“Don’t Call Him ‘Blazes’: Hugh E. Boylan’s Narrative Caricature,” by Margot Norris
Is the figure of Hugh “Blazes” Boylan in Ulysses a simple caricature, or is there more to him than that? The question invites us to explore what precisely we know about Boylan and how we learn what we know about him. It also prods us to think theoretically about the issue of how character is constructed in a work of fiction, and specifically what features determine whether a character is flat or round—a question that draws our attention to interiority. Given how significantly Boylan’s actions affect the plot and the fate of the Blooms in the novel, it is surprising that Boylan is given less interiority than many other minor characters and emerges generally as a caricature constructed by a small set of repeated features noted chiefly in the thoughts of Bloom and through the descriptions and innuendoes of narrative voices. Does this construction challenge the reader to question the fairness of Boylan’s representation and to distrust the subjectivity that infects his representation? By the end of Molly Bloom’s monologue, we have both a more complicated sense of this figure and a more cautious response to the ways fictional writing may prompt and condition our judgments.
“’A great deal of dullness. Then some dirt. Then more dullness’: Tom ‘Tennessee’ Williams’s 1936 Reading of Ulysses,” by John S. Bak
D. H. Lawrence has traditionally been identified as the modernist writer who most influenced the American playwright Tennessee Williams early in his career. Joyce, too, had a hand in shaping Williams’s early literary and dramatic voice, and this essay explores the extent to which Williams recognized—or did not—the Irish writer’s impact on his own evolving aesthetic. Reading Williams’s 1936 attack on Ulysses in a college essay he wrote not long after the novel’s censorship ban was lifted against his 1974 acknowledgment that he “love[d] Ulysses” and thought Joyce “the greatest writer since Shakespeare,” this essay demonstrates that Williams’s growing admiration for the novel stemmed more from his appreciation of the “lyrical” Joyce than his understanding of the “modernist” Joyce. [End Page 389]
“Joyce’s Phoneygraphs: Music, Mediation, and Noise Unleashed,” by Josh Epstein
This essay considers the interaction between music and noise in Joyce’s narrative texts, arguing that Joyce’s increasing fascination with noise reflects a burgeoning skepticism about music’s formal autonomy and an ear for music’s ideological mystifications. Building on recent works in “sound studies,” which examine sound as a site of anxiety about urbanization and mechanical reproduction, the essay explores Joyce’s abandoned collaboration with the noise-music composer George Antheil on a staging of “Cyclops,” using megaphones and “phoneygraphs.” While “A Painful Case” reflects on the symbiotic relationship between solipsistic music and public noise, A Portrait struggles to detach musical rhythms from their symbolic associations. In unmooring sounds from their referents, however, Stephen leaves music open to the sort of musical misreadings found throughout Ulysses. The admixture of music and noise in Ulysses deflates the bombastic idealism of Wagnerian opera and defamiliarizes music as a “phoneygraph”—a medium and a form of false writing.
“Joyce in Transit: The ‘Double Star’ Effect of Ulysses,” by Justin Kiczek
Building on the critical work around “parallax” in Ulysses, this study applies new evidence from Sir Robert Ball’s The Story of the Heavens to the relationship between Stephen and Bloom and the novel in general. In his popular astronomical primer, which inspires Bloom’s queries regarding “parallax,” Ball introduces such phenomena as the transit of Venus and the “double star,” both of which raise questions about the position of bodies within the novel’s space. Ball’s explanation of the “double star” encourages the reader of Ulysses to see the “eclipse” of Bloom and Stephen as only the momentary effect of parallax; by applying this astronomical metaphor to the text as a whole, the reader is reminded of the basic instability of interpretation, which is itself, this study suggests, subject to the laws of time, space, and motion.
“The ‘united states of Scotia Picta’: Scottish Literature and History in Finnegans Wake...