her drooping hat shadow her false smile," he notices her "streaks of eggyolk yellow on the moistened brow, rancid yellow humour lurking within the softened pulp of the eyes" (GJ 2). Giacomo finds an Asian element in her face. According to Weininger, "admixture of Mongolian blood is suggested by the perfectly Chinese or Malay formation of face and skull which is so often to be met with amongst the Jews and which is associated with a yellowish complexion" (303).
The following passage clearly describes the lady's Jewishness:
Mio padre: she does the simplest acts with distinction. Unde
derivatur? Mia figlia ha una grandissima ammirazione per il suo
maestro inglese. The old man's face, handsome, flushed, with
strongly Jewish features and long white whiskers, turns towards
me as we walk down the hill together. O! Perfectly said: courtesy,
benevolence, curiosity, trust, suspicion, naturalness, helplessness of
age, confidence, frankness, urbanity, sincerity, warning, pathos,
compassion: a perfect blend. Ignatius Loyola, make haste to help
me! (GJ 5) (Italics mine.)
Paying his duty and taking his compassion to her father, Giacomo is very conscious of his strong Jewish features and his long white whiskers, characteristic of the stereotyped solemn Jewish father. He hopes Ignatius Loyola will help him when his heart is "sore and sad, crossed in love" (GJ 5) as Stephen in Ulysses wishes when he discusses Hamlet in the National Library: "Ignatius Loyola, make haste to help me!" (U 9.163).
The next passage also leads the reader to notice her Jewishness. It has a sympathetic tone to the Jewish people who had been forced to bury corpses in strictly-determined secluded cemeteries.
Corpses of Jews lie about me rotting in the mould of their holy field.
Here is the tomb of her people, black stone, silence without hope
. . . . . Pimply Meissel brought me here. He is beyond those trees
standing with covered head at the grave of his suicide wife, wondering
how the woman who slept in his bed has come to this end. . . . .
The tomb of her people and hers: black stone, silence without hope:
and all is ready. Do not die! (GJ 6)
Giacomo fears for her Jewish fragility of life, the "daughter of Jerusalem." Immediately before the two sketches of her suffering, he compares her to two famous fated Italian women in literature, Dante's Beatrice Portinari, who died at the hand of God, and Shelley's Beatrice Cenci, who died at the hand of man (GJ 11). Additionally, "Beatrice" is related to a Joycean character Beatrice Justice in Exiles. In the first sketch, the housemaid tells Giacomo that she has been taken to the hospital. In the next paragraph, in the second sketch, he imagines her operation vividly, "The surgeon's knife has probed in her entrails and withdrawn, leaving the raw jagged gash of its passage on her belly" (GJ 11). It also can be interpreted that this image symbolically expresses Giacomo's depressed desire for committing misconduct with her.
In the following passage, she ironically implies how the Jewish people think of a country. Her opinion has an overtone of a self-hating Jew.
She thinks the Italian gentlemen were right to haul Ettore Albini, the
critic of the Secolo, from the stalls because he did not stand up when
the band played the Royal March. She heard that at supper. Ay.
They love their country when they are quite sure which country it is.
(GJ 9) (Italics mine.)
The same allegation can be found in the conversation between John Wyse Nolan and J.J. O'Molloy in Ulysses.
―And after all, says John Wyse, why can't a jew love his country like
the next fellow?
―Why not? says J. J., when he's quite sure which country it is.
(U 12.1628-30) (Italics mine.)
Before the conversation, Leopold Bloom is asked by the citizen in Barney Kiernan's pub:
―What is your nation if I may ask? says the citizen.
―Ireland, says Bloom. I was born here. Ireland. (U 12.1430-31)
Even after Bloom affirms his Irish nationality, Irish people around him do not regard him as Irish because they know that he has a Hungarian Jewish background.
Then Bloom admits his Jewishness in the pub:
―And I belong to a race too, says Bloom, that is hated and persecuted.
Also now. This very moment. This very instant. (U 12.1467-68)
Bloom's Jewishness is more important to Irish people around him than to himself. He never forgets his Jewishness even after he insisted that he was born in Ireland. He abandoned Protestantism and converted to Catholicism to marry Molly. However, in the hallucination of the Circe episode, Bloom becomes the "emperor-president and king-chairman" Leopold the First (U 15.1471-73) and establishes "the new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future" (U 15.1542-45).
The Jews had often been called "a nation without country" before the foundation of Israel in 1948. In the early twentieth century, the Jewish people lived (or wandered) throughout the world. Weininger was negative to the Zionist movement that arose in Europe in the late nineteenth century with the aim of reconstructing a Jewish state in Palestine. Weininger asserted that "Zionism must remain an impracticable ideal, notwithstanding the fashion in which it has brought together some of the noblest qualities of the Jews," because "Zionism is the negation of Judaism, for the conception of Judaism involves a world-wide distribution of the Jews": "Citizenship is an un-Jewish thing, and there has never been and never will be a true Jewish State" (307).
