James Joyce's Ulysses

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James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Thu Apr 14, 2011 4:45 pm



1922 first edition cover, many copies of which were confiscated by customs officials at border crossings worldwide as an obscene publication.


Last edited by eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:30 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  ISN on Fri Apr 15, 2011 2:03 am

that's where you got your beautiful sig from......that is some beauty

I'm just reading it now.......

penumbra is a much better word than ass Embarassed of which I am so fond and the variation arse.....hehehehe (even rere is better)

wow!

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 4:50 am

^

Note for the terminally confused: Cath's post above refers to an an ealier version of this thread and- apart from its scatological content- has little or no bearing on this new, improved version.

**********************************************************************************

The most important idea (or word) to hang on to when reading "Ulysses" is "metempsychosis" which means "The transmigration of souls". The central idea of the book is that fundamental human relationships- those between man and wife, parent and child- have altered little since the time of Homer to fin de siecle Dublin.

(Wiki:

Joyce first encountered Odysseus in Charles Lamb's Adventures of Ulysses—an adaptation of the Odyssey for children, which seemed to establish the Roman name in Joyce's mind. At school he wrote an essay on Ulysses entitled "My Favourite Hero".

Joyce told Frank Budgen that he considered Ulysses the only all-round character in literature.)

Bear in mind the following character parallels- reincarnations, if you like- as you plough through it:

LEOPOLD BLOOM = Ulysses.

MOLLY BLOOM = Ulysses' wife, Penelope.

STEPHEN DEDELUS = Telemarchus, Ulysses' son.

Leopold and Molly have lost a child in its infancy. In the course of the book, therefore, Leopold Bloom is seeking a redemptive reaffirmation of his role as Father (as expressed in the later chapters by his care of the drunken young student aesthete, Stephen).

Stephen Dedelus has recently lost his mother and is overwhelmed with guilt. In the course of the book, therefore, he is seeking a redemptive reaffirmation of his role as Son.


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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:11 am

Before we go any further, it should be pointed out that the Stephen Dedelus character- a partial self portrait of Joyce himself- had already appeared in JJ's previous work "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", but it's not absolutely necessary to have read "A Portrait..." before attempting the sequel. "Ulysses" itself tells you everything you need to know about Stephen.

Next, a few basic facts about the book from Wiki:

Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904 (the day of Joyce's first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle). Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday.

And finally, it should be pointed out that each chapter of Joyce's "Ulysses"- and many of its characters- correspond to episodes/characters drawn from Homer's original. These episodes/characters are often presented in a mock-heroic, comical manner.

For example, when the ultra-Nationalist, antisemitic Joyce character The Citizen hurls a biscuit tin at Bloom (who is a Jew) in a Dublin pub, the allusion here is to Homer's Cyclops hurling rocks at Homer's Ulysses and his men.

And when Leopold takes refuge in the darkness of the outside privy for a shit, this corresponds in turn to Ulysses' descent into Stygian gloom.



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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 5:25 am

Since you ask, here are the chapters of Joyce's Ulysses aligned with their Homeric originals (courtesy of Wiki):

Part I: The Telemachiad

Episode 1, Telemachus

It is 8 a.m. Buck Mulligan, a boisterous medical student, calls Stephen Dedalus (a young writer first encountered in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) up to the roof of the Sandycove Martello tower where they both live. There is tension between Stephen and Mulligan, stemming from a cruel remark Stephen has overheard Mulligan making about his recently deceased mother and from the fact that Mulligan has invited an English student, Haines, to stay with them. The three men eat breakfast and walk to the shore, where Mulligan demands from Stephen the key to the tower and a loan. Departing, Stephen declares that he will not return to the tower tonight, as Haines, the "usurper", has taken it over.

Episode 2, Nestor

Stephen is teaching a history class on the victories of Pyrrhus of Epirus. After class, one student, Sargent, stays behind so that Stephen can show him how to do a set of arithmetic exercises. Stephen looks at the aesthetically unappealing Sargent and tries to imagine Sargent's mother's love for him. Stephen then visits school headmaster, Mr. Deasy, from whom he collects his pay and a letter to take to a newspaper office for printing. The two discuss Irish history and the role of Jews in the economy. As Stephen leaves, Deasy makes a final derogatory remark against the Jews, stating that Ireland has never extensively persecuted the Jews because they were never let in to the country. This episode is the source of some of the novel's most famous lines, such as Dedalus's claim that "history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake" and that God is "a shout in the street."

Episode 3, Proteus

Stephen finds his way to Sandymount Strand and mopes around for some time, mulling various philosophical concepts, his family, his life as a student in Paris, and his mother's death. As Stephen reminisces and ponders, he lies down among some rocks, watches a couple and a dog, scribbles some ideas for poetry, picks his nose, and urinates behind a rock. This chapter is characterised by a stream of consciousness narrative style that changes focus wildly. Stephen's education is reflected in the many obscure references and foreign phrases employed in this episode.

