Notes on James Joyce's Ulysses
It is the epic of two races (Israel-Ireland) and at the same time the cycle of the human body as well as a little story of a day (life)... It is also a kind of encyclopaedia. My intention is not only to render the myth sub specie temporis nostri but also to allow each adventure (that is, every hour, every organ, every art being interconnected and interrelated in the somatic scheme of the whole) to condition and even to create its own technique.
(James Joyce, Letters, 21st September 1920)
My head is full of pebbles and rubbish and broken matches and bits of glass picked up 'most everywhere. The task I set myself technically in writing a book from eighteen different points of view and in as many styles, all apparently unknown or undiscovered by my fellow tradesmen, that and the nature of the legend chosen would be enough to upset anyone's mental balance.
(Letters, 24 June 1921)
I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.
(Joyce cited in Richard Ellmann's James Joyce)
Why was I always returning to this theme . . ? I find the subject of Ulysses the most human in world literature. Ulysses didn't want to go off to Troy; he knew that the official reason for the war, the dissemination of the culture of Hellas, was only a pretext for the Greek merchants, who were seeking new markets. When the recruiting officers arrived, he happened to be plowing. He pretended to be mad. Thereupon they placed his little two-year-old son in the furrow. Observe the beauty of the motifs: the only man in Hellas who is against the war, and the father. Before Troy the heroes shed their lifeblood in vain. They want to raise the siege. Ulysses opposes the idea. [He thinks up] the stratagem of the wooden horse. After Troy there is no further talk of Achilles, Menelaus, Agamemnon. Only one man is not done with; his heroic career has hardly begun: Ulysses.
(Joyce cited in Richard Ellmann's James Joyce)
Ulysses is set in Dublin, and the events unfold over 24 hours, beginning on the morning of Thursday 16th June 1904. Some of the events chronicled in the narrative correspond to actual episodes and occurrences in Joyce's life; most of them don't... Despite its diverse styles and fantastic representations, Ulysses is a deeply, even 'magically' naturalistic work. Many of the 'real' things and topical events that the narrative presents (historical references, newspaper reports, descriptions of environments, places and objects) were meticulously researched by Joyce; indeed, he is reported to have desired to "give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book". However, there is also a plethora of misrepresented facts and red-herrings in the narrative which, if you live long enough to research them, are very funny. The work has 18 chapters which correspond, often approximately and strangely, to episodes in The Odyssey of Homer. Although the chapters of Ulysses which were published serially in The Little Review between 1918 and 1920 (when the editors were charged with publishing obscene material) carried 'Homeric' titles, the final novel omitted them. Joyce himself continued to use them, however, and included them in the various 'schema' he gave to friends and critics. Readers now use these chapter titles as a matter of course, and they are listed below (clicking on these titles will take you to the appropriate section of the document):
The first three episodes of Ulysses are sometimes referred to as the Telemachiad (Telemachus was the son of Odysseus/Ulysses) and concern themselves with Stephen Dedalus, a problematically autobiographical character that Joyce had first introduced into his published work through A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The next twelve chapters are considered to comprise the Odyssey or wanderings of Ulysses, and the final three are sometimes characterised as the Nostos, or Ulysses' homecoming to Ithaca, and treat the hero's return, his slaying of the treacherous suitors of his faithful wife Penelope, and his joyful reunion with her. Remember... quite how 'legitimate' these correspondences, parallels and echoes are, and quite how much they are posed only to be re-accented, subverted, skewed or frustrated, is part of the intellectual and emotional adventure of Joyce's modern epic. Don't be daunted by the huge amount of interpretation that Ulysses seems to demand: one of the things that the novel is about is the human obsession with, and need for, interpretation and meaning...
In these notes the 'schemas' of the episodes are presented, followed by a summary of the parallel events in The Odyssey. A synopsis of the narrative's development follows this, and finally some stylistic comments and analysis. Much of the background information here is drawn from Don Gifford's Ulysses Annotated (Berkeley & London: Uni. of California Press, 1988), and Coles Ulysses Notes (Toronto: Coles Publishing, 1981). The symbols, correspondences, etc, are taken from the Gorman-Gilbert and Linati schemas (the Linati elements are given in brackets) which Joyce promoted through friends and critics as an 'accompaniment' to the novel. These schemas are reproduced in various places, for example in Richard Ellmann's Ulysses on the Liffey (London: Faber & Faber, 1972), and Sydney Bolt's A Preface to James Joyce (London & New York: Longman, 1981). The more discursive and critical commentaries here are our own.
TIME: 8.oo am.
SCENE: A Martello tower (erected by the British to repel French invasion during the Napoleonic wars) at Sandycove on the shore of Dublin Bay, 7 miles southeast of Dublin.
COLOURS: White, gold
TECHNIQUE: Narrative (young)
CORRESPONDENCES: Telemachus, Hamlet-Stephen; Antinous-Mulligan; Mentor-the milk woman. (Hamlet, Ireland and Stephen, Mentor, Pallas [Athena], the suitors and Penelope. Sense: Dispossessed son in struggle).
Homeric Parallels: In the council of the gods which opens Homer's Odyssey, Zeus decides that it is time for Odysseus to return home. In Ithaca, Telemachus, son of Odysseus and Penelope, is disgusted with the behaviour of the suitors toward his mother in his father's absence (the suitors are led by the arrogant Antinous, and they mock the threatening omens sent by Zeus), and he seeks counsel from the gods. Pallas Athena, goddess of the arts of war and peace, domestic economy, wit and intuition, is revealed as Odysseus' patron. She advises Telemachus to travel in search of his father.
Summary: Stephen Dedalus, his friend Buck Mulligan (a medical student), and his English friend from Oxford, Haines, prepare for the day. Due to Haines' nightmares, Stephen has had a troubled night, and Mulligan continues to upbraid him for refusing to pray at his own mother's deathbed. They breakfast, receiving milk from an old woman with whom Haines, with his interest in the native tongue and Irish nationalism, starts a conversation by speaking to her in Gaelic. As they leave the tower so that Mulligan can enjoy his morning swim Stephen is asked to explain his theory of Hamlet. He declines, and Haines and Stephen discuss literature and politics. They meet a friend who gossips about a drowning, and about a certain Bannon and a young girl, who will turn out later to be Milly, Leopold Bloom's daughter. Mulligan borrows the key to the tower and two pence from Stephen, who, like the usurped Telemachus, wanders off.
Comment: The chapter opens with Buck Mulligan's mock Mass. Mulligan 'corresponds' with Antinous, leader of the treacherous suitors, and he, along with the Englishman Haines, will take the key to the Tower, symbol of Stephen Dedalus' 'home'. Stephen is back from France (the country he fled to in the bid for freedom which closes A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man), summoned by his mother's death. His stoic refusal to pray at her deathbed, and the resulting guilt, will haunt him throughout the book. Stephen, like Telemachus and Hamlet, is searching for a father; not an actual father (he has Simon for a father and it is his mother that he has really lost) but a spiritual father and, what he will call in SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS, a "mystical estate". His name also aligns him with another father-and-son pair, Daedalus and his son Icarus; the former being the creator of the labyrinth in which the Minotaur lived, and inventor of winged flight, and it is a flight or redemption through invention or 'art' which Stephen searches for. The symbol 'heir' and the last word of the episode ("Usurper") raise issues of paternity and inheritance (creative, spiritual, mythic) which will echo through the book It also raises the theme of dispossession. This could refer to Mulligan's taking of the key, or to the priest's clothes which Stephen has just spotted, for the Church, like the state, is a symbol of power, hypocrisy and imposition for Stephen ("I am a servant of two masters... an English and an Italian": English colonialism and Roman Catholicism). Such forces have exploited Ireland and left her, like the "old shrunken paps" of the milkwoman, exhausted.
Although the narrative sometimes blurs the distinction between internal and 'voiced' language, and often appears to be ordered through devices associated with internal monologue, the style of the episode (despite its dense literary and cultural allusions) is seemingly conventional, a sort of continuation of the style of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This is what Joyce would refer to as the "initial style"; as he wrote to Harriet Shaw Weaver:
I understand that you may begin to regard the various styles of the episodes with dismay and prefer the initial style much as the wanderer did who longed for the rock of Ithaca. But in the compass of one day to compress all these wanderings and clothe them in the form of this day is for me possible only by such variation which, I beg you to believe, is not capricious. (Letters, 6 August, 1919)
TIME: 10.00 am.
SCENE: A private boy's school in Dalkey, a village about a mile southeast of the Martello tower.
TECHNIQUE: Catechism (personal)
CORRESPONDENCES: Nestor-Deasy; Pisistratus, Nestor's youngest son-Sargent; Helen-Mrs O'Shea (Parnell's mistress and later wife). (Telemachus. Sense: Wisdom of Antiquity).
Homeric Parallels: In The Odyssey Telemachus goes to see well-meaning but tiresome old Nestor, who knows only that Odysseus' homecoming will be difficult.
Summary: Stephen is teaching in a boy's school, and while the class recites Milton's Lycidas he broods upon his life, his lot and his doubts. He has a meeting with the Anglophile headmaster Mr Deasy, who pays him for his work and lectures him on thrift. He solicits Stephen, whom he knows has 'editorial connections', to place a letter for him. A xenophobic characterisation of the Jews by Deasy, punctuated by Stephen's voiced and inner disagreements, ends the episode.
Comment: The 'art' of this episode is history. While the pompous and racist Deasy dwells on history as a teleological and revelatory process ("All human history moves towards one great goal, the manifestation of God") Stephen imagines God as "a shout in the street" and history as "a nightmare from which I am trying to awake". The narratives of history with which Stephen is concerned are precisely those that were 'ousted' from possibility': "Had Pyrrhus not fallen...or Julius Caesar not been knifed to death... they are lodged in the room of the infinite possibilities they have ousted." The compendious nature of Ulysses itself shows that the styles, stories, representations and discourses that are not continuously present in the text are 'ousted' because different orders of language and narrative are mutually exclusive. The narratives (in literature, in history) that we do construct attain coherence only by exclusion. In this concern with what is excluded Stephen's compassion for the "Ugly and futile" pupil called Sargent becomes significant, for it introduces a submerged but key theme which begins to undercut the more overt theme of paternity: that of Amor Matris, a mother's love.
TIME: 11.00 am.
SCENE: The beach along Sandymount Strand.
TECHNIQUE: Monologue (male)
CORRESPONDENCES: Proteus-primal matter; Menelaus-Kevin Egan; Megapenthus-cockle picker. (Helen and Telemachus. Sense: Primal matter).
Homeric Parallels: In book 4 of The Odyssey Telemachus visits the court of Menelaus, who knows of Odysseus' lot from information coerced out of the sea god of many shapes, Proteus. The god tells of the death of Ajax and Agamemnon, and of the fate of Odysseus marooned and in bondage on Calypso's island.
Summary: Stephen walks along the sea front and reflects upon the things he sees midwives, cockle-pickers, boulders, a dog, the body of a dog, "seaspawn and seawrack". He wonders if he should visit his aunt and remember his father's scorn for his mother's relatives. He changes direction, thinks about his time in Paris and his Fenian friend Kevin Egan. His imaginings drift towards his own writing and sex, which he projects into exotic settings. He picks his nose, worries about his teeth, then sees "a silent ship" in the bay.
Comment: Protean means 'changing', and in this episode Stephen is concerned with the nature of change over time and in space, and with the general movement of all things towards some goal, or towards a decay upon which, paradoxically, new life depends ("dead breaths I living breathe"). He scans the beach for 'signs' as if the external world were a text laden with "Signatures of all things" there for him to read. He also examines the internal world of solipsism, but he finds that if you interrogate the "ineluctable modality of the visible" by closing your eyes and withdrawing from it, you can still hear yourself walking ("ineluctable modality of the audible") and you will open your eyes to find that the world was "There all the time without you: and ever shall be, world without end." (Incidentally, in CIRCE we find that Stephen "Must get glasses. Broke them yesterday"; could this stress upon the nature of the visible be a compensation for myopia?) Several dimensions of classical philosophy and theology (especially Aristotelian and Thomist) are explored during Stephen's apparently random musings in this episode, but he also explores the limits of himself, especially his own artistic aspirations, his sexual proclivities, and his own loneliness, in ways that perhaps ironise his pose as a 'priest of the imagination'.
TIME: 8.00 am.
SCENE: Leopold Bloom's house, 7 Eccles Street, in the northwest quadrant of Dublin.
TECHNIQUE: Narrative (mature)
CORRESPONDENCES: Calypso-the Nymph; The Recall-Dlugacz; Ithaca-Zion. (Penelope 'wife', Ulysses, Callidike, Vagina, Exile, Family, Israel in Bondage. Sense: Departing traveller).
Homeric Parallels: In book 5 of The Odyssey Odysseus is found imprisoned on Calypso's island where, for the last 7 years, she has compelled him to be her lover. Athena petitions Zeus to free Odysseus, and Hermes is sent to instruct Calypso accordingly. As Odysseus sets out Poseidon sends thunderheads against him, but again Athena intercedes; the storms are calmed and Odysseus is given the gift of self-possession.
Summary: Leopold Bloom is preparing breakfast for himself and his wife (and his cat) before departing for Paddy Dignam's funeral. The jingling springs of the bed upstairs show that his wife Molly is awake. He muses upon the source of the bedit came, like Molly, from Gibraltar. He goes out (like Odysseus in The Odyssey, it is Bloom's wanderings which will take up the major part of Ulysses), and after greeting a friend enters a butcher's and buys a pork kidney. He daydreams on a range of themes, and fantasises about women he sees. He walks back from the butcher musing about the exotic Mediterranean; this has been prompted by reading about orange groves on the newspaper wrapping he has picked up. It refers to a Zionist colony of planters: Bloom himself is a Jewish advertising salesman, hence the interest in the ad and the place. The sky clouds over and, thinking about his wife Bloom hurries home, picking up mail on the doorstep. There is a letter from his daughter Milly, and a letter for his wife from Blazes Boylan, who is both the organiser of a concert tour which features Molly (phrases and refrains from popular songs and operas pepper Bloom's internal monologue throughout) and, at present, her lover. Bloom scorches his kidney then repairs to the outside loo with Titbits.
Comment: Here we are introduced to another character, and another style. Though still presented through free-indirect discourse, Bloom is a different type of consciousness altogether. He becomes both an Odyssean wanderer and a representative of 'everyman' as the novel develops, and the workings of his mind perhaps reflect his modern, mundane and yet 'universal' status. Unlike the analytical and philosophical approach to the world which we encountered in Stephen (PROTEUS), Bloom's relationship to his environment is more sensual and more bodily he interacts with his world, on a range of levels. An important question to ask yourself when following Bloom's development might be "is he an anti-hero in a mock-heroic novel, or is he the 'hero' of a specifically modernist epic"? A range of motifs, themes, concepts and images arise. Bloom's potato might be a symbol of Irish history. Metempsychosis, or the "transmigration of souls", a word drawn from a popular semi-pornographic novel yet with classical overtones ("it's from the Greek"), might be a structural principle of the novel itself is Bloom Ulysses 'transmigrated' into the twentieth century? (the word itself will 'transmigrate' in Molly's mouth into "met-him-pike-hoses", and, as the motifs of the novel accumulate, we will meet these words and symbols, in different forms, again and again).
5. LOTUS EATERS
TIME: 10.00 am.
SCENE: Bloom wanders through Dublin.
SYMBOL: The Eucharist
CORRESPONDENCES: Lotus-Eaters-the cabhorses, communicants, soldiers, eunuchs, bather, watchers of cricket. (Eurylochus, Polites, Ulysses, Nausicaa. Host, Penis in Bath, Foam Flower, Drugs, Castration, Oats. Sense: Seduction of faith).
