Brian Friel, 1929-2015

This gallery contains 11 photos.

It is with sadness that we note the passing of world-renowned Irish playwright Brian Friel. Perhaps most famous in North America for his Tony award-winning play Dancing at Lughnasa, Friel wrote over three dozen plays for stage and screen, including … Continue reading

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An Era of Oration: The Early History of Fulton Debating Society


Fulton Debating Society program, 1893 May 4. Box 2, folder 3, Boston College Office of Student Affairs records, University Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

From the inception of Boston College, elocution and oratory skill were among the most important assets that the school actively cultivated in its students. The Prefect of Studies–or Dean–Robert Fulton, S.J., profoundly fostered the student interest in oratorical aptitude. Under his tutelage, the “Senior Debating Society” was officially founded in 1868, just four years after Fulton admitted the first students. By 1890, students renamed the organization in his honor as the Fulton Debating Society or, as more fondly known by the students, “the Fulton.”  Topics of political, philosophical, and social intrigue were common to the debates of the club.

Student representation of the Fulton Debating Society in 1924 Sub Turri yearbook

Student representation of the Fulton Debating Society in 1924 Sub Turri yearbook. Sub Turri. [Boston]: Boston College, 1924.

The Fulton Prize Debate took place annually in Boston College Hall and attracted students and lay spectators from all over the city. The winner was crowned the best debater of the year and received a medal of gold. The prize was one of the highest honors that could be bestowed upon a Boston College student at the time. When Boston College moved from its South End residence to the Heights of Chestnut Hill in 1913, only one club–the Fulton Debating Society, naturally–received a room specific to its use in the campus’s first building.  A century later, the debating room’s walls are still adorned with paintings of the world’s most famous orators and a list of all the past winners of the Fulton Prize Debate.

The 1919 Fulton Debating Society in their competition attire

The 1919 Fulton Debating Society in their competition attire. Sub Turri. [Boston]: Boston College, 1919.

After its first intercollegiate debate against Georgetown University in 1895, the Fulton competed against many notable institutions. Perhaps the most notable victory of the Fulton Debating Society came in 1928 against Harvard University before a sold-out Symphony Hall, holding an audience of almost 3,500.  The spectacular and overwhelming victory against “the gentlemen from across the Charles” was hoped by The Heights to “remove much of the silly prejudice that unfortunately exists now in both institutions among certain groups.”

The Boston Globe depiction of the 1928 Fulton Society debate

The Boston Globe depiction of the 1928 Fulton Society debate. Boston Globe, “Boston College Defeats Harvard in Debate over Gov ‘Al’ Smith,” 12 January 1928

Unmatched in garnering of acclaim for the university in the 19th and early 20th centuries, debates lured crowds from all across Boston and teams from across the globe.  The intercollegiate debates strengthened bonds and set a sturdy foundation with colleges across the country for future sporting matchups.

  • Jenny Frese BC 2015  and Spring 2015 Making History Public Student

The images and content in this blog post are from the exhibit #WeWereBC, which is now on display in the History Department, Stokes 3rd Floor South.    This exhibit was curated and organized by Professor Seth Meehan’s Spring 2015 Making History Public class, in collaboration with the Boston College University Libraries.  

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Fulton’s Various Rules: Making Boston College a Jesuit Institution

"The first two pages of rules Father Fulton created for the Boston College Faculty in 1864"

The first two pages of rules Father Fulton created for the Boston College Faculty in 1864. Register of Students, 1864-1914. BC2006-021, University Archives, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