Part II: The Odyssey

Episode 4, Calypso

The narrative shifts abruptly. The time is again 8 a.m., but the action has moved across the city and to the second protagonist of the book, Leopold Bloom, a part-Jewish advertising canvasser. Bloom, after starting to prepare breakfast, decides to walk to a butcher to buy a pork kidney. Returning home, he prepares breakfast and brings it with the mail to his wife Molly as she lounges in bed. One of the letters is from her concert manager Blazes Boylan. Bloom is aware that Molly will welcome Boylan into her bed later that day, and is tormented by the thought. Bloom reads a letter from their daughter. The chapter closes with Bloom defecating in the outhouse.

Episode 5, Lotus Eaters

Bloom makes his way to Westland Row post office where he receives a love letter from one 'Martha Clifford' addressed to his pseudonym, 'Henry Flower'. He meets an acquaintance, and while they chat, Bloom attempts to ogle a woman wearing stockings, but is prevented by a passing tram. Next, he reads the letter and tears up the envelope in an alley. He wanders into a Catholic church service and muses on theology. He goes to a chemist where he buys a bar of lemon soap. He then meets another acquaintance, to whom he unintentionally gives a racing tip for the horse Throwaway. Finally, Bloom heads towards the baths.

Episode 6, Hades

The episode begins with Bloom entering a funeral carriage with three others, including Stephen's father. They drive to Paddy Dignam's funeral, making small talk on the way. The carriage passes both Stephen and Blazes Boylan. There is discussion of various forms of death and burial, and Bloom is preoccupied by thoughts of his dead son, Rudy, and the suicide of his father. They enter the chapel into the service and subsequently leave with the coffin cart. Bloom sees a mysterious man wearing a macintosh during the burial. Bloom continues to reflect upon death, but at the end of the episode rejects morbid thoughts to embrace 'warm fullblooded life'.

Episode 7, Aeolus

At the office of the Freeman's Journal, Bloom attempts to place an ad. Although initially encouraged by the editor, he is unsuccessful. Stephen arrives bringing Deasy's letter about 'foot and mouth' disease, but Stephen and Bloom do not meet. Stephen leads the editor and others to a pub, telling an anecdote on the way about 'two Dublin vestals'. The episode is broken up into short sections by newspaper-style headlines, and is characterised by an abundance of rhetorical figures and devices.

Episode 8, Lestrygonians

Bloom's thoughts are peppered with references to food as lunchtime approaches. He meets an old flame and hears news of Mina Purefoy's labour. He enters the restaurant of the Burton Hotel where he is revolted by the sight of men eating like animals. He goes instead to Davy Byrne's pub, where he consumes a gorgonzola cheese sandwich and a glass of burgundy, and muses upon the early days of his relationship with Molly and how the marriage has declined: 'Me. And me now.' Bloom heads towards the National Museum to look at the statues of Greek goddesses, and, in particular, their bottoms. Bloom suddenly spots Boylan across the street and, panicking, rushes into the museum.

Episode 9, Scylla and Charybdis

At the National Library, Stephen explains to various scholars his biographical theory of the works of Shakespeare, especially Hamlet, which he claims are based largely on the posited adultery of Shakespeare's wife. Bloom enters the National Library to look up an old copy of the ad he has been trying to place. He encounters Stephen briefly and unknowingly at the end of the episode.

Episode 10, Wandering Rocks

In this episode, nineteen short vignettes depict the wanderings of various characters, major and minor, through the streets of Dublin. The episode ends with an account of the cavalcade of the Lord Lieutenant, William Humble, Earl of Dudley, through the streets, which is encountered by various characters from the novel.

Episode 11, Sirens

In this episode, dominated by motifs of music, Bloom has dinner with Stephen's uncle at a hotel, while Molly's lover, Blazes Boylan, proceeds to his rendezvous with her. While dining, Bloom watches the seductive barmaids and listens to the singing of Stephen's father and others.

Episode 12, Cyclops

This chapter is narrated by an unnamed denizen of Dublin. The narrator goes to a pub where he meets a character referred to only as the 'Citizen'. When Leopold Bloom enters the pub, he is berated by the Citizen, who is a fierce Fenian and anti-Semite. The episode ends with Bloom reminding the Citizen that his Saviour was a Jew. As Bloom leaves the pub, the Citizen, in anger, throws a biscuit tin at Bloom's head, but misses. The chapter is marked by extended tangents made outside the voice of the unnamed narrator: hyperboles of legal jargon, Biblical passages, Irish mythology, etc.

Episode 13, Nausicaa

Gerty McDowell, a young woman on Sandymount strand, contemplates love, marriage and femininity as night falls. The reader is gradually made aware that Bloom is watching her from a distance, and as she exposes her legs and underwear to him it is unclear how much of the narrative is actually Bloom’s sexual fantasy. Bloom’s masturbatory climax is echoed by the fireworks at the nearby bazaar. As Gerty leaves, Bloom realizes that Gerty has a lame leg. Bloom, after several digressions of thought, decides to visit Mina Purefoy at the hospital. The style of the first half of the episode borrows from (and parodies) romance magazines and novelettes.

