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Berenice Abbott photo, 1929.
References to Freemasonry in popular culture range from the vitriolic to the innocuous. Far more often they are merely misinformed allusions from which Freemasonry faces a far more insidious threat; that of being marginalized, trivialized, and fictionalized. Most of the references noted on this site are harmless, simply pointing out that Freemasonry has played a role in our society; some are humorous, yet some are disturbing in their associations.
Masonic references in Ulysses
Although there are many references to Freemasonry in James Joyce’s Ulysses, Freemasonry plays no active role in the story. The following constitute every mention of Freemasonry, masonry, masons, lodges and the like. A list of other masonic references in Joyce’s writings can be found at <freemasonry.bcy.ca/fiction/joyce.html>.
I hear the ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry, and time one livid final flame. What’s left us then?
But he must send me La Vie de Jésus by M. Leo Taxil. [page 51]
Spurned lover. I was a strapping young gossoon at that time, I tell you. I'll show you my likeness one day. I was, faith. Lover, for her love he prowled with colonel Richard Burke, tanist of his sept, under the walls of Clerkenwell and, crouching, saw a flame of vengeance hurl them upward in the fog. Shattered glass and toppling masonry. [page 54]
Never see him dressed up as a fireman or a bobby. A mason, yes. [page 88]
Mr Bloom nodded gravely looking in the quick bloodshot eyes. Secret eyes, secret searching. Mason, I think: not sure. [page 133]
Regular square feed for them. [page 145]
Windy night that was I went to fetch her there was that lodge meeting on about those lottery tickets after Goodwin’s concert in the supperroom or oakroom of the Mansion house. [page 197]
Nosey Flynn made swift passes in the air with juggling fingers. He winked.
— He’s in the craft, he said.
— Do you tell me so? Davy Byrne said.
— Very much so, Nosey Flynn said. Ancient free and accepted order. He’s an excellent brother. Light, life and love, by God. They give him a leg up. I was told that by a - well, I won't say who.
— Is that a fact?
— O, it’s a fine order, Nosey Flynn said. They stick to you when you're down. I know a fellow was trying to get into it. But they're as close as damn it. By God they did right to keep the women out of it.
-Davy Byrne smiledyawnednodded all in one:
— Iiiiiichaaaaaaach!
— There was one woman, Nosey Flynn said, hid herself in a clock to find out what they do be doing. But be damned but they smelt her out and swore her in on the spot a master mason. That was one of the saint Legers of Doneraile.
-Davy Byrne, sated after his yawn, said with tearwashed eyes:
— And is that a fact? Decent quiet man he is. I often saw him in here and I never once saw him - you know, over the line.
— God Almighty couldn't make him drunk, Nosey Flynn said firmly. Slips off when the fun gets too hot. Didn't you see him look at his watch? Ah, you weren't there. If you ask him to have a drink first thing he does he outs with the watch to see what he ought to imbibe. Declare to God he does.
— There are some like that, Davy Byrne said. He’s a safe man, I'd say.
— He’s not too bad, Nosey Flynn said, snuffling it up. He’s been known to put his hand down too to help a fellow. Give the devil his due. O, Bloom has his good points. But there’s one thing he'll never do.
-His hand scrawled a dry pen signature beside his grog.
— I know, Davy Byrne said.
— Nothing in black and white, Nosey Flynn said. [pages 226-227]
Sir Frederick Falkiner going into the freemasons' hall. [page 233]
Dunlop, Judge, the noblest Roman of them all, A. E., Arval, the Name Ineffable, in heaven hight: K. H., their master, whose identity is no secret to adepts. Brothers of the great white lodge always watching to see if they can help. The Christ with the bridesister, moisture of light, born of an ensouled virgin, repentant sophia, departed to the plane of buddhi. The life esoteric is not for ordinary person. O. P. must work off bad karma first. Mrs Cooper Oakley once glimpsed our very illustrious sister H. P. B.’s elemental. [page 237]
--I don't know if I can. Thursday. We have our meeting. If I can get away in time. [page 245]
--What’s that bloody freemason doing, says the citizen, prowling up and down outside? [page 387]
--Were you round at the court? says Joe.
--Yes, says J. J. He'll square that, Ned, says he.
--Hope so, says Ned. [page 415]
(Edward the Seventh appears in an archway. He wears a white jersey on which an image of the Sacred Heart is stitched with the insignia of Garter and Thistle, Golden Fleece, Elephant of Denmark, Skinner’s and Probyn’s horse, Lincoln ’s Inn bencher and ancient and honourable artillery company of Massachusetts. He sucks a red jujube. He is robed as a grand elect perfect and sublime mason with trowel and apron, marked made in Germany. In his left hand he holds a plasterer’s bucket on which is printed Defense d'uriner. A roar of welcome greets him.) [page 688]
... I put him up to that till the jesuits found out he was a freemason thumping the piano lead Thou me on copied from some old opera yes and he was going about with some of them Sinner Fein lately or whatever they call themselves...
BLOOM: (Squire of dames, in dinner jacket, with watered-silk facings, blue masonic badge in his buttonhole.... [page 574]
...the black legal bag of Collis and Ward on which a skull and crossbones are painted.... [page 576]
(Their paintspeckled hats wag. Spattered with size and lime of their lodges they frisk limblessly about him.) [page 578]
...well have him coming home with the sack soon out of the Freeman too like the rest on account of those Sinner Fein or the freemasons...
FIRST WATCH: (sternly) Come to the station.
BLOOM: (scared, hats himself, steps back, then, plucking at his heart and lifting his right forearm on the square, he gives the sign and dueguard of fellowcraft)
No, no, worshipful master, light of love. Mistaken identity. The Lyons mail. Lesurques and Dubosc. You remember the Childs fratricide case. We medical men. By striking him dead with a hatchet. I am wrongfully accused. Better one guilty escape than ninetynine wrongfully condemned.
MARTHA: (sobbing behind her veil) Breach of promise. My real name is Peggy Griffin. He wrote to me that he was miserable. I'll tell my brother, the Bective rugger fullback, on you, heartless flirt.
BLOOM: (behind his hand) She’s drunk. The woman is inebriated. (he murmurs vaguely the pass of Ephraim) Shitbroleeth.
SECOND WATCH: (tears in his eyes, to Bloom) You ought to be thoroughly well ashamed of yourself. [page 583]
Two discs on the columns wobble eyes of nought. [page 598]
AN ELECTOR: Three times three for our future chief magistrate! [page 601]
...this stinking goat of Mendes.... [page 612]
Charitable Mason, pray for us. [page 618]
...her forefinger giving to his palm the passtouch of secret monitor.... [page 620]
Then, rigid, with left foot advanced, he makes a swift pass with impelling fingers and gives the sign of past master, drawing his right arm downwards from his left shoulder. [page 641]
Time’s livid final flame leaps and, in the following darkness, ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry.
Gentlemen that pay the rent. (he makes a masonic sign) Know what I mean?
The Deity aint no nickel dime bumshow. I put it to you that He’s on the square and a corking fine business proposition.
So. Allow me. (he takes up the poundnote) Three times ten. We're square.
On the wholesale orders perhaps. Doing a double shuffle with the town travellers. Square it you with the boss and we'll split the job, see?

Ulysses. James Joyce.Penguin Books. London: 1992. First Published in Paris by Shakespeare and Company 1922. This edition first published in Great Britain by The Bodley Head 1960. 933 pages


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