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Before Joyce, who died 73 years ago today, found fame and fortune and moved to Paris, he spent over a decade of sin-filled years in Trieste. I explored the town in his footsteps. He was a regular here. In the mornings, on his way to work, he would stop in for a couple glasses of red wine and some presnitzan eye-wateringly sweet Triestine pastry. Rumor has it Joyce even wrote some of, or conceived the idea for, or sketched out parts of his masterpiece, Ulyssesin this very cafe.
Of course, no one really knows. But like Joyce and many a literary-tourist before me, I am here, eating presnitz and drinking red wine for breakfast. Over my shoulder there is a bookshelf. Of course, anything resembling a real Joycean itinerary is long gone. Gone are the working-man dive bars where Trieste whores Trieste would binge drink and ponder his literary hardship.
Gone are the pharmacies that would dole out cocaine and heroine like Tylenol. Gone are the dank bordellos and painted whores of the old Jewish ghetto where Joyce would roam. Gone is the ghetto itself. The trail of the Trieste that Joyce grew to love has gone cold. One could not sniff it out, even if he tried his damnedest.
The hour of the Italian aperitivo. I am here waiting for Erik Schneider, an American expat, cofounder of the James Joyce Museum in Trieste, and author of Zois in Nighttowna veritable tome on prostitution and syphilis in Trieste during the years of Joyce.
Together, we will attempt to travel back in time to the early twentieth-century when the Austro-Hungarian city was very different, filled with raucous sailors, tormented poets, terminal alcoholics, stabbings, and cankerous whores. That is the Trieste of James Joyce. But the upper floor windows would have been open. If you think about it, Joyce would have been able to look directly into what was happening in the bordello from the window in his flat.
Joyce was no stranger to seedy red-light slums. He spent much of his formative teenage years in the brothels of the infamous Monto district in Dublin, seemingly developing his carnal sensibilities. Many Joycean academics agree that even after he met Nora and moved to Trieste, the red-light romps continued. And living within spitting distance from a brothel? Talk about a dangling carrot.
This is where Joyce began writing Circe, the night town episode of Ulysses. All he had to do was put his ear out the window for inspiration. Erik then shows me the area where the old Jewish ghetto once festered, just northeast of the main square. And if you are imagining Satine from Moulin Rouge floating around on a diamond swing, think again.
Most of these girls were down and out, unable to find employment elsewhere. They drank and smoked heavily.I segreti della Grande Bellezza - Nemo - Nessuno Escluso 23/11/2017
Since the widespread use of antibiotics was still almost two decades away, there was simply no definitive cure for any sexually transmitted diseases. Based Trieste whores Trieste archival medical records, they believe Joyce was long-suffering from a case of syphilis that was perhaps contracted even before arriving in Trieste. Twelve years after his hospitalization inJoyce was referred to Dr. Infected both front and back. Disgusting… but he was a genius and revolutionized literature. By p. Da Libero is one of the very few early twentieth-century osterie left in Trieste.
I order a swing-top bottle of German beer, and then Erik and I plough through a couple liters of red wine. The place certainly feels old. Old wooden tables and old wooden walls. A chandelier that looks like a Game of Thrones set piece. Taut red fabric on the ceiling above the chandelier gives the room a cool, circus-tent vibe. Wine casks, with seemingly random dates soldered into the faces, are cut in half and hung on the walls as is a cuckoo clock that appears to be older than Joyce himself.
Soon, young people with tight pants and phenomenal hair begin filtering in for late-night steak dinners. It becomes clear: this place has changed.
Before leaving, I visit the single Trieste whores Trieste stall and find a gnarly porcelain hole in the ground and a sink with a rusted foot pump. We find nothing. Not even heavy drinking, which is surprising. Inthe per capita consumption was calculated as liters of wine, 70 liters of beer, and three liters of spirits. And Joyce certainly did his share of drinking. He put most of the wages he earned teaching English towards constant boozing.
Interestingly, many believe that is why he invited his brother Stanislaus to Trieste and secured him a teaching post: to supplement the household income in order to allow Joyce the freedom to spend more on his many vices. We wander through a few more tangled passages where prostitution once reigned supreme. Now, the slender laneways are all but deserted—the buildings cleaned up and sold off as funky flats for the upper-middle class.
Around a. For decor, there are rugby jerseys, sailing photos, old rusted farm tools, and warped, dusty wine bottles that are surely a century old. A leg of prosciutto crudo is being sliced on the bar. We order some more red wine and then ask the old bartender if they stock absinthe. He nods. We order two. Why not? James Joyce allegedly drank absinthe, and he may or may not have drank it in Da Marino.
When the absinthe arrives at our table, I finally accept just how cold the real James Joyce trail in Trieste really is. The absinthe is served without a fountain of ice-water, no perforated spoon, no sugar cube. There is a shot glass filled with green liquor. The fact is, all that is left in Trieste of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce are the warm and fuzzy bits: a museum, some commemorative plaques embedded into various buildings, a couple of shiny, overpriced cafes like the San Marcoand a bronze statue by the grand canal.
All that has been immortalized here is the literary genius, not the perversion. Erik mentioned something interesting the night I met him. He said that Trieste was the last place that Joyce lived as a real person; that once he moved on to Paris, and became famous, he became a myth.
If one could find remnants of the real, human James Joyce anywhere, it would be here, I thought, in Trieste. But I was mistaken. You want to walk in his footsteps? You want to explore his dark, depraved mind and past? Read Ulysses. Crossword Newsletters. TECH Disinformation.
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