Sunday, June 17, 2012

Stanny--more reflections on Bloomsday

We had a great evening last night, sitting in John's beautiful home in the mountains and going through many forms of appreciating Bloomsday. I realized that it's time to read Ulysses again. It is going to seem a whole lot easier.

But watching the video at the end of the evening, I was struck again by the way that other people had to suffer for his art. I had always known that his brother Stanislaus was a bit harried by having to help his brother out. But it sounds a bit worse than that.

I always feel a bit uneasy about the fates that befall the families of famous artists. Nabokov: famous. His brother died in a concentration camp. Nabokov didn't do a particularly good job of acknowledging that. So Stanislaus didn't have it quite so bad, but I wouldn't say he had it easy either.

I think what bothered me about the video was that people describing the relationship on the video, and all the relationships that succored Joyce, really, had a bit of a chuckle about what a mess he made of their lives. I know artists' lives tend to be untidy and it's not always easy on those around them. But sometimes I think the knowing, rueful laugh by their devotees about the 'less important lives' of those who lived with them and made their success possible is a bit wrongheaded. Maybe just a moment of silent thanks to them would be more appropriate.

I just learned today that Stanislaus, who did indeed love and support his brother, even if they fought sometimes, died on June 16th, 1955.

In other words, on Bloomsday.  

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