III. Anti-feminism in Giacomo Joyce
Giacomo Joyce was a private
manuscript, but many Joycean scholars and critics have recently
considered it to be an important Triestine writing whose fragments were
to be developed to be used in Ulysses.
A radical anti-Semite or anti-feminist might consider that Giacomo Joyce is an anti-Semitic or anti-feminist writing. As we have seen, Giacomo Joyce is full of sexual-oriented or anti-feminist overtones, but it does not have such "intentional" negative tones of the dark lady's Jewishness. For Giacomo or Joyce, the pupil is a seductive exotic lady who happens to be Jewish. As Stephen wrote poems to Emma Clery in A Portrait, he composed this "novella" to the Jewish lady, who later became the archetype of Molly Bloom in Ulysses. Noting this "novella," Joyce must have practiced writing from a Jewish perspective.
Joyce doubtlessly read Weininger's Geschlect und Charakter, although he might not have read it very carefully. Geschlect und Charakter and Giacomo Joyce were both written at almost the same time. Both works are the mirrors that reflect the anti-Semitic movements as they also echoed the contemporary conservative men's reactions against the rise of the women's liberation movement in the fin de siècle. Weininger's work is considered to be a radical anti-Semitic and anti-feminist writing, however, while Joyce's private prose is not. Joyce seems to have experimented with depicting a womanly man who is in love with a Jewish lady. Later he described Leopold Bloom as a womanly Jewish man and cuckold whose features are particularly described in the Circe episode, which was presumably inspired by Weininger.
Weininger explained that the bitterest Anti-Semites are to be found amongst the Jews themselves (304).11 Jean-Paul Sartre also asserts, "No anti-Semites exist like the Jewish people" (129). In another passage he defines Jews in his book Reflexions sur la Question Juive (1954) as "what other people think of them"; in other words, "Anti-Semites create the Jewishness" (82). Weininger's concept of "self-hating Jew" would be used by Joyce to create Bloom who might hate Jews and the Jewishness most in Ulysses.
Thus, Joyce borrowed two concepts from Weininger, "Jew as a womanly man" and "self-hating Jew," for his works, Giacomo Joyce and Ulysses.
a revised version of the paper presented at IASIL 2005,
Charles University, Prague, Czech, July 28, 2005.
1 Cf. Said's Orientalism: "For Orientalism was ultimately a political
vision of reality whose structure promoted the difference between
the familiar (Europe, the West, 'us') and the strange (the Orient,
the East, 'them')" (43). Cf. also McCourt, p.42. To describe his
imagination on the dark Jewish lady, Joyce constellated many Eastern
elements in Giacomo Joyce: "A ricefield near Vercelli" (GJ 2), "A
sparrow under the wheels of Juggernaut" (GJ 7), "the breaking East"
(GJ 9), etc.
2 Marilyn Reizbaum, "The Jewish Connection, Cont'd" (The Seventh of
3 Reizbaum, James Joyce's Judaic Other, pp.27-28. Hereafter referred
to as JJJO.
4 Reizbaum, "Weininger and the Bloom of Jewish Self-Hatred in Joyce's
Ulysses" (Jews & Gender), p.207.
5 Joseph Valente, "(M)othering Himself: Abjection and Cross-Gender
Identification in Giacomo Joyce" (Giacomo Joyce: Envoys of the Other),
6 Cf. "Rete Civica Trieste":
=20&tipo=articoli_dx_6&ids=3> Accessed: November 20, 2005.
7 Cf. Mahaffey, "Giacomo Joyce" (Giacomo Joyce: Envoys of the Other),
8 Cf. "Rete Civica Trieste":
-&link=6&tipo=articoli_dx_6&ids=3> Accessed: November 20, 2005.
9 Cf. "Rete Civica Trieste":
-&link=23&tipo=articoli_dx_6&ids=3> Accessed: November 20, 2005.
10 Cf. Ellmann, p.263: In the early autumn of 1907, Gogarty came to
Vienna to complete his medical studies, and wrote a letter to Joyce.
On receiving a pleasant reply, he invited Joyce on December 1 to go
to Athens and Venice with him, and then invited him for a week in
Vienna, and next proposed that Joyce settle in Vienna. Joyce pondered
this invitation very seriously but at last yielded to his brother
Stanislaus's objections and declined (Ellmann 263). Joyce and Gogarty
met again in 1909 in Dublin (Ellmann 277).
11 Weininger also mentions that "Antisemitism of the Jews bears testimony
to the fact that no one who has had experience of them considers them
lovable―not even the Jew himself; the Antisemitism of the Aryans grant
us an insight no less full of significance: it is that the Jew and the
Jewish race must not be confounded" (304-5).
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