Blog: comic books

James Joyce and Batman

In James Joyce’s final work, Finnegans Wake, there are two times that the word “batman” appears. I first assumed, when I came across the word, that there was no way he was referring to Bruce Wayne’s alter ego. More likely, he was referencing a British military officer’s servant. Out of curiosity, however, I checked the exact publishing date of the first printing of Finnegans Wake as well as the date of the first appearance of Batman in Detective Comics #27.

Finnegans Wake was published on May 4th, 1939.

Detective Comics #27 has a cover date of May 1939.

Of course, even as far back as the 1930s, comic book cover dates have always been two months later than the actual publish date. Therefore, it was probably actually released in March of 1939. Would Joyce have been able to see the first appearance of Batman and put some reference to him in Finnegans Wake during that two month period? Probably not. But it’s not impossible.