Seminar, 3 June 2016 – ‘Aeolus’ 682-719

In our final seminar before the summer break, we missed some of our regulars but had a large turnout nonetheless, and covered more text than in the last few seminars.

 

  • When Lenehan bows ‘to a shape of air’, what shape is he making, exactly? We ventured something performative – like a big, elaborate bow to a pretend audience – or something suggestive – maybe the shape of a woman? The first interpretation seems more consistent with the self-consciousness delivery of his palindrome (‘Madam, I’m Adam. And Able was I ere I saw Elba’). We couldn’t see anything especially significant about the mention of Elba, at least in this context, while Lenehan only makes this quip, it seems, to bring himself back into the fray.

 

  • We thought about the nickname ‘The Old Woman of Prince’s street’ for the Freeman’s Journal, reflecting on the similar nickname for the Bank of England (‘Old Lady of Threadneedle Street’; is there perhaps a distinction to be made between ‘lady’ and ‘woman’?) and for the BBC (‘Auntie’). There seems no real need for Crawford to repeat himself, but it serves him an opportunity to puff himself and his rhetoric up anyway. Interestingly, Crawford moves the shift of the achievement from the individual to the institution.

 

  • Gregor Grey and his involvement in ‘an advert’ kept us busy for a while. Gregor Grey was an Irish artist living in Dublin, it is true, but Crawford can’t possibly be referring to him: he lived from 1870 – 1911, so clearly wasn’t of the right age to make the advert in question in 1882, while there is no evidence to suggest that he worked in advertising, having instead been a painter who displayed at the Exhibitions each summer, specializing in pastoral scenes. We paused to note that a fair bit of this paragraph was added post-Little Review, including this particular detail: in expanding, was Joyce adding incorrect details to expand the confusion of this part of ‘Aeolus’?

 

  • Crawford continues his memorializing of the previous generation with this run of older journalists. Hooper was a real journalist on the Freeman’s Journal; Tay Pay (T. P. O’Connor, see Gifford) was Irish but worked in London. Here we reflected briefly on the internationalism of journalistic circles. (NB: Information on Hooper from this potentially useful source – but no replacement for JJON, Gifford, or ourselves – http://www.joyceproject.com/index.php?page=people#). Blumenfeld is another ‘Bloom’ (along with the dentist Bloom), again a real newspaperman, and quite possibly Jewish too, though his ONDB entry does not mention this. The entry does note, however, his association with dramatic news stories: his dramatic account of a fire, published in Albert Pulitzer’s Morning Journal, so impressed Pulitzer’s rival newspaper tycoon, James Gordon Bennett Jnr., that he offered Blumenfeld a job on his New York Herald. Might Crawford be thinking of this particular event too, as much as his status as a prominent newspaper man?

 

  • Pyatt was another famous newspaperman of the time, known for escaping the Paris Commune. Missing our regular rhetorician, we could only guess that there might be a Gilbert-identified technique associated with ‘That’s press. That’s talent’ (note: exclamation marks were used in the LR edition of this passage). But is Lenehan definitely referring to Pyatt when he remarks ‘The father of scare journalism’? Or does he mean Gallaher?

 

  • If he is thinking of Gallaher, ‘the brother-in-law of Chris Callinan’ seems a strange put-down. Is Joyce really suggesting a brother-in-law relationship – as one of these mini biographies that Joyce attaches to even his most minor characters – or is he trying to suggest that there is some distance even between Callinan (according to Gifford, known for his ‘gaffes, bloopers and Irish bulls’) and Gallaher, who nonetheless would suffer for the association. Who is the woman who links these men if he’s being literal? Finally, it seems somewhat ironic for Crawford to end his speech evoking these two if he’s about to ask ‘Where do you find a pressman like that now, eh?’.

 

  • The Professor’s ‘Hello?’ reminds us of Bloom’s incoming call to the office. ‘Are you there?’ indicates again the sense of a wary confusion about using new technology, perhaps made clearer by the ellipses used in the LR version of this passage, removed by 1922.

 

  • ‘Clam dever’ – we assumed this referred to Gallaher’s telegram trick. The Spoonerism (so-named, anyway) was actually quite a new flourish at the time: the OED records they were used informally around Oxford from about 1895 (named after the Rev William Archibald Spooner (1844 – 1930), warden of New College) and the first record of the term dates from 1900 (the LR version originally only read ‘clever idea’). O’Madden Burke’s ‘Very smart’ has a touch of weariness about it, understandably.

 

  • By this stage of ‘Aeolus’ any sensible reader will be pretty sceptical of narratives of past events, and the anecdote about the postcards in the park is a prime example of what generates readerly scepiticism: why would Lady Dudley buy a postcard when she lives in Dublin? Why should the reader trust information that ends with the command, ‘imagine!’? The hot air of the anecdote is matched by the ‘big wind’ in the park, another example of wind in the chapter. Crawford’s response to the anecdote is pretty dismissive, suggesting that both press and the bar are only small fry. Of course what unites the two professions is, among other things, rhetoric. The insult of being in the hook and eye seemed a strange example of rhetoric to us and we couldn’t get much further than Gifford’s suggestion of inconsequentiality.

 

  • Cutting through the banter and confusion, the description of Crawford’s face (‘His mouth continued to twitch unspeaking in nervous curls of disdain’) suggests again his slight drunkenness and frustration with the state of his beloved profession.

 

  • The section closes with a return to Stephen. What is the question that can only be answered with a dialectical ‘How do you know’? The ‘it’ refers, again, to his poem as does the mouth, also anticipating the Dante of the next section.

 

  • ‘Rhymes and Reasons’ certainly sounds like a headline for a column but of course what Stephen thinks here would absolutely not go down ‘on a hot plate’, as Crawford suggests his readers like their journalism. While this is a particularly banal insight into the creative process, it nonetheless raises the question of how the sounds of words might be related to their meaning (is Joyce very lightly anticipating the Wake here, then?). The section is very much in contrast to the other rhymes and reasons of the episode, such as Lenehan’s riddle.

 

  • The extract of Dante that Stephen cites seems to be the ‘working out’ of Bloom’s earlier thought (‘That is how poets write, the similar sounds. But then Shakespeare has no rhymes: blank verse. The flow of the language it is’); while poets rhyme in twos, according to Stephen’s examples, Dante writes in threes. Another Bloom connection perhaps exists in the image of these Dantean girls, similar to the ‘evening hours, girls in grey gauze’.

 

The image itself probably needs more work and so we start again – at some time in late September or early October – at 7.720 (‘He saw them three by three’). A happy summer to all.

Posted in Aeolus, Seminar Report, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Seminar, 6 May 2016 – ‘Aeolus’ 658-681

On the 6th of May, the seminar covered lines 658 to 681 of ‘Aeolus’. We were some way into our reading of this section before it was observed that we were meeting on the one hundred and thirty-fourth (and not, pace Myles Crawford, the one hundred and thirty-fifth) anniversary of the Phoenix Park Murders. Failure to notice this earlier may have been attributable to fuzzy-headedness brought on by the warm weather, but we were otherwise in fine form. Among matters discussed:

  • We broke with our customary practice by leaping ahead to discuss “Davy’s publichouse in upper Leeson street,” mentioned twice within a few lines. In The Little Review, this was Burke’s on Baggot Street instead. In the 1922 Ulysses, the first reference is to Burke’s while the second is to Davy’s, as if Myles Crawford is correcting himself. Although Davy’s is certainly historically correct (see below), we thought a case might be made for the 1922 version: the tipsy editor correcting his own mistake, while simultaneously evoking what would have been contemporary uncertainty about the route the Invincibles had taken, while eyewitness accounts were still being pieced together.
  • Resuming customary practice – beginning at the beginning of this session’s reading – we noted Professor McHugh’s proprietorial air with regard to the office telephone, given that he has no official position at the Evening Telegraph. As was established earlier in the episode, he has, of course, heard this one before and has no reason to stick around. The comma after “said” is absent in some editions.
  • “B is parkgate”: is this the ‘B’ of ‘Bransome’s’? We tried to imagine how the journalists at the New York World were meant to decipher this. Was there a map of Dublin, common to both newspaper offices, which might be laid over or have laid over it the advert (not this advert, of course)? Or would crime scene and escape route be reconstructed merely from the advert alone (no map is mentioned, after all)? What too of the change in scale, from events within the confines of Phoenix Park, to the getaway route stretching across the city?
  • Crawford’s finger vibrates as it strikes a thick pile of paper. At the same time, leaping and striking “point after point” suggests a fencer, a swordsman and, by extension, the wielder of a knife as well. It may be the remembered thrill of Gallaher’s ingenious device that excites the editor here, but there is a political edge to his being swept up in that excitement, stemming as it ultimately does from a murderous act carrying its own political charge.
  • Just how many ‘C’s were there likely to be in an advert for coffee? Of course, we reminded ourselves again, this advert is not the one Gallaher actually used. Just the one ‘murder’ is referred to here – there were actually two (more of this sense of immediate doubt and uncertainty, the rush of rumour) – and we discussed the absence of definite articles. We were also reminded of Skin-the-Goat’s (“assuming he was he”) “untastable apology for a cup of coffee” in ‘Eumaeus’ (16.985, 1141).
  • Myles Crawford becomes birdlike once again, the “cock’s wattles” here, evidence of his age perhaps, completing the picture of “a scarlet beaked face, crested by a comb of feathery hair” (344-5) painted on his first emergence from the inner office.
  • The editor’s “illstarched dicky” – a clean shirt-front covering cheaper apparel beneath, common enough at the time – juts up here just as it did in many music hall routines and silent film comedies. After some discussion, most thought that too much starch was probably the problem, rather than too little. His “rude gesture” is rude in the sense of coarse, lacking elegance, but there is a kind of jokey priapic air to this whole sentence.
  • “Hello?”: Thomas Edison is credited with popularising the word – and this spelling – as a form of greeting with specific associations with the telephone (Miss Dunne answers the phone in the same fashion in ‘Wandering Rocks’, 10.389). In some editions, further ellipses rather than a full stop follow the final “Yes” (not the final final ‘Yes’, of course) and we noted the presence of two sets of three followed by one set of four dots, but refrained from making anything of it.
  • At this point, we thought we might have spotted a previously unobserved joke. When MacHugh answers the phone, Bloom doesn’t speak immediately because he was expecting Crawford to answer. Thrown by MacHugh’s voice, Bloom remains silent for rather too long, mentally jettisoning his prepared pitch on behalf of Alexander Keyes before coming up with something else. Is this conversation happening simultaneously with Crawford’s monologue, or is something missing here? (We never do get to hear about ‘A’.)
  • F to P assumes a larger scale, with the names of some further-flung locations (the double initial capitals of “Palmerston Park” are atypical of Ulysses, but the form is that used at the start of ‘Aeolus’). As has been noted by others previously, the route described is that of the actual Invincibles rather than Skin-the-Goat, who was driving the decoy car. Given which, “alibi” is very much the wrong word, since claiming you couldn’t have been in a car speeding away from the scene of a murder because you were actually in another car speeding away from the scene of the same murder is no sort of alibi at all, apart from in a highly technical sense.
  • “F. A. B. P.”: is this the same ‘B’ from line 659? How could it be? We were certainly not the first readers of this passage to wonder if we were missing something or to be puzzled as to how the offices of the New York World could possibly have made head or tail of all this. “Got that?” No. No, we haven’t. What we have is the gist of Gallaher’s stroke of genius, imperfectly conveyed through an approximate and error-ridden restaging. Whether Stephen has got much more than that either seems improbable.
  • “Davy’s publichouse” is ‘right’ where Burke’s is not (unless that really does refer to Skin-the-Goat’s route), because Davy’s is where the Invincibles stopped for a drink. We boggled at this: were they looking for an alibi (‘we’ve been here all day’)? Idiotic, or sang froid? The killer detail for any journalist of the time, certainly.
  • “Bloom is at the telephone”: though the meaning of MacHugh’s words are perfectly plain, it does suggest a ghostly Bloom having manifested himself in the inner office. Maybe it’s fitting that Crawford says “Tell him to go to hell” then (we remembered “damn its soul” from line 621 here), but we also discussed the editor’s apparent lack of concern with advertising revenue. Newspapers of the time probably could rely on sales, with advertising as supplementary, in a way they cannot today, but this would presumably be a lot less true of papers the sales figures of which were in steep decline.
  • “CLEVER, VERY”: we didn’t spend too long turning over what Stuart Gilbert says this is – Hysteron Proteron – because we didn’t think it was, but we did note that Lenehan merely says ‘Clever’ in The Little Review. It seems unlikely that he has derived much more than the gist of Gallaher’s device either, though, unlike Stephen (we assumed) he probably has heard it before.
  • The expression “hot plate” obviously derives from dining, but here picks up a touch of the hot metal of a printing press. Crawford uses the word “bloody” many times in the episode, but the word is double-edged here, since this piece of history really was bloody.
  • And so to Stephen’s reworking of his earlier thought from ‘Nestor’ and one of the best-known lines of the entire book. Is ‘you’ really the first-person in disguise here – as in “What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?” in ‘Nestor’ (2.379) – or is it indicating the impossibility of Crawford’s awakening, or even that of the Irish generally, whereas Stephen will continue to try to awake?
  • “I saw it, the editor said proudly. I was present.” The reader might be forgiven here for thinking that Crawford was present in Phoenix Park itself on the 6th of May 1881 1882, rather than one of three present at the moment of Gallaher’s cryptographic coup. That said, the murders were undoubtedly a highly significant moment for the press and not just in Ireland (though it was the occasion of the first ever Sunday editions of Irish newspapers).
  • Dick Adams was a real figure, not only a journalist, but a barrister who represented some of those caught up in the network of Fenians, pseudo-Fenians and informants accused of complicity in the Phoenix Park murders. That he was the “besthearted bloody Corkman” was read alongside Crawford’s earlier Cork-baiting when Simon and Ned Lambert were still in the office.
  • The Lord putting the “breath of life” into Dick Adams was mulled over at some length and the roots of the phrase in Genesis – with “Adam” coming up three lines later – was considered. The use of “myself” rather than “me” here seems authentically Irish and a nice rhetorical flourish as well.

