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From Paris to Victoria                         The Gisèle Freund Photographs of James Joyce

Display Case 3: A Day with James Joyce

"Your Damned Photographs will be the death of me"

– James Joyce to Gisèle Freund

After meeting Freund at a party thrown by Monnier, Joyce agreed to let Freund show him her work. Joyce was impressed and agreed to sit for her. In the introduction to James Joyce in Paris, Freund writes: 

"The photographic record of James Joyce published here was made in five sessions during the month of May, 1938. Joyce was very patient, co-operative, and extremely eager to get good results. When the photographs were ready, he seemed delighted with them, and asked me to destroy only five or six. I had more than a hundred from which to select the dozen or so I distributed to the press. Everyone wanted the latest photographs of Joyce, and soon I was able to inform him that we could count on world-wide use of my story."

Their collaboration wasn't always so friendly. When shooting the colour photographs, one of Freund's lights fell and hit Joyce in the head; he blurted out, "your damned photographs will be the death of me!" breaking his rule, "never to swear in the presence of a lady." After that photoshoot, Freund sadly hailed a taxi, and as if by fate, that taxi was in an accident. Freund recalls: 

"With bloodstains on my face and tears of frustration and rage blurring my eyes, I arrived home and telephoned Joyce. 'Mr. Joyce,' I said, weeping now, 'you damned my photos--you put some kind of a bad Irish spell on them and my taxi crashed. I was almost killed and your photos ruined.'"

Joyce was very superstitious and felt responsible for the crash. He agreed to pose once again as an act of contrition. 

4 generations of Joyces: James Joyce with son Giorgio and grandson Stephen under the portrait of Joyce's father, painted by the Irish painter [Patrick Tuohy]

Four Generations of Joyces

Freund gained unparalleled access to Joyce's private life. These are some of the only photographs of Joyce with his family. Here we see James Joyce with son Giorgio and grandson Stephen under the portrait of Joyce's father, John Stanislaus Joyce (painted by the Irish painter [Patrick Tuohy])

James Joyce and Adrienne Monnier in rue de l'Odeon[Cropped by Freund]

James Joyce and Adrienne Monnier in rue de l'Odéon.

Joyce and Freund planned their day of shooting together--Joyce had an idea of what he wanted to convey. Freund says, "We sat down at the table and mapped out a sequence for a photo-story, James Joyce in Paris. Joyce had very definite ideas about the way he wanted to be presented to the world press on this important occasion. Finnegans Wake was to be the center of interest." 

This is the image Freund chose for the cover of James Joyce in Paris.



In 1929, Adrienne Monnier released the French edition of Ulysses. The University of Victoria holds a first edition copy of this printing. 

James Joyce - Paris 1938

James Joyce in Paris, 1938

Freund captures Joyce going about his daily life in Paris, including walking down the street. 

"On Photographing Joyce" TSS

Original Typescript, "On Photographing Joyce"

The University of Victoria holds Freund's personal copy of "On Photographing Joyce." This version is more detailed than the published one.

The typescript begins: 

"Of all the writers that I have photographed, Joyce had the reputation of being the most difficult and uncooperative, a man who loathed being photographed and mistrusted anyone who invaded his privacy in any way. The fact that I was able to build up the most complete set of photographs ever made of him, including the only portraits in color, can only be explained by a series of fortuitous circumstances, verging, it now seems to me, onto the miraculous." 

Freund's notes on image order

Arranging James Joyce in Paris

The University of Victoria has all of Freund's notes pertaining to the publication of James Joyce in Paris, including drafts on how she wanted to arrange the photographs. 

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