Episode 14, Oxen of the Sun

Bloom visits the maternity hospital where Mina Purefoy is giving birth, and finally meets Stephen, who is drinking with Buck Mulligan and his medical student friends. They continue on to a pub to continue drinking, following the successful birth of the baby. This chapter is remarkable for Joyce's wordplay, which seems to recapitulate the entire history of the English language. After a short incantation, the episode starts with latinate prose, Anglo-Saxon alliteration, and moves on through parodies of, among others, Malory, the King James Bible, Bunyan, Defoe, Sterne, Gibbon, Dickens, and Carlyle, before concluding in a haze of nearly incomprehensible slang.

Episode 15, Circe

Episode Fifteen is written as a play script, complete with stage directions. The plot is frequently interrupted by 'hallucinations' experienced by Stephen and Bloom--fantastic manifestations of the fears and passions of the two characters.

Stephen and Lynch walk into Nighttown, Dublin's red-light district. Bloom pursues them and eventually finds them at Bella Cohen's brothel. When Bloom witnesses Stephen overpaying for services received, Bloom decides to hold onto the rest of Stephen's money for safekeeping. Stephen hallucinates that the rotting cadaver of his mother has risen up from the floor to confront him. Terrified, Stephen uses his walking stick to smash a chandelier and then runs out. Bloom quickly pays Bella for the damage, then runs after Stephen. Bloom finds Stephen engaged in a heated argument with an English soldier who, after a perceived insult to the King, punches Stephen. The police arrive and the crowd disperses. As Bloom is tending to Stephen, Bloom has a hallucination of Rudy, his deceased child.

Part III: The Nostos

Episode 16, Eumaeus

Bloom and Stephen go to the cabman's shelter to restore the latter to his senses. At the cabman's shelter, they encounter a drunken sailor, D. B. Murphy. Riding in the cab, Stephen sings a spirited song by the Baroque composer Johannes Jeep, and he and Bloom bond over its misogyny. The episode is dominated by the motif of confusion and mistaken identity, with Bloom, Stephen and Murphy's identities being repeatedly called into question. The rambling and laboured style of the narrative in this episode reflects the nervous exhaustion and confusion of the two protagonists.

Episode 17, Ithaca

Bloom returns home with Stephen, who refuses Bloom's offer of a place to stay for the night. The two men urinate in the backyard, Stephen departs and wanders off into the night, and Bloom goes to bed. The episode is written in the form of a rigidly organised catechism, and was reportedly Joyce's favourite episode in the novel. The style is that of a scientific inquiry, with questions furthering the narrative. The deep descriptions range from questions of astronomy to the trajectory of urination.

Episode 18, Penelope

The final episode, which also uses the stream of consciousness technique seen in Episode 3, consists of Molly Bloom's Soliloquy: eight great run-on sentences (without punctuation) describe the thoughts of Molly, Bloom's wife, as she lies in bed next to her husband.

Molly guesses that Bloom had an orgasm that day, and is reminded of his past possible infidelity with other women. She considers the differences between Boylan and Bloom, in terms of virility and masculinity. Molly feels that she and Bloom are lucky, despite their current marital difficulties. Molly recalls her many admirers, previous and current. She wishes she had more money to buy stylish clothes, and believes that Bloom should quit his advertising job and get better paid work elsewhere. Molly thinks about how beautiful female breasts are, particularly compared to male genitalia. She thinks of the time Bloom suggested she pose naked in exchange for money. Her thoughts return to Boylan and of her orgasm earlier.

A train whistle blows outside, and Molly thinks of her childhood in Gibraltar. Out of boredom and loneliness, she had resorted to writing herself letters. Molly thinks about how her daughter sent her a card this morning, whereas her husband received a whole letter. She imagines that she may receive another love letter from Boylan. Molly recalls her first love letter from Lieutenant Mulvey, whom she kissed under the bridge in Gibraltar. She later lost contact with him and wonders what he would be like now. Her thoughts turn to her singing career, and Molly wonders what path her career could have taken had she not married Bloom.

Molly senses the start of her period, confirmation that her tryst with Boylan has not caused a pregnancy. She gets up to use the chamberpot. Events of the day spent with Boylan run through her mind.

Molly climbs quietly back into bed and thinks of the times she and Bloom have had to relocate. Her mind then turns to Stephen, whom she met during his childhood. She conjectures that Stephen is probably not stuck-up, and is most likely clean. She fantasizes about having sexual encounters with him. Molly resolves to study before meeting him so he will not look down upon her. Molly thinks of her husband's strange sexual habits. Molly speculates that the world would be much improved if it consisted of Matriarchal Societies. She thinks again of Stephen, and of his mother's death, and that of Rudy's death, she then ends this line of thought as it is making her depressed. Molly thinks about arousing Bloom in the morning, then revealing the details of her affair with Boylan to make him realise his culpability. Molly then decides to procure some flowers, in case Stephen Dedalus decides to come around. Thinking of flowers, Molly thinks of the day she and Bloom spent at Howth, his marriage proposal, and her acceptance: "yes I said yes I will Yes."