In 1599, the Society of Jesus published the Ratio Studiorum and sent copies to their eight schools throughout Europe. The Ratio was essentially a rulebook for all the colleges operated by the Jesuits. The daily course schedule was outlined. Each year, the rector was to present awards to students “provided that this happens at the expense of well-known persons [and] scaled to fit the college’s size and scope.” Teachers must “obey the prefect of studies in matters that bear on studies and class discipline.” In the classroom, they needed approval to “introduce new articles for discussion in matters of any significance.” Such guidelines ensured that each Jesuit school provided the same educational experience, an experience quickly becoming world-renowned. In September 1864, Boston College opened its doors in the city’s South End and admitted its first students. Each school day followed a strict schedule, and students’ accomplishments were indeed noted with the public reading of grades and the bestowal of medals. Yet, to provide additional guidance at the new school, Prefect of Studies Robert Fulton, S.J., created thirty-seven “Various Rules for the Direction of the Teachers of B.C.” One of these rules–handwritten by Fulton–stated teachers must follow the Ratio’s ordinances. Otherwise, Fulton’s rules had three themes.

Father Fulton, undated

Religion was paramount, because “the chief result of education” was the student’s “religious information and religious training.” Fulton continued, “we do not teach a Catholic school unless we teach our boys to act in Catholic maxims.” Therefore, a teacher was to pray for his students and lead them by his “good example,” such as showing his students how to respond in Mass. Second, for behavior outside the classroom, teachers should have “some interest in the tidiness of the school, of the boys, and of their manners.” Teachers could punish students “only for good reason” because Fulton thought it “inhumane to punish for every offence.” Finally, in the classroom, Fulton’s rules explained how to teach. Students should not memorize too much in a single day, and those memory lessons should be shorter than translation lessons. The “art” of a teacher’s questions mandated that they “be clear, not suggestive of the answer, allowing fair time for reply, so constructed as to elicit desirable information.” Father Fulton used the Ratio’s guidelines but also built upon it to develop his own rules in order to create his own Jesuit school in Boston College.

  • Teddy Mitropoulos BC 2015  and Spring 2015 Making History Public Student

The images and content in this blog post are from the exhibit #WeWereBC, which is now on display in the History Department, Stokes 3rd Floor South.    This exhibit was curated and organized by Professor Seth Meehan’s Spring 2015 Making History Public class, in collaboration with the Boston College University Libraries.  

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At 4:30 p.m. on September 17, an exhibit curated by the students of “Making History Public: Boston College” opens in the History department on the 3rd floor of Stokes South. The exhibit—#WeWereBC—uses archival material from Burns Library to chronicle the first 100 years of Boston College’s history, a period during which a small, urban, day school for boys developed into a sprawling, suburban university serving a largely residential and coeducational student body. Open to the public, the exhibit will remain on display in Stokes throughout the Fall Semester.

In the spring of 2015, the 14 undergraduate students of “Making History Public: Boston College” revisited their institution’s history, soon after the 150th anniversary of its founding. A result of their research is an exhibit—#WeWereBC—on display in the History department, located on the 3rd floor of Stokes South.

In the Trustees Room of Burns Library, the members of "Making History Public: Boston College" – (l-r): Daniel Latu ‘16, Brenna Andreozzi ‘16, Shane Troy ‘15, Chrissy Lorica ‘17, Keith Nicholson ‘15, Jenna Postiglione ‘17, John Fee ‘16, Ellen Ubl ‘17, Jenny Frese ‘15, Violet Caswell ‘17, Sean Ryan ‘17, Racquel MacDonald ‘16, and Seth Meehan, PhD ‘15. Missing: Teddy Mitropoulos ‘15. Photograph by Gary Wayne Gilbert.

In the Trustees Room of Burns Library, the members of “Making History Public: Boston College” – (from left): Daniel Latu ‘16, Brenna Andreozzi ‘16, Shane Troy ‘15, Chrissy Lorica ‘17, Keith Nicholson ‘15, Jenna Postiglione ‘17, John Fee ‘16, Ellen Ubl ‘17, Jenny Frese ‘15, Violet Caswell ‘17, Sean Ryan ‘17, Racquel MacDonald ‘16, and Seth Meehan, PhD ‘14. Missing: Teddy Mitropoulos ‘15. Photo: Gary Wayne Gilbert.

