The Holy Office

Joyce composed The Holy Office shortly before he left Dublin in fall 1904. Titled after the Catholic organization that ruled on matters of heresy, the poem attacks the Irish literati— including several writers who encouraged Joyce in his career, such as W. B. Yeats and George Moore. When nobody would print The Holy Office, Joyce self-published it as a broadside, but he could not afford to pick it up before leaving Ireland. The printers eventually destroyed the sheets. After settling in Trieste in 1905, Joyce printed one hundred copies at the city’s most famous stationer. He sent half the edition to his brother Stanislaus in Dublin, instructing him to distribute the broadside to specific friends and writers, some of whom Joyce targeted in the poem.

James Joyce (1882–1941)
The Holy Office
[Trieste: printed for the author by L. Smolars, 1905]
The Morgan Library & Museum, gift of Sean and Mary Kelly, 2018; PML 197771
© The Estate of James Joyce.