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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 12:49 pm

Ulysses, modernism's most sociable masterpiece

There are good reasons why Dublin has taken Bloomsday, the celebration of Joyce's classic novel, to its heart

Declan Kiberd guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 16 June 2009 15.24 BST


Experimental fiction takes to the streets ... Bloomsday revellers in Dublin. Photograph: Alamy

"What a town Dublin is!'' exclaimed James Joyce to the painter Frank Budgen: "I wonder if there is another like it. Everbody has time to hail a friend and start a conversation about a third party."


Ulysses and Us : The Art of Everyday Living by Declan Kiberd

Joyce's Ulysses (1922) is one of the masterpieces of modernism, accorded the same exalted status as Marcel Proust's Remembrance of Things Past or Robert Musil's The Man Without Qualities. Unlike them, however, it has become a defining element in the life of the city where it is set.

Like the prelates of the Catholic church, Joyce was perhaps cunning in setting aside a single day (16 June, or Bloomsday, the day in 1904 the book takes place) on which to celebrate a feast. When Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus sit down together at day's end over coffee and a bread-roll, neither man says "do this in memory of me", yet every year the cult grows. As with so many cults, it has its routes of pilgrimage, special foods, ritual observances and priestly decoders of the sacred text.

Many of the surrealists who lived near Joyce in Paris had also grown up as Catholics – but their displaced religion was filled with edicts, dogmas and excommunications, while he by contrast appropriated the more celebratory rituals of Catholicism. As if the case with all emergent religions, the cult of James Joyce – known jocularly as The Feast of Saint Jam Juice in Dublin – has spawned its own loyal opposition. On 16 June 2004, when 10,000 Bloomsday breakfasts were served on Dublin streets to mark the great centenary, a spray-painter went to work and wrote "Bloom is a Cod" on a building-site wall. There were no inverted commas around the quotation in that instance.

Every year hundreds of Dubliners dress as characters from the book – Stephen with his cane, Leopold wearing his bowler hat, Molly in her petticoats – as if to assert their willingness to become one with the text. They re-enact scenes in Eccles Street, Ormond Quay and Sandycove's Martello Tower. It is quite impossible to imagine any other masterpiece of modernism having quite such an effect on the life of a city.

That celebration may be an attempt by Dubliners to reassert a lost sense of community, a poignant repossession of streets through which on other days of the year they hurry from one private experience to another. Although Ulysses is a book of privacies and subjectivities, a remarkable number of its scenes are set in public space – library, museum, bar, cemetery, and, most of all, the street.

The characters enjoy the possibilities afforded by the streets of random, unexpected meetings. It is this very openness to serendipity which allows Joyce to renew his styles and themes with each succeeding episode. Far from seeing "street people" as a problem, he sees them as the very basis of civilisation. Bloomsday may now be, in part, a lament for a time when Dublin was still felt to be an intimate city – civic, knowable, viable.

The book is also unusual in the history of modernism for its suggestion that there need be no conflict between bohemian and bourgeois. At its climax the ad-canvasser Bloom invites the poet Dedalus home with him for conversation and cocoa. In recording the dailiest day possible, Joyce teaches us much about the world: how to cope with grief and loss; how to tell a joke and how not to tell a joke; how to be frank about death in the age of its denial; how to walk and think at the same time; how to purge sex of possessiveness; how the way people eat food can tell us who they really are.

Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking. The soliloquists of Shakespeare and the nineteenth-century novel were aristocrats considering ultimate questions of death or suicide. Joyce offers the stream-of-consciousness of an ordinary citizen as prelude to nothing more portentous than the drinking of a cup of tea.

He shocked people by his honesty. His favourite aunt was so upset that she had her presentation copy removed from her home. "If Ulysses isn't fit to read." replied its author, "then life isn't fit to live". But he never took his extraordinary celebration of the ordinary over-seriously. When a fan asked to kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses, Joyce laughed and said "no – that hand has done a lot of other things as well".

• Declan Kiberd is professor of Anglo-Irish literature at University College Dublin. His book Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living is published by Faber.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Thu Jun 16, 2011 12:05 am


Statue of James Joyce, Dublin.

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:11 am

ATU posters will already have noted that our own felix speaks the same language as Leopold's Bloom's felix- at least when he wants a saucer of milk:

-mrkgnao!


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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:30 am

^

Which brings us neatly to the single most striking feature of the book- the feature, I seem to recall, which caused non-native English speakers Andy and SJ most bafflement in the original ATUI "Ulysses" thread: its language, and specifically Joyce's use of neologisms, often for comic effect.