In short, the exhibit considers the transformation of a school to a university by highlighting some of the key—though since forgotten—individuals, moments, developments, and conflicts that helped shape Boston College’s first 100 years. Profiled are such topics as the strict rules for first teachers at Boston College and their encouragement of eloquence in their students, the surge of students’ patriotism during the First World War, and their response to President Kennedy’s assassination. The exhibit also considers the historical importance of the Boston College-Holy Cross football rivalry and the efforts by three women to gain larger roles for females at Boston College. The exhibit, inspired by the students’ predecessors in 1913, uses the page design of an early yearbook.

All the topics in this exhibit were selected by the students, who each conducted individual research using a variety of primary sources as well as relevant secondary literature. Each panel is based on a larger research paper, and nearly all of the items the students chose to feature in their panels came from the archives of the John J. Burns Library.

“Boston College” was the fifth “Making History Public” course, a collaborative project begun in 2012 between the History department and the Boston College University Libraries. Information on the previous courses can be found on the library website.

wewerebc“Making History Public: Boston College” course meet weekly in the Burns Library in the Spring 2015 semester. It benefitted greatly from the invaluable assistance, advice, and patience, both in the classroom and in the research room, provided by several staff members at Burns, including Amy Braitsch, Head Archivist, Justine Sundaram, Senior Reference Librarian, Andrew Isidoro, Library Assistant, and Shelley Barber, Reference and Archives Specialist. The exhibit’s design was guided and executed by Kevin Tringale, Exhibits Specialist, and Patrick Goncalves, Digital Services Assistant. University Librarian Thomas Wall and Burns Librarian Christian Dupont provided administrative support. In the History Department, the class benefited from the support of Kevin Kenny, Chair of the department, and Colleen O’Reilly, the Department Administrator. The exhibit contains some special photography by Gary Wayne Gilbert, Director of Photography. Fr. Terry Devino, S.J, University Secretary, Patricia DeLeeuw, Vice Provost for Faculties, and Kevin Shea, Executive Assistant to the President, granted students access to restricted archival materials, including records of the University Trustees, the Black Talent Program, and the University Historian. Pat DeLeeuw and Christian Dupont also attended and commented on the students’ final research presentations, joining those in-class comments offered by James O’Toole, Clough Professor of History; Ben Birnbaum, Executive Director, Office of Marketing Communications; and Fr. William Leahy, S.J., University President.

Through their individual research and development of their group exhibit, the students of “Making History Public: Boston College” arrived at two conclusions. First, the shaping of Boston College—by people, moments, and conflicts, internal and external—continues and will continue for as long as the institution exists, and, second, that constant reshaping is perhaps the most important source of vitality and improvement at Boston College

For more information about the Burns library, visit You can also like the Burns Library on Facebook, follow the Burns Library on Twitter, view Burns Library Collections on Flickr, and subscribe to the Burns blog.

Seth Meehan, PhD ‘14, instructor of “Making History Public: Boston College,” associate director of the Institute for Advanced Jesuit Studies, and coauthor of The Heights: An Illustrated History of Boston College.


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John LaFarge, S.J. and The Unity of the Human Race

To complement the opening of the new exhibit at Boston College’s McMullen Museum of Art on the American painter, muralist, and stained-glass designer John La Farge, we present a rare and remarkable document in our Burns Library collections authored by the artist’s Jesuit son and namesake—the draft of a papal encyclical denouncing racism during the Nazi era that was never promulgated and remained hidden for decades.

John LaFarge, SJ (1880-1963) was the youngest of eight children born to his better remembered father. Following his graduation from Harvard in 1901, LaFarge studied theology in Austria, where he  was ordained a priest and entered the Society of Jesus four years later. Following his return to the United States and the completion of his education and vocational formation, he embarked upon pastoral work, spending fifteen years (1911-26) ministering to African American and immigrant communities in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, along the Chesapeake Bay. The experience deeply shaped his attitude to race relations and to racism, which he considered a sin. In 1926 he founded an industrial school in southern Maryland for African American boys, the Cardinal Gibbons Institute.


