You may never read Ulysses the same way again. A Harvard author’s new history of James Joyce’s famous novel claims the author was going blind because he was suffering from syphilis. “I deserve all this on account of my many iniquities,” Joyce wrote of his failing eyesight in 1931. Abscesses in his mouth, a boil on his shoulder, and a disabled right arm were all symptoms of syphilis, Kevin Birmingham writes. The disease had a profound effect on the author: He references it at least twice in Ulysses and essentially blames it for the death of a priest in his story The Sisters.