When Joyce refers to the aqueous contents of Dublin Bay as "the snotgreen scrotumtightening" sea, the word-coinage is not too difficult to decipher, but we're getting on to rather more difficult linguistic territory with usages such as "dunducktymudcoloured", which means...er..."brown".

Such usages are not simply comic; they support and enhance the famous description of the book's style as "Stream of Consciousness". Instead of simply writing the word "brown", Joyce's neologism sets out the some of the various associations with the colour "brown" which might flash into one's mind when encountering a particular brown object:

the brown of a dun cow
the brown of a duck's back
the brown of mud

It's a way, if you like, of getting deep inside the mind of the character.


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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:01 am

Bloomsday quiz: how well do you know your Joyce?

Bloomsday, the annual celebration of Joyce's masterpiece Ulysses, is a fine day to remind yourself of his genius.

Test your knowledge with our 16 questions for 16 June

Thursday 16 June 2011 08.00 BST


Statue of James Joyce at Fluntern cemetery, Zurich. Photograph: Sebastian Derungs/Reuters

1. What was the significance of 16 June?

It was the day on which Dubliners was finally accepted for publication
It was the date of his confirmation
It was the day of Joyce's first date with his lifelong partner, Nora Barnacle
It was his birthday

2. Which playwright did Joyce hero-worship?

Ben Jonson
Henrik Ibsen
George Bernard Shaw
George Buchner

3. Which of the following is not a quote from Joyce?

To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.
Paternity is a legal fiction.
Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.
History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

4. What did Joyce refer to as "electricity" and "beefsteak"?

Dante and Chaucer
Ireland and Italy
Woman and man
White and red wine

5. The framework of Finnegans Wake is based on a cyclical theory of history borrowed from which thinker?

Friedrich Nietzsche
Giambattista Vico
Homer
Arthur Schopenhauer

6. Joyce is often accused of being verbose and obscure. Yet which work did he claim to have written "in a style of scrupulous meanness and with the conviction that he is a very bold man who dares to alter in the presentment, still more to deform, whatever he has seen and heard"?

Dubliners
Exiles
Chamber Music
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

7. When was the English ban on Ulysses lifted?

1924
1936
1945
1963

8. Which author admired Joyce so much that he not only worked as his secretary but is said to have crippled his much larger feet by wearing identical shoes?

WH Auden
Samuel Beckett
TS Eliot
Christopher Isherwood

9. Which novel did Joyce call "the English Ulysses"?

Robinson Crusoe
Clarissa
Vanity Fair
Dombey & Son

10. Who was brave or foolhardy enough to edit Finnegans Wake down into a shorter edition?

David Lodge
Anthony Burgess
Alain de Botton
Bono from U2

11. In the Homeric parallels of Ulysses, which character is Telemachus to Bloom's Ulysses?

Stephen Dedalus
Buck Mulligan
Stephen Hero
Blazes Boylan

12. Joyce died less than two years after publishing his mammoth “night-language” dream-text, Finnegans Wake. What were his hints about his next project?

That it would make Finnegans Wake look easy
That it would be a children's book
That it would be short, simple and a novel of reawakening
That it would do for Trieste what Ulysses did for Dublin

13. What is the final word in Ulysses?

Love
Sex
Death
Yes

14. "The only demand I make of my reader," Joyce once told an interviewer, is that ...

"He knows how to drink and make love as well as read."
"He finishes them."
"He should devote his whole life to reading my works."
"He acknowledge my genius, even though he will never understand it."

15. The last word in Finnegans Wake is

No
Jaysus
Morning!
The

16. "I guess the man's a genius, but what a dirty mind he has, hasn't he?" Whose critical verdict?

Nora Joyce
The Queen Mother
Val Doonican
TS Eliot

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  pinhedz on Fri Jun 17, 2011 11:06 am

Who was it didn't like Ulysses here? JimW, I think.

Except he liked "Bronze by Gold."

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:03 pm

^

Perhaps JimW would want to take another look after after reading this?


James Joyce: A Portrait of the Artist by Stan Gebler Davies.

An accessible Joyce biography with a light touch.

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Fri Jun 17, 2011 4:48 pm

Radio review: Book of the Week: James Joyce – a Biography; Night Waves

Listening to this is like being drunk yourself – alarming events tumble over one another

Zoe Williams guardian.co.uk, Monday 13 June 2011 21.30 BST


James Joyce . . . an after-the-watershed moment before Woman's Hour!

Book of the Week (Radio 4) is James Joyce: a Biography. Its timing is a nod to Bloomsday, which falls on 16 June, the day in 1904 that Joyce first met his sauntering Nora and, in homage, set his 1921 masterpiece, Ulysses. Gordon Bowker's biography is primly written and hilariously explicit. The couple have a first date, they get drunk, they go for a walk: "Nora took the rampant young bard in hand, saying 'what is it, dear?' and deftly satisfying his immediate urge." That's right folks. A handjob on Radio 4. Never mind the watershed, this was before Woman's Hour! Could I have misunderstood?

