The Memoirs of Vidocq, written by Francois-Jules Vidocq and published in 1829, was a popular 19th century novel about a Parisian Police Commissioner who was also a thief, and was thus able to hide his crimes (at one point in the novel, he escapes capture by dressing as a nun). Joyce's use of the book here supports the theme of deception and dishonesty in the story. But just as the reader is simultaneously aware of the meaning of the mention of these novels, and that the boy does not understand these meanings, so the theme of deception merely strengthens the sense that the boy is deceived about himself.