Apologise, pull out his eyes

I couldn’t let this story go. One of my favourite writers, a cock-up by a bank, how often are things like that going to come together?

But when you’re a state central bank launching a commemorative coin, is it too much to ask that you check you’ve got the words right? When that coin celebrates your nation’s greatest writer, and quotes his masterpiece, surely it’s verging on the absurd that you end up misquoting instead, isn’t it? But it seems even the absurd isn’t too much for the Irish Central Bank.
As it happens, it’s hardly the catchiest passage in Ulysses. I wouldn’t put it in my own top 50. But the Central Bank’s excuse – that this was merely an “artistic representation”, as opposed to something more literal, only serves to make the whole episode even more farcical. An artistic representation of Ulysses? Really? By adding an extra “that”? It’s a controversial enough novel as it is: banned on publication; both loved and loathed by critics, academics and the public; spellbinding and mind-numbing by turn, often within the same page; and now it turns out that Irish Central Bank knows the secret to improving it. Just add an extra “that”.

But seriously, there are a couple of things the bank could do to dig themselves out of this hole. They could apologise. And they could try a different quote from the same book. Stop messing about with the nebeneinander and the nacheinander and opt for something pithy, something with zip, verve, zing. Sonething they’re less likely to get wrong.

Something like “Inner Organs”, perhaps.

note (and correction): Muphry’s Law dictates that, having laughed at someone else’s error here, I’ll have committed a similar one in the same post. If so, all I can do is apologise – and ask you to understand that this post is merely an artistic representation of a greater post, a noble post, the perfect post, the Xanadu of posts. If I can remember it, I’ll write it down one day.


Liked this? Take a look at the opening chapter from the soon-to-be-published Without Due Care here.


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