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BOOK REVIEWS Joyce & Music Zack Bowen. Bloom's Old Sweet Song: Essays on Joyce and Music. The Florida James Joyce Series. Gainsville: University of Florida Press, 1995. xii + 152 pp. $34.95 FOR OVER THIRTY YEARS, Zack Bowen has been informing us about the musicality of Joyce's writings, allusions in those writings to actual pieces of music, and attempts in Ulysses to achieve music by means of language. As a graduate student working with Mable Worthington, he set some five of its chapters to music and recorded them on disks which are available today from the Smithsonian Institute. In 1967, he published "Bronzegold Sirensong: A Musical Analysis of the Sirens Episode in Joyce's Ulysses," an essay which argued against the idea that the work was a "fuga per canonem." In Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce: Early Poetry Through Ulysses (1974), which borrowed from the 1967 essay but transcended it, he identified airs, motives, and authors which Joyce used over and over in his works. In still another essay on Ulysses (1984) that appeared in A Companion to Joyce Studies, a work which Bowen also co-edited, he used more examples of popular music to show how tightly Joyce's comic epic was structured. In Ulysses as a Comic Novel (1989), Bowen continued this process and also tried to persuade the other Joyceans that the master was having great fun with his writing and that his readers should, too. In Picking Up Airs, edited by Ruth Bauerle, Bowen argues that the sirens episode is an "encapsulated musical comedy" within the two-act musical comedy which is the novel as a whole and that the Circe episode is a post-Christmas , music hall pantomime (See review in ELT, 37:3, 1994, 429-33). While there is some repetition within Bowen's corpus (a theme and variation of his own, in fact), he has worked from perspectives of literary history, biography, new criticism, and comparative literature and these have allowed him to make a solid contribution to Joyce studies. As he suggests in his introduction to Bloom's Old Sweet Song, which collects and reprints now little-known essays, he was the first who arrived at many of the conclusions which the rest of us now take for granted. After the introduction, which I have just summed up, Bowen offers "Libretto for Bloomusalem in Song: The Music of Joyce's Ulysses," reprinted from Fritz Senn's New Light On Joyce (1972). In this early essay Bowen outlines the parameters of what has become his life-long 557 ELT 38:4 1995 focus: (1) Joyce refers to music to aid the process of association in his characters' stream of consciousness; (2) he uses music "thematically . . . to represent situations and dilemmas" (e.g. Bloom's predicament over Molly's affair with Boylan); (3) he uses it to "underscore points in the narrative and to add weight to the statements of characters"; (4) he often uses it as an aid in "drawing scenes and characters"; (5) he often uses it as an aid in "setting the scene" (e.g., the Hades episode); and (6) he uses it to help with plot development (e.g., bringing Bloom and Stephen together). Bowen then illustrates these points with examples, such as a favorite song of Julia Morken, There is Not in This World A Valley So Sweet," which Bloom remembers as he passes the statue of Thomas Moore near Trinity College. The statue, raised above the outdoor toilets on which it stands, occasions Bloom's thought, They did right to put him over a urinal," but it is the song's unmentioned second line, "As that vale in whose bosom the bright waters meet," which brings home the allusion. In a similar fashion, Bowen's identification and reprinting of the text of The Pauper's Dirge" explains the allusions to "Rattle His Bones Over the Stones," the chorus from that song, and his analysis of The Ballad of Little Harry Hughes" as an intended parallel to Stephen's own situation is the only coherent treatment I have found for that piece of music. "Bronzegold Sirensong," from the 1967 Wisconsin monograph and used in part in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 557-560
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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