Abstract: This article examines the life and politics of Albert L. Altman (1854?–1903), a Jewish Dubliner, prominent salt merchant, and member of the Dublin Corporation Council during Joyce’s final years in the city from 1901–3. As the Usher’s Quay Ward representative, Altman became widely known through the local press as a left-leaning advanced nationalist who, along with MPs William Field and J.P. Nannetti, represented a labour-minded faction of the Irish Parliamentary Party during the era. The essay explores Altman’s political ties and actions, and offers several figures, affiliations, and common locales in Dublin as points of contact between the Altman and Joyce families. Within that period, it reviews key moments during Altman’s career when he and his brother became the targets of anti-Semitic slurs. In its second movement, the article turns to analyzing key passages in Ulysses that gain new implications surrounding how Bloom’s Irish-Jewishness operates when viewed through the lens of Altman’s politics. Specifically, the ‘Cyclops’, ‘Circe’, and ‘Eumaeus’ episodes are treated to new readings that further reveal Joyce’s sensitivity to Irish Jewry through his awareness of one of the City’s most newsworthy Jewish Dubliners. The piece opens new vistas on Joyce’s knowledge of Dubliner Jewry and Jewish political issues in Ireland as opposed to the more widely held assumption that the author became conscious of these only during his first residence in Trieste and on the Continent in general.
Dublin James Joyce Journal – James Joyce Research Center @ University College Dublin
Published: Jun 5, 2014