The best historians

New Style? "It is not why therefore we shall wonder if, as the best historians relate...she by them suddenly to be about to be cherished had been begun she felt!": some commentators have heard in these two paragraphs a stylistic pastiche distinct from the one displayed in the previous paragraph. But the turgid Latinate prose is similar in many ways, and the content, while different, feels connected quasi-logically to the previous argument: because Ireland has long valued procreation (point one), "therefore" it has a venerable tradition of practicing medicine and building hospitals such as the one to which Mrs. Purefoy has come (point two). Even if Joyce did not intend to create a new style in these paragraphs, and there is some internal evidence to suggest that he did, it does seem that he is shifting the focus from a vaguely ancient prehistory to a specifically Irish medieval history.

John Hunt 2021

Page from the 15th century Book of O'Lees, an Irish translation of a Latin translation of an Arabic text with Latin words interspersed, held in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. Tables containing horizontal, vertical, and diagonal writing list the names, symptoms, cures, etc. of various diseases. Source:

Page from the 16th century Book of the O'Shiels, a compendium of medical treatises written by Pádruic Gruamdha Ó Siadhail. Source:

Page from a 16th century manuscript by Donnchadh óg Ó Híceadha
that remained in O'Hickey family hands for centuries. Source: