Recently, I attended a lecture organized by the Department of Italian and the School of English entitled that was entitled “Joyce’s Ulysses: A Tale of Two Cities, Dublin and Trieste”. The lecture was presented by John McCourt, who is a professor of English at the University of Macerata. He gave a detailed account of the ways in which the city of Trieste played an integral role in Joyce’s development of Ulysses. He started with a small anecdote about James and Nora’s arrival in this strange new land. Upon arriving in Trieste, Nora waited at the train station for hours—without knowing a lick of Italian—while James went to look for accommodation. However, he quickly found himself caught up in trouble. He was arrested, based on an untrue assumption, and spent a few hours in jail before they eventually released him. Even with this rocky start, Nora and James established a life for themselves in Italy, and James drew inspiration from the people of Trieste and the experiences he had there.
This juxtaposition between Joyce’s life in Italy and Ireland—this tale of two cities—made me think about how it may be interesting to document both the intricate and blatant differences between New York and Cork. Although this topic might seem quite personal, and possibly not the most conducive way of working towards a thesis topic, I’d argue that tracking the nuances between these two places may help clarify where I draw inspiration from, where my passions lie, and how they may differ in each respective city. What have I been inspired by after spending the last few months in Cork? What do I desperately miss from New York? Is the separation from the place I’ve called home for twenty three-years causing a part of myself to dwindle? Or is the distance provoking growth in unexpected ways?