Whiteeyed kaffir

The Citizen's brutal epithet for Bloom, "that whiteeyed kaffir," is clearly a racist slur, but it invites ambiguous speculation about the origin of the phrase, the venomousness of the k-word, the acceptability of trading in ethnic stereotypes, and the exclusionary impulse in Irish nationalism. Perhaps the most likely source was a minstrel show performed in music halls by English singer G. H. Chirgwin, a white man who performed in blackface and billed himself "the White-eyed Singing Kaffir." Alternatively, or additionally, the phrase may bring Rudyard Kipling into Ulysses for a second unflattering time via a poem about South Africa.

John Hunt 2020

Promotional photograph by Adolph Langfier, signed by G. H. Chirgwin on 3 March 1904. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Poster promoting Chirgwin's act, date unknown. Source: www.discogs.com.

Rudyard Kipling at his desk, an 1899 oil on canvas portrait by Sir Philip Burne-Jones, held in the Granger Collection, New York City. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Cover of 9 December 1876 Harper's Weekly drawn by Thomas Nast, with title "The Ignorant Vote—Honors Are Easy," presenting the Negros of the South and the Irish of the North as equivalently bestial. Source: elections.harpweek.com.