Homeric Parallels: In book 9 of The Odyssey Odysseus recounts his earlier adventures to King Alcinous, telling of the land of the friendly Lotus Eaters, where his men ate flowers which drugged them and made them forget about going home. Odysseus drives the infected men back to the ship and sets sail.
Summary: Bloom walks through the streets of Dublin and performs several errands. Again he and his mind wander (through advertising themes, exotic settings, scientific explanations of phenomena). As ever, he is voyeuristically concerned with the women in Dublin, preoccupied with the 'signs' of the modern city ("Plumtrees Potted Meat", for example, which recurs again and again; what does it refer to? Dignam's burial? Sexual intercourse?), and also mysteriously excited about a letter he has just collected under an alias (Henry Flower). After meeting a friend called M'Coy, avoiding lending him money and musing about the weak voice of the man's wife, Bloom surreptitiously opens the letter. It is from a girl called Martha, whom he has never met, and as he reads it he recalls sado-masochistic passages from other letters she has sent him. He goes into a church and then into a chemist's shop, buying a cake of soap for his bath later (chemicals, perfumes and drugs are the motifs of this episode. Drugs also invoke the themes of pain, loss and their relief... a dimension of Bloom's day which will emerge more clearly later). His meditations on chemists, chemicals, poisonings and physics are interrupted by Bantam Lyons who wants to borrow Bloom's newspaper to check the details of a horse race. Bloom tells him to keep it as he was going to throw it away anyway. Lyons thinks this is a tip on a horse called 'Throwaway'. The day is hot and sticky, and Bloom dreams of himself in the bath with his penis floating languidly.
Comment: Recurrent Bloomian/Homeric themes start to get noticeable in the text as flowers, exoticism and drugs 'recall' the Lotus Eaters of The Odyssey. Sexual desire, often signalled by words, phrases and motifs drawn from Martha's letter (spelling mistakes and all), begins to emerge as a central feature of Bloom's consciousness and of language itself often, the 'play' of Bloom's internal monologue will return, through puns and associations established episode by episode, to sexual themes.
TIME: 11.00 am.
SCENE: A funeral carriage travels from Patrick Dignam's house in Sandymount to Prospect Cemetery in Glasnevin, north Dublin.
COLOURS: White, black
TECHNIQUE: Incubism (incubus-an evil spirit that produces nightmares)
CORRESPONDENCES: The four rivers of Hades-the Dodder, the Grand and Royal canals and the Liffey; Sisyphus-Martin Cunningham; Cerberus-Father Coffey; Hades-Caretaker; Hercules-Daniel O'Connell; Elpenor-Dignam; Agamemnon-Parnell; Ajax-Menton. (Ulysses, Eriphyle, Orion, Laertes, Prometheus, Tiresias, Proserpina, Telemachus, Antinous. Sense: Descent into nothingness).
Homeric Parallels: In books 10-11 of The Odyssey Circe advises Odysseus to go down to the realms of the dead for advice on his course of action. He speaks with many shades (Hercules, Agamemnon, his mother), including Tiresias, who tells him that it is the sea god Poseidon who is hindering his journey home. Tiresias warns Odysseus not to violate the cattle of Helios the sun god (see OXEN OF THE SUN) or his men will be lost and his wife beset by insolent suitors.
Summary: Bloom and his fellow mourners travel to the cemetery for the burial of Dignam. The occasion evokes a wealth of Bloomian meditations on birth, death and human frailty, including his reminiscences on Rudy, his own dead son, and his father, a suicide (a theme that, like anti-semitism, tactlessly arises in various conversations here). Bloom's own propensities towards practicality and technology are also consolidated here, as he thinks about death and hygiene and the benefits of running a tram line to the cemetery. Sentimental talk on death articulates the emotional past of these people, just as talk of the dead Parnell invokes their public and historical plight (Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Irish Nationalist Party, almost forced the passage of the Home Rule Bill through Parliament in 1886. His career ended in shame when in 1890 his adulterous relationship with Katherine O'Shea came to light).
Comment: As well as being introduced to a lot of Dublin characters (Stephen's father for instance) we also meet a 'red-herring' the man in the macintosh ("Now who is he I'd like to know?" thinks Bloom). This may seem an insignificant incident (although "The chap in the macintosh is thirteen. Death's number."), but it is precisely the sort of 'plant' that the realist novel should pick up on and develop. In Ulysses this character does crop up again: he erroneously enters history through the newspaper's obituary as M'Intosh, and Bloom wrongly appears as L. Boom (in EUMAEUS) and he will be 'personified' in CIRCE... but his 'real' identity is never resolved.
TIME: 12.00 noon.
SCENE: The newspaper office of the Freeman's Journal (and the Evening Telegraph) near Nelson's pillar and the General Post Office in the centre of Dublin.
TECHNIQUE: Enthymemic (resembling a philosophical syllogism, but more rhetorical than logical)
CORRESPONDENCES: Aeolus-Crawford; Incest-journalism; Floating Island-the Press. (Aeolus, Sons, Telemachus, Mentor, Ulysses; Sense: Mockery of Victory).
Homeric Parallels: In book 10 of The Odyssey, after the encounter with the CYCLOPS Odysseus reaches Aeolia, ruled by Aeolus who was warden of the winds. Aeolus tries to help Odysseus in his journey by trapping all of the unfavourable winds in a bag. Within sight of Ithaca, the weary Odysseus drowses at the tiller. His men suspect him of hiding a spectacular treasure in the bag, and when they open it the foul winds blow the craft back to Aeolia, where Aeolus refuses any further help. He drives Odysseus away, as "a man the blessed gods detest".
Summary: Here we have the first 'meeting' of Stephen and Bloom/Father and son/Odysseus and Telemachus. Bloom attempts (unsuccessfully) to complete an advertising contract, and Stephen (successfully) hands over Deasy's pompous letter. Movement, bustle and noise set the atmosphere (and a wind which blows every time the door opens). When Stephen arrives the denizens of the office swap stories, including the legendary account of Ignatius Gallagher who telegraphed an account of the Phoenix Park assassinations to America through an ingenious code (Gallagher cropped up earlier in Joyce's writing as a character in Dubliners). Famous speeches and literary efforts are nostalgically recounted, but the episode, like Stephen's 'Parable of the Plums', seems to revolve around themes of failure, isolation and 'missing the point'. As ever, latent historical and political motifs are drawn out (Britain is compared to Rome, and Israel to Ireland, as a general theme of 'exile' arises. A statue of Admiral Nelson, the English hero and "one-handled adulterer", features in and overlooks the episode his column would be blown up by Irish Nationalists in 1966). The group leave for the pub, and Bloom wanders off to the National Library to check their files for the design he wants.
Comment: Stylistically this episode presents the first departure from interior monologue, as newspaper headlines constantly disrupt what is an apparently straightforward narrative. Who 'writes' these headlines? Who keeps intruding into the narrative with these 'windy' examples of newspaper rhetoric? This is the first clear evidence we have that the 'text' itself has a voice and, like a character, can ironically comment on the events it witnesses... the book seems to have become self-conscious, or seems to be using the voice of an anonymous 'mass' consciousness (this is the register that newspapers aspire towards). The episode is actually a compendium of rhetorical figures (the 'art' of rhetoric as we know it was culled from examples in Greek and Roman literature), the kind of 'linguistic manipulation' and inflation which is always a key theme in Ulysses. Note that the headlines emphasise and classify certain things, 'packaging' (and often misrepresenting) events in the same way that newspaper headlines do. Here, perhaps, the novel begins to question the authority of its own narrative by presenting 'alternative' versions of itself.
TIME: 1.00 pm.
SCENE: Lunch at Davy Byrne's pub and then to the National Library.
CORRESPONDENCES: Antiphates-hunger; The Decoy-food; Lestrygonians-teeth. (Antiphates, The seductive daughter, Ulysses; Sense: Dejection).
