The Liffey to the Red River

Demented Mentors in Joyce’s “The Sisters” and Scott Fitzgerald’s “Absolution”
  • Jack Morgan
Part of the New Directions in Irish and Irish American Literature book series (NDIIAL)


Sylvia Beach, in Shakespeare and Company (1956), recalls a dinner in Paris in the 1920s set up so that F. Scott Fitzgerald could meet James Joyce comfortably. She remarks on Joyce’s normally meeting with everybody as equals — “writers, children, waiters, princesses,” and people finding him readily approachable. The exception was Fitzgerald, however, who was so overcome with awe that he could not at first approach Joyce at all. To remedy the problem, Adrienne Monnier, Beach’s friend and owner of the famous La Maison des Amis des Livres, invited the Fitzgeralds, the Joyces, and a third couple to dinner in order to ease Scott’s bashfulness. Fitzgerald later commemorated this meeting with Joyce at 8 Rue de l’Odeon, July 1928, with a poorly drawn sketch of the dinner on a page of the copy of The Great Gatsby he sent to Beach. The sketch, which Beach includes in her book, is labeled “Feast of St. James” and portrays Joyce with a halo (116–17). The sketch might be considered appropriately placed, in fact, because James Joyce was in a sense involved in the creative process by which the novel The Great Gatsby developed.


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© Jack Morgan 2011

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  • Jack Morgan

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