Wax and rosewood

In 1908, while living in Trieste, Joyce wrote this sentence in a notebook: "She came to me silently in a dream after her death and her wasted body within its loose brown habit gave out a faint odour of wax and rosewood and her breath a faint odour of wetted ashes." Telemachus reworks the sentence not once but twice, making very slight changes each time, and Stephen is still thinking of it in Nestor and Proteus. Joyce's habit of dwelling on phrases in this way, searching for the best way to express their potential and repeatedly revisiting their implications, is one of the most distinctive features of his literary art.

John Hunt 2024

A rosewood casket. Source: thepineboxagency.com.