Here is Burgess looking at a famous image (by the photographer Eve Arnold) of Marilyn Monroe reading James Joyce’s Ulysses. Monroe appears to have nearly finished the book, and may be studying Molly Bloom’s soliloquy. Burgess is at the 1982 Joyce centenary celebrations (wearing the commemorative tie) and seems to be in the James Joyce Museum in Dublin.
Burgess wrote extensively on Joyce, including the two critical studies Here Comes Everybody: An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader (1965, also published as Re:Joyce) and Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1973). He also edited A Shorter ‘Finnegans Wake‘ (1966), and prepared at least part of A Shorter ‘Ulysses’ (now lost). His publications on Joyce sought to make accessible the challenging work of one of his favourite writers.
Burgess’s 1992 essay on Monroe dwells on her iconic status: ‘That she was a great comic ought to detract from her divine glamour. She had a quality she may have learnt from Mae West, the blonde seductress who mocked seduction, indeed mocked sex: this was the intimation that she, the true she, was somewhere outside her body, that her body was a kind of glorious impersonation, an image of an archetypal love goddess’. He never met Monroe himself, though his French collaborator Georges Belmont conducted an important interview with her in 1960.
Eve Arnold’s image of Monroe adorns the cover of Ulysses and Us (2009) by Declan Kiberd, the latest popular exegesis of Joyce’s text.