(page 105 in the microfiche)
Letter to Book Review, NYTIMES, October 7 1979
To the editor:
The review of “Portraits of the Artist in Exile” (Aug. 26) stirred memories of James Joyce in Trieste. My father was the American Consul charged with protecting British interests. He came to like and respect Joyce without the slightest inkling of what he was up to besides teaching at the Berlitz school and tutoring.
My father went so far as to suggest to my mother that they invite Joyce and Nora Barnacle to dinner. This led to words, and my mother’s Victorian upbringing prevailed.
The remote possiblity of social amenities between the two families vanished in 1915 when British subjects began to face internment, a prospect Joyce did not relish. He turned to his friends for help to get him to Switzerland. My father did the paperwork and with others made it plain to the Austrian authorities that Joyce would be a troublemaker to British officialdom. This indeed proved to be the case. Tom Stoppard makes it clear in “Travesties.” Joyce had nothing to give his friends but unsold copies of “The Dubliners.” The copy he gave my father is inscribed
18 Feby 1915
Joyce left for Zurich in June and within two years we were in the war. As our train from Vienna rolled into the station at Zurich one lone figure stood on the platform. It was Joyce come to meet us. As he took hold of the handle of an aged suitcase it broke, but he nimbly tucked it under his arm and led us out. With another simple gesture he had expressed his gratitude.
I never saw him again.
Ralph Busser Jr.