John LaFarge in Innsbruk, circa 1901

That same year, LaFarge became the assistant editor of America, a leading Jesuit weekly. He wrote for the magazine for the next 37 years and helped to establish the progressive tone that it has largely retained. By comparison to his locally focused pastoral work in rural Maryland, America gave LaFarge a platform from which to preach the gospel of interracial justice to national audiences. In addition to his editorials and the organization of  Catholic interracial councils in New York and other cities around the country, he wrote several influential books on the topic, beginning with Interracial Justice in 1937.

According to Boston College professor of history James O’Toole, who has contributed an essay to the McMullen Museum exhibition catalogue, the publication of Interracial Justice “presented LaFarge with an unusual opportunity,” as he explains in the following excerpt:

Traveling in Europe in the spring and summer of 1938, in part so he could report first-hand for America on deteriorating conditions in Germany and Italy, he received an unexpected summons to a meeting with the pope, Pius XI. … [Pius] had become increasingly troubled by the overt anti-Semitism of the regime, and he determined next to issue an extended public denunciation. Because LaFarge had a reputation for opposition to any form of “racialism,” the American seemed the right person to draft a formal encyclical letter, one of the most forceful statements a pope could make on any subject. In June, the two met privately at the papal retreat outside Rome – Hitler came to visit Mussolini that summer, and Pius left for his vacation early, saying that the Roman air had suddenly gone bad – and, conversing in French, the pope asked the Jesuit to draft the document for him. LaFarge was flattered that the pope had apparently read Interracial Justice carefully, but at first he demurred. The pope insisted, telling him to say in the encyclical “just what you would say if you yourself were pope.”

For the next several months, LaFarge worked on the document, retreating for this purpose to the more agreeable climate, both meteorologically and politically, of Paris. If anyone back in America wondered why he was not returning home, he wrote a friend, “you can say I am working on a possible second edition of my book … This is generally true,” he concluded slyly….

Typescript draft of Humani generis unitas from the Edward Stanton Papers in Burns Library

Typescript draft of Humani generis unitas, Box 4, Folder 8, Edward Stanton Papers, BC.2002.071 John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

By the end of the summer, the draft was complete. Like all such encyclicals, it would be known by its Latin opening words: humani generis unitas – “the unity of the human race.” That unity stood, in LaFarge’s vision, as a refutation of all efforts to set one group of people against another. Any theory “which makes a distinction between higher and lower races,” he wrote, was  particularly odious, since it “ignores the bond of unity” that was the common heritage of humanity. When directed particularly against Jews, the “flagrant denial of human rights” could only be condemned. “One naturally wonders,” he went on, if the “advocates of so-called racial purity” – any reader of the document would know exactly who was meant here – were in reality merely advancing “a clever slogan to move the masses” for other purposes, such as conquest and war. In Germany, Jews were wrongly “denied legal protection against violence and robbery, exposed to every form of insult and public degradation,” and this meant that they were “treated as criminals, though they have scrupulously obeyed the law of their native land.” Even those who had fought and died for their country in the First World War were now considered “traitors and branded as outlaws by the very fact of their parentage.” If issued, the encyclical would stand as an unequivocal denunciation of Hitler and his plans for the Holocaust.

Sadly, LaFarge’s bold document was never published. Finally returning to New York in early October, he had submitted the draft encyclical through the regular Vatican channels. There, it stalled: Pius would not see it until the end of the following January. By then, events were spinning out of control. British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain had met with Hitler outside Munich and agreed to let the dictator seize part of Czechoslovakia in exchange for “peace in our time”; general war was less than a year away. Meanwhile, the health of the pope, age eighty-one, began a precipitous decline. He struggled visibly through public appearances, though some of these seemed part of a general plan related to the projected encyclical. He addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences just before Christmas, for example, having inducted as members several Jewish scientists who had recently been fired from Italian universities by Mussolini. But in early February 1939 he died, and the idea of a resounding papal denunciation of racism and anti-Semitism died with him.