Two pictures which may be of interest: an advert for Branson’s Coffee Extract which Helen discovered and a pictorial representation of murders and flight from the Illustrated London News which was passed around in the seminar (still not big enough to be able to read the captions at the bottom, I’m afraid). We will meet again on June the 3rd, beginning at line 682, “Lenehan bowed to a shape of air”.

Posted in Aeolus, James Joyce, Seminar Report | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Seminar, 8 April 2016 – ‘Aeolus’, 621-657

On the 8th of April, the seminar returned to its consideration of ‘Aeolus’ and picked up from line 621. Among matters discussed:

  • Having examined the ‘something with a bite in it’ to be given to ‘them’ in a previous session, we headed straight for putting “us all into it, damn its soul.” The writing would be damned by having ‘us’ (those present and, by extension perhaps, the whole of Dublin) in it, but is this to be a work of fact or fiction? The Evening Telegraph didn’t carry fiction; either way, we had trouble imagining Crawford actually publishing it, whatever it might have turned out to be. “Jakes M’Carthy” carries the sense of ‘the kitchen sink’ (also a mix here of the sacred and the profane: the word ‘jakes’ as in lavatory would presumably be remembered by readers from the end of ‘Calypso’)
  • The word “pabulum” suggests something bland, but Mr O’Madden Burke’s remark might be taken in two different ways: he might be jealous of the attention being given to Stephen (anyone might write this mush); or he might be simply agreeing with Crawford (we can all be in it).
  • The “bold unheeding stare” to which Stephen raises his eyes might be O’Madden Burke’s, it might be Crawford’s, it might even be that of Father Dolan, still playing on his mind from line 617. The word ‘bold’ has been used of Crawford earlier, of course. While the word ‘unheeding’ is not straightforward here, the kind of speechifying which is the editor’s trademark does not, perhaps, require a fully engaged audience.
  • The “pressgang” is the gang which presses men into service (in naval tradition, by getting them drunk, slipping them the King’s shilling and then getting them on board long before they can start to protest). As applied to the press, as in newspapers, we played around with the various significances of this for a while. Members of a pressgang might well have been pressed men first: Stephen is being pressed into service here. O’Molloy’s words carry an edge and are simply “said”, not quietly, for a change.
  • “THE GREAT GALLAHER”: Gallaher is great for Crawford in the first instance, for pressmen more generally beyond that. This is the first mention of the character from ‘A Little Cloud’: it was pointed out that if Gallaher’s journalistic coup occurred in 1882, then the character in Ulysses would seem to be a good deal older than the figure presented by Dubliners. Gallaher can be thought of as representing an alternative future for Stephen, what he might become if he were to join the ‘pressgang’.
  • We tried to picture Crawford clenching his fist and wondered if it might be something like the gesture favoured by certain British tennis players. “Wait a minute” looks a lot like ‘filling’, the editor creating space for himself and calling for closer attention to his speech, rather than just getting on with it.
  • The word “paralyse” is not one any reader of Joyce rushes past – the sense here seems to be closer to ‘stun’ or ‘bring to a halt’, in fact (Parnell’s tactics at Westminster were considered) – but we wondered how any story from Dublin, the famous centre of paralysis itself, might be imagined as having the power to shock or paralyse the whole of Europe.
  • A rare use of Irish, the idea of Gallaher “on the shaughraun” seems to fit, not only because of the idea of a vagabond, devil-may-care lifestyle, but also on account of the play of the same name by Dion Boucicault and the stage Irishness associated with that work. Gallaher working as a billiardmarker – the man-of-all-work in a billiard hall – seems equally right: the not-yet full-time pressman waiting for his big chance. The Clarence Hotel is still open on Wellington Quay (and was, indeed, at one time part-owned by Bono and The Edge – in a Top of the Pops promo from 2000, they can be seen singing ‘Beautiful Day’ on the roof of the building).
  • The word “pressman” takes us back to ‘pressgang’. “That was a pen” is a lovely synecdoche (just as “the smartest piece of journalism ever known” is hyperbole, neither of these noted by Stuart Gilbert as it turns out). To make a mark is simply to mark out one’s territory (different, then, from billiard-marking). We noted Crawford’s archness here, his theatricality: “I’ll tell you”; “I’ll show you.”
  • With “eightyone” we encounter a mistake and a deliberate mistake, it has to be assumed (the “sixth of May” is correct and the year was given as 1882 in The Little Review). The “I suppose” is accordingly of interest because, if Stephen shares Joyce’s date of birth, the historical date of 6 May 1882 was not before he was born at all. What the mistake does suggest is that Crawford has no hope of finding what he wants in the files, just as it sets up the muddled nature of the ensuing account.
  • The Invincibles, a Fenian splinter group, were responsible for the “murder in the Phoenix park” (actually murders) which is a very headliney headline, whether remembered or concocted by Crawford on the spot. “Look at here” is a piece of authentic Dublinese. We assumed that cabling would have been an expensive business at the time, which is a time that MacHugh does remember, just as he has no doubt heard this tale before.
  • Crawford still has his hat on, in the expectation of heading out, on a jolly now considerably delayed. His account is characterised by a kind of excited incoherence: the names are indeed those of various Invincibles, but no clear picture emerges. We wondered what Stephen might be thinking during this passage – there will be no interior monologue until line 678.
  • That Skin-the-Goat – the driver of the (horsedrawn) decoy car, rather than the getaway car – does run the cabman’s shelter at Butt Bridge will later be neither proven nor disproven by ‘Eumaeus’. Hoppy Holohan appeared earlier in ‘Lotus Eaters’ and much earlier in ‘A Mother’ in Dubliners (along with Mr O’Madden Burke). “Hop and carry one” is a delightful amalgam of classroom mathematics and Hoppy’s manner of walking (one leg hopping, the other being carried forward along the ground).
  • Gumley will appear in ‘Eumaeus’, where he and Stephen will acknowledge each other. Stephen’s surprise and his remarks here make him seem suddenly very youthful, even somewhat infantilised, taking this uncharacteristically eager interest in a friend of his father’s, fallen on hard times.
  • Crawford’s joke about minding the stones – “see they don’t run away” – is a goody, but not, perhaps, an original. It is, in any case, delivered in what seems to be an irascible tone. We considered interruption and digression at this point, all the repetition as well, comparing and contrasting with Stephen’s experiences in ‘Scylla and Charybdis’.
  • “Inspiration of genius” is a tautology, though the genius, in the common-or-garden sense, of Gallaher’s idea starts to become clear. “Have you Weekly Freeman of 17 March?” we took to be what Gallaher actually cabled to the New York World, surmising this would be the most recent edition to have made its way across the Atlantic. Crawford cannot demonstrate Gallaher’s method exactly – since he’s looking in the wrong place in the files, for a start – so he can only restage it and imitate it, using an ad which has presumably been chosen at random.
  • If the “advertisement for Bransome’s coffee” has been arbitrarily selected, it is also very curious, since no such coffee existed. Branson’s Coffee certainly did, but the fact that The Little Review had “Bransom’s” and that Joyce went to the effort of adding an ‘e’ indicates that this is another deliberate mistake. More on this can be found in James Joyce Online Notes – more on the Weekly Freeman too (and we should have a little more on the coffee ourselves next time).
  • “The telephone whirred”: a more modern technology than the cable interrupts Crawford for the umpteenth time, the physically absent Bloom chipping in, as will become apparent; it may be significant that he does so once the business of advertisement comes up in Crawford’s account. “A DISTANT VOICE” is near enough a translation of the word ‘telephone’ itself.

