We resumed on Gabler p.230, checking that we had understood lines 1:893-4. ‘They like sad tale at end’ probably means ‘women like letters to tail off sadly at the end’ (thus the author can play on their sentiments), though it has ambiguous traces of ‘women like a written character – like “H” – to have a sad tail at the end’, or ‘people like music that tails off sadly’. The primary meaning seems corroborated, though, by Bloom’s provision of a ‘sad tail’ to the letter with his ‘P.P.S’: ‘I feel so sad today. So lonely’. He is trying to play on her feelings and gain favour, but also perhaps being sincere: he does after all have reason to feel sad and lonely, even if he’s been dining with Richie Goulding. All this doesn’t entirely explain his ‘La la la ree […] La ree […] Dee’. Is this a mental echo of the music that he is still hearing Bob Cowley play? Or an internal mental music that soundtracks his ‘sad’ piece of writing?
‘He blotted quick on pad of Pat’ (11:895): Bloom places his handwritten letter on the blotting pad that Pat the waiter brought earlier, to remove excess ink. ‘Envel. Address’ is probably a compressed interior monologue: next the envelope, and to write the address. ‘Just copy out of paper’ also seems to be thought, not spoken, though it describes something that he won’t actually do: Bloom is ‘method acting’, thinking his way through the character of Henry Flower. ‘Murmured’ signals something that he actually says, making the deception more overt for Goulding’s benefit: ‘Messrs Callan, Coleman and Co, limited’. This sounds like a firm to which he’s applying for a job; in fact it’s the names of people he’s seen in the Freeman’s Journal obituary column on the previous page (11:857). The level of ingenious deception here amuses. ‘Henry wrote’ emphasises the method-acting idea: Henry isn’t really writing anything, as he doesn’t exist, but ‘Henry wrote’ corresponds to what is written, Martha’s address, as the letter to Martha in effect constructs a fiction of Henry.
We didn’t linger on ‘Miss’ Martha’s address – though note that she uses a post office to collect mail, as Bloom does, thus preserving secrecy or security. ‘Blot over the other so he can’t read’ (11:901): we thought that this meant ‘put the envelope, too, on the blotting pad, thus covering up and confusing any traces of the text of the letter’. ‘There. Right’ conveys the action. This leads Bloom to think about what could be gleaned from such an item: ‘Something detective read off blottingpad’ (11:902). We wondered if this reflected an existing, earlier detective story, from Poe or later (some Joycean critic has probably already investigated this), and noted that references to the detective genre are relatively rare in Ulysses (apart from ‘Sherlockholmesing’ as a verb in episode 16). All this comes to Bloom as the germ of a story for Tit-Bits: ‘Idea prize titbit […] Payment at the rate of guinea per col’ (11:901-3). This directly echoes ‘Calypso’ (4:502-4): Bloom recalls the opening line of ‘Matcham’s Masterstroke’, leading him via the association of the name Philip Beaufoy to ‘Poor Mrs Purefoy’ (11:903). It’s droll and quite mimetic of Joyce to repeat this motif of the misremembered name and auditory association. Thinking of Mina Purefoy leads to ‘U.P: up’ simply, we thought, because he and Josie Breen spoke of both topics earlier (Gabler p.130).
‘Too poetical that about the sad’ means that Bloom is already regretting his P.P.S. of a minute earlier. ‘Poetical’ is a generous name to give it. ‘Music did that’: he blames the influence of Cowley’s playing, or maybe the preceding musical atmosphere in general, for putting him in the mood to overdo the emotion. ‘Music hath charms’ comes from William Congreve in 1697, but we might not blame Bloom for idly thinking that ‘Shakespeare said’ it – but again it’s very droll of Joyce to introduce a thought that’s simply erroneous. ‘Quotations every day in the year’: Shakespeare can provide them (and ‘Music hath charms …’ might be one, if Shakespeare had written it), and did, in 19th century diaries, as Don Gifford notes. ‘To be or not to be’ isn’t much of a quotation on its own, but Bloom may be imagining more of the soliloquy being included, or just idly remembering a Shakespearean phrase (this one actually by Shakespeare). ‘Wisdom while you wait’ amusingly implies the processing of Shakespearean verse, understood as ‘wisdom’, into a commodified, portable form, closer to Bloom’s understanding of Shakespeare than to that of Stephen Dedalus. We considered the origins of ‘while you wait’ – a phrase that essentially means you won’t have to wait very long, and can thus afford to hang around on the spot (as when having keys cut).