Joyce trundles off, gets drunk somewhere else, vomits under someone's skirt, legs it before he is arrested, and sees a woman walking past whom he imagines to be alone. However, "when Joyce accosted her . . ." the narrator said, as though this were the most natural progression in the world – you see a solitary woman and you accost her; like "see a penny, pick it up" – her boyfriend leapt from the shadows and beat up the bard, or pisshead, as he was more probably known at the time. Then he moves to France, taking Nora with him.

Listening to this is like being drunk yourself; inexplicable events tumble over one another, each one more alarming than the last.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Sat Jun 18, 2011 3:55 am

Joyce's puzzle solved: how to cross Dublin without passing a pub

Software developer Rory McCann charts pub-free route across the city

Alison Flood guardian.co.uk, Friday 17 June 2011 12.48 BST


Yes! Rory McCann on Dublin's Talbot Street by the James Joyce statue. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA

"Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub," muses Leopold Bloom in James Joyce's classic novel Ulysses. It's a conundrum that has intrigued literary visitors to the city for years and, until now, frustrated them.

The Joycean quandary has just been solved by software developer Rory McCann, who came up with an algorithm to help him chart a pub-free route through Dublin's streets. Starting by plotting out 30 points around the city's canals, to represent the size Dublin would have been when Ulysses was published, he used data from the online editable map, OpenStreetMap, to pin down the locations of Dublin's 1,000-plus pubs,. He then set his algorithm to work to find a winding path across the city that does not pass within 35m of a pub.

A few changes were made after people pointed out pubs which weren't on the map, but McCann is now satisfied that he has solved Bloom's 89-year-old puzzle – just in time for Bloomsday (the annual celebration of all things Joyce and Ulysses) on 16 June.

"I started about a year ago, for Bloomsday last year, but didn't get the programme finished in time. I picked it up again about a month ago and worked on it in my spare time again. Once I'd finished writing the programme, it takes about 15 minutes before it found the route in question," he said. "I haven't done all of it myself yet, but I know people who have cycled it, and said it was good. I checked it on Google Street View."

He was moved to create his algorithm, he said, because it sounded "like an interesting problem", but he has never read Ulysses, coming at the puzzle "from the technical 'hey-that's-an-interesting-problem' side, rather than the literary side".

"I'm a big OpenStreetMap fan, and fan of open data. It's a well-known problem in Dublin, and many people have tried to solve it themselves in pubs," he said. "Among the OpenStreetMap community here in Dublin, it's something that we've thought we could solve (thanks to open data). I started thinking about it, and could see it coming together in my head, so had a stab at it, et voila!"

Next up, he's said, might well be the opposite challenge: a route around Dublin which passes as many of the city's drinking houses as possible.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Sat Jul 02, 2011 7:04 am

James Joyce by Gordon Bowker – review

Gordon Bowker has missed the chance to say anything new and interesting about the great writer

Adam Mars-Jones guardian.co.uk, Friday 1 July 2011 11.45 BST


James Joyce with Sylvia Beach outside her book shop in Paris, 1920. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

This would be a good time for a strong new biography of James Joyce, 70 years after his death and almost 30 since the revised version of Richard Ellmann's classic contribution to the form. In the last few decades, Joyce seems to have lost a little ground to Proust. People like to read about the rich – perhaps it's as simple as that, and Joyce committed a number of crimes, over the years, against formal dress. No one in his books is worth more than a thousand pounds all told, as he pointed out after being denounced for lack of political engagement, along with Kafka as well as Proust (and Lawrence, Eliot, Yeats), at a 1937 Writers' Congress in Madrid.


James Joyce: A Biography by Gordon Bowker

Even Gabriel Josipovici, a stubbornly brilliant critic, seemed to short-change Joyce in his recent polemic What Ever Happened to Modernism? He was more attracted to writers with a high rating of aesthetic anguish, to Kafka's writhings and incompletions, to Beckett's long campaign against his own charm and eloquence, which is a rather romantic way of responding to an anti-romantic movement. In his books, Joyce shed the 19th-century cleanly and decisively, and had a great gift for generating rich new material from arbitrary scraps of patterning. The interval between his realising that a certain way of writing the world was bankrupt and finding a new one seems to have been enviably short, however long it took him to get the words exactly as he wanted them.

The life was a different matter, displaying not so much the celebrated trinity of tactics asserted by his creation Stephen Dedalus (silence, exile, cunning) as unpredictable volubility, reluctant nomadism and the frantic exploitation of benefactors.

