Trinity's surly front

§ As Bloom walks south from Westmoreland Street toward Grafton Street in Lestrygonians, he passes between the busy traffic on College Green and the iron railings of Trinity College, Dublin: "His smile faded as he walked, a heavy cloud hiding the sun slowly, shadowing Trinity's surly front. Trams passed one another, ingoing, outgoing, clanging." The large door of Trinity's main entrance stands in an imposing four-story Palladian wall adorned with Corinthian columns. § The word that the narrative applies to this grand facade once referred to the manner of an aristocrat ("sir," hence the original spelling "sirly"). The OED lists a rare obsolete meaning of "Lordly, majestic" and the more common old meaning "Masterful, imperious; haughty, arrogrant, supercilious." In modern democratic times the quality of supercilious haughtiness associated with feudal lords has given the word purely negative connotations. Joyce no doubt intends these more familiar meanings too, since he associates Trinity with the reactionary politics and social snobbery of the ruling class.

John Hunt 2023

Photograph probably taken by Robert French ca. 1900, held in the National Library of Ireland, showing the front of Trinity College from the south with the former Irish Parliament building at left and Westmoreland Street to its right. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

A nearly identical scene displayed on a color postcard postmarked 20 May 1904. Source: Vincent Van Wyk.

The same scene yet again, in a colored drawing of police forces confronting protesters hoisting the flag of the Transvaal on College Green in 1899, published in the illustrated French news magazine Le Petit Journal.

J. P. Mahaffy, in a photograph of unknown date. Source: Wikimedia Commons.