His successor, Pope Pius XII, withheld the draft, only borrowing a few phrases for his own encyclicals. Until the 1990s, when the work of Georges Passelecq and Bernard Suchecky revealed the story, the complete text remained unknown outside the Vatican and a few of LaFarge’s closest associates. The Burns Library possesses one of the few surviving draft copies of the encyclical among the papers of Edward S. Stanton, a former professor at Boston College who wrote his doctoral dissertation and a number of articles on LaFarge.

LaFarge in later life

John LaFarge in later life

Upon his return to the United States during the Second World War, LaFarge once again threw himself into reforming American attitudes toward racial justice. In 1943, he organized an interfaith rally before the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. Exactly twenty years later, at the age of 83, LaFarge joined the March on Washington organized by Martin Luther King, Jr.. As O’Toole points out, although LaFarge was not among the speakers that day, “the many Catholic priests, sisters, and lay people who were part of the throng in August 1963 would probably never have been there without his lifetime of work.”

LaFarge died that November, two days after Kennedy’s assassination. Boston’s Cardinal Richard Cushing, having presided at the president’s funeral, flew to New York to offer a eulogy at a memorial service for LaFarge, calling him a pioneer in the field of interracial justice.

If you would like to examine the draft encyclical or other items in the papers of Edward S. Stanton, we welcome you to visit Burns Library Reading Room. For more information, please call 617-552-4861 or write to

The exhibition, “John LaFarge and the Recovery of the Sacred,” opens at the McMullen Museum of Art on September 1 and runs through December 13, 2015. Curated by Boston College professor of art history Jeffrey Howe, it is complemented by a catalogue that includes James O’Toole’s complete essay on John LaFarge, SJ excerpted above. In addition, the Boston College University Libraries have assisted Howe with mounting a digital guide titled  “John La Farge Stained Glass in New England.”

  • Christian Dupont, Burns Librarian & Associate University Librarian for Special Collections

Further Reading:

Passelecq, Georges, and Bernard Suchecky. The Hidden Encyclical of Pius XI. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1997.

Southern, David. John LaFarge and the Limits of Catholic Interracialism, 1911-1963. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1996.

Stanton, Edward. “John LaFarge,” in Saints Are Now: Eight Portraits of Modern Sanctity, edited by John Delaney. Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1981.

Stanton, Edward. “John LaFarge’s Understanding of the Unifying Mission of the Church, Especially in the Area of Race Relations.” PhD dissertation, St. Paul University, Ottawa, 1972.

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Rev. James H. Murphy, C.M., Burns Visiting Scholar For Fall Semester 2015

James Murphy, Professor of DePaul University's College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences is pictured in a studio portrait Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

James Murphy, Professor of DePaul University’s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences is pictured in a studio portrait Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. (DePaul University/Jeff Carrion)

The John J. Burns Library welcomes Rev. James H. Murphy, C.M., Professor of English at DePaul University, Chicago, as the Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies for the fall 2015 semester. A graduate of the National University of Ireland, Maynooth, he has also earned degrees from Heythrop College of the University of London, Trinity College Dublin, and the National University of Ireland. Since 2009 he has been a fellow of the Royal Historical Society.

Professor Murphy’s impressive list of publications includes: Catholic Fiction and Social Reality in Ireland, 1873-1922, (Greenwood, Westport, CT, 1972), Abject Loyalty: Nationalism and Monarchy in Ireland During the Reign of Queen Victoria (Cork: Cork University Press, 2001), Ireland: A Social, Cultural and Literary History, 1791-1891 (Dublin: Four Courts, 2003), Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011). Murphy has also edited or co-edited an additional eight books. A book in progress is tentatively entitled Ireland’s Czar: Gladstonian Government and the Lord Lieutenancies of the Red Earl Spencer, 1868-1886.

Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age by James H. Murphy, PR8801 .M87 2011, O'Neill Library, Boston College

Irish Novelists and the Victorian Age by James H. Murphy, PR8801 .M87 2011, O’Neill Library, Boston College

Reflecting his interest and expertise in both Irish literature and history, Murphy has contributed to several dozen professional journals and books. As a multidisciplinary scholar, he has published widely on issues of gender and sexuality. His primary focus, however, is the political, social, and cultural history of the so-called “long century” (1791-1922).

This semester, Professor Murphy will teach the advanced topic seminar: “Irish Victorian Fiction.”

On Wednesday, November 18, at 4:30 p.m. in the Thompson Room of Burns Library, Professor Murphy will deliver a public lecture titled “Novelists and Politicians in Nineteenth-Century Ireland.” It will be immediately followed by a reception in the Burns Library Irish Room. All are welcome to attend. For further information, please contact Maureen McVeigh at or call (617) 552-3282.

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From the Dubliners Bookshelf

Stories from Dubliners mapped to where they took place in Dublin.

Stories from Joyce’s Dubliners mapped to their locations in Dublin.

The current James Joyce exhibit, now on display through October 8th at the Burns Library, focuses on Joyce’s Dubliners and the books referenced in Dubliners.  Dubliners is a collection of fifteen short stories about the inhabitants and environment of Dublin at the turn of the twentieth century–a seemingly innocuous proposal, but one that caused no end of frustration for Joyce in seeing it through to print.  Digital versions of the books referenced in Dubliners, along with a digitized Dubliners, form the basis of the recently launched Dubliners Bookshelf website.

Joyce struggled with the noted London-based publisher Grant Richards for almost a decade to publish <a href = ",scope:(BCL)&query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21385130840001021"><em>Dubliners</em></a>.

Joyce struggled with the noted London-based publisher Grant Richards for almost a decade to publish Dubliners.

 When Joyce was trying to publish Dubliners, British law stated that a printer was just as guilty of any charges of obscenity as the writer of a book. After Joyce’s prospective publisher, Grant Richards, sent the Dubliners proofs to the printer, the printer informed Richards that the stories contained “obscenities.” In the story “Grace,” for instance, the printer objected to Joyce’s use of the word “bloody,” as in: “Then he has a bloody big bowl of cabbage before him on the table and a bloody big spoon like a shovel.” Richards and Joyce were unable to agree on revisions and so publication of Dubliners was at a standstill. Joyce sought out several other publishers, including George Roberts of Maunsel & Co. in Dublin. Yet all efforts failed.  In the meantime, Joyce befriended another expatriate, Ezra Pound, who was associated with The Egoist, a London literary magazine. Pound arranged for some of Joyce’s work to appear in the journal, which impressed Grant Richards, who in turn wrote to Joyce in 1913 offering to reconsider the publication of Dubliners.  It took another year, and several editorial concessions by Joyce, but after nearly nine long years of agonizing abeyance, Richards delivered Dubliners to the public on June 15, 1914. Embedded in Joyce’s Dubliners are many references to the books that his characters owned and read, some of these books are featured in the exhibit.  This post highlights a selection of these books.  For a complete list of these books and to view these books online, visit the Dubliners Bookshelf website.

Frontispiece from Arthur Machen's <a href = ",scope:(BCL)&query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21449054960001021"><em>House of Souls</em></a>, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Frontispiece from Arthur Machen’s House of Souls, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Two books by Welsh author Arthur Machen are advertised in Dubliners.  Grant Richards published Arthur Machen’s short story collection The House of Souls some eight years before Dubliners. Machen’s stories were steeped in the supernatural, reflecting Machen’s interest in occult literature and his experience working as a bibliographer and translator for an antiquarian bookseller who specialized in mysticism. Like Machen and other writers of the time, Joyce demonstrated interest in the occult as a young man and collected books on mysticism, spirituality, and hermeticism.  Grant Richards also solicited Arthur Machen’s The Hill of Dreams (originally titled The Garden of Avallaunius). Machen’s new novel departed significantly from his earlier writing, however, and Richards refused to publish the manuscript. Machen attempted to find another publisher over the next ten years, until Richards finally decided to issue it in 1907. The loosely autobiographical novel was advertised in the first edition of Joyce’s Dubliners along with The House of Souls.

Front cover of <a href=";vid=bclib&amp;onCampus=true&amp;group=GUEST&amp;loc=local,scope:(BCL)&amp;query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21369925720001021">The Short Catechism</a>, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Front cover of The Short Catechism, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

References to the Catholic Catechism appear throughout Dubliners, reflecting its importance in Irish Catholic educational models. Catholic publishing rose to prominence in the late nineteenth century, with the publishing houses of M.H. Gill & Son, Browne and Nolan, and James Duffy producing large numbers of religious texts, including condensed versions of the official catechism, like this one, used for preparing first communicants. In “A Painful Case,” Joyce gives the name James Duffy to his central character: a socially isolated, probably homosexual, bank cashier who rebuffs a relationship with a married woman, Mrs. Sinico, whom he later reads has been killed by a train, leading him to reflect on his utter loneliness.

Title page from <a href =,scope:(BCL)&query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21449534510001021"><em>Thus Spake Zarathustra</em></a> by Friedrich Nietzsche, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Title page from Thus Spake Zarathustra by Friedrich Nietzsche, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

After Duffy ends his visits with Mrs. Sinico in “A Painful Case,” she sends him a parcel with the books and music he had lent her, and Joyce notes that on the bookshelf in Duffy’s bedroom appeared two volumes by Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra and The Joyful Wisdom. Joyce himself began to take an interest in Nietzsche around 1903, just before John Eglinton’s essay in the literary magazine Dana made Nietzsche an increasingly fashionable author among the Dublin intelligentsia. Joyce parodies Nietzsche’s notion of the Űbermensch in Stephen Hero and later works.

Title page from <a href = ",scope:(BCL)&query=any,contains,ALMA-BC21448933290001021"><em>The Last Days of Pompeii</em></a> by Edward Bulwer Lytton, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

Title page from The Last Days of Pompeii by Edward Bulwer Lytton, John J. Burns Library, Boston College.

The queer old man whom the boys met in “The Encounter” prodded them by asking whether they “had read the poetry of Thomas Moore or the works of Sir Walter Scott and Lord Lytton.” Lord Lytton was a popular nineteenth-century writer, and Joyce had a copy of the Tauchnitz edition of his Last Days of Pompeii in his Trieste library. Tauchnitz was one of the primary publishers of Anglophone literature on the European Continent who provided reliable editions of British and American literature for travelers and self-imposed exiles like Joyce. In the library he kept at Trieste, Joyce collected 46 Tauchnitz titles by authors such as Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, Rudyard Kipling, and George Moore. In May 1930, one of Joyce’s own works, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in the Tauchnitz series. Despite the lack of copyright agreements between Germany and Britain in the nineteenth century, Tauchnitz offered royalties to its writers in order to ensure accurate texts.

Enjoy learning more about Dubliners by visiting Unhemmed As It Is Uneven:  Joyce’s Odyssey in Print at the Burns Library through September 12th or by perusing the Dubliners Bookshelf website.  If you have further questions, please contact the Burns Library Reading Room at 617-552-4851 or

  • Andrew A. Kuhn, Doctoral Candidate in the Boston College English Department
  • Christian Dupont, Burns Librarian &                                                                            Associate University Librarian for Special Collections
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