Two awesome readings of James Joyce’s dirty love letters

by Dean Putney

On June 10th, 1904, James Joyce met Nora Barnacle in Dublin. On the 16th they went on their first date, a date which later became the setting for the novel Ulysses and is now known as Bloomsday.

Nora was Joyce’s muse, and he loved her deeply throughout his life. They maintained a famous correspondence during their relationship in which Joyce proclaims his love for her and describes their sex life in lurid detail. The letters Joyce wrote to Nora demonstrate his intense passion for her and are beautifully written, but they’re also pretty hilarious because they’re just so incredibly filthy. It’s among the dirtiest things I’ve ever read, and I spend a lot of time on the Internet.

Last week I met a couple new online friends who were interested in reading aloud articles for me and sending me an MP3. I started out by sending them some Instapaper articles, but I decided I’d test the limits of what they’d do, so I asked them to record a small collection of Joyce’s letters for me.

What I got back blew my mind. Reading the letters was one thing, hearing them read aloud is an entirely different experience. The women who read these letters for me really threw themselves at the task, bringing this old love back to life. One reader does an Irish accent, which is far above and beyond what I asked for. I’m totally stunned by the quality of their work and their excellent reading.

I want you to hear these recordings. I also want to make more. Lots more. Probably not so much of smut, but of equally interesting writing. It’s quickly become an addiction and an obsession for me and for the readers I’m beginning to get to know online who love reading for me. To facilitate this, I’ve set up a small pay-what-you-want download for this content. You’ll get both readings for whatever you decide to pay, even if it’s nothing. Have a listen to the samples, and if you dig it, please toss me a couple bucks so I can pay these readers what they’re worth.


Here’s the first couple letters from Joyce to Nora, so you know what you’re getting into.


Dublin 2 December 1909


My love for you allows me to pray to the spirit of eternal beauty and tenderness mirrored in your eyes or fling you down under me on that softy belly of yours and fuck you up behind, like a hog riding a sow, glorying in the very stink and sweat that rises from your arse, glorying in the open shape of your upturned dress and white girlish drawers and in the confusion of your flushed cheeks and tangled hair. It allows me to burst into tears of pity and love at some slight word, to tremble with love for you at the sounding of some chord or cadence of music or to lie heads and tails with you feeling your fingers fondling and tickling my ballocks or stuck up in me behind and your hot lips sucking off my cock while my head is wedged in between your fat thighs, my hands clutching the round cushions of your bum and my tongue licking ravenously up your rank red cunt. I have taught you almost to swoon at the hearing of my voice singing or murmuring to your soul the passion and sorrow and mystery of life and at the same time have taught you to make filthy signs to me with your lips and tongue, to provoke me by obscene touches and noises, and even to do in my presence the most shameful and filthy act of the body. You remember the day you pulled up your clothes and let me lie under you looking up at you while you did it? Then you were ashamed even to meet my eyes.

You are mine, darling, mine! I love you. All I have written above is only a moment or two of brutal madness. The last drop of seed has hardly been squirted up your cunt before it is over and my true love for you, the love of my verses, the love of my eyes for your strange luring eyes, comes blowing over my soul like a wind of spices. My prick is still hot and stiff and quivering from the last brutal drive it has given you when a faint hymn is heard rising in tender pitiful worship of you from the dim cloisters of my heart.

Nora, my faithful darling, my seet-eyed blackguard schoolgirl, be my whore, my mistress, as much as you like (my little frigging mistress! My little fucking whore!) you are always my beautiful wild flower of the hedges, my dark-blue rain-drenched flower.



Dublin 3 December 1909


you seem to turn me into a beast. It was you yourself, you naughty shameless girl who first led the way. It was not I who first touched you long ago down at Ringsend. It was you who slid your hand down down inside my trousers and pulled my shirt softly aside and touched my prick with your long tickling fingers and gradually took it all, fat and stiff as it was, into your hand and frigged me slowly until I came off through your fingers, all the time bending over me and gazing at me out of your quiet saintlike eyes. It was your lips too which first uttered an obscene word. I remember well that night in bed in Pola.

Tired of lying under a man one night you tore off your chemise violently and got on top of me to ride me naked. You stuck my prick into your cunt and began to ride me up and down. Perhaps the horn I had was not big enough for you for I remember that you bent down to me face and murmured tenderly “Fuck up, love! Fuck up, love!”

Nora dear, I am dying all day to ask you one or two questions. Let me, dear, for I have told you everything I ever did and so I can ask you in turn. When that person (Vincent Cosgrave) whose heart I long to stop with the click of a revolver put his hand or hands under your skirts did he only tickle you outside or did he put his finger or fingers up into you? If he did, did they go up far enough to touch that little cock at the end of your cunt? Did he touch you behind? Was he a long time tickling you and did you come? Did he ask you to touch him and did you do so? If you did not touch him did he come against you and did you feel it?

Another question, Nora. I know that I was the first man that blocked you but did any man ever frig you? Did that boy (Michael Bodkin) you were fond of ever do it? Tell me now, Nora, truth for truth, honesty for honesty. When you were with him in the dark at night did your fingers never, never unbutton his trousers and slip inside like mice? Did you ever frig him, dear, tell me truly or anyone else? Did you never, never, never feel a man’s or a boy’s prick in your fingers until you unbuttoned me? If you are not offended do not be afraid to tell me the truth. Darling, darling, tonight I have such a wild lust for your body that if you were here beside me and even if you told me with your lips that half the redheaded louts in the county Galway had had a fuck at you before me I would still rush at you with desire.

Read the rest here