Seminar, 2 June – ‘Aeolus’, 951-983

A long time ago, in early June 2017, we had our final Ulysses meeting before the summer break.

  • We noted that ‘antithesis’ carries a lot of weight in this sentence: not only is the professor referring to Anne Kearns and Florence MacCabe having quite different appetites, the word itself marks a pivot within this section, this second half being quite different in tone to the previous half; the professor provides a narrative explanation of what is happening. The professor nods twice, gesturing again to the sense of doubling that runs through this section.


  • In remarking that he ‘can see them’, the Professor hints to Stephen that he is familiar with real women of the character Stephen suggests, flattering Stephen that he’s telling a good story. Yet at the same time, there’s a sense that the Professor doesn’t, actually, know any women like this – he’s very quick to break off his flattery and to discuss the urgent matter of getting to the pub with ‘our friend’. This is an odd way to describe Crawford – barbed, rather than aspirational, we thought – maybe touching on a sense of irritation too; when Myles Crawford returns in a few lines time, the Professor’s ‘cry’ and gesture of ‘waving his arm’ compounds this sense.


  • ‘Bevy’ is a rich description of the newsboys, testifying to the perceived number of them and their scattered arrangement. The vocabulary used in this sentence is strikingly similar to the previous sentences: ‘newsboys’, ‘scamp’ and ‘scampering’, and ‘yelling’ are all used repeatedly in conjunction in ‘Aeolus’. Their papers are different to the racing papers that featured earlier in the episode, and in drawing in these different kinds of papers, Joyce offers readers a really material sense of journalism and the production process behind it at this time. We noted that the newsboys give away copies of the ‘Racing special’ edition of the paper, which goes on to have great significance throughout the novel (Bloom’s ‘throwaway’, Boylan’s betting ticket, and so on).


  • ‘RETURN OF BLOOM’, it’s worth noting, puts Bloom, for once, centre stage. The line has a stagey, cinematic feel to it, and in this aggrandises our sense of Bloom’s presence. He is ‘breathless’ in a ‘whirl of wind’ created by the newsboys’ scamping. Curiously, despite being ‘Mr. Bloom’ to the narrator throughout the episode, he is ‘Bloom’ in the headline. Compounding the sense that Bloom is of at least some significance in this section is the fact of Crawford not responding to the Professor, but to Bloom, even amid a gaggle of noisy newsboys.


  • We paused at this time to discuss the Irish Catholic and Dublin Penny Journal and to think about the offices of these journals (we have yet to establish whether these two papers actually shared an office). The Irish Catholic was founded in 1888 by T. D. Sullivan, a Lord Mayor of Dublin who came from a journalistic family. The Dublin Penny Journal was, originally, an Irish language publication.


  • ‘Terrible tragedy in Rathmines’ is, it transpires, a bit of a joke. The phrase ‘terrible tragedy’ was used abundantly in the press of the time – a quick British Library search suggests the phrase appeared repeatedly in headlines in the Irish Times and Weekly Irish Times between 1890 and 1905 – so Joyce gestures towards this contemporary journalistic cliché. The phrase was reserved for real tragedies – murders, suicides, mass deaths – heightening the bathos of this line. We noted that the joke anticipates ‘Circe’ in its anthropomorphising of supposedly inanimate objects, and that altogether this scene offers a very striking impression of compressed urban modernity.


  • ‘Interview with the editor’ is another somewhat ironic headline, as the entire section is Bloom’s monologue, tiresomely explaining yet again his plans for the advertisement. Bloom’s tone is awkward yet apologetic. We wondered if ‘what will I tell…’ had a touch of Hiberno-English to it.


  • Gilbert identifies ‘abbreviation’ as the technique for ‘K. M. A.’, which doesn’t seem entirely correct – it is an acronym – but it also a euphemism for something much cruder (‘kiss my arse’). We also wondered if KMA might suggest any other significant acronyms or meanings at this time. We remarked on the self-consciousness and metaphorical strength of Joyce’s ‘for emphasis’ as a way to describe Crawford’s gesture. If Crawford’s ‘the stable’ is a somewhat confused rehash of a cliché, Bloom’s interior ‘nervy’, by contrast, is politely euphemistic.


We meet again on Friday 22nd September and will be reading from U 7.983 (‘Look out for squalls’).

Posted in Aeolus, Seminar Report | Leave a comment


Recently launched by Ian Gunn, co-author of James Joyce’s Dublin: A Topographical Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses, and in honour of Clive Hart, JoyceTools is a new website that contains a number of resources of interest to Joyce scholars. It has been created from many of the tools that Hart used in his own scholarship.

The site includes digitized versions of Thom’s, maps, guides to tram routes, and the Dublin Evening Telegraph for 16 June 1904, among other materials.

A tribute to Clive Hart, written by his stepson, can be viewed here. Please note the list of charities at the bottom of the page.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Seminar Dates 2017-2018

We have dates for the forthcoming academic year:

22 September 18.00-20.00
13 October 18.00-20.00
10 November 18.00-20.00
1 December 18.00-20.00
5 January 18.00-20.00
2 February 18.00-20.00
2 March 18.00-20.00
6 April 18.00-20.00
4 May 18.00-20.00
1 June 18.00-20.00

We don’t seem to have rooms, but all will be held in Senate House and the first session will be in room 243, when we will be picking up at line . . . actually, since I wasn’t there in June I’m not sure where we will be picking up from. We must be nearly at line 1,000?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


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.

Posted in James Joyce | 1 Comment

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.






Posted in Aeolus | Leave a comment

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:
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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
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:

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment