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Irish James Joyce Coin Misquotes Classic Work

April 16, 2013 - Ireland’s Central Bank is currently involved in a row concerning a very popular coin.

On Wednesday, the bank announced the launch of a limited edition coin in honor of the Irish writer James Joyce, known preeminently for his masterwork Ulysses. The coin features a portrait of James Joyce and a quotation from the famously difficult novel, which features complex grammar and puns in every sentence.

Apparently, Ireland’s Central Bank shared the frustration of many of Joyce’s readers as the Irish writer was misquoted on the coin.

The beginning of the third chapter of Ulysses reads ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read.

However, on the commemorative coin, the second sentence reads signatures of all things that I am here to read.

Joyce, who is revered both in Ireland and abroad as a master wordsmith deliberately used atypical grammar in his works, sparking a backlash against the bank’s supposed mistake.

Ireland’s Central Bank said on Thursday that it was a matter of artistic representation in its acknowledgement that the text on the Joyce coin does not correspond to the precise text as it appears in Ulysses. The Bank continued by calling the addition of the word that in the second line an error.

Though the Bank will inform buyers as to the discrepancies in the text and has offered to purchase back coins from any buyers who were not aware of the error, there is still a great deal of criticism being levied at the Bank, especially from Irish newspapers.

Comments in the Irish Times called the Central Bank Philistines and a continuation of a mindset that has destroyed much of the countries architectural, archaeological, and mythological heritage in the last 50 years. It adds that the hill of Tara, an important Irish archaeological site, is now a quarry for cement roadstone. Finally, the author laments the barbarism in Ireland today.

Still other comments were more humorous, touching on the famously impenetrable text of James Joyce, with one reader asking whether more than one word was misquoted because he doesn’t understand any of it.

Despite the error and the accompanying row, the coin is still quite popular.

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Jonathan Monroe

Senior Staff Writer - Gold-Bullion.org

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