Ruby, Pride of the Ring

The pulp fiction in which Molly encounters the word metempsychosis, "Ruby: the Pride of the Ring," is based on an actual book published fifteen years earlier by Amye Reade, Ruby. A Novel. Founded on the Life of a Circus Girl (London, 1889). Though sentimental and melodramatic, Reade's novel is driven by a serious purpose: indicting the vicious exploitation of human beings in 19th century circus troupes. Bloom shares her compassionate horror at these sufferings, but Joyce also makes the story raise questions about male sexual domination, as well as thoughts of loss and renewal. Ruby returns again and again in Circe.

JH 2017

Illustration by Talbot Hughes on p. 369 of a copy of Reade's novel held in the British Museum, showing Vic beaten by Signor Enrico. Source:

Illustration on p. 396 of the novel, showing Ruby on her deathbed, joined by her friend Vic and her father Jack. Source:

Illustration on p. 289 of the novel, showing Vic modeling for Ruby the kind of apparel that she will have to wear in the circus. Source: