“How, for instance, does the following bear on his work?
‘When I’ve posted this I’ll go & have a Turkish bath & stupefy my nerves in sweaty duration. My person is developing dirty habits.’
The editors’ footnote to this letter of 1931 is hygienically exact: “At this time, Trinity College Dublin did not have bathing facilities; the Turkish bath on Lincoln Place and another on Leinster Street were the two nearest to TCD.” That is good to know, but, still, where does “my person” end and the business of writing begin? Should we adhere to a Cartesian division of the two, or is it not more honest to admit that the making of literature, at the nib’s end, is not so much a noble calling as one of the “dirty habits” to which an author is compelled, no more or less mysterious than the call of the bathroom or the temptations of the fridge?”