BURTON A. WAISBREN, M.D., F.A.C.P.; FLORENCE L. WALZL, Ph.D.
An analysis of two versions of Father Flynn's illness in "The Sisters," one of the stories in Dubliners, by James Joyce, suggests that in the second version of the story Joyce deliberately implied that Father Flynn had central nervous system syphilis. The evidence shows that Joyce was interested and qualified enough in medicine to be able to describe a syphilitic and that he had definite reasons for doing so. The syphilitic nature of Father Flynn's illness may not have been recognized in the past because many Joyce scholars apparently did not know that paralysis was often used synonymously with paresis (general paralysis of the insane) when Joyce began his revisions in 1905.
WAISBREN BA, WALZL FL. Paresis and the Priest: James Joyce's Symbolic Use of Syphilis in "The Sisters". Ann Intern Med. 1974;80:758–762. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-80-6-758
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1974;80(6):758-762.
Infectious Disease, Neurology.
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Print ISSN: 0003-4819 | Online ISSN: 1539-3704
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