It seems that James Joyce was not the simple hypochondriac he’s often assumed to be. Rather, with his panoply of debilitating symptoms, he was something far more romantic: a syphilitic. According to a new biography, if the long-whispered rumors about Joyce’s burden are true, he had the French Curse, the Spanish Itch, the Canton Rash, or whatever delicate nickname he preferred to use.
Artistic genius and syphilis are strange but habitual bedfellows. (For men, of course; women with syphilis are just diseased prostitutes.) Joyce was in good, grossly infected company: Charles Baudelaire, Vincent van Gogh, Beethoven, Francisco Goya, Oscar Wilde, Gustave Flaubert, Édouard Manet, Guy de Maupassant, and Friedrich [...]