A literary biographer needs to be a bit of a historian, a bit of a critic and a bit of stylist. It's hard to say in which department Gordon Bowker falls shortest. Take this historical sketch of Joyce's birth year: "For the British Empire, as 1882 dawned, it was business as usual. Queen Victoria …had ruled her domain for 45 years, and would reign for a further 19." Perhaps there was some sort of floral clock arrangement in public parks, displaying a countdown, so as to keep citizens properly informed of their future.

The great temptation of literary biography is the obsessive coupling of the life and the work, as if a writer's surroundings entered the books directly, and the exact process by which they did so (when they did) was relatively unimportant. Bowker's biography is full of things "inserting themselves" or "finding their way" into Joyce's fiction, as if he wasn't in charge of the process.

No suggestion seems too unlikely to be offered: "John's habit of regular long walks around Dublin and environs, caught by his children, foreshadows the wandering narrative line which snakes through most of his son's fiction." It's hard to see how it would be possible to go further in this vein. Perhaps: his father's lifelong habit of breathing in and out, in strict alternation, instilled in the young Joyce an abiding interest in rhythm and pattern...

Bowker's argument in this instance is comical but at least it's not circular, as so many of his others are. He treats A Portrait of the Artist As a Young Man as an unproblematic source for Joyce's childhood. "Little Jim (if the imaginative memory of his alter ego Stephen can be trusted) was 'a nicens little boy named baby tuckoo', his father, 'a hairy face' looking at him, as he later recalled 'through a glass.'" He quotes the punitive rhyme from the second page of the book ("Pull out his eyes / Apologise / Apologise / Pull out his eyes") and offers some helpful explanation: "This savage remark from this emissary of a vengeful God set up in the mind of the embryonic poet a chanted refrain, the lines repeated over and over, round and around in the mind of the haunted young boy."

It's extraordinary to find the 19th-century bilge so scrupulously pumped out by Joyce making a return. It's a sort of plumbing nightmare, with waste water backing up to sully the clean surfaces of the prose. If Joyce had included any such sloppy hindsight his novel would have been a lot easier to get published, and its charge for later readers would have been virtually nil.

Joyce loved cliches, but only for the purposes of taxidermy. Ulysses in particular is full of them, stuffed and mounted. What would he have made of: "Unknowingly, Nora Barnacle from Galway had made a date with history"? Or: "Little escaped the voracious mind of the observant epiphanist"? Such formulas are a challenge to parody.

No one doubts that a writer's personal life – people, places, events – enters the work. But the process is not reversible. For Bowker to say that "passages in Stephen Hero and A Portrait faithfully capture [Joyce] the tireless monologist in action" is meaningless. How would he know if they didn't? There's a persistent slide here between characters and their conjectured models, perhaps the crassest example being the description of Joyce as "the self-proclaimed forger of the conscience of his race". It was actually Stephen Dedalus who said something roughly similar to that.

In his acknowledgements Bowker states that most biographers "stand on the shoulders of their predecessors". Since Ellmann's time there have been full biographies of both Joyce's wife Nora (by Brenda Maddox) and daughter Lucia (by Carol Loeb Shloss). Bowker devotes a greater proportion of his book to Joyce's life after Ulysses than Ellmann does, the period of his physical decline, obsession with the mental health of Lucia, and dogged engagement with the night games of what became Finnegans Wake. This makes less depressing reading if you rate the Wake as a crowning masterpiece rather than a frustrating oddity, a labyrinth whose maker has forgotten to provide an entrance.

It's on Ellmann that Bowker relies most heavily. It's a mystery that he should have such a height advantage over his predecessor and yet such limited vision. Bowker describes Finnegans Wake as Joyce's "most obscure but revealing" work. It's hard to be sure what's in the Wake and absolutely impossible to say that something isn't, which I suppose might be an advantage. Still, it's bizarre to have the book used as a source for the first meeting of James Joyce and Nora Barnacle. "In Finnegans Wake there is a hint of something more dramatic – instant sexual magnetism: 'He's fane, she's flirty, with her auburnt streams, and her coy cajoleries, and her dabblin drolleries, for to rouse his rudderup, or to drench his dreams'."

Seeking to extract personal testimony from any novel whatever is like trying to tell the time from a clock in a painting. Doing the same thing with Finnegans Wake is like trying to tell the time from the soft watch in a Dali phantasmagoria, undeterred by the fact that it's draped over a branch, if not crawling with ants.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: James Joyce's Ulysses

Post  eddie on Sat Aug 06, 2011 11:34 pm

James Joyce: A Biography by Gordon Bowker - review

A fine, unfussy biography of James Joyce

Declan Kiberd guardian.co.uk, Friday 5 August 2011 22.55 BST


Sculpture of James Joyce beside his grave at Fluntern cemetery in Zurich. Photograph: Steffen Schmidt/EPA


James Joyce: A Biography by Gordon Bowker

No book on James Joyce goes half as far as this one in establishing connections between passages in the classic texts and incidents in the artist's life. Even Joyce's uneasy struggle to exclude unflattering details from the first biography of him, by Herbert Gorman, is used to explain a passing reference in Finnegans Wake to a "biografiend". What Joyce wanted was someone who would allow him control over every element of his reputation: a biografriend. Gorman, although he accepted the main interdictions – on family privacies – was not happy with the arrangement or the outcome. He insulted Joyce by failing to send him a copy of the published volume.

