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Impressions of the West: James Joyce

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James Joyce isn't the first name that leaps to mind among authors who have written about the American West. But he spoke about it at least once, in his collection of short stories, Dubliners - first published in 1914, although under development since 1905. In the autobiographical short story, An Encounter, Joyce describes how he and his friends used to play:

"It was Joe Dillon who introduced the Wild West to us. He had a little library made up of old numbers of The Union Jack, Pluck and The Halfpenny Marvel. Every evening after school we met in his back garden and arranged Indian battles. He and his fat young brother Leo, the idler, held the loft of the stable while we tried to carry it by storm; or we fought a pitched battle on the grass. But, however well we fought, we never won siege or battle and all our bouts ended with Joe Dillon's war dance of victory. His parents went to eight o'clock mass every morning in Gardiner Street and the peaceful odour of Mrs. Dillon was prevalent in the hall of the home. But he played too fiercely for us who were younger and more timid. He looked like some kind of an Indian when he capered round the garden, an oid tea-cosy on his head, beating a tin with his fist and yelling:

'Ya! yaka, yaka, yaka!'

Everyone was increduluous when it was reported that he had a vocation for the priesthood. Nevertheless it was true.'

Dubliners, (p. 11-12; Norton Critical Edition), James Joyce         

The Union Jack, Pluck and The Halfpenny Marvel, by the way, were boys' magazines published in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Alfred Harmsworth (aka Lord Northcliffe). Stories in each tended to focus on westerns, especially once Harmsworth allowed his readers to vote on which were their favorites.

Here's a cover of the The Halfpenny Marvel in 1896:

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And here's a cover of another Harmsworth publication at around the same time, The Boys' Friend:

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