Bloomsday

I’ve just been contacted by Darrell Hooper, grandson of Paddy Hooper (“They’re gone round to the Oval for a drink. Paddy Hooper is there with Jack Hall. Came over last night” 7.455-56) and great-grandson of Alderman John Hooper (“the wedding present alderman Hooper gave us” 6.949-50), concerning a rather special Bloomsday meeting for descendants and relatives of the ‘real’ characters of Ulysses. Fascinated as I am, I had to share – if anyone happens to be lucky enough to be in Dublin this Friday, you could always bluff your way in by claiming descent from the man in the mackintosh.

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Seminar, 8 May – ‘Aeolus’, 927-951

 

We continued with our vestals virgins, beginning the seminar at line 7.927.

 

  • We spent a long time considering the image of ‘damp nights reeking of hungry dough’. The Little Review copy read ‘The damp night’, and we decided that the removal of the article is both characteristic of Stephen’s interior monologue and, moreover, potentially sets up the scene as an impression of Dublin, more than the recollection of a specific memory: does it contain Stephen, or not? Hungry dough, with its transferred epithet, recalls the grateful winejug of a few lines earlier; the line also anticipates the ‘mighty cheese’s of ‘Lestrygonians’. The image is one of unrefined, desperate poverty, a feeling perhaps compounded by the yeasty relationship between bread and beer; one is also ‘on the breadline’ when in poverty, as Stephen would well know. The next two lines compound the dire feeling of the scene. Glistering, caught awkwardly between glistening and glittering, gives an unhealthy air to the woman, and perhaps recalls Gerty’s ‘waxen pallor’ too. We discussed the tallow of candles and the cracked surface of these looking like her skin.

 

  • The changes in register in the next three sentences (‘Frantic hearts. Akasic records. Quicker, darlint!’) kept us busy. We compared the brief moment of ‘frantic hearts’ with all the moments in time (‘akasic’). Why does Joyce return to these akasic moments repeatedly in ’Aeolus’, and what is he trying to say here? Perhaps that everything is remembered, that even this moment up against the wall is remembered, in contrast to the big historical narratives discussed in the previous section (Monster Meetings and so on). Thinking about ‘moments’ in more depth, we compared the newspaper form – as something designed to record the moments of daily life as well as big historical moments, as something ephemeral and forgotten – with Stephen’s interest in the akasic. Finally, we noted that this is the only ‘darlint’ in Ulysses and that, at this stage in Joyce’s career, using spelling variants to evoke character is unusual for Joyce.

 

  • Stephen’s interior monologue continues with this statement of intent (‘On now. Dare it. Let there be life’), which refers to the next paragraph, but also gives life to the nuns, the kind of minor character so often overlooked by fiction. We noted that Stephen is quite shy, so for him to perform a yarn like this is actually quite daring, in a way. Over ‘Aeolus’ we get a strong sense of Stephen’s weaknesses, shyness, and self-consciousness.

 

  • What draws these women to the column? They’ve presumably seen it promoted as a local tourist attraction, but one not without difficulty, at least for them, as they have to save up their money and ‘coax’ these out of their savings box, an infantile image that reminded us of Milly Bloom’s ‘she shook with shocks her money box’. We noted too that Joyce is attentive to shades of red, the post box at the start of the episode being ‘vermillion’ in colour (something we spent a long time discussing).

 

  • The women reminded us of the women in The Sisters, and of Maria in Clay. We thought about their clothes – Joyce dresses them in bonnets to make them seem old-fashioned? – and their slightly antiquated language (‘come on to rain’). We discussed bonnets at length, wondering if there was an etiquette at play about covered heads and marriage, though the bonnet already gestures to a feeling of being old-fashioned. Never can one not comment on the presence of an umbrella in Joyce’s works.

 

  • ‘Life on the Raw’ is another confusing headline. Is Joyce gesturing at ‘a raw account of life’? Or, ‘an account of a raw life’? We discussed brawn and the significance of buying it from a dining room, the second detail suggesting again the tight budget of these women (dining rooms such as this one served meals at fixed prices). We thought about Miss Kate Collins, noting the ubiquity of Kates, Kathleens, and Katherines in Joyce’s texts, and about her role, apparently, as an independent businesswoman. And, maybe relatedly, her status as an unmarried woman. As we noted the Dubinersesque atmosphere of Stephen’s story, we detected a Eumaeun register about this story, specifically ‘Kate Collins, proprietor…’.