Though the next section was read aloud – and caused great merriment – we didn’t make much headway with it, so we will return at line 658 – “I’ll answer it, the professor said, going” – on the 6th of May.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Aeolus, James Joyce, Seminar Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Seminar, 4 March 2016 – ‘Aeolus’ 597 -620

On the 4th March, we read lines 597 (‘The professor, returning by way of the files’) to 620 (‘Bulldosing the public’) of ‘Aeolus’.

  •  ‘Returning by way of the files’ generated yet another discussion of the exact dimensions of the room – this description makes it sound rather far away. Is it so far that the professor couldn’t properly hear the japes between Lenehan and Mr O’Madden Burke? The fact of the professor sweeping his hands across Stephen and Mr O’Madden Burke’s ties struck us as intimate and insolent, though we did wonder if this meant whether the professor had actually touched the ties. Both gestures reminded us of how the professor would behave in a schoolroom.
  • Querying how loose are these ties might be lead us to think about different styles: is Joyce picturing a large, billowing, early Yeatsian dandy image over a traditional thin tie? Or are they loose simply because it’s stuffy in the office, perhaps (generously) another reason for Myles Crawford’s red face? We looked at a picture of Joyce in his final year at Belvedere:

JamesJoyce1902

(source: http://www.openculture.com/2015/09/18-year-old-james-joyce-writes-a-fan-letter-to-his-hero-henrik-ibsen-1901.html)

  • We also discussed the relationship between the style of the ties and the Communards, noting how clothing is used to reflect politics (and linked this back to Jeremy Corbyn and his flat caps). ‘You’re a scruffy lefty’ seems to be around the gist of the professor’s jibe.
  • J. J. O’Molloy’s comment, however, seems less of a lighthearted joke and somewhat more sinister, partly on the basis of the ‘quiet’ mockery (a running theme of ‘Aeolus’ is the use of loud and quiet speech to create effect; after the seminar one member commented that the episode would make for a good stage adaptation). We paused to think about the distinction between the storming of the Bastille and it being ‘blown up’, and linked this second description back to a culture of terrorism in this period (cf Conrad’s The Secret Agent), also noting a kind of displacement in discussing French terrorism but not Irish terrorism.
  • We also thought about the level of detail O’Molloy provides in ‘you shot the lord lieutenant of Finland […] General Bobrikoff’. In providing now further information about this, it would seem that this shooting is common knowledge, presumably having been displayed on one of the newsboards mentioned at the start of the episode. Curiously, ‘the internet’ gives both 16th and 17th June as the dates of his death, presumably a consequence of delayed information. In fact he died on 16th June leading us to discuss how many contemporary events Joyce includes in Ulysses (such as the General Slocum disaster) and this led to a discussion about how promptly news could be sent around the world using telegrams.
  • The fact that nobody asks for further information does suggest they are all aware of the assassination, though we did note that if someone wasn’t aware they perhaps would not want this to be known publicly.
  • Stephen’s ‘we were only thinking it’ seems straightforward though we did identify some complexity in ‘only’: not only does he mean ‘we didn’t do it, we were just thinking of doing it!’ but also ‘we were just now thinking about it’ and ‘we missed our chance at doing this’. Notably he refers to ‘it’ the singular, presumably the assassination, though the ‘deed’ O’Molloy refers to could be the communards, the blowing up the Bastile or the assassination.
  • Omnium Gatherum: we noted at the start of the session, in fact, that the Gabler places this headline after Stephen’s comment, but not all editions do. It’s another instance of mock Latin, following the mock Greek in ‘kyrie eleison’.
  • The things gathered in this passage might be based on the classical muses (we noted that in ‘Circe’ the ‘new nine muses’ appear, ‘Commerce, Operatic Music, Amor, Publicity, Manufacture, Liberty of Speech, Plural Voting, Gastronomy, Private Hygiene, Seaside Concert Entertainments, Painless Obstetrics and Astronomy for the People’). All the ones in ‘Aeolus’ refer to someone in the room: law, J. J. O’Molloy; classics, the professor; literature, Stephen; the press, Crawford, and all of them to some extent. Lenehan, in typical Lenehan fashion, anxiously adds himself to the list, though with a knowing deprecation. We spent some time thinking about the distinction between ‘talents’ and ‘arts’, wondering if ‘craft’ might be a more appropriate term for advertisement, which being a new profession is somewhat incongruous in this list.
  • Mr O’Madden Burke’s mention of Molly Bloom is a little strange and forced. Recalling his role as a music reviewer – hence his appearance in ‘A Mother’, we noted that he would be familiar with the advertising slogans used for her (‘the vocal muse’, ‘Dublin’s prime favourite’). Of course this second one also refers to her popularity with Dublin’s men. We pondered ‘Madame’, deciding it makes her sound perhaps older, certainly more exotic, perhaps a little tawdry too. There is also the crass suggestion of butcher’s meat (‘prime’).
  • Lenehan’s cough is another strange gesture – he seems to be indicating his attraction to Molly (cf the ride in the carriage home, discussed in ‘Wandering Rocks’) in a very performative way. While his comment is quite ‘nudge nudge wink wink’ the quasi-Spoonerism is fairly baffling (it was added into a later draft by Joyce). We thought in passing about Phoenix Park here.
  • ‘You can do it!’ seems to be one of the more plausible headlines of the episode – and will actually appear in the passage – and introduces Crawford’s invitation for Stephen to write something for the paper. In his declarations about Stephen’s competence, we noted something of Father Dolan, who also makes assertions about Stephen, and how as a result Stephen has, from a young age, been guarded against projections of character. The Bulwer-Lytton quotation evidently needs no explanation, still being at this time popular knowledge, while the emphasis on success here contrasts conspicuously with the professor’s earlier speech (‘Success for us is the death of the intellect’).
  • We finished with the editor’s speech, thinking of the force of ‘scornful invective’. His speech is typically vulgar (‘All balls!’) but quite complex too: his claim of ‘Bulldosing the public’ seems a strange one for an editor to make. Is he suggesting that as an editor he can force people to hold certain political views? We spent a long time thinking about bulldozing, considering its 1870s American roots which refer to the beatings given to black men, and also the sense of tranquilising a bull. Who exactly would be doing the bulldozing – the writers? The paper itself? The nationalists at the meeting? We noted that Myles Crawford seems very proud of the paper itself and fondly remembers its heyday yet has little time for its current writers – hence his appeal to Stephen.

We meet again in April, to read from 7.621 (‘Give them something with a bite in it’).

 

 

 

Posted in Aeolus, Seminar Report, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Seminar, 5 February 2016 – ‘Aeolus’ 563 -596

On the 5th of February, we read lines 563 to 596 of ‘Aeolus’, which is to say, nearly a full page of the Gabler.

