James Joyce and Marcel Duchamp
by William Anastasi
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On June 8, 1927, in Paris, Duchamp married Lydie Sarazin-Levassor, the granddaughter of a successful manufacturer. (They would divorce in about half a year.) “The unavoidable conclusion seems to be,” writes Tomkins, “that Duchamp had made a cold-blooded decision to marry for money. . . . When [he] learned at the formal signing of the marriage contract, in the presence of lawyers representing both parties, that the sum Lydie’s father was prepared to settle on her came to only 2,500 francs a month (slightly more than $1,000 in today’s terms of exchange), Duchamp did not immediately back out. He turned pale, according to Lydie, but he signed the contract.”  That same summer Joyce composed a connective episode in his 'Work in Progress' (later titled Finnegans Wake)—an insert between two previously completed segments, “The Hen” and “Shem the Penman”—including several pages that seem to me rife with uncomplimentary allusions to Duchamp.  Since the content of these aspersions typically involves avarice, the timing of the writing supports the suspicion of a connection between this insertion and Duchamp’s newsworthy marriage. The section of Finnegans Wake that we’re about to explore was written three years after Quinn’s death and the start of Duchamp’s relationship with Reynolds, and only weeks after the marriage that some of Duchamp’s friends saw as a Dadaist joke.
I suspect that Joyce’s Professor Ciondolone is based in the main on Duchamp. My caution stems from the knowledge that few characters in the Wake are based on a single person, evidence of the universality of certain human traits as Joyce saw them. The brothers Burrus and Caseous, for example, are temporary stand-ins for the twin brothers Shem and Shaun, two of the book’s five main characters; for Ellmann the twins in Finnegans Wake were “every possible pair of brothers or opponents.”  One such opponent among Joyce’s contemporaries was the writer and artist Wyndham Lewis, whom Joyce sometimes seems to pair up with himself in Finnegans Wake—Lewis was a sometime friend who had heavily attacked Ulysses in his book Time and Western Man. But when Burrus and Caseous become stand-ins for Shem and Shaun for about five pages, I believe they are largely based on Duchamp and Joyce. If this analysis is accurate, Quinn would be their commonly shared source of milk. Consistent with the idea of twins, they seem at times to exchange personality traits, just as Shem and Shaun periodically do. In the commentary that follows, it is important to keep in mind that almost all of Joyce’s descriptions in the Wake make multiple allusions to a dizzying variety of reference points. In focusing on Duchamp, I am effectively forcing into the background the other references that I’m confident are also present. I fully expect other Sherlocks, perhaps without even arguing with my basic analysis, to have different interpretations. For all we’ll ever know, all may have some kernel of truth.
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We'll leave Burrus and Caseous for awhile. My reading has Caseous and Burrus as temporary stand-ins for Shem and Shaun. They mainly represent Duchamp and Joyce. They're the twins - butter and cheese- in competition for the milk from Quinn; and they are both close to many Reynolds, although in very different ways. I believe there is a strong likelihood that Duchamp's abrupt discarding of Reynolds in favor of what was widely perceived as a marriage of convenience was a significant motivating factor in his rewriting the passage. It appears on pages 160 and 161 of the Viking edition. This is section I.vi, first published in transition, No.6, Sept. 1927, a few months after Duchamp's very public marriage in Paris. The timing could not be better if this interpretation is on the mark.
The year of 1927, and particularly its first half, contains much of interest to one delving into a connection between Joyce and Duchamp. “The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly,” from a section of Finnegans Wake that Joyce revised for publication in June 1927, contains many references that seem likely connections to Duchamp.  Here are lines leading up to “The Ballad”:
 Tomkins, Duchamp, p. 278.
 Joyce, Finnegans Wake, pp. 126–216.
 Ellmann, James Joyce, (rev. ed., 1982), p. 545.
 Joyce, Finnegans Wake, p. 160.
 Calvin Tomkins, Marcel Duchamp, p. 259.