Gordon Bowker demonstrates just how comprehensively the artist also sought to control the first extended works of literary analysis on Ulysses. Joyce was a gifted autocritic, and even today Frank Budgen's 1934 memoir about the making of Ulysses sparkles, because it is filled with the Dubliner's table-talk. Stuart Gilbert, author of James Joyce's Ulysses (1930), was somewhat more resistant to manipulation, keeping his reservations out of his study of Homeric analogies in the masterpiece, but filling a sardonic diary with sarcasms about the Joyce circle. Bowker, whose respect for the greatness of Joyce's texts never wanes, is shrewd enough to include a liberal amount of these balancing judgments.

The strictest injunction laid on Gorman was also the last: that Joyce's motivation in leaving Ireland never be disclosed. All subsequent biographies have accepted that Joyce made himself modern by abandoning Ireland as a cultural backwater disfigured by clerical oppression and a general censoriousness. The truth is more mundane but sadly prophetic of the fate of thousands of Irish graduates in the decades after Joyce: he simply could not find a post in the country commensurate with his qualifications, abilities and ambitions. So the flight with Nora Barnacle had to be rebranded as a dissident exercise in "silence, exile and cunning".

Only once did Joyce deviate from this line. He told the painter Arthur Power that in the Dublin of his youth the British retained all power, with the consequence that ordinary people felt no responsibility for anything and were free to do or say what they wanted. Only with independence in 1922 emerged a nation of apple-lickers: people who, if tempted in the Garden of Eden, would have licked rather than bitten the apple.

Like all honest biographers before him, Bowker knows that turn-of-the-century Dublin was filled with intrepid artists and unfettered intellectuals. Yet somehow he feels compelled to support the common contention that the great man made himself thoroughly modern by ceasing to be knowingly Irish. Not so. To be Irish, in those days, was to be modern anyway, whether one wanted to be or not. Good educational opportunities along with chronic undercapitalisation produced the formula for a major experimental culture.

Perhaps because he doesn't rate modernist Dublin too highly, Bowker sometimes slips up on details – he sets the Cyclops episode of Ulysses in Davy Byrne's rather than Barney Kiernan's pub; he seems unaware that the burning of Cork city was due mainly to the Black and Tans; and his etymologies of Gaelic names can be dubious. On the credit side, he has been careful not to accept as fact details which were fictionalised by Joyce. He records, accurately, that Oliver Gogarty (the false friend who lived with Joyce for a time in the Martello Tower in Sandycove) was the son of a surgeon, whereas Richard Ellmann (taking Ulysses at its word) depicted him as a "counterjumper's son" – that is, the child of a sales assistant.

Ellmann was a brilliant biographer and skilful interviewer, early enough on the scene to talk with many of Joyce's acquaintances, some of whom told him untruths. Bowker, without fuss, fixes mistaken details. He also gives a more nuanced account of just how deeply Joyce's years in Trieste influenced the shaping of Ulysses. Because it was a port city like Dublin on the edge of an already shaky empire and because it contained geniuses such as Italo Svevo, it filled Joyce's head with ideas and characters.

This study will be valuable to students as a summation of our current biographical knowledge of Joyce. It captures recurring features of his art: a vaudevillian's love of seaside settings, a delight in using children's lore and nursery rhymes as portals of discovery, a compulsion to map his own family romance on to world history. It shows how difficult he could be even to his greatest admirers; yet it also evokes the heroism of a man who, confronted by poverty, ill health and endless uprootings, somehow found in himself the courage to write epics in celebration of ordinary people and the intricacies of their minds. It is in its way an example as well as an account of dignified audacity.

This doesn't mean that Ellmann's 1959 biography is passé. Not only did he write a beautiful prose, which no subsequent scholar has equalled, but he also had a fellow-artist's understanding of the strange blend of facts, experiences, ideas and accidents which went into the creation of "The Dead" and Ulysses. Ellmann was one of the great literary critics of the last century and his biography, though long, implies a great deal more than it says. His account is of a flawed but decent man, who redeemed occasional misbehaviour by the scale of his devotion to his family and to his work. Because its portrait contains much of the painter as well as the sitter, it will live for ever as itself a work of art.

Joyce was restless, not only about biographies of him but sitting for portraits. When the painter Patrick Tuohy began to talk about the importance of capturing the Joycean soul, he muttered darkly: "Never mind my soul, Tuohy. Just make sure you get my tie right." He would, for that reason, probably approve of Bowker's book, which generally rests content with external detail but leaves the deeper acts of interpretation to others.
Declan Kiberd's Ulysses and Us: The Art of Everyday Living is published by Faber.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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