  • As agreed at the end of the last session, we began again with ‘the radiance of the intellect’, which we hadn’t got to the bottom of. We thought of how, in the context of the professor’s speech, this line perhaps suggests Greek culture as a kind of intellectual radiance. But we also wondered if there was some kind of false association in this phrase – a trick Joyce pulls throughout ‘Aeolus’ – with the image of light spreading out not actually what Joyce is getting at with ‘radiance’. Puzzling.
  • That Professor MacHugh ‘ought to profess Greek’ of course struck us for the choice of verb, but language appears to trick him into confessing his shortcomings: if he ‘ought’ to, Joyce suggests aspiration, rather than attainment. We also recalled some of our conversation from the previous session, when we’d noted that knowledge of Greek suggests a degree of sophistication even for a classicist, which MacHugh appears not to possess. If Greek really is the language of the mind, as he suggests, we wondered if Joyce is setting up some kind of Cartesian opposition between body and mind.
  • Notably one of the few headlines to appear in its following section, we came to ‘Kyrie eleison!’. Though Greek, and presumably unintelligible to the majority, in the end we decided that as a part of the Mass, most Irish at this time would actually be vaguely familiar with the term, in the way that people mumble familiar sounds at Mass. We reflected on the use of Latin and Greek in this passage, comparing to Mulligan’s knowledge of Greek (‘Malachi Mulligan, two dactyls. But it has a Hellenic ring, hasn’t it?’) and how people (and it seems we should include the Professor here) prioritise the sound of a language over possessing any actual fluency in it. Conspicuously, when speaking of an ‘imperium’ later, he will use the Latin and not the Greek.
  • We returned to earlier parts of the episode when thinking of ‘The closetmaker and the cloacamaker [who] will never be lord of our spirits’. We traced some of the mentions of toilets throughout Ulysses (‘thrones of alabaster silent as the deathless gods’) and thought again of the British/Roman parallel Joyce establishes here.
  • The professor’s claim that ‘we are liege subjects …’ led us to think that he’s not in fact thinking all that hard about the rhetoric he’s using. The image of Aegospotami refers to the Spartans defeating the Athenians, but this doesn’t really work with his claims elsewhere, and his rhetoric overall seems to suggests that the Irish can be ruled and yet rulers at the same time. We noted the mention of the French – the amateur nature of the French being the main reason for their defeat at Trafalgar – and the historical relationship between the French and the Irish, always one of realpolitik rather than anything authentic or genuine.
  • ‘Yes, yes’ acts as a chance for the Professor to gather his thoughts before ending his speech. Unlike Molly’s affirmative yeses, these suggest a sense of resignation.
  • Pyrrhus, as with the mention of Deasy on the previous page, once again takes us back to ‘Nestor’. Noting this, we thought of how the Professor’s view of history compares to Mr Deasy’s and how this is evoked by small touches (both mention horses, for instance). We wondered about the final sentence, ‘loyal to a lost cause’, and thought how genuine the Professor really intended to be here. Or is this simply a rhetorical flourish (circularity) to bring this speech round to his own interests as it ends?
  • The moments after the speech ends are curious. The Professor’s stride away adds a sense of mock-grandeur to the passage, though with a somewhat bathetic twinge; Mr O’Madden Burke’s ‘greyly’ recalls the register of ‘biscuitfully’. His allusion to Yeats (‘The Rose of Battle’) led us to briefly consider Joyce’s changing awareness of Yeats throughout his life, from young admirer to someone who in later life barely kept up with the poet’s work.
  • The tone of Lenehan’s ‘Boohoo!’ is ambiguous: it doesn’t sound entirely sympathetic and seems more flippant than anything. His mention of matinee perhaps alludes to the 1890s phenomenon of the ‘matinee girl’ (the young women attending theatre unchaperoned, and causing a social/moral panic about women’s impressionability at the theatre as a result), which he and Joyce would both be familiar with. Gilbert claims that the rhetorical technique used here is litotes, but we weren’t entirely convinced by this.
  • Finally, to Lenehan’s riddle! Or wait: an unexpected limerick first. Why does Lenehan whisper this? Is he looking for an audience? Has he made this up on the spot? Given the extremely awkward punchline, it might seem so. To this end, we thought Gifford incorrect in assuming that as Joe Miller was a famous comedian, Joe Miller here must mean ‘joke’ – this just doesn’t work. The rhyme of ‘Hugh’ and ‘hue’ is clumsy, though one might generously identify a Wildean touch.
  • At this point Stephen thinks of Mulligan, via Sallust (the Roman historian known for his hypocrisy and corruption), suggesting that Mulligan has been rude about MacHugh, quite possibly for his lack of Greek.
  • Lenehan eventually gets to tell his riddle to O’Madden Burke, the only person who seems to care. The wonderful description of the latter’s face (his ‘sphinx face reriddled’) is described in a riddle-like way, with the reader having to work out what his face actually looks like: a poker face.
  • While we weren’t convinced about the ‘Joe Miller’/joke earlier, we were struck by the word ‘wheeze’ and ‘gee’ and assumed their American heritage, but did also wonder about a possible upper class English sentiment (the Magdalen antics in ‘Telemachus’ might perhaps pass as a wheeze of sorts?). However the OED sadly gives no credence to this idea.
  • Though O’Madden Burke is a relatively minor character he seems well developed in ‘Aeolus’. He has the kindness (?) to acknowledge the Professor’s speech and is the only one to pay any notice to Lenehan’s riddle. He is playful and jocular as Lenehan (perhaps quite boldly?) pokes him in the stomach. The stageyness of this interaction (the feigned gasp, like a silent cinema moment, and the elaborate physical gesture of leaning on his stick, a hangover from ‘Grace’) is conspicuous. In addition to Lenehan’s operatic gesture (and here we wondered if this was perhaps a specific scene from The Rose of Castille that Lenehan and O’Madden Burke could be expected to know) the seminar ended on a playful note.

We will meet again on Friday 4th March, starting again at ‘The professor, returning by way of the files….’.

Posted in Aeolus, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Seminar, 8 January 2016 – ‘Aeolus’ 545-563

On the 8th of January, a well-attended session saw in the new year and considered lines 545 to 563 of ‘Aeolus’, a thoroughly worthwhile exercise in slow going.

