Joyce (1906)

Letters of James Joyce, London, Faber and Faber, 1957-1966.

«I was today in the Biblioteca Vittorio Emanuele, looking up the account of the Vatican Council of 1870 which declared the infallibility of the Pope. Had not time to finish. Before the final proclamation many of the clerics left Rome as a protest. At the proclamation when the dogma was read out the Pope said ‘Is that all right, gents?’. All the gents said ‘Placet’ but two said ‘Non placet’. But the Pope ‘You be damned! Kissmearse! I’m infallible’.»

(James Joyce, lettera al fratello Stanislaus, Roma, 13 novembre 1906, in Letters of James Joyce, vol. II, p. 192)

«On 30 July 1906, Joyce, Nora and Giorgio set off for Rome. [...] They found a room at 52 via Frattina, close to the Spanish Steps, where the rent was high enough to make a serious hole in his salary.
The ghosts of Keats and Shelley hovered nearby. Keats had died at a house on the Steps, and on the via Corso was the house where Shelley had written The Cenci and Prometheus Unbound. Joyce showed little interest in Keats; apart from Shakespeare, Wordsworth and Byron, Shelley was the English poet to whom he gave ‘the highest palms’, so his spirits were lifted by the thought of treading in the footsteps of one so inspired. But, for him, Rome was less a place of literary pilgrimage than of religious fascination. [...] He attended services at St Peter’s, fascinated not by its architecture but by its priestly rituals. He also visited the Biblioteca Nazionale Vittorio Emanuele to examine the records of the 1870 Vatican Council which declared the infallibility of the Pope – a casual and empty decision, it seemed to him, embodying what he most hated: tyranny.»

(Gordon Bowker, James Joyce: a biography, London, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2011).