I am so at home in Dublin, more than any other city, that I feel it has always been familiar to me. It took me years to see through its soft charm to its bitter prickly kernel - which I quite like too.

Mystery and Marian


Miss Dunne hid the Capel street library copy of The Woman in White far back in her drawer and rolled a sheet of gaudy notepaper into her typewriter.
Too much mystery business in it. Is he in love with that one, Marion? Change it and get another by Mary Cecil Haye.
The disk shot down the groove, wobbled a while, ceased and ogled them: six.
Miss Dunne clicked on the keyboard:
‑ 16 June 1904.

Miss Dunne was Blazes Boylan’s secretary and despite hiding her Wilkie Collins well back in the drawer we can be fairly sure Boylan knew she read on the job. The exact situation of the office is not clear but it has been suggested by Joyce scholar Clive Hart that it was The Advertising Company at 15 D’Olier Steet, just two doors from the new Dublin Review of Books office.

“That one Marion” is Marian Halcombe and as far as I recall the chap was not in love with her. The multiple comings and goings and twists and turns in The Woman in White undoubtedly irritated Miss Dunne, whose preference was clearly for a straightforward love story.

Marian Tweedy, Leopold Bloom’s wife, also enjoyed reading novels from Capel Street library; they were, of course, fetched by the ever obliging Poldy. Paul de Kock was one of Molly’s favourites, not least because of his name, which appealed to her racier imagination.

The question embedded in the text at this point is whether Boylan loved Marian (Molly). The answer is certainly in the negative and that applied in both directions. They were, I think it is fair to say, more intimacy buddies than lovers.

Interestingly, there is another Joycean Dunne connection with D’Olier Street, but this time the name is spelt Dunn. The famous Christmas dinner argument over Parnell and the role of the church in his downfall in Teach Daedalus in Blackrock and which featured in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man took place around a turkey purchased from a D’Olier Street poulterer. Stephen’s father “had paid a guinea for it in Dunn’s of D’Olier Street”.