 

  • We discussed the girl selling fruit, wondering specifically about the quality of this fruit (if you have to shout that it’s ripe, is it?) and about the nursery-rhyme effects of ‘four and twenty’. Unlike the apple seller Bloom sees in Lestrygonians, this girl’s market appears to be limited to those going up the column. The presence of the turnstile, as an early example of crowd control, suggests this is a popular destination.

 

  • The women ‘waddle’ up the column. Is this derogatory in tone? Affectionate? We detected several shades of innuendo: they are grunting and panting, too, and peeping out of slits. Stephen is perhaps having a bit of banter with Professor MacHugh about these women by using such innuendo. We noted that his storytelling is so different here to that in Scylla. Thinking about of the relationship between Joyce as storyteller and Stephen as storyteller, we wondered if Joyce had ever been up the tower.

 

  • Both women have distinctive names. There is a woman of the name Anne Kearns in Thom’s of 1904, while Florence MacCabe appeared in Proteus. Is Stephen’s image in Proteus a rehearsal for this story? Moreover is Stephen being disdainful of the two women in his descriptions of their attachment to Lourdes water and double XX (originally stout, in the Little Review), respectively? Does he understand their lives, or not? Does MacHugh, listening to this story, have any real idea about these women, either?

 

  • The seminar ended with a brief discussion of Joyce’s role in all this. The line ‘Dubliners’ at the top of this page encourages us to read the story as though it could neatly fit into that collection. Is there some anxiety on Stephen’s part, that he isn’t able to write Dubliners? Which is to say, we detected a distancing between Joyce and Stephen, one able to write that text, one very much aware that he can’t render the city that way.

 

We begin again on Friday 2nd June, starting at line 7.952 (‘Antithesis’). This will be our last session before the Autumn.

 

 

 

 

 

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James Joyce on TV

Michael Garrad, who attends the Charles Peake Ulysses seminar, is involved in the following event, on 16th June 2017, 1830-2100, B04 lecture theatre, 43 Gordon Square. The event is hosted by the Birkbeck Institute for the Moving Image.
James Joyce Films
Monitor: Silence, Exile and Cunning (50mins, 1965)

Joyce in June (45mins approx, 1982, dir. Donald McWhinnie)

This is a programme of two films on James Joyce, from different broadcasting eras, made by the BBC.
 
Monitor: Silence, Exile and Cunning, consists of Anthony Burgess’s (apparently) whiskey-fuelled reflections on Joyce’s self-imposed exile from Ireland. Burgess’s film essay is illustrated by black and white 16mm shots of Dublin, including dead seagulls in the Liffey and some of the authentic Ulysses locations, including the Martello tower Stephen Dedalus lodges in and the dilapidated 7 Eccles Street, home of Leopold and Molly Bloom, shortly before its demolition.
This is contrasted with a 1982 biographical sketch of the young Joyce, Joyce in June, which includes an inventive, and very funny, imagining of the happenings of the Ulysses characters on 17 June 1904, the day after the novel’s action. Filmed on video in studios, the image has an immediacy that speaks very much of early 1980s TV. It features a young Stephen Rea as both Joyce’s brother Stanislaus and Ulysses’s mysterious man in the mackintosh. The programme is directed by Donald McWhinnie, one of Beckett’s favoured directors for screen, radio and stage.
Programme curated by Michael Garrad.
The screening is followed by a panel discussion.
Reserve your ticket here: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/james-joyce-on-tv-tickets-33849094553
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What Goes Around: Fifty Years of The Third Policeman

Details below of an event that will be of interest to Joyceans – and which is being led by one of the seminar’s own – do please go along if you can make it; free and bookable via the eventbrite link at the bottom.

What Goes Around: Fifty Years of The Third Policeman

Tuesday 16th May 2017
6-7:25pm
Waterstone’s, Gower Street
2017 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the publication of Flann O’Brien’s remarkable novel The Third Policeman. This workshop explores the bizarre landscape and weird science of Flann O’Brien’s masterpiece, and considers its significance in Irish and world literary history. The workshop, which forms part of Arts Week 2017, will be led by Tobias Harris, a postgraduate researcher into Flann O’Brien’s work who is based in the Department of English & Humanities at Birkbeck.
To book your free place at this event, click here:

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/fifty-years-of-the-third-policeman-tickets-33524134589

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Seminar, 21 April – ‘Aeolus’, 888-926

On the 21st of April, we covered an entire page (on the Gabler scale). Among matters unearthed and discussed:

Mr O’Madden Burke continues with the cod Elizabethan (does Lenehan bring this out in him?) and our thoughts turned naturally to Blackadder. We noted the unusual use of ‘grateful’, the awkward use of ‘metaphorically speaking’, as well as the Joycean play on ‘Ye’ with its capital ‘Y’ (which really ought to be a þ).

