Irish-born writer James Joyce (1882 – 1941) lived in a variety of cities in Europe, but was always tied to Dublin, the city of his birth. It was the setting for many of his revolutionary and controversial works, and it was also where in 1904 he met Nora Barnacle, the woman who would eventually become his wife. This letter, written just months after Joyce first met Nora, shows the depth of his affection.
15 August, 1904
My dear Nora,
It has just struck me. I came in at half past eleven. Since then I have been sitting in an easy chair like a fool. I could do nothing. I hear nothing but your voice. I am like a fool hearing you call me ‘Dear.’ I offended two men today by leaving them coolly. I wanted to hear your voice, not theirs.
When I am with you I leave aside my contemptuous, suspicious nature. I wish I felt your head on my shoulder. I think I will go to bed.
I have been a half-hour writing this thing. Will you write something to me? I hope you will. How am I to sign myself? I won’t sign anything at all, because I don’t know what to sign myself.
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