"To whom? . . . Ah, to be sure! . . . The islanders, Mulligan said to Haines casually, speak frequently of the collector of prepuces." Adopting the persona of an ethnographer detailing the exotic cultural practices of his countrymen to a visiting colleague, Mulligan explains their belief in a strange deity called Jehovah (aka God) who judges the loyalty of his followers by their willingness to slice rings of skin off the genital organs of their infant male offspring. Joyce no doubt wishes to offend Irish Catholics, but he may also be setting his sights higher: on the Holy Father and his conclave of cardinals in Rome.

JH 2011

The circumcision of Christ: detail from the Twelve Apostles Altar painted by Friedrich Herlin of Nördlingen, 1466. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

David Farley, An Irreverent Curiosity (2009).