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                        The Gisèle Freund Photographs of James Joyce

Introduction, part 3

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James Joyce and Adrienne Monnier, tissue overlay with crop marks [cover of James Joyce in Paris]

Adrienne Monnier & Sylvia Beach


Freund’s other great friendships were with Adrienne Monnier and Sylvia Beach (James Joyce in Paris: His Final Years is dedicated to their memories). 

Sylvia Beach--a young American woman who moved to Paris and set up a small english-language bookshop, Shakespeare & Co., on the rue de l’Odeon--had become internationally acclaimed when she published James Joyce’s Ulysses in 1922. Her partner, Monnier, ran her own bookstore and publishing house called La Maison des Amis des Livres [the home for friends of books] just across the street.

Monnier took an immediate liking to Freund and introduced her to many more Parisian artists, including James Joyce. 

Joyce was finishing up his long-awaited follow-up to Ulysses [Finnegans Wake] and his friends wanted him to have portraits taken for publicity purposes. Freund met Joyce one night at a dinner party thrown by Monnier. She nervously asked him if she could take his portrait. He tentatively agreed, and invited her to his home on 7 rue Edmond-Valentin. After showing her photographs to Joyce, Freund was elated when the finicky novelist said, "They're splendid...when do you want to photograph me?," adding, "[n]ot in color, of course. I couldn't stand the harsh lights on my eyes." 

What followed was a series of five photo-shoots in black & white that captured the most intimate photographs of Joyce ever taken. 

When Time magazine asked for photo of Joyce for a cover image, Freund was worried about asking Joyce to sit for her yet again. In a strange coincident, Monnier had arranged for Freund to be married “just on paper” to Pierre Blum (Bloom) so she could stay in France legally--the same name of Joyce's protagonists in Ulysses (Leopold and Molly Bloom).

Sylvia Beach knew how superstitious Joyce was--so she told Freund that if she wanted to photograph Joyce again in colour, she should use her married name when asked him for permission to photograph; Freund sent a letter to Joyce from "Mrs. Bloom." 

Joyce "had a particular fondness for Mrs. Bloom [in Ulysses]": he wrote back immediately agreeing to sit again for Gisèle.  The colour photograph would grace the cover of Time magazine on May 8, 1939 in order to mark the publication of Finnegans Wake.

"Not in color, of course. I couldn't stand the harsh lights on my eyes." 

– James Joyce agreeing to have Freund take his photo



Introduction, part 2
Introduction, Part 4