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Architecture and Urban Planning - A Memoir \ David Best
V 1990 - 2002
Dedication - To James Joyce and W.M. Dudok

    James Joyce's supreme mastery of his material and the magnificent structure of his novels and short stories made a profound impression on me when I first became acquainted with his work in my early youth.  It was no accident that Joyce chose the name of Dedalus, (the master craftsman of Greek mythology) for Stephen's family name of Joyce's hero in his book-'''Potrate of the Artist as a Young Man'' he attached great significance to this name, and in the last line of his first novel he speaks of course not only for Stephen but for himself when he writes;  " old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead". My own unusual family name; 'Best’ with its implication of excellence, has fascinated me ever since being informed of it in my early childhood.  I have subsequently deflected facetious comments about it to all in sundry, telling them that I fell out of my pram through laughing at jokes about my name.  It will have been no surprise for readers to find some of them cropping up throughout the text of my book.  Not withstanding the possibly apocryphal origin and the occasional merriment that my family name sometines engenders, I have been audacious enough to take it no less seriously than Stephen and his author. He took the name Dedalus from that of the fabulous old artificer and mythical figure ‘Daedalus’-- architect of the labyrinth and other works of supreme craftsmanship. My efforts to emulate the quality of Joyce’s craftsmanship; his mastery over the use of words, in the art of architecture that I had chosen to devote myself to, I have not lessened over the years. The correspondence of language and literature and writing to architecture and planning has been a fascination for me throughout my entire professional life.  But above all, James Joyce has also given me so many hours of delight, amusement and insight into the human condition, through reading, time and time again, the seven books which he wrote during his life of continuous struggle to write and publish them.  

      The last time I was in Zurich, I decided to visit the Flutern Cemetery where Joyce had been buried. It was a cold snowy day, and as I walked between the rows of tombstones looking for his grave I recollected the description of his funeral on such a similar winter’s day, as described by Richard Ellmann in his inimitable biography of James Joyce. Finally finding it and standing by his grave and the rather quaint statue of the author, which theymuch later had put up by his grave, I must confess that I was deeply moved.  Back in my hotel room, I wrote a poem, which somehow summed up my all most life-long fascination for this ‘impossible man’ and particularly his book “Ulysses”. It must have been about fifteen years ago, but I had filed  away the scribbled poem, and only quite recently had taken it out, dusted it off, typed it out with a few discrete corrections and bloody mindedly sent it to a B.B.C Poetry Competition.  Of course I did not get any prize, but the B.B.C announcer did mention that there were several runners up from a number of countries, amongst which was one from Israel. At last, I had almost become a famous poet!   Although I have to admit that this poem is not exactly up to the standard of a W.B Yaets’ and I am damned sure that Joyce wouldn’t have paid a bent penny for it, I nevertheless offer both my book and this poor rejected poem; as a belated dedication and my homage to him.

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