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Fri May 24, 2013
James Joyce Coin-troversy Reportedly Could Have Been Averted
Irish banking officials should have known there were problems with the controversial 10-euro coin commemorating James Joyce, according to Ireland's RTE News. The coin misquotes the author's Ulysses, and bears an image of Joyce that his estate did not approve.
Newly released documents from Ireland's Central Bank include at least two mentions of possible conflicts with Joyce's estate, RTE reports, along with a mention of previous "difficulty" the government met with after putting Joyce on a 10 pound bill.
Krishnadev reported on the silver proof coin for The Two-Way last month, along with the outrage it prompted on Irish news sites after Joyce fans realized a sentence on the coin — "Signatures of all things that I am here to read" — contains an erroneous that.
The bank has insisted that the coin was intended as "an artistic representation" of Joyce and his work, not "a literal representation."
After its April release, Joyce's grandson and literary executor, Stephen Joyce, called the coin "one of the greatest insults to the Joyce family that has ever been perpetrated in Ireland," The Irish Times reported. He added that he wasn't consulted about the image it bears, calling it "the most unlikely likeness of Joyce ever produced."
The documents also suggest a disagreement over the choice of Joyce in the first place, RTE reports. Officials also considered Jonathan Swift and William Butler Yeats for the coin, part of a series honoring European writers.
Despite the difficulties surrounding it — or perhaps because of them — the Joyce coin became an instant collector's item. Just one day after it went on sale, the central bank announced that it had sold all 10,000 of the coins it minted. It also thanked customers "for their unprecedented interest in the coin."
Even before the coin kerfuffle, Joyce's literary estate had a reputation of being contentious. The expiration of the European copyright on Joyce's work in 2012 merited an article in The New Yorker titled, "Has James Joyce Been Set Free?"