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IS BELLA COHEN JEWISH? WHAT’S IN A NAME?

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Chapter Summary

The history of Irish name changing suggests that despite her surname Bella Cohen may not be Jewish. Via an effort at a phonetic rendering of the Gaelic “Cadhain” into English, “Cohen” can be an Irish name. In addition, “Cadhain” (Gaelic for “wild goose”), was also “translated” into the English “Barnacle.” The connection between Bella’s surname and the Irish “Cohen” and “Barnacle” is noteworthy for two reasons. It opens the possibility that Joyce associated Bella with Nora, and the alternative Hebrew and Gaelic antecedents for “Cohen” offer an example of the indeterminate nature of Jewish and Irish identity in Ulysses.

10.1163/9789042032385_007
/content/books/b9789042032385s007
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