Homeric Parallels: In book 10 of The Odyssey, after being rebuffed by Aeolus, Odysseus and his men reach the island of the Lestrygonians. In the bay are many ships, and a seductive girl lures the shore party to the lodge of her father, Antiphates, king of the Lestrygonians. The king is a giant and a cannibal; he eats the shore party, but Odysseus and his crew escape-to Circe's island.
Summary: In LOTUS EATERS the predominant motifs were perfumes, chemicals and drugs; here, as Bloom gets hungry, the dominant motifs are related to food and eating in many ways, Ulysses is an epic of the body and its processes. He continues to wander, thinking about birth and family life, Molly, her previous lovers, and his own past. He is handed a religious pamphlet, sees Stephen's sister Dilly in the street, feeds some seagulls and then starts noticing and thinking about advertising (men whose placards taken together spell HELY'S will keep cropping up). Bloom meets Mrs Breen, sort of an old flame, and sympathises with her because of her 'cracked' husband (he had earlier sympathised with women's lot in general when thinking about families"Life with hard labour"). He learns that a mutual acquaintance, Mrs Purefoy, is in the maternity hospital (Bloom will visit the hospital in OXEN OF THE SUN). Erotic musings, observations about policemen, A.E. (George Russell, a dominant figure in the Irish literary renaissance) and the nature of food follow Bloom into actual eating places, which make him nauseous. He ends up in Davy Byrne's for a light meat-free snack (Bloom chooses cheese, something which falls between meat and vegetables). This is just one of a complex series of 'choices' between paths which anticipate Stephen's upcoming voyage between SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS. Boylan's name crops up, distressing Bloom momentarily. After leaving, he helps a blind young man across the road, thinking compassionately about blindness (as opposed to Stephen's philosophical experiment with it in PROTEUS; the 'blind stripling' will crop up again too) indeed, along with all his other traits, this episode establishes Bloom as a deeply sympathetic and compassionate character (his acquaintances in Davy Byrne's agree).
Comment: Back to Bloomian interior monologue. The episode ends strangely: after "Straw hat in sunlight. Tan shoes..." Bloom appears to be thrown into confusion. He wants to hide, and checks his pockets for soap and potato... It takes a while for the reader to realise that he was on the point of running into Blazes Boylan. Bloom pretends that he is preoccupied by checking his pockets for his magical talismans (soap and potato. Bloom 'pretends' quite a lot in this chapter, entering eating places and appearing to be looking for someone when actually he is checking the place out). This avoidance of Boylan actually points to a similar 'avoidance' early in the episode when textual transformations and associations lead him to places that he doesn't want his mind to go:
Got fellows to stick them up or stick them up himself for that matter on the q. t. running in to loosen a button. Flybynight. Just the place too. POST NO BILLS. POST IIO PILLS. Some chap with a dose burning him.
No ..... No.
No, no. I don't believe it. He wouldn't surely?
Mr Bloom moved forward, raising his troubled eyes. Think no more about that. After one. Timeball on the ballastoffice is down. Dunsink time. Fascinating little book that is of sir Robert Ball's. Parallax. I never exactly understood. There's a priest. Could ask him. Par it's Greek: parallel, parallax. Met him pike hoses she called it till I told her about the transmigration. O rocks!
The associations from the NO BILLS poster move from bills to pills to venereal disease to something which Bloom refuses to allow into his consciousness ("Think no more about that"). This repressed event is actually his imminent cuckolding, which he suspects will take place around 4.pm, but he is repressing this fact and the text also represses it. As readers, we have to come back to episodes like this to piece together the motives for such repressions and elisions. Significantly, this repression sends Bloom's thoughts back to Molly and her phrase "Met him pike hoses". Bloom however, had initially taken his mind off this event by thinking of parallax, a term taken from astronomy denoting the apparent displacement in the location or direction of an object when observed from two different points of view (a near object will apparently 'move' against a distant background as you walk past it, for example). Here the book is bringing together related concepts and structuring themes: if 'metempsychosis' is symbolically significant (relations in time), then how much does the book itself depend upon similar ideas, events or objects viewed from different perspectives or through different media i.e., how much is the significance of the work itself structured through 'parallax' (multiple relations in time, space, etc)? An example, and a rather moving one, of such "parallax" occurs as Bloom sits in Davy Byrne's. He sees two flies copulating on the window, and then moves into a reverie about kissing Molly on Ben Howth, eating seed cake from her mouth a memory of his happy past ("Me. And me now.") This event will recur in a variety of contexts, signalled by motifs included in this passage (seedcake, rhododendrons, nannygoat currants), but perhaps most significantly it will surface in PENELOPE, and Molly's thoughts about Ben Howth will end the novel.
9. SCYLLA & CHARYBDIS
TIME: 2.00 pm.
SCENE: The National Library
ORGAN: The Brain
SYMBOL: Stratford, London
CORRESPONDENCES: The Rock-Aristotle, dogma, Stratford; The Whirlpool-Plato, mysticism, London; Ulysses-Socrates, Jesus, Shakespeare. (Scylla and Charybdis, Ulysses, Telemachus, Antinoos. Hamlet, Shakespeare, Christ, Socrates, London and Stratford, Scholasticism and Mysticism, Plato and Aristotle, Youth and Maturity. Sense: Two-edged dilemma).
Homeric Parallels: In book 12 of The Odyssey, returning from HADES and after burying Elpenor on Circe's island (one of his own crew who had fallen and died while drunk in Circe's hall, Elpenor was the first shade Odysseus met in the underworld and he requested a proper burial), Odysseus is given a choice of routes by her. She warns him of the SIRENS and the WANDERING ROCKS (which none, "not even birds", may pass), and suggests that he journeys between the six-headed monster Scylla and the whirling maelstrom Charybdis.
Summary: In the office of the director of the National Library, Stephen, A.E., John Eglinton and Lyster the librarian discuss Shakespeare. The others mock Stephen for his youthful enthusiasm for complex theories of literary creation. A.E. is a Platonist (idealist), and mocks all readings of Shakespeare which suppose that Hamlet is a real person. There is a chat about the Dublin litterati, A.E. leaves and Stephen begins to expound his theory (it is a theory which must chart a course between idealism of A.E. and the reductive materialism of Mulligan in order to define the ways in which art [ideal] and life [material] interact. Essentially, the theory as a theory owes much to psychoanalytic readings, popular at the time, of the way in which art or dreams, fantasies and neuroses creatively 'rework' the stuff of life). Stephen's theory is dense with learning and allusions, he weaves elements from the putative 'biographies' of Shakespeare, and from literature, philosophy and theology, into an argument which suggests that in Hamlet Shakespeare tries to compensate for a sexual 'wounding' and cuckolding perpetrated by his older and more experienced wife, Ann Hathaway. He suggests that Shakespeare's son, Hamnet, who died young, was perhaps conceived adulterously by his wife and one of his brothers (Richard or Edmund, who are always villains in Shakespeare's plays). This would be the rationale behind the bard's self-exile in London, and while he was there he would write Hamlet, casting himself in the murdered father's role (the ghost): in a sense, Hamlet would be the 'true' offspring of the relationship between Shakespeare and his wife. Stephen aligns physical sexuality with the woman, while suggesting that the father's identity is essentially unknowable it is "a legal fiction". This 'fiction' becomes a metaphor of artistic creation itself, a "mystical estate" in which the tragic frustrations of the artist, rather than the brute facts of the artist's material 'life', are what are transmuted into the stuff of art. Thus Hamlet becomes a ghost-story: the ghost/father is Shakespeare, Hamlet is the product of his artistic soul, and the treacherous Gertrude is Ann Hathaway. Echoes with Stephen's own life here are apparent (he has been 'wounded' by his mother and presents himself as a tragic character without a father; Bloom too is invoked here he has lost a son and is soon to be cuckolded by his wife), but his theory is presented to impress the Dublin litterati, it is wild, clever and interesting, but they aren't very impressed (when asked if he believes his own theory, Stephen replies that he doesn't). Mulligan appears and parodies Stephen's theory, and other Shakespearean 'theories' are discussed, including Oscar Wilde's. Bloom appears then disappears, and Mulligan reports that he had seen him earlier inspecting the genitalia of the Library's statues (Bloom had been wondering if goddesses and Greek statues had ate food, defecated and had anuses earlier in LESTRYGONIANS) and an anti-semitic and homophobic interlude occurs (Mulligan mocks Bloom's jewishness and implies that he desires Stephen sexually). The group return to Stephen's theory, and, while expounding it, Stephen reflects upon the way the father-son nexus in Hamlet illumines his own situation. They leave the library to the accompaniment of a quote from Shakespeare's Cymbeline.
Comment: Back, temporarily, to Stephen's style, but the text occasionally revolts and strange interjections and mocking voices whose source is obscure occur. Note how Stephen's actual experience undercuts his theorising: he is haunted not by his mother's betrayal of him (as in Hamlet) but by his betrayal of her. If "paternity is a legal fiction" in Ulysses then a mother's love, and the physicality of the woman's role in childbirth, are things which the book will prioritise over any theory of 'artistic creation'. Perhaps through the character of Stephen, Joyce is critiquing his own early concern with aesthetic theory.
10. WANDERING ROCKS
TIME: 3.00 pm.
SCENE: The streets of Dublin
CORRESPONDENCES: Bosphorous-Liffey; European Bank-Viceroy; Asiatic Bank-Conmee; Sympleglades-Groups of Citizens. ((Objects, Places, Forces, Ulysses; Sense: The Hostile Environment).
Homeric Parallels: In book 12 of The Odyssey, Circe warns Odysseus not to go by this route (see SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS): he doesn't, and so it is absent from Homer's pages.
Summary: This episode, comprised of 18 mini-episodes, is a sort of doubling of the book itself. We meet Father Conmee, the Dedalus sisters and Stephen (who, at the sight of his sister is wracked with guilt), a one-legged sailor and an arm which throws a coin and belongs to Molly Bloom, Blazes Boylan, and a host of other characters. It develops if 'develops' is the right word, by tracking the links which the Earl of Dudley's procession makes between different characters and places in Dublin. However, there is no logical sequence to these events (follow the journey of the one-legged sailor in the first 3 sections and you find that the 3rd section occurs before the 1st). If there is no temporal 'unfolding' of these events (there is also a lot of repetition, as if the narrative has lost its memory and starts each section as a 'new' story), then there is little logical connection between them and less indication of their significance. Are these alternative scraps of narrative potential 'paths' which the book like Odysseus in The Odyssey and like Stephen's view of history in NESTOR didn't take, and so exist only as a jumble of "possibilities ousted"?
Comment: Section 10, where Bloom peruses a pornographic novel at a book-cart is interesting, as many phrases and images from this passage (and the distinction between the text which he reads and his own sexually aroused consciousness is blurred here) will recur frequently (thus throwing doubt on the idea that any possible route that the narrative doesn't take is lost forever).
TIME: 4.00 pm.
SCENE: The Concert Room saloon at The Ormond Hotel, Ormond Quay.
TECHNIQUE: Fuga per canone (a fugue according to rule)
CORRESPONDENCES: Sirens-Barmaids; The Isle-the bar. (Colour, Coral; Ulysses, Menelaus, Leucothea, Parthenope [a Siren who threw herself into the sea when their attempt to lure Odysseus failed], Orpheus and the Argonauts. Sense: Sweet deception).
Homeric Parallels: Circe had warned Odysseus about the bewitching song of the two Sirens, which could "sing a man's mind away". In book 12 of The Odyssey, so that he might hear their song without succumbing to it and being driven to his death on the rocks that surround the Siren's isle, he stops the ears of his men with wax, instructs them to ignore any pleas he might make, then has them bind him to the mast, where he listens to their voices, and then passes on to journey between SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS.
Summary: The barmaids at the Ormond Hotel see Bloom pass by. Simon Dedalus is there, and he turns his attention to the piano, which has just been tuned by the blind stripling. Bloom is elsewhere, buying paper. Boylan enters, Bloom spots his car outside and also enters with a friend, Ritchie Goulding. They sit near the door as Boylan and Lenehan flirt with the barmaids. Boylan leaves, Ben Dollard and father Cowley come in (the 'jingling' of Boylan's departing car echoes the jingle of the Blooms' bed-springs). Simon sings, Bloom thinks of Molly, and begins to write a reply to Martha's letter (he resists the modality of the audible through reading and writing). Ben Dollard sings 'The Croppy Boy', a ballad about the Irish rebellion. Irish nationalism and nostalgia fill the text and the audience are captivated, but Bloom, the Odyssean wanderer, breaks wind and leaves, encountering a prostitute that he knows on the way.
Comment: This episode opens with 60 fragments which are an introduction or overture to the 'fugue' of the main text; these fragments will reappear, like leit motifs (the technique of this chapter is music or 'fugue', and it is filled with music, musical themes, lyrics and noises the voice of Molly Bloom, despite her absence, is dominant). Language and the chains of association it produces begins to function like music or notes through rhyme, incidentals, development, repetition, and the collapse of sense into sound ("impertinent insolence" becomes "Imperthnthn thnthnthn"). Who is the narrator/organiser of this chapter? Is there one? Is there anything we can call a 'narrative'? Occasionally the narrative voice turns 'cruel', taking the rise out of Bloom (who is still trying to repress the fact of the assignation that Boylan has just left for) and bald-headed Pat for example.
TIME: 5.00 pm.
SCENE: The Tavern, Barney Kiernan's pub, Little Britain Street. Decorating the bar are Kiernan's souvenirs of crime and punishment.
CORRESPONDENCES: Noman-I; Stake-Cigar; Challenge-Apotheosis. (No one (I), Ulysses, Galatea, Prometheus. Nation, state, religion, dynasty, idealism, exaggeration, fanaticism, collectivity. Sense: Egocidal terror).
Homeric Parallels: In book 9 of The Odyssey Odysseus describes his adventures with the one-eyed giant and loutish cyclopes. One of them, Polyphemus, trapped Odysseus and his men in a cave, and began devouring them at the rate of 2 a day. Odysseus plies Polyphemus with wine, telling him that his name is 'Noman', and when the cyclops falls asleep he drives a burning stake into his eye. Polyphemus screams that 'No-man' has blinded him and his neighbours, taking him literally, refuse to help. Odysseus and his men escape by hiding beneath Polyphemus' sheep, but once safe aboard their ship, Odysseus tells Polyphemus his real name and shouts taunts, and the Cyclops then locates them and wrecks their vessel with a rock. Polyphemus then calls upon his father Poseidon to help by obstructing Odysseus in his journey, make him lose his companions, and return "under strange sail to bitter days at home"... hence all of the subsequent problems.
Summary: Bloom is going to Barney Kiernan's to meet Martin Cunningham and discuss the affairs of the Dignam family. The unnamed narrator (a debt collector) chats with Joe Hynes, and they meet the Citizen, a fierce nationalist with a dog called Garryowen (who we will meet again in NAUSICAA). Several characters enter the pub, including Bloom, behind whose back the Citizen starts throwing insults. The talk turns to capital punishment, a topic which Bloom, still in and out looking for Cunningham, discusses rationally. Bloom discusses Dignam and the plight of the Breens, among other things, sympathetically, but the citizen rejects Bloom's attitudes. The Citizen starts to speak about the unwanted presence of "strangers" in Ireland, a remark clearly aimed at Bloom. After the Citizen's speech about Irish history, Bloom tries to define a nation, implying that he is Irish because he was born in Ireland. As an Irish Jew, however, his position in this debate is unstable, and his advocacy of "love" in the face of "Force, hatred, history, all that" makes things worse. After Bloom leaves, Lenehan believes that he's gone to pick up his winnings from "Throwaway", the horse that he (supposedly) tipped to Bantam Lyons in LOTUS EATERS (it won at 20-1). Bloom's closeness about this alleged stroke of fortune inflames the Citizen more. Cunningham and John Power enter and defend Bloom, but when Bloom returns the Citizen gets violent and chases him from the pub, Garryowen hot on his heels.
Comment: Bloom reveals his Jewishness to the Citizen, just as Odysseus reveals his actual name to the Cyclops. The final chase from the pub is narrated as Bloom's ascent into Heaven; indeed, the episode has been interrupted by over 30 passages which parody or expand 'gigantically' upon the narrative. In order of appearance, and indicated by line numbers from the corrected text (student's Edition) and opening words, they are parodies of:
33-51: "For nonperishable goods..." legal discourse in a suit for default on debts. 68-99: "In Inisfail the fair..." C19th translations of Irish poetry, myth and legend. 102-17: "And by that way wend..." the last parody continues. 151-205: "The figure seated..." an 'epic' description of an Irish hero. 215-17: "Who comes through..." continues the reworking of Irish legend. 244-48: "And lo, as they..." more reworking of legend. 280-99: "Terence O'Ryan..." the Irish legend theme intermingled with Greek myth and mediaeval romance. 338-73: "In the darkness spirit..." a theosophists account of a spiritualist seance. 374-76: "He is gone..." more Irish legend the lament for the death of a hero. 405-6: "And mournful..." the last parody continues. 446-49: "In the dark land..." the style of popular stories of mediaeval romance and biblical prose. 468-78: "The distinguished scientist..." a medical journal's report of a society meeting. 525-678: "The last farewell..." newspaper coverage of a social event (the execution of Robert Emmet). 712-47: "All those who are..." a newspaper 'plug' for a theatrical program. 785-99: "Let me, said he..." the discourse of genteel C19th fiction. 846-49: "Ga Ga Gara..." the style of a child's primer. 860-79: "Mr Cowe Conacre..." the minutes of proceedings in the House of Commons. 897-939: "A most interesting discussion..." the minutes of a meeting written up for a newspaper. 960-87: "It was a historic..." sports journalism. 1003-10: "Pride of Calpe's..." C19th reworkings of mediaeval romance. 1111-40: "And whereas on the sixteenth..." combines parodies of trial records and Irish legend. 1183-89: "O'Nolan, clad in..." mediaeval romance and Irish legendry. 1210-14: "He said and then..." continues the previous parody. 1266-95: "The fashionable international world..." newspaper accounts of social events a fashionable wedding (this passage also owes a debt to the catalogue of trees in Spenser's The Faerie Queene. 1354-59: "They believe in rod..." the Apostles' Creed. 1438-64: "The much-treasured..." a newspaper description of a mediaeval tapestry or manuscript. 1493-1501: "Love loves to love..." sentimental adult kiddy-talk. 1593-1620: "Our travellers reached..." late C19th versions of mediaeval romance. 1676-1750: "And at the sound of..." 'Church News' accounts of religious festivals. 1772-82: "The milkwhite dolphin tossed..." continues late C19th versions of mediaeval romance. 1814-42: "A large and appreciative..." newspaper account of the departure of a royal foreign visitor. 1858-96: "The catastrophe was terrific..." newspaper account of a natural disaster. 1910-18: "When, lo, there came..." biblical prose.
The passage also has 3 narrators. The first, who narrates the lion's share, is never named. The second is the 'gigantism' of the chapter itself that which 'hijacks' the narrative periodically and mediates it, or themes from it, through excessive and expansive rhetoric. The third narrator is referred to as the Citizen. Like the Cyclops, the Citizen has one-dimensional vision. He is bigoted, intolerant and violent. The gigantism of the episode inflates him and mocks him but it mocks everyone (including Bloom). If the parodies of the episode have objects, they are received historical and cultural myths, and the modes of discourse which mediate them.
TIME: 8.00 pm.
SCENE: The rocks on Sandymount Strand where Stephen had walked in PROTEUS.
ORGAN: Eye, nose
COLOURS: Gray, blue
TECHNIQUE: Tumescence, detumescence
CORRESPONDENCES: Phaeacia-Star of the Sea; Nausicaa-Gerty. (Handmaidens, Alcinoos and Arete, Ulysses. Sense: The Projected Mirage).
Homeric Parallels: In book 5 of The Odyssey Odysseus leaves Calypso's isle, is harassed by Poseidon and is washed up on a Phaeacian beach near the mouth of a river. He hides, and in book 6 he is awakened by Princess Nausicaa and her maids who have come to the river to do their laundry. He emerges from hiding, returning a ball that the women had been playing with, praises Nausicaa's beauty and begs her to help him, which she does.
Summary: Cissy Caffrey, her twin brothers, and her friends Edy Boardman and Gerty MacDowell (who sits a little apart), are on the Sandymount Strand. Gerty is impatient with the boys and their noise and mess, and her friends, who are a little common, and she daydreams at length about herself and both her romantic aspirations (her suitor, Reggy Wylie, has neglected her), and her spiritual strivings (her thoughts often turn to religious themes) . The twins kick their ball to Bloom, who is also on the beach, and Gerty weaves him into her thoughts (she notices that he is in mourning and constructs a tragic but romantic tale around him). Cissy cockily goes to ask Bloom the time, but his watch has stopped. A fireworks display begins. Her friends run along the beach, but Gerty stays near Bloom and leans back to watch the fireworks (she knows that men can be excited by immodest women, and she is allowing Bloom to see up her skirt). When she leaves, Bloom notices that she has a limp, and we learn that he has masturbated while she "was on display". Bloom's thoughts run along the lines of women, marriage and smells (which join sight, taste and sound in the novel's sensory compendium). He thinks of writing a story about himselfThe Mystery Man on the Beach. He thinks of his children, and of Gerty.
Comment: Gerty's style here is borrowed from the romantic novel (Joyce's 'source' was The Lamplighter , a sentimental novel my Maria Cummins whose heroine is named Gerty Flint). As in CYCLOPS the stress here is cultural myths and the modes of discourse which mediate them. However, we might ask of this first part of the episode "Who is narrating?" Is it Gerty, a sentimental novelist, or the cloying style and fashion tips of the Lady's Pictorial? The emphasis here is perhaps upon the silences and repressions which certain 'styles' organise and demand. Only by reading the episode very closely can we discover Gerty's self-admission that she is lame, and only by tracing references carefully does the reader find that embedded in the text are subtle sexual undercuttings of Gerty's idealised self which 'disturb' the romantic idiom and eroticise her piety. Note the description of Garryowen, the savage animal with "hydrophobia" dropping from its jaws that we met in CYCLOPS: here Garryowen is described as "grandpapa Giltrap's lovely dog... that almost talked it was so human". The 'orgasmic' (literally) moment of the fireworks, and Gerty's departure, signals a change in point of view from Gerty to Bloom. Bloom's style is also saturated with myths of femininity, and a comparison of some kind is being drawn. At the close, Bloom tries to leave a message in the sand, but he can only write "I AM A", leaving the reader to finish the word or provide his identity. The final cuckoo's cry reminds us of his cuckolding.
14. OXEN OF THE SUN
TIME: 10.00 pm.
SCENE: The National Maternity Hospital, Holles Street.
TECHNIQUE: Embryonic development
CORRESPONDENCES: Trinacria-the hospital; Lampote and Phaethusa-the nurses; Helios-Horne; Oxen-fertility; Crime-fraud. (Helios Hyperion, Jove, Ulysses. Fecundation, frauds, parthenogenesis. Sense: The eternal herds).
Homeric Parallels: After passing between SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS Odysseus and his crew land on the island of the sun god Helios. Despite warnings from Circe and Tiresias in HADES, Ulysses' men kill and eat the divine oxen on the island of the sun. When they depart Lampote informs her father Helios, who petitions Zeus to punish the travellers. Death by thunderbolt ensues, and all of Odysseus' crew are killed, fulfilling the dark prophecies of Circe and Tiresias. Lashed to a mast and keel, Odysseus drifts back through SCYLLA AND CHARYBDIS and is beached on CALYPSO's island, where years of sexual slavery await him.
Summary: Mrs Purefoy is in labour, and Bloom is visiting her at the hospital. A party is in progress, and Dr Dixon is there (who once treated Bloom for a bee-sting) along with Stephen, Lynch, Lenehan and others, and Mulligan who comes later. A nurse begs for quiet. The group are discussing problems in the philosophy of medicine: whether, in a dire childbirth, the mother or baby should be saved, and the ethics of contraception. Bawdy comments and noise ensue (like Odysseus' men, they lack respect for the sacred inhabitants of the place). Bloom can think only of his dead son Rudy. The talk turns to Stephen's choice of literature over the Church. There is a storm, and Bloom provides a scientific explanation of thunder. Papal Bulls are the next topic, then Mulligan gets bawdy. The nurse again asks them to keep the noise down, and Bloom too disapproves of the way things are going as the party gets drunker. Mulligan tells a gothic horror story, the Purefoy baby is born, and then the group pour into the street Stephen and Lynch head for the red light district.
Comment: Stylistically, this is one of the densest chapters. It Begins with a primitive invocation, moves through (symbolically) nine stages of the development of the English language (which parallel the nine months of pregnancy), and ends in a chaos of Dublin slang, student witticisms, an evangelist's speech and nonsense a sort of chronological synopsis of the English language and a sustained metaphor of the process of gestation. For Joyce here ontegeny (the development of the individual) recapitulates phylogyny (the evolutionary history of the species). Again the emphasis is on the dependency of narrative events on discursive style, and the relativity of styles in their mediation of reality. In the style of the 15th century, for example, Bloom's bee sting and treatment becomes "a spear wherewith a horrible and dreadful dragon was smitten him for which he did do make a salve of volatile salt and chrism..." The line-numbers and opening words of each stylistic imitation are given below:
1-6: "Deshil Holles..." primitive incantations. 7-32: "Universally that person's..." Latin prose style of the Roman historians Sallust and Tacitus. 33-59: "It is not why therefore..." mediaeval Latin prose chronicles. 60-106: "Before born babe bliss had..." Anglo-Saxon alliterative prose. 107-22: "Therefore, everyman..." Middle English prose. 123-66: "And whiles they spake..." imitates the C14th Travels of Sir John Mandeville. 167-276: "This meanwhile this good..." C15th style of Sir Thomas Malory's Morte d'Arthur. 277-333: "About that present time..." Elizabethan prose chronicles. 334-428: "To be short this passage..." C16th-C17th Latinate prose styles of Milton, Richard Hooker, Sir Thomas Browne. 429-73: "But was Boasthard's..." Jon Bunyan. 474-528: "So Thursday sixteenth..." C17th diarists John Evelyn and Samuel Pepys. 529-81: "With this came up..." Daniel Defoe. 581-650: "An Irish bull in..." Jonathan Swift. 651-737: "Our worthy acquaintance..." C18th essayists Joseph Addison and Richard Steele. 738-98: "Here the listener who..." Laurence Sterne. 799-844: "Amid the general vacant..." Oliver Goldsmith. 845-79: "To revert to Mr Bloom..." Edmund Burke. 880-904: "Accordingly he broke his mind..." Richard Sheridan. 905-41: "But with what fitness..." C18th style of the satirist Junius. 942-1009: "The news was imparted..." Edward Gibbon. 1010-37: "But Malchias' tale..."Horace Walpole (gothic horror). 1038-77: "What is the age..." late C18th essayist Charles Lamb. 1078-1109: "The voices blend and fuse..." C19th romantic Thomas De Quincey. 1110-73: "Francis was reminding..." Walter Savage Landor. 1174-1222: "However, as a matter of fact..." English essayist and historian Thomas Babington Macaulay. 1223-1309: "It had better be stated..." Thomas Henry Huxley. 1310-43: "Meanwhile the skill..." Charles Dickens. 1344-55: "There are sins or..." John Henry Cardinal Newman. 1356-78: "The stranger still regarded..." Walter Pater. 1379-90: "Mark this father..." John Ruskin. 1391-1439: "Burke's! Outflings my lord..." Thomas Carlyle. 1440 onwards: "All off for a buster..." the style disintegrates into a range of dialects and doggerel.
TIME: 12.00 midnight.
SCENE: Bella Cohen's Brothel, Tyrone Street in the red-light district, or 'Nighttown'.
ORGAN: Locomotor apparatus
CORRESPONDENCES: Circe-Bella (The Beasts, Telemachus, Ulysses, Hermes. Zoology, personification, pantheism, magic, poison, antidote reel. Sense: L'Orca Antropofoba [man-eating or a morbid fear in the presence of other people??]).
Homeric Parallels: After visiting the LESTRYGONIANS, in book 10 of The Odyssey Odysseus tells of landing on Circe's isle. On the island the crew splits into two groups, one of which, upon finding the hall of the witch Circe, are transformed into hogs. One man escapes and warns Odysseus who approaches Circe alone. Odysseus is intercepted by Hermes who gives him a herb, moly (Molly??), which will protect him against Circe's "witch's tricks" which might "unman" him. Odysseus demands that Circe release his men. She not only releases them, but entertains the whole crew "until a year grew fat". Eventually his men tell him to shake off this trance, and he departs from the isle, following Circe's advice to consult the shades in HADES.
Summary: A 'realistic' synopsis of this episode is difficult, but, broadly... Mabbot Street opens onto Nighttown, a strange and sordid place. Stephen and Lynch stagger in drunk and are mocked by the denizens of the place. Bloom follows, events and characters (Gerty, Molly, his father and mother) stimulating his mind and sense of guilt in an hallucinatory fashion. Bloom is arrested for committing a nuisance and undergoes a protracted Kafkaesque trial. His identity constantly changes as characters from his past and 'personifications' of perverse desires enter the court. Bloom speaks with one of the whores, Zoe Higgins, who knows where Stephen is. This stimulates scenes of an imaginary triumph for Bloom, who becomes an example of the "new womanly man", gives birth, and is then farcically pilloried after the temper of the court changes. He returns to 'reality' and finds Stephen in the music room, while also becoming his own grandfather and thinking about his past loves. In a discussion on theology Stephen metamorphoses into Cardinal Dedalus. Meanwhile, Bella Cohen the madame of the place appears. She and Bloom change sex and ritual sado-masochistic humiliations of Bloom ensue. Stephen, in his drunkenness, is attempting to settle his bill. Bloom ensures that he isn't cheated. The ghost of Stephen's mother appears, he breaks the chandelier, and they end up on the street. A fight with some English privates (he has allegedly insulted the King) leaves Stephen prostrate on the pavement. The police appear, but Corny Kelleher and Bloom smooth things over. Bloom gazes at the unconscious Stephen, and experiences a vision of his dead son Rudy.
Comment: The genre changes now we are in a drama/playtext. The plot seems to disown naturalism entirely, but the narrative is naturalistic. We are in the realms of the unconscious on one level (of both character and narrative) and in a Dublin brothel on another. The repressions, fantasies and desires of the characters are externalised and dramatised, objects become characters, motifs and dialogue assigned to one character are switched to another, metaphors materialise. This episode is, in a sense, the unconscious and the nightmare of the novel. Stephen and Bloom finally come together, and a lot of information and much background and context is provided (Bloom's past is literally 'on display', for example), but it is so interwoven with fantasy, guilt and obsession and, like its characters, transformed and deformed that its status is uncertain. The autonomy of characters is constantly violated, and the metaphors of the text are often realised and 'literalised' at length, for in Circe's Nighttown the difference between language and 'the actual', and the precedence of conscious over unconscious experience, is denied.
TIME: 1.00 am.
SCENE: The Cabman's Shelter west of the Custom House.
TECHNIQUE: Narrative (old)
CORRESPONDENCES: Eumaeus-Skin-the-Goat; Ulysses, Pseudangelos-the sailor; Melanthious-Corley. (Ulysses, Telemachus. Sense: The Ambush at Home).
Homeric Parallels: In book 13 of The Odyssey Odysseus returns home alone. From Athena he learns of the fate of his household, so he dons a disguise. He seeks the hut of his faithful goatherd Eumaeus, and, in book 16, when Telemachus also visits the hut for news of his mother, Odysseus reveals himself. Reunited, father and son plot the deliverance of their besieged home.
Summary: Bloom and Stephen walk from Nighttown to the Cabman's shelter. Bloom talks about the events in Nighttown, and Stephen is hailed by Corley, a friend who has hit bad times. Stephen suggests that he applies to Deasy for the teaching post he has decided to quit. In the shelter they drink coffee, and chat with W. B. Murphy, a sailor. Bloom dreams of travel, a prostitute pops her head into the shelter and Bloom holds forth on the perils of vice. 'Skin-the-Goat' and others talk about the tyranny of England. Bloom tries to talk to Stephen about his own experiences in CYCLOPS but finds him inattentive and cynical in the extreme. Bloom shows Stephen a photograph of Molly, the implication being that Stephen's talents might be used to further Molly's career (and thus oust Boylan from her affections). They leave and discuss music as they walk.
Comment: Probably the most stylistically conventional chapter in the novel, the narrative is composed almost entirely of clichιs and second-hand 'literary' styles. Euphemism, 'genteel' phrasing and ineptitudes abound. The episode, like the parallel episodes in The Odyssey, also features impostors and people in disguise (what is the real history of 'Skin-the-Goat'? why does the sailor's story not add up? who is the whore that Bloom seems uncommonly concerned about? Why has the newspaper botched the list of mourners at Dignam's funeral?). As the novel moves towards its close the stylistic defamiliarisations of the text seem to let up, but 'facts' are just as hard to come by. Indeed, this apparently conventional style appears to obscure the characters as the reader has come to know them.
TIME: 2.00 am.
SCENE: Bloom's house, 7 Eccles Street
CORRESPONDENCES: Antinous-Buck Mulligan; Eurymachus-Blazes Boylan; Bow-Reason; Suitors-scruples. (Eurycleia; Sense: La Speranza Armata (The Armed Hope).
Homeric Parallels: Still disguised as a beggar, the wily Odysseus enters his house "by a stratagem". The suitors mock him, and Antinous throws a stool at him. The suitors try to string Odysseus' great bow, but none can. The 'beggar' steps forward, and strings it. Zeus lets forth a reassuring clap of thunder, and the slaughter of the suitors begins, after which Odysseus fumigates his house. Penelope has slept through all this, and Odysseus approaches her cautiously, still in disguise.
Summary: Bloom (like Stephen in TELEMACHUS) has lost his key, so when the pair arrive at 7 Eccles Street he has to climb the railing and enter through the back door. He lets Stephen in and puts the kettle on (Stephen refuses to wash, and Bloom interprets this as a sign of intellectual disdain for worldly things; when Stephen is quiet Bloom assumes that he is composing poetry). Bloom makes some cocoa and they think about times they have met in the past. The pair of them are given temperaments: Stephen is artistic; Bloom is scientific. Bloom tries to persuade Stephen to lodge with him (as instructor and company for Molly and himself). Stephen sings a ditty about the murder of a child by a Jew's daughter, and Bloom changes the subject. Bloom asks Stephen to stay. He declines. They go into the garden, urinate together, a shooting star crosses the sky, Stephen leaves and Bloom comes back in. Bloom dreams about projects that he might realise should one of his schemes make him wealthy. He unlocks a drawer to deposit the letter from Martha and is confronted by objects which remind him of his past. He thinks of the day he has had, and goes to the bedroom. He notices the impression that Boylan has made in the bed, but he accepts his position as cuckold. He tells Molly about his day, he curls up in a prenatal posture, and with his head against Molly's feet, goes to sleep.
Comment: The narrative moves towards its climax? Yes and no indeed, our search for the 'meaning' of the book is what is at issue here. We get catechism a chapter of formal questions and specific answers in the style of dry scholastic logic. Both questions and answers are scrupulously scientific, exhaustive, and apparently fascinated by their own mathematical precision (note the description of the progress of water from the reservoir to Bloom's kitchen tap). In a sense the episode parodies the realist or logical search for truth through an attention to detail, for there is no selection or hierarchisation nothing seems to take significant precedence over anything else (however, the idiom of the chapter is, like the catechism, religious: thus, in a sense, everything is significant). Stephen and Bloom are brought together for the last time here. Stephen seeks a father, Bloom seeks a son. At the same time each of them is "consubstantial" with the other (at the textual level they are united by a spoonerism, becoming "Stoom and Blephen"), but their union or reconciliation is ephemeral. In a complete inversion of the Homeric theme, Bloom 'accepts' the fact of the treacherous suitors.
SCENE: The bed
TECHNIQUE: Monologue (female)
CORRESPONDENCES: Penelope-earth; web-movement. (Time: [infinity symbol]; Ulysses, Penelope, Laertes. Sense: The past sleeps).
Homeric Parallels: While Odysseus has been away, Penelope has been weaving a shroud for Laertes, Odysseus' father. She had stated that when she had finished she would choose between the suitors. By night, however, she undid what she had woven during the day. In book 23 of The Odyssey Penelope is awakened and informed of her husbands return and the slaughter by her nurse Euryclea. When she meets him she refuses to believe that it is he, and proceeds to 'test' him. What finally convinces her of his identity is his knowledge of the secret of the construction and immovability of their bed, to which they then retire, "mingled in love again".
Summary: Molly Bloom lies in bed, thinking about her husband, her meeting with Boylan, her past, her hopes... Among myriad other things, she suspects Bloom of having an affair, she thinks of woman's lot in the games of courting and mating, she remembers a clap of thunder (perhaps the one that disturbed Stephen and Bloom explained away in OXEN OF THE SUN), she thinks of her lovers, and longs for a glamorous life. She thinks of beauty and ugliness, and her thoughts are interrupted by a train whistle. She thinks of her past life in Gibraltar and laments the drabness of her present. She thinks about her health and her daughter, and she is interrupted again, this time by the onset of menstruation. She thinks about her visits to the doctor, and muses about Stephen. Her thoughts turn to Rudy and Bloom. She thinks of humiliating her husband, a clock strikes, and she recalls the time on Ben Howth when she and Bloom first made love.
Comment: This final episode is given over to Molly Bloom's interior monologue, structured by eight sprawling and incomplete sentences (8, laid on its side, is the sign of infinity). The narrator is apparently absent... punctuation, selection, comment most of the things that are usually associated with authorial 'control' are missing. This is the only episode which doesn't have an 'hour' associated with it. Presumably because woman is 'timeless' and her symbol is 'infinity'. Similarly, undifferentiation and 'merging' are features of the episode (Molly's lovers are denoted by the undifferentiated pronoun "he") and such oceanic flow and all-inclusion is also associated with the 'eternal feminine'. Joyce has come in for a lot of criticism for the feminine myth which apparently closes his epic, but how much do Molly's slips, deceits, conventionality and general conservatism as evidenced in her monologue problematise this myth even as it is presented? The novel ends on the affirmative "Yes". Joyce would write of the episode :
Penelope is the clou [star-turn] of the book. The first sentence contains 2500 words. There are eight sentences in the episode. It begins and ends with the female word yes. It turns like the huge earth ball slowly surely and evenly round and round spinning, its four cardinal points being the female breasts, arse, womb and cunt expressed by the words because, bottom (in all senses bottom button, bottom of the class, bottom of the sea, bottom of his heart), woman, yes. Though probably more obscene than any preceding episode it seems to me to be perfectly sane full amoral fertilisable untrustworthy engaging shrewd limited prudent indifferent Weib. Ich bin der Fleisch der stets bejaht [Woman. I am the flesh that always affirms]. (Letters, August 16th 1921)
Gerry Carlin & Mair Evans