Stephen Dedalus learns the value of gentlemanly blasphemy in this episode of Blooms & Barnacles. Our hero evades the nets of his oppressors while recalling a conversation with a friend in Paris. Topics include the changing face of Ringsend, the Pigeonhouse, Stephen’s epiphanies and the Epiphany, Dermot speaking French, what Jules Michelet doesn’t know about women, absinthe, the elaborate blasphemies of Leo Taxil’s pornographic pope period, Baphomet, the freemasons, and the greatest trick ever played on the Catholic Church (that might be overstating it, but it’s a fun story).
—Qui vous a mis dans cette fichue position?
—c’est le pigeon, Joseph.
Midway though “Proteus,” Stephen reminisces on his time as a medical student in Paris. Amongst those reminiscences, two names are nestled. First, on page 41 (Vintage International Edition):
But he must send me La Vie de Jesus by M. Leo Taxil. Lent it to his friend.
And later (pgs. 43, 50):
And Monsieur Drumont, gentleman journalist.
There’s not indication in the text of the link connecting these two men – Léo Taxil and Édouard Drumont. Though they have become obscure in the 21st century, their public personas likely shaped the worldview of a young Stephen Dedalus (and James Joyce).