Lenehan switches the play on to the language of the debating society. Does anyone actually say ‘ay’ or ‘no’ in response here? The ‘boosingshed’ (Ezra Pound’s spelling also) Lenehan casts his vote for is Mooney’s; Stephen would not want him to name The Ship at this point, where Mulligan and Haines await him in vain, though it is only a little further from the Freeman’s offices than Mooney’s.

Lenehan is giving an uncharacteristic display of physical boldness in leading the way here. The “strong waters” – aqua fortis – presumably means whiskey: this is the language of licensing law (‘Spirituous Liquors or Strong Waters’). The double negatives are neat in conveying that Lenehan and the rest will not not be partaking, though there is verbiage too: “By no manner of means.”

O’Madden Burke here makes use of the kind of common knowledge of Shakespeare that contrasts with Stephen’s earlier meditations, though “ally” strikes an odd note (Macbeth was hardly an ally of Macduff’s) – the quotation is clearly out of context.

A “chip of the old block” may look odd now, but was the form this saying originally took. The OED suggests the one form succeeded the other some time during the first few decades of the twentieth century – might Joyce be using the form that had fallen out of fashion at the time of writing? In heading off for a drink, Stephen is indeed following in his father’s footsteps at this point. The “clapping” was “slapping” in The Little Review and in the 1922 Ulysses. For all Lenehan is leading, Crawford’s “Let us go” has him take up the role of Moses at this point (though go he doesn’t, immediately).

The keys are a little reminder of Bloom, as well as being the keys to Crawford’s desk drawer, locked at line 460 and placed in a sidepocket at line 585. The typesheets are Mr Deasy’s letter, about which Myles Crawford, having forgotten all about it and for all his reassurances here, could hardly care less, as the subsequent headline flags up.

“LET US HOPE”: O’Molloy is sceptical that the letter will ever be published, which led us to wondering why Deasy would want it published in the Evening Telegraph in the first place. Given the author, the Irish Times would make more sense; given the subject matter, the Irish Homestead more sense still – this is Stephen’s errand, of course, but why does Stephen care? The decision is made clear in ‘Eumaeus’, but at what point during the day does Stephen decide he’s not going to be returning to work for Deasy?

O’Molloy speaks to Stephen as an equal here, but is pursuing his own purposes also (seeking work, presumably), as is noted by MacHugh in ushering Stephen away. The professor is still eager to have Stephen’s response to John F Taylor’s speech – “That is fine, isn’t it?” – but he won’t get it, now or subsequently, in any direct form.

The “prophetic vision” MacHugh rehearses is of the passing away of the “Kingdoms of this world”, Troy in the past tense (“Fuit Ilium!“) and so on. “The masters of the Mediterranean” who are “fellaheen today” may be Trojans, Egyptians, Greeks, even Phoenicians, but the inheritors of that title in 1904 – and for some time prior to that, courtesy of Nelson and others – were the British, as MacHugh no doubt intends for Stephen to understand.

In its resemblance to dramatis personae or the credits for a film, “first newsboy” had us wondering: is this MacHugh’s “urchin” from before (lines 394-95), or simply the first barefoot (“pattering”) newsboy out of the building with the racing special? Newsboys are being released here like the winds from Aeolus’s bag.

“Dublin”: in The Little Review, this word stood on its own, “I have much, much to learn” being added subsequently. With this little moment of self-reflection, we come to the opening of Stephen’s own “vision”, the narrating of which will occupy the remainder of the episode. Is this a narrative he is coming up with on the spot, or has he rehearsed it previously (like the Shakespeare theory of ‘Scylla’)? The professor, “skipping” to catch up, will hear it in its entirety, Crawford only part of it.

“DEAR DIRTY DUBLIN” – what Stephen has to learn – is followed immediately by “Dubliners” – the title of a book arising out of such knowledge (we did note that a narrative beginning “Two Dublin vestals . . . elderly and pious” would fit the title of ‘The Sisters’ rather better than the actual start of that story).

That the two ladies have “lived” in Fumbally’s lane all these years does not mean that they were born there. That MacHugh does not know where Fumbally’s lane is marks a significant distinction between what he knows and what Stephen knows: the latter is going to be leading from this point onwards.

We will resume at line 927 – “Damp night reeking of hungry dough” – on the 12th of May.

 

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Seminar, 3 March – ‘Aeolus’, 871-888

 

We were, dare I say, pretty pleased with ourselves by the end of Friday’s meeting, having covered a significant chunk of ‘Aeolus’, 871 – 88.

  • We spent a long time considering the ‘headline’, ‘Ominous — for him’. Who is he? Presumably Taylor, rather than Moses. We thought about the filmic, maybe even slapstick aspect of this heading, and about Joyce’s interest in film more generally throughout the novel.
  • ‘Not without regret’, we noted, is a far milder expression than ‘with regret’. The reference to the promised land switches the focus back to Moses, from Taylor, but nonetheless the line does apply to Taylor. We noted that ‘The Land of Promise’ was a 1913 play by Somerset Maugham, and wondered if there was a longer literary heritage behind this term, which Joyce returns to in the Wake (442.13), in an allusion to St Brendan’s travels there. We noted the anachronism of not entering the land of promise – if it’s an allusion to Irish independence – as this hadn’t, obviously, happened at the time of the original speech, nor 1904, nor by the time of Joyce writing ‘Aeolus’. Parnell was also on our minds here.
  • Lenehan returns! We enjoyed his unexpectedly strong pun – to expectorate is to cough up phlegm – displaying a wit not always recognised (there is much work still to be done on Lenehan, we decided). We did suggest, though, that the hyphen before ‘demise’ was perhaps unnecessary. This quickness is followed by quite a harsh put-down – ‘great future behind him’ – a phrase that though familiar still to us today, may have had a certain currency at this time (alluding to the Professor’s illness isn’t the most tactful of gestures, either). The comment taps into one of the central themes of the episode, of promise unfulfilled, which applies to all the characters, not just Taylor.
  • At this point, the barefooted newsboys return. They add some noise and activity to an otherwise quiet and still passage. They also remind readers that the episode takes place in the newspaper office; they resituate the chapter. Is the use of the word ‘troop’, and its spelling, a little strange here? Their appearance also lightens the (often) heavy tone of the episode. Youth!
  • We’re back in Stephen’s mind with ‘Gone with the wind’, a line from the fin-de-siècle poet Ernest Dowson. Stephen dwells on what happens to oratory itself – it goes with the wind, if not written down – which again brings us back to the newspaper office, papers being another form of something that can be quite transient yet have great effect (as the ‘throwaway’ illustrates). It’s also a kind of silent contradiction of the professor.
  • The four winds quite obviously refer to the four provinces of Ireland; ‘howled and scattered’ caught our attention. If a sound (here, a message) is ‘scattered’, does it lose its efficacy (‘dead noise’)? Or does it help the message disseminate? If something is scattered, can it provide salvation? We noted that this line was an addition – much of this passage was expanded, post-Little Review. The image of being ‘sheltered’ by a voice is unambiguously positive, situating O’Connell as a protector; again, this description was added.
  • In his reference to ‘akasic records’, Stephen picks up again the theosophistic thread of the episode; we noted the links between this movement and the independence movement, especially across India and Ireland. We considered Stephen’s thoughts about theosophy: though he doesn’t seem to be a huge fan of it generally, here he seems quite neutral about it – or maybe ironic? Finally, we noted that Stephen, again, is taking the train of thought in a direction not alluded to by anyone else.
  • He suddenly remembers he has money; the difference in tone between his weighty, intellectual interior monologue and his jocular hurrying-up of a trip to the pub is stark. Is his use of ‘gentlemen’, is he being polite and generous, or euphemistic (‘Gentlemen of the Press’) and ironic? The tone is gregarious, and we noted that Stephen is too often pigeon holed by readers as a miser: like Lenehan, he can be upbeat and, again like Lenehan, quite rude in undercutting the Professor. We noted the idiom of the sentence which, after some discussion, we decided was in the style of the Royal University debating society, rather than a parliamentary house.
  • We finished the meeting with the surprisingly complex Mr. O’Madden Burke’s statement: ‘You take my breath away. It is not perchance a French compliment?’. We couldn’t quite agree on the meaning of the first sentence – ‘the cheek of your suggestion!’? or ‘I was about to say that’? – while we agreed that a French compliment is a backhanded one. Again, after some discussion, we agreed that O’Madden Burke – as another character carried over from Dubliners, like Lenehan – probably needs more work.

We begin again on the amended date of April 21st, not 7th, at ‘Tis the hour, methinks’ (U 7.888). 

 

 

 

 

 

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April and May Seminars

Due to the unavailability of one or both chairs on the existing dates, we’ve had to move the seminars for April and May. These will now take place on:

Friday the 21st of April, 18.00-20.00, Room 246

Friday the 12th of May, 18.00-20.00, Room 243

Sorry for any inconvenience caused, but I hope people can make these new dates.

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