 I have explored Jarry’s influence on both Joyce and Duchamp in earlier articles; see Anastasi, Jarry, Joyce, Duchamp and Cage, and Anastasi and Seidel, “Jarry in Joyce: A Conversation.” Throughout the Wake I find Jarry referred to with near reverence. Joyce was an intimate friend of Léon Paul Fargue, who in his youth had been Jarry’s closest friend and probably his lover. (Some believe him to have been Jarry’s only lover.) Joyce would likely have heard all about Jarry from Fargue. A photograph of the “Déjeuner Ulysse” banquet, given by Adrienne Monnier in June 1929, shows Fargue sitting next to Joyce near the center of twenty-six guests. See Richard Ellmann, ed., Letters of James Joyce Letters vol. III (NY: Viking, 1966), p. 193. Jarry’s Faustroll, with its intermittently incomprehensible narrative and numerous made-up words, is an obvious forerunner of the Wake. Jarry’s biographer Keith Beaumont, writing of Faustroll and other works of Jarry’s that followed the lead of Stéphane Mallarmé, says, “The result is at times something in the nature of a verbal delirium which, at one end of the literary spectrum, recalls the delight in words of Jarry’s other great mentor, Rabelais, and, at the other, looks forward to the Joyce of Finnegans Wake and beyond.” Beaumont, Alfred Jarry: A Critical and Biographical Study (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1984), p. 303. Jarry published his Caesar Antichrist in 1895. Passages in Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar are likely to have informed the Burrus and Caseous sections of Finnegans Wake. Shakespeare has Cassius say of Caesar, for example, “Why man, he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus; and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs, and peep about / To find ourselves dishonourable graves.” Julius Caesar I, ii, 134. Jarry in life was very short, but since Joyce loved inversion (as did Jarry and Duchamp), he could have seen the Colossus image as a humorous inversion once he had set on the idea of Brutus (Burrus) and Cassius (Caseous) as stand-ins for himself and Duchamp. Actually, for Joyce to picture Jarry as a powerful father (a colossus), with himself and Duchamp as underlings, is consistent with images of Jarry found elsewhere in the book. Again, Shakespeare has Caesar say of Cassius, “He reads too much; / He is a great observer, and he looks / Quite through the deeds of men; he loves no plays, / As thou dost, Antony; he hears no music; Seldom he smiles, and smiles in such a sort / As if he mock’d himself, and scorn’d his spirit, / That could be mov’d to smile at anything. / Such men as he be never at heart’s ease, / Whiles they behold a greater than themselves, / And therefore are they very dangerous.”( I, ii, 197) It was known that Duchamp - in contrast to Joyce - did not enjoy music. And just as Joyce was confident that no living writer could compare with himself, Duchamp behaved in a way that suggested a similar confidence in relation to other artists.
 Pierre Cabanne, Dialogues with Marcel Duchamp (New York: Viking, 1971), p. 79.
 Joyce, Finnegans Wake, pp. 44–47. “By end of 1923 notebook containing rough drafts of all the episodes in Part I except i and vi (pp. 30–125, 169–216) was probably filled.” Ellmann, James Joyce, p. 801. “In 1927 Joyce was revising Part I (pp. 3–216) for publication in transition." Ibid., p. 802.
[52A] Ellmann, 1975, The Viking Press, NY, Selected Letters of James Joyce, p.181
[52B] ibid, p.184
 Roland McHugh, Annotations to Finnegans Wake (rev. ed. Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991), p. 44.
 See David Hayman, ed., A First-Draft Version of Finnegans Wake (Austin, TX: Texas UP, 1963), p. 66.
 “The crate containing The Large Glass—in storage since the closing of the Brooklyn Museum exhibition in early 1927—had been shipped from the Lincoln Warehouse to “The Haven,” [Katherine] Dreier’s country house . . . where she planned to have it permanently reinstalled. On opening the crate, however, the workmen had discovered that the two heavy glass panels . . . were shattered from top to bottom. Tomkins, Duchamp, p. 288.