Joyce in Court published today

Justice Adrian Hardiman

Published by Head of Zeus, 1 June 2017

£25 Hardback


An accessible and original book about Joyce and the law, by the most brilliant lawyer of his generation

Books about the work of James Joyce are an academic industry, a slew of the unreadable and the esoteric. Adrian Hardiman's book is both highly readable and strikingly original. He spent years researching Joyce's obsession with the legal system, and the myriad references to notorious trials in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.

Joyce was fascinated by and felt passionately about miscarriages of justice, and his view of the law was coloured by the potential for grave injustice when policemen and judges are given too much power. Hardiman recreates the colourful, dangerous world of the Edwardian courtrooms of Dublin and London, where the death penalty often loomed terrifyingly large. He brings to life the eccentric barristers, corrupt police and omnipotent judges who made the law so entertaining and so horrifying.

This is a remarkable evocation of a vanished world, though Joyce's scepticism about the way evidence is used in criminal trials is still highly relevant.

“The late Adrian Hardiman was a young and brilliant Judge of the Irish Supreme Court. He combined a shrewd and encyclopedic knowledge of the law with a love of literature - echoing in a strange way ‘Rumpole of the Bailey’. This led him to an interest in the surprisingly large number of legal cases buried in the text of James Joyce’s Ulysses. I recall him reading a paper to a rapt audience in the James Joyce Centre on this subject, a lecture that would later form the basis of this fascinating book. Some of the cases, notably the Childs murder case, were sensational in the Ireland of 1904 but have now been almost entirely eclipsed. Adrian Hardiman uses these various trials to examine the philosophical significance of issues such as the balance between prosecutorial zeal and the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. The book is a welcome addition to the Joycean cannon.”
— Senator David Norris

Justice Adrian Hardiman was a judge of the Irish Supreme Court, and generally acknowledged as the most brilliant lawyer of his generation. He died suddenly in 2016, a few months after completing this book.