  • We took a little time to connect up O’Molloy’s remark (which is not quite a question) to Crawford’s speech preceding it, but the “he” is the Emperor Franz Joseph and the “it” the debt he owed to an Irishman (of sorts) for saving his life. A “moot point”, something discussed in an assembly or parliament, has a particular meaning in law, being a hypothetical case used for practice, a meaning with which O’Molloy would be familiar.
  • The “horseshoe paperweight” is fitting for this office and the shared concern with racing; as an object meant to counter the effects of wind, it is appropriate for ‘Aeolus’ too. It is not without mystery, though. Is it a paperweight in the shape of or incorporating a horseshoe, real or imitation, full-size or scaled-down? Or is it merely an actual horseshoe, found worn-down and cast off in the street perhaps, now given a new lease of life as a paperweight? The ends of a horseshoe must point up for good luck, so is this horseshoe lying flat, or pointing now upwards and now downwards on the sloping desk as O’Molloy turns it?
  • “Saving princes is a thankyou job”: it seems possible that O’Molloy has just come up with this phrase on the spot. We couldn’t decide whether it meant a job which would be rewarded handsomely – the exact opposite of a thankless job, in other words – or a job where all one might expect to receive would be a princely ‘thankyou’.
  • In turning on, rather than to, O’Molloy, MacHugh seems positively aggressive, as if his blood is up. The remark “And if not?” is a cryptic one, but the logic would appear to be that if the Emperor had repaid the purported debt to Ireland, such recompense would be at odds with the historical pattern of a loyalty to failure MacHugh is about to outline.
  • Crawford prepares to hold both forth and court, but he is to be disappointed as MacHugh cuts him off.  The “Hungarian” is the nationalist János Libényi who tried to assassinate Franz Joseph in 1853, but, cut short as Crawford’s tale is, the words gesture towards Bloom as well as towards Arthur Griffith and The Resurrection of Hungary.
  • The next headline is actually a double headline, unique thus far and highly unusual overall (there are a few triples right at the end of the episode). “LOST CAUSES” quotes from MacHugh’s speech and so is entirely orthodox, but “NOBLE MARQUESS MENTIONED” seems to poke fun at the tendency of newspaper headlines to put selective titillation ahead of fair representation. The tautology of ‘Noble Marquess’ is authentically parliamentary, Lord Salisbury being the last British Prime Minister to run his government from the House of Lords. The Prime Minster in 1904, Arthur Balfour, was the nephew of his predecessor the Marquess, Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, from which exercise in keeping it in the family arose the phrase ‘Bob’s your uncle’.
  • MacHugh’s speech on the Irish loyalty to lost causes aligns itself fairly flawlessly with Matthew Arnold’s views on the impractical Celtic temperament: “Success for us is the death of the intellect and of the imagination” – MacHugh presumably can’t be unaware of this, but the romance of the attachment to failure is evidently far stronger. We thought there was a Beckettian logic to all this if pushed far enough and perhaps a trace of Wilde in MacHugh’s attempt at paradox.
  • We worried over the relationship between serving the successful (the English, as one of Stephen’s two masters) and teaching the language of the conqueror (the Romans, who never made it to Ireland, though Stephen’s other master went on to do a fair bit of work in Latin). The word “blatant” was coined by Spenser in The Faerie Queene and originally meant clamorous, offensive to the ear; it had certainly acquired its modern meaning – obvious, conspicuous – by 1904, so MacHugh is employing the word in its traditional sense in a very precise way.
  • “I speak the tongue of a race”: though English must be the tongue immediately in question, the wording cleverly keeps Latin present also – Rome, Britain and modernity all merging with and emerging from each other – not least through the convoluted history of the maxim “time is money”, descending from Theophrastus through Benjamin Franklin. Comparison was made with Jimmy Jack in Brian Friel’s Translations and we noted the echo of Stephen’s famous words from A Portrait (“The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine”). We also briefly discussed Joyce’s use of the word ‘race’.
  • “Material [as opposed to cultural] domination” leads to “Domine!” In the 1922 Ulysses this appears as “Dominus!” instead, which goes nicely along with “Kyrios!” (for which there is no equivalent to ‘domination’) but does not give the sense of MacHugh actively exclaiming, giving voice to his scorn, in Latin and then in English: “Lord!”
  • The three rhetorical questions – presumably demonstrating how English reduces the redeemer to the level of an English aristocrat – appear in some editions as two rhetorical questions sandwiching an exclamation (“Lord Jesus!”). We juggled with these variants and even improvised some others before conceding the point to Hans Walter Gabler.
  • The “sofa in a westend club” is a pointed comment on the nature of Lord Salisbury’s government, of which, two years after it ended, none of MacHugh’s listeners would have needed reminding, but readers in 1922 might well have done. Wilde was noted again as was the shift in class – middle-class England seemed to be MacHugh’s target previously – and two of the best memories in the room recalled Joyce’s play on Lewis’s Time and Western Man in Finnegans Wake, Spice and Westend Woman” (292.06).
  • “But the Greek!” MacHugh is thinking of the language ahead of anything else, but is about to sign up to another Arnoldian distinction, the Hellenism (in opposition to the Hebraism of “the Semite”) already championed by Mulligan in ‘Telemachus’. We noted that preferring Greek to Latin can also be seen as a form of elitism, one with a long history, deriving simply from the greater rarity of speakers of Greek.
  • “KYRIE ELEISON!” is another first, a headline in a language other than English. It seems unlikely that this is all the Greek MacHugh knows, but having implied his developed preference for the Greek over the Latin, it is odd to have as the primary example the one phrase from that language that all Catholics, if not all Christians know. Lord have mercy – has the text itself had enough at this point? We were really hitting our stride on the other hand, with just a swipe at Easy Rider (the song ‘Kyrie Eleison/Mardi Gras’ turns out to have been the work of The Electric Prunes).
  • The light is purely figurative here, though the “darkrimmed eyes” are not: the frames of MacHugh’s glasses, shadows cast by those frames, the signs of a hangover, or a combination of any or all of these? We recalled “shadowed by a smile” at line 356.
  • The repetition of “the Greek” reminded us that time is actually passing quite swiftly beneath headlines and smiles. We gave a little more thought to the connexion with Mulligan, both in ‘Telemachus’ and in ‘Scylla and Charybdis’, as well as the linking of ‘Greek’ and homosexuality upon which Mulligan will play in the Library.
  • The word “Kyrios” can be distinguished from ‘Dominus‘ or ‘Lord’ in that it is the word for Christ shorn of the other meanings which the Latin or English words carry (at least for readers not themselves Greeks, or even ancient Greeks): it can even be made to have a theological exactness which the other words cannot. This does not explain the associations with light (“Shining word!”) which MacHugh sees – and are perhaps just that, mere associations.
  • The “vowels the Semite and the Saxon know not” include most pertinently the upsilon which is the second letter of “Kyrios” or “Kyrie” (or should be, since these have been cast into Roman script). We hooted at each other for a while in a gallant attempt to mispronounce the word correctly, or pronounce the word incorrectly.

We concluded by considering whether we had got everything we might have out of “radiance of the intellect” and decided that we hadn’t. So that’s where we will pick up from on Friday the Fifth of February.

Posted in Aeolus, James Joyce, Seminar Report | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Seminar, 4th December 2015 – ‘Aeolus’ 512 – 544

On December 4th, we continued with ‘Aeolus’, reading lines 512 – 544.

  • We got off to a slowish start with the perplexing subtitle, ‘???’, seemingly a marker of Lenehan’s underwhelming riddle which we’ve all been waiting for. Noting Steven Connor’s suggestion that many of the headings in ‘Aeolus’ could also stand as episode headings in the novel, we thought this could stand for ‘Ithaca’. Of course, there are three question marks in the title, for six questions in the section, though it remains to be seen if this is significant.
  • Lenehan’s command for ‘silence’ appears an attempt at some kind of authority, but a rather ineffectual one here, of course. Is he trying to ingratiate himself, or make himself liked, or both? Or does it read more as an exasperated plea?
  •  His actual riddle (‘What opera resembles a railwayline?’) appears to have been precipitated by the editor singing ‘The Rose of Castille’ a moment ago, perhaps making it slightly easier to solve. We noted that a knowledge of opera was fairly standard in these times, and that all characters have some awareness of these things.
  • His commands to the group (‘Reflect, ponder, excogitate, reply’) seem excessively rhetorical, and as the heading maybe corresponds to ‘Ithaca’, so, perhaps, does this sense of catechism. The commands sound rather like something the Professor might say, too.
  • Stephen’s ‘typed sheets’ struck us, and here we spent some time going back to his conversation with Deasy in ‘Nestor’ and his thoughts in ‘Proteus’. We spent some time thinking about the signature (unclear handwriting? Illegible for being ripped? Why does Stephen only point, and not read aloud?) and the ‘title’: would a correspondent really give their own letter a title or would this be the responsibility of the editor? Certainly these days this would be completed by a subeditor; nobody could recall off the top of our collective heads what the practice in contemporary papers was.
  • We identified Stephen’s guilt here in tearing off part of the paper and the reason for this – not that Deasy actually was ‘short taken’ (a nod to ‘Calypso’) but so that he could write his poem, rehearsed in ‘Proteus’ (U 3.397-402). Stephen’s handing over of these papers made us see that so far, unlike many other sections, there is nothing slowing down the narrative; instead it appears to be moving along at a decent pace.
  • We thought briefly about Stephen’s relationship with Mr Garret Deasy, noting that the younger calls the older by his full name and title twice (in conspicuous contrast to Crawford). It is perhaps worth noting the significance of the name: Garrett means ‘brave’, ‘hard’ or ‘spear’, while Deasy is a traditional Cork name, in contrast to Deasy’s strong Ulster identity. Crawford’s name for him (‘that old pelters’) instead means a tramp or whoremonger.
  • Stephen’s poem is a reworking of Douglas Hyde’s ‘The Love Songs of Connacht’ (1893); the original has a female, not male, mouth. We thought about the traces of a young Joyce here: is this in keeping with Joyce’s early work, perhaps ‘Chamber Music’? We certainly identified a fin-de-siècle feeling about it, thinking of this characterisation of love as vampiric. The poem struck as for its sense of what Kenner calls the ‘aesthetic of delay’, in which related bits of information in the work are separated by huge distances. There’s also a sense of an in-novel genetic criticism happening, as we see how the work has been edited from one incarnation (in ‘Proteus’) into another.
  • The professor’s ‘Good day, Stephen’ struck us for its pleasantness and its ellipses: he trails off, rather than waiting to be interrupted, something Stephen will do in about five lines time too. Why does he trail off? Because having started to set up a joke (‘foot and mouth?’) he realises he can’t provide a funny answer: he has a question but no punchline.
  • ‘Bullockbefriending bard’ led us to consider Joyce’s interest in foot and mouth which he writes into Stephen here. Joyce wrote on the matter in ‘Politics and Cattle Disease’ (Freeman’s Journal, 10th September 1912) and for Il Piccolo della Serra (in 1907). His friendship with Henry Blackwood Price, an Ulsterman in Trieste, also contributed to his interest in the disease. While Joyce himself was of course curious about the problem, Stephen Dedalus would not be: we noted this as very different to the poem above.
  • The next headline, ‘Shindy in wellknown restaurant’ struck us as a plausible headline and straightforward (compared to ‘???’) description of what is to happen.
  • Stephen’s blush highlights his youth (‘Youth led by Experience visits Notoriety’) and perhaps his sense of being reduced to little more than a messenger boy; being surrounded by his father’s friends may also contribute. Or is he ashamed of Mulligan’s quip above, or by Deasy, especially given Crawford’s pronouncement on him? His three times denial of authorship of the letter is notable.
  • Myles Crawford’s story about Deasy’s wife left us curious: how would they know each other and given the disdain, why were the two parties socialising together? We noted that according to Luca Crispi’s new book (‘Becoming the Blooms: the construction of character in Ulysses’), Joyce liked to collect stories and affix them, fairly arbitrarily at times, to characters. This struck us certainly as a good story to shore up: Joyce was rather rude about Mrs Blackwood Price in a letter to Stanislaus, suggesting perhaps this ‘tartar’ characterisation was not entirely without cause. Despite both Crawford and Deasy being relatively minor characters, they are very significant in the episodes in which they appear and very richly drawn. However one is a proud Ulsterman, one is the editor of a nationalist newspaper. We couldn’t understand why they would have been in company. Is there something significant about the Star and Garter, perhaps?
  • Particularly, Crawford’s, ‘I knew his wife’ sparked discussion. Is she dead, or are they simply separated? Why ‘I know’ in the present instead, for Deasy? Gifford’s definition of ‘grass widower’ (‘a man separated from his wife’, 138) seems slightly inaccurate: it appears that a grass widower describes a man whose wife has run off with someone else – in this sense, Menelaus is a true grass widower. Joyce is very informed about different types of marriages/divorces (the ‘former morganactic spouse’ of Bloom appears in ‘Circe’).
  • Stephen picks up on this distinction too, hence his recollection of Deasy’s views in ‘Nestor’ (‘a woman bought sin into the world’). Again we have a refashioning of earlier material, significantly delayed: admirable for Joyce, but we became slightly suspicious of Dedalus’ implausibly strong recollection of Deasy’s earlier words. Does Joyce want to portray this as a positive personality trait, or is he exaggerating? We recalled Joyce’s belief in the absolute importance of memory above all else.
  • The political content of the letter, read aloud by Crawford as he scans it, seems especially significant. We thought of the political resonance of Trieste’s independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire at this time, and of Franz Joseph, who sent Franz Ferdinand to London to make Edward VII a Field Marshall. Joyce’s line ‘going to be trouble there one day’ seemed either prescient or contemporaneous, had we known when exactly this was drafted, and certainly under-discussed (especially given the WW1 centenary in 2014).
  • The ‘wild geese’ (reference to Irish mercenaries fighting in, for instance, Spain and France) were also mentioned in ‘Proteus’, another source of militaristic pride for Crawford (‘North Cork militia! We won every time!’ U 7.359).

We meet again on Friday 8th January, reading from 7.545 (‘The moot point is did he forget it’). Happy Christmas, all.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments