“Burke shows again that he’s not just a comic genius, but also a fine dramatic writer and storyteller.” – Booklist. “Prose both scabrous and poetic.” – Publishers Weekly. “Proust meets Chandler over a pint of Guinness.” – Spectator. “Among the most memorable books of the year, of any genre.” – Sunday Times. “A hardboiled delight.” – Guardian. “Imagine Donald Westlake and Richard Stark collaborating on a screwball noir.” – Kirkus Reviews. “A cross between Raymond Chandler and Flann O’Brien.” – John Banville.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Judge Not, Lest Ye Be … Oh.

One of Ireland’s foremost judges, Justice Adrian Hardiman, had a fascinating piece in The Dubliner last year on Ulysses as a murder mystery, which we really meant to bring to your attention at the time. But then HR Pufnstuf emerged from the dungeon with his hookah cranked up to 11 and everything got a bit blurry for a month or seven. Still, better late than never, eh? Take it away, Mr Justice Hardiman, sir …
"Ulysses is little thought of as a murder story, or even as a story with murders in it. But sudden and violent deaths abound in the book – deaths by drowning, hanging, stabbing, bludgeoning, poisoning. Best of all, for Joyce, were deaths of the most mysterious sort where murder, suicide and accident competed inconclusively for recognition as the cause, leaving guilt not quite proven or innocence more than a little tarnished.
The first Bloomsday in June 1904 fell right in the middle of what George Orwell called the ‘golden age of English murder’. Ireland, too, contributed some classic cases. Arsenic and strychnine were the instruments of choice for the genteel killers of those days, often family doctors or respectable ladies. The notorious poisoners Frederick Seddon and Mrs. Maybrick claim their place in Ulysses. That lady, like Parnell himself, was a client of the great Irish barrister Sir Charles Russell Q.C. who felt she had been wrongly convicted of murdering her hypochondriac husband by a jury outraged at the fact that she had taken a lover. Mrs. Maybrick features in Molly Bloom’s soliloquy which ends Ulysses: unlike Russell, she had no doubt of Mrs. Maybrick’s guilt, but more than a sneaking sympathy for her.
But our concern is with cases closer to home, each a sensation in the Dublin of its day ..."
For the full text of the piece, jump over to The Dubliner’s archives. Bloomin’ marvellous, it is …

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