I read somewhere that James Joyce was known to his family as Sunny Jim. I also once went to a hotel in Pula where he had supposedly spent some time. Since Joyce's day, an unnamed but quite possibly demented hotelier had decided to cover the walls in glossy, red, shag-pile carpet, punctuated with huge macrame sculptures, (or maybe that was the decorative order of the place even when Joyce was in residence - I hadn't thought of that before; perhaps the oddness of Finnegan's Wake is at last explained).
When asked which room James Joyce had occupied, the hotel staff were confounded. 'James who?', they asked. One of them produced the hopeful, if not particularly helpful, information that a reporter from Time magazine had stayed a night a few months earlier. Could that have been him? Umm, no.
Anyway, I'm not actually hugely fond of Joyce's books - an encounter with Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man at too tender an age may have coloured my reactions - but I love his views, (which can be found in a reprint in the New Republic of an article from 1931, which I was lucky enough to stumble upon thanks to that fount of interesting article links, Frank Wilson's Books Inq.) on one of my favourite parts of the world and my absolute all-time favourite empire:
'The state for which he has the highest esteem was the old Hapsburg
Empire. "They called it a ramshackle empire,” he says, "I wish there
were more such ramshackle empires in the world." What he liked about old
Austria was not only the mellowness of life there, but the fact that
the state tried to impose so little upon its own or upon other people.
It was not warlike, it was not efficient, and its bureaucracy was not
strict; it was the country for a peaceful man.'