Seminar, 2 May 2014 – ‘Aeolus’ 98-123

On the 2nd of May we thumped our way (with the occasional clank) from line 98 all the way to line 123 of Chapter 7, ‘Aeolus’. Thanks to Philip’s researches in the newly opened Newsroom at the British Library, it is now clear that the pictures being summoned up by Bloom at this point in the paragraph cannot possibly have appeared in the weekly M.A.P., which actually carried no pictures at all. Where this leaves the witticism “Mainly All Pictures” I do not know.

  • A picture of the “World’s biggest balloon” would certainly have helped “sell a weekly,” but in spite of considering both the military use of balloons (by the British in the Boer War, for instance) and the recent arrival of airships (the first Zeppelin flew in 1900), we have not determined which balloon was the world’s biggest in 1904.
  • A picture of a “Double marriage” would also have been standard fare in an illustrated Sunday supplement, but if this is the double double marriage to which Gifford refers – two brothers to two sisters – that is something in no way visible in the text, which specifies sisters only. We wondered whether contemporary photography was in fact capable of capturing the action of “laughing heartily.”
  • The wedding may have been Cuprani’s, but the “too” links him to Nannetti, rounding out the paragraph. A surprisingly large number of Capranis (why the change to the name?) were involved in the printing industry in Dublin at this time, the family being associated with work at the Freeman’s Journal and the Independent as well. Bearing in mind what was said previously about the number of Italians in Ulysses, according to the 1901 census, there were a mere 276 Italians in Ireland, a figure which had risen to around 400 in 1911. We considered Italian Catholic assimilation in Ireland in comparison with the Jewish presence in Dublin.
  • “More Irish than the Irish”: as at the start of this paragraph, so at the end, Bloom seems reluctant to see the Italian Nannetti’s Irishness as offering any point of comparison with his own. This phrase clearly doesn’t apply to Bloom, but how well does it apply to Nannetti? A common enough formula, used of other nationalities as well, it appears in P.W. Joyce’s A Concise History of Ireland with reference to the ‘Old English’  becoming “fused with the native population” in 14th-century Ireland (though often rendered in Latin – Hiberniores Hibernicis ipsis – the phrase may in fact be of much more recent vintage, an epithet no older than the 18th Century).*
  • The machines can indeed be heard clanking in threefour time here – “Thump, thump, thump” – as they seemed not to be earlier on (ll. 72, 76). We considered how ‘clank’ might relate to ‘thump’ and whether these might be distinct noises made by the machinery.
  • Bloom plays with the idea of the machines being left to run on indefinitely, but we wondered why he feels it necessary here to think of Nannetti becoming paralysed in order to establish the scenario (the thumping of the machinery was previously related to the thumping of a heart, specifically Dignam’s). We continued experiencing difficulty in visualising these machines (finding it, indeed, rather easier to hear them than see them at this point