‘In Gerard’s rosery of Fetter lane he walks, greyedauburn’ (11:907) is an image of Shakespeare in London, forged by Stephen Dedalus at 9:651-2. Stephen never spoke this aloud; the novel has retained his imaginative piece of interior monologue and repeats it, with variation, here, well beyond Leopold Bloom’s ken. The lines ‘One life is all. One body. Do. But do’ (11:907-8) directly repeat those from episode 9. This paragraph is an interpolation from outside the scene, which stitches together two episodes. It has one further element of significance: the ‘Scylla & Charybdis’ paragraph ends ‘Afar, in a reek of lust and squalor, hands are laid on whiteness’ (9:654), a line with at least rough relevance to events in Eccles Street. Bloom has an idea of those events, but not of Stephen’s earlier thought, to which Joyce, conceivably, means to send us back.
‘Do. But do’ is bathetically picked up by Bloom’s ‘Done anyhow’ (11:909), meaning ‘I’ve written the letter, anyway, regardless of whether it became too poetically sentimental at the end’. ‘Postal order, stamp’ are what he’ll acquire from the ‘Postoffice lower down’ the quay. ‘Walk now’ is what he’ll do imminently: ‘Enough’ calls time on his time at the Ormond, with Goulding. ‘Barney Kiernan’s I promised to meet them’ is information (which we haven’t previously received, but plainly sets up episode 12): ‘Dislike that job’ refers to his role in visiting the Dignams’ ‘House of mourning’ on financial business. It’s conceivable, as Hugh Kenner once said, that he dislikes it because it places him in a stereotypically Jewish role, but here that would be a speculative reading from very little evidence. ‘House of mourning’ is from Ecclesiastes in the Bible, and might slightly remind us of Stephen’s ‘Houses of decay’ (3:105), which referred to Goulding among others. ‘Walk’ is again what Bloom means to do – but he won’t even begin to leave the Ormond for another two pages. ‘Pat!’ is called aloud, despite not being preceded by an em-dash: we know, because Pat ‘Doesn’t hear’, being a ‘Deaf beetle’. (Gifford thinks that ‘beetle’ or ‘beetlehead’ is ‘slang for blockhead’.)
‘Car near there now’ (11:912) refers to Blazes Boylan’s jaunting car nearing Eccles Street. (Is Bloom underestimating Boylan’s speed? At the top of the page Boylan was already passing Bloom’s local butcher shop. The question of when exactly Boylan arrives or anything happens remains ambiguous.) ‘Talk’ sounds like an echo of Bloom’s much earlier ‘Talk. As if that mend matters’ (5:76-7) – that is, ‘as if talking things through with Molly would repair our marriage’. But then why repeat ‘Talk’? Does Bloom imagine the ‘Talk’ quite possibly going on between Boylan and Molly at the start of their rendezvous? Or does, say, the second ‘Talk’ refer to the murmur of conversation in the Ormond? Bloom calls for ‘Pat!’ again, who ‘Doesn’t’ hear, again. Pat is settling napkins on tables; Bloom thinks of how much ground he ‘must cover in the day’, even while just walking around the Ormond, but is less kind than usual in imagining the bald waiter with a face painted on the back of his head: ‘then he’d be two’. Perhaps the meaning is just that, being deaf, he could do with an extra face in order to see those behind him whom he can’t hear. ‘Wish they’d sing more’, though he didn’t seem greatly enthused by the singing at the time: because it would ‘Keep my mind off’. (But did it, while they sang?)
Into a paragraph that becomes pure textual process. ‘Bald Pat who is bothered mitred the napkins’ (11:915): we noted once more that ‘bothered’ means deaf, and this time via Gifford picked up on the word’s Irish root; and we noted the precise elegant shape in which Pat arranges napkins. ‘Pat is a waiter hard of his hearing’: the move into present tense already indicates a shift of emphasis, from describing action to a more archetypal notation of the character. This will involve plenty of redundancy: after all we already know that Pat is a waiter, and that he’s hard of hearing – but ‘hard of his hearing’ is mainly for scansion. ‘Pat is a waiter’ – that’s plain – but ‘who waits while you wait’ picks up on the phrase in ‘Wisdom while you wait’, above. Pat waits on you (does his waiter’s job of fetching and carrying) while you wait (that is, wait for him to deliver food, take dishes away and so on). He also sometimes ‘waits’ in the same, simple sense (that is, he waits for custom, or waits for a customer to finish before clearing away), though perhaps he doesn’t do that ‘while you wait’. We’ll pick up the paragraph with ‘Hee hee hee hee’ (11:916) on Friday 9th July 2021.
[Blog by Joe]