The Irish Review

The Irish Review published by Cork University Press

Ailbhe Smyth, IR 6

IR6 coverAilbhe Smyth’s famous ‘essay’ ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’ appeared in The Irish Review 6 in 1989. Setting out from the moment at which the statue of Joyce’s ALP, known colloquially as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi, was placed in O’Connell Street, the essay remains one of the most inventive and perceptive feminist accounts of Irish culture. Here is an excerpt:

Anna Livia Plurabelle, transmuted from Joyce 1939 into stone monument in the centre of Dublin City 1987. Erected by the Smurfit Foundation in agreement with Dublin City Corporation. From disembodied embodiment to embodied disembodiment, ‘Riverrun’ itinerary of Women:

Why I’m all these years within

years in soffran all beleaved.

A L P supine, reclining in a pool of water. Long tresses (is she marcellewaved or is it weirdly a wig she wears?) chastely covering barely tumescent breasts, hands prudently redundant, knees neatly aligned together. Entirely de-eroticized for all her nudity. All revealing nothing. Blank sightless eyes closed speechless mouth destined eternally to rigid frigidity (frigor mortis). Impenetrable, not an orifice in sight. Inviolably inviolate  body unassailably confined within a wall of stone (‘leda, lada, aflutter afraida, so does your girdle grow.’). Relentlessly lapped and licked, caressed and purified by the unceasing flow of clearly polluted city water (‘oiled of kolooney’ toilet water) unsoftening a body hammer-hardened against seduction. Her fleshly womanness excised unfleshed in stone, anorexically attenuated denial. Impossible body, sign of the impossibility of Woman. River-woman, projection of male fantasy and desire, ‘daughterwife’, doubled, split, shifting, merging ‘woman formed mobile?’ Immobilised.

Ailbhe Smyth, ‘The Floozie in the Jacuzzi’, The Irish Review, 6 (1989), 7-24 [7-8]


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