Simon Dedalus

Joyce conceived Stephen Dedalus as a fictional persona for himself and created Stephen's father, Simon Dedalus, in the image of his own father, John Stanislaus Joyce. Simon plays a mid-sized role in Ulysses, appearing in a handful of chapters and receiving mention in many others. Stephen keeps his distance from his charming ne'er-do-well progenitor throughout the book, charting his own dissolute course and brooding on metaphoric conceptions of paternity (spiritual, artistic) that make readers wonder whether Leopold Bloom might become a surrogate parent to him. But John Joyce does not enter the novel only as a failed parent. As his son acknowledged to friends after his death in 1931, his personality inspired much of the book's humor and its extravagant flair for story-telling. And some of the man's personal accomplishments––a glorious singing voice, a gift for memorable witticisms, a large circle of friends and associates––are fictionally represented in Simon.

JH 2023

John Stanislaus Joyce, father of James, in an oil portrait painted by Patrick Tuohy in 1923. Source:

Gisèle Freund's 1938 photograph of Joyce with his son Giorgio and grandson Stephen, sitting under Tuohy's portrait of John Joyce. Source: Gisèle Freund and V. B. Carleton, James Joyce in Paris: His Final Years.