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Patrícia Galvão and others James Joyce’s women, by Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

Atualizado: Mar 16

Patrícia Galvão and Others James Joyce’s Women


Dirce Waltrick do Amarante

Patrícia Galvão and others James Joyce’s women


Dirce Waltrick do Amarante


Women really were remarkable in James Joyce’s life. Nora Barnacle, his beloved, was immortalized in his books. She inspired, for instance, the character Gretta, wife of Gabriel Conroy, from the short story “The Dead”: both came from Galway, besides that, as Joyce tells in a letter from December 3, 1904, to Stanislaus: “She has had many love-affairs, one when quite young with a boy who died. She was laid up at news of his death”, like Gretta.

According to Gordon Bowker, Nora's boyfriend, Michael Feeney, also died of pneumonia, after waiting for a long time under heavy rain for Nora, at the exit of the Convent of Presentation, where she worked. When Nora heard about Feeney's death two months later, she felt guilty and was convinced that he died because he loved her. [1] It is quite the same story that we read in “The Dead”.

In Finnegans Wake, Nora embodies one of Anna Livia Plurabelle's metamorphoses: from mother and saint to seductive and shameless.

For the writer, Nora was also his “little Ireland”, his safe haven. That is how he referred to the muse in a letter sent to her on December 16, 1909: "I want to go back to my love, my life, my star, my little strange-eyed Ireland!"

Lucia Joyce, diagnosed with schizophrenia, was an extra stimulus for the writer to enter the world of the unconscious, although he referred to the great psychoanalysts of his time with a certain disdain: “[...] certain Doctor Jung (the Swiss Tweedledum who is not to be confused with the Viennese Tweedledee, Dr. Freud) amuses himself at the expense (in every sense of the world) of ladies and gentlemen who are troubled with bees in their bonnets”. (Letter sent to Weaver on June 24, 1921). In addition, it has been claimed that the language of his latest novel was inspired by the language used by his daughter.

The writer also had a patron, editor, and protector, the English Harriet Shaw Weaver, who sponsored his craft as a writer, paid for the funerals of James Joyce and Nora, and continued to take care of Lucia after the death of her parents. In a letter dated from 9 June 1936, one of the most touching of all the letters he sent to Weaver, Joyce states: “If you have ruined yourself for me as seems highly probable why do you blame me if I ruin myself for my daughter?”.

Sylvia Beach, famous for being the editor of Ulysses, also remained faithful to the writer, even after they fell out.

In Brazil, from where I write, a woman also gained prominence in the writer's history. Patrícia Galvão (1910 - 1962) was responsible for the first translation of a fragment of Ulysses into Portuguese for a wide public, before that, few months earlier, in September 1946, a fragment appeared in a magazine called “Joaquim” (from Curitiba, a city in South Brazil), but it was not signed. [2]

Galvão became known as the muse of the Brazilian modernist movement [3] under the surname of Pagu, thanks to a poem by Raul Bopp, “Coco Pagu”, written in 1928, which traced a portrait of this woman: “Pagu has soft eyes / Eyes of I don't know what / if we are close to them / The soul starts to hurt”.

This masculine vision of the physical and enchanting gifts of Patrícia Galvão, a woman ahead of her time, who dressed herself, and put on makeup in an “extravagant” way, ended up remaining in the imagination of the Brazilian people, who sometimes forget that Patrícia Galvão, who didn’t like the nickname Pagu, was much more than a muse: she was an independent woman, a fearless leftist militant and undoubtedly a great intellectual. Galvão was a performer, illustrator, writer, and journalist. He left a significant number of published texts and was responsible for numerous unpublished translations in Portuguese at that time.

Patrícia Galvão's intellectual life started early. At the age of 18, she published Sessenta poemas censurados (Sixty censored poems) and Álbum de Pagu (Book of Pagu), this last one consisting of poetry and drawings dedicated to Tarsila do Amaral, at the time, Oswald de Andrade's companion, who Patrícia Galvão would later marry.

But let's go to the Ulysses translation. From November 24, 1946 to November 28, 1948, journalist Geraldo Ferraz, second husband of Patrícia Galvão, directed, in collaboration with his companion, the “Suplemento Literário no Diário de São Paulo” (Literary Supplement in the Daily News of São Paulo).

In the “Supplement”, Galvão was responsible for the column “Anthology of Foreign Literature”, which always featured an introductory text about the writer, an illustration and the translation of an excerpt of his work.

On February 2, 1947, his column was dedicated to the Irish writer. The introductory text ends by stating that the date chosen for the publication of the text is to record the birthday of the author of Ulysses and for the tribute to be complete, it was necessary to present to readers, in Portuguese, a fragment of his best-known work: “it is the first time that ‘Ulysses’ undergoes a similar translation attempt - a remarkable page by the writer. We chose, given the character of dissemination, a simple, short, readable excerpt from the portentous volume of eight hundred pages. The interruptions, the simultaneousness of the psychological landscape, the monologue synopsis of style, word games and their plot, are part of Joyce's way, which we will try to transport with the greatest care for this information”. [4]

The translation, however, was made from the French version of Auguste Morel and Stuart Gilbert, reviewed by Valery Larbaud and James Joyce.

The excerpt chosen for the translation was that Leopold Bloom accompanied the funeral of Paddy Dignam. The excerpt was entitled “O Enterro” (“The Burial”) by the translator.

It is interesting to think about this choice. It is true that the text is “simple”, but interestingly, the cemetery was a remarkable place for Patrícia Galvão. On September 28, 1929, she married the painter Waldemar Belisário, a proforma marriage, since she was pregnant by Oswald de Andrade. In 1930, the marriage was annulled and Oswald de Andrade and Patrícia Galvão were married on January 5, 1030, in front of his family's grave in São Paulo.[5]

If Galvão were a character in Ulysses, she would have certainly worked in one of the newspaper offices where Leopold Bloom worked collecting ads, not as a secretary, but as a revolutionary writer and would certainly be engaged in the Irish cause.

Patrícia Galvão could also be a character in Finnegans Wake, as she adopted several pseudonyms to account for multiple personalities, ranging from intellectual to activist. It was Zazá, Pay, Pt, Patsy, Mara Lobo, Solange Sohl, Ariel, Gim, Léonie and King Shelter, author of police stories.


Pagu, by Di Cavalcanti

Patrícia Galvão


[1] BOWKER, Gordon. James Joyce: a new biography. Nova Iorque: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, p.122.


[2] https://periodicos.ufsc.br/index.php/desterro/article/view/2175-8026.2019v72n2p191

[3] https://library.brown.edu/create/fivecenturiesofchange/chapters/chapter-5/modern-art-week-and-the-rise-of-brazilian-modernism/


[4] CAMPOS, Augusto. Patrícia Galvão: Pagu Vida-obra. São Paulo: Brasiliense, 1982, p. 150.


[5] GALVÃO, Patrícia. Safra macabra: contos policiais/ Patrícia Galvão como King Shelter. Rio de Janeiro: José Olympio,1998.





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