Ulysses So Far

by Charlotte Reads Classics

Episode IV – Calypso, 8am, Leopold Bloom’s House

This is first encounter with Bloom, the man himself, is quite ordinary.

The Odyssey: Calypso keeps Odysseus detained on her island for several years, trying to make him her immortal husband. Eventually, Zeus orders her to set him free because it was not their destiny to be together forever.

  • Ahbeesee defeegee kelomen opeecue rustyouvee double you. I just really liked the idea that if you are following someone’s train of thought, a lot of the time it’s just nonsense, background noise.

Episode V – Lotus-Eaters, 10am, Westland Row and Turkish Baths

The Odyssey: When Odysseus and his crew stop on the land of the Lotus-Eaters, they are given a drug that makes them forget their home.

  • Nice kind of evening feeling. No more wandering about. Just loll there: quiet dusk: let everything rip. Forget. Tell about places you have been, strange customs.
  • Rum idea: eating bits of a corpse why the cannibals cotton to it.
  • Penance. Punish me, please. Great weapon in their hands. More than doctor or solicitor. Woman dying to. And I schschschschschsch. And did you chachachachacha? And why did you? Look down at her ring to find an excuse. Whispering gallery walls have ears. Husband learn to his surprise. God’s little joke. Then out she comes. Repentence skin deep. Lovely shame.

Episode VI – Hades, 11am, The Graveyard

This chapter was really depressing, I suppose a compliment to Joyce’s writing the everyman’s thoughts about death. Accurate, but a bit much!

The Odyssey: Hades is the greek god of the Underworld, who is quick to anger when someone tries to cheat death. In greek mythology, all the living people who went into the Underworld were heroes.

  • Thanking her stars she was passed over. Extraordinary interest they take in a corpse. Glad to see us go when we give them such trouble coming. Job seems to suit them. Huggermugger in corners. Slop about in slipperslappers for fear he’d wake. Then getting it ready. Laying it out. Molly and Mrs. Fleming making the bed. Pull it more to your side. Our windingsheet. never know who will touch you dead. Wash and shampoo. I believe they clip the nails and the hair. Keep a bit in an envelope.
  • They’re so particular. Lay me in my native earth. Bit of clay from the holy land. Only a mother and deadborn child ever buried in one coffin. I see what it means. I see. To protect him as long as possible even in the earth. The Irishman’s house is his coffin.

Episode VII – Aeolus, 12pm, The Newspaper Office

This chapter has probably been the most difficult so far, it was a real struggle (that I didn’t succeed in overcoming) to keep track of who was in the room, or even which room they were in, let alone what they were talking about.

The Odyssey: Homer’s Aeolus was the god of winds. He gives Odysseus a bag full of the captured winds so he could sail home. Unfortunately, his men open the bag, thinking it was full of riches, and the ship is blown off-course.

  • You pray to a local and obscure idol: our temples, majestic and mysterious, are the abodes of Isis and Osiris, of Horus and Ammon Ra. Yours serfdom, awe and humbleness: ours thunder and the seas. Israel is weak and few are her children: Egypt is a host and terrible are her arms. Vagrants and daylabourers are you called: the world trembles in our name. You = Jews Us = Egypt ???
  • Sophist wallops haughty helen square on proboscis. Spartans gnash molars. Ithacans vow pen is champ. I assume this section is one of the ones people mention about you needing to be a real academic to get all the references. I didn’t, these are a couple of quotes to demonstrate why!

Episode VIII – Lestrygonians, 1pm, Davy Byrne’s Pub

Again, this is all about the body, it made me chuckle that when we are hungry everything comes round to food.

The Odyssey: The Lestrygonians are a tribe of giant cannibals, who ate many of Odysseus’ men.

  • Flakes of pastry on the gusset of her dress: daub of sugary flour stuck to her cheek. Rhubarb tart with liberal fillings, rich fruit interior.
  • Let out to graze. Best moment to attack one in pudding time.
  • I wouldn’t be surprised if it was that kind of food you see produces the like waves of the brain the poetical. For example one of those policemen sweating Irish stew into their shirts; you couldn’t squeeze a line of poetry out of him. Don’t know what poetry is even.
  • Sad booser’s eyes. Bitten off more than he can chew. Am I like that? See ourselves as others see us. 
  • God made food, the devil the cooks.

Episode IX – Scylla and Charybdis, 2pm, The National Library

I take the bit about the newspaper office being the most difficult back, this is. What the hell is this about? I have no idea! Suggestions welcome!

The Odyssey: Being between Scylla and Charybdis is the ancient greek equivalent of being between a rock and a hard place. Scylla was a six headed sea monster, Charybdis a whirlpool, and Odysseus had to choose which was the lesser evil. Other than this chapter being a literary minefield, I’m not sure how this links together.

  • All these questions are purely academic, Russell oracled out of his shadow. I mean, whether Hamlet is Shakespeare or James I or Essex. Clergymen’s discussions of the historicity of Jesus. Art has to reveal to us ideas, formless spiritual essences. The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. I imagine this is the nature of many great debates!
  • What is a ghost? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners. […] Who is the ghost from limbo patrum, returning to the world that has forgotten him? This is being said about the ghosts in Hamlet, although I quite like the idea of this being the ghosts in literature in general.
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