Essays on Ulysses
Publication Year: 2009
June 16, 2004, was the one hundredth anniversary of Bloomsday, the day that James Joyce's novel Ulysses takes place. To celebrate the occasion, thousands took to the streets in Dublin, following in the footsteps of protagonist Leopold Bloom. The event also was marked by the Bloomsday 100 Symposium, where world-renowned scholars discussed Joyce's seminal work. This volume contains the best, most provocative readings of Ulysses presented at the conference.
The contributors to this volume urge a close engagement with the novel. They offer readings that focus variously on the materialist, historical, and political dimensions of Ulysses. The diversity of topics covered include nineteenth-century psychology, military history, Catholic theology, the influence of early film and music hall songs on Joyce, the post-Ulysses evolution of the one-day novel, and the challenge of discussing such a complex work amongst the sea of extant criticism.
Published by: University Press of Florida
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Somehow Joyce studies has become associated with excess, despite the scrupulous meanness of Dubliners, the asceticism of Portrait, and the general parsimony of Joyce’s output, the major titles of which can be counted on the fingers of one hand. The commemoration of Bloomsday bears a great deal of the responsibility for...
List of Abbreviations
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Bloomsday—16 June—has long established itself as the hallowed festival of lovers of Joyce. It is enjoyed as much because of its populist raffishness and carnivalesque dimensions as for its lofty literary pretensions. The imaginative bravado and palpable absurdity of commemorating characters and events in...
Part I. “That Other World”: Material Dimensions of Ulysses
1. Joyce’s Debris
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If a history is ever written on the status of the object in the modern novel, perhaps it will have room for Harriet Smith’s court plaster. In Jane Austen’s Emma (1816), the dizzy Harriet is so taken with the fatuous Mr. Elton that she has preserved, in a box labeled Most precious treasures, two objects that once...
2. “Mkgnao! Mrkgnao! Mrkgrnao!”: The Pussens Perplex
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A reviewer, if I remember correctly, once wrote that for me Joyce was literally a sensational writer. This writer was right. I have always been interested in how the senses work in Joyce’s writings—in how they register and reverberate, how they progress from stimulus to sensation, from sensation to perception, from...
3. Why Leopold Bloom Menstruates
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Preparatory to anything else, I might state that prudery is not part of my makeup, or so I like to think; I read Joyce, after all. Nevertheless, I can still recall the little shiver of male delicacy I felt in 1972 when my 23 March issue of the New York Review of Books arrived blazoned with a cover headline announcing...
Part II. “Agenbite”: History in the Text
4. Mixing Memory and Desire: Narrative Strategies and the Past in Ulysses
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As Stephen Kern has pointed out, in modernist fiction the value attached to the historical past is often displaced by a belief in the importance of the personal past (61)—and yet both in their commonly accepted meaning are “historical” in the sense that they are recollections of past events. Memory, John Rickard...
5. Inventing Identity in Ulysses: “Kitty” O’Shea, Memoir, and Molly Bloom
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The fabled image of Charles Stewart Parnell, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party throughout the 1880s, continued to pervade Irish culture after his death on 16 October 1891. Vilified in both the English and Irish press after being named co-respondent in the O’Shea divorce trial in November 1890 and subsequently...
6. Barracks and Brothels: Militarism and Prostitution in Ulysses
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In her study of culturally and historically diverse militarized settings, feminist historian Cynthia Enloe examines numerous roles women assume for their social and economic survival. Prominent among these is the role of prostitute. Ranging from medieval Europe to late-twentieth-century Thailand, Enloe’s work...
Part III. Mixed Media: Image and Performance
7. “In the Beginning Was the Gest”: Theater, Cinema, and the Language of Gesture in “Circe”
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From 1902, when he stayed at the Grand Hôtel Corneille, two miles from the Thêatre Robert-Houdin owned by Méliès, until Paris in the 1920s, when according to Patricia Hutchins “he went frequently to the movies, usually between dusk and dinner time when he could no longer work” (Hutchins 11), Joyce witnessed...
8. Reading Music, Performing Text: Interpreting the Song of the Sirens
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According to George Borach’s anecdote, Joyce claimed that in writing the “Sirens” episode he had “explored the resources and artifices” and “seen through all the tricks” of music (JJ 459). It is unlikely that he was merely referring to the use of musical allusions or to descriptions of instruments and recitals. Indeed...
9. Joyce, Ulysses, Melodrama
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Both Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom have their moments in Ulysses, single occasions on which they transcend their surroundings, contradict their own characters, perhaps even exceed the naturalist ethos of the work in which they appear. Bloom’s histrionic moment comes at the end of “Cyclops,” when...
Part IV. Counterparts: Intertextualities
10. Modernity and Its Discontents: Fashion and “My Girl’s a Yorkshire Girl”
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Blazes Boylan stands out among the hundreds of ill-clad characters in Joyce’s Dublin. With his fine taste in clothes he is no doubt one of the most eye-catching Dubliners to stroll the city streets on 16 June 1904. Attired this day in an elegant, mass-produced dark blue suit matched with a sky-blue necktie...
11. Schopenhauer’s Shadow, or Stephen as Philosophic Superman
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That Joyce maintained an interest in the famous philosopher of pessimism and religious atheist, Arthur Schopenhauer, is clear from Schopenhauer’s appearance in Finnegans Wake, in one of the funniest open references amid a string of allusions to German romantic thinkers. It occurs early on in the fable of...
12. Days of Our Lives: The One-Day Novel as Homage à Joyce
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In his 1923 essay “Ulysses, Order, and Myth,” T. S. Eliot famously argued that Joyce’s use of myth as a “continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity” (177) would provide a model for many generations of writers to come. Twentieth-century literary history amply proves him accurate; Joyce’s deployment...
Part V. “Almosting It”: Ulysses and the Reader
13. Past Its Sell-by Date: When to Stop Reading Joyce Criticism
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Insecurity functions as a driving force throughout the academic world and at every stage of an individual’s professional life. Insecurity causes a graduate student to assume that his or her admission to a particular school was a clerical error that might be discovered and corrected at any moment. Insecurity leads...
14. Secrets, Narratology, and Implicature: A Virgin Reading of “Calypso”
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Fritz Senn, one of the most incisive readers ever to tackle Ulysses, calls “Calypso” “probably the easiest chapter in the novel” (189). This is certainly true for veteran readers of the novel, who can bring the knowledge of the whole work to bear on figuring out nearly everything that goes on in this episode. But how...
List of Contributors
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Page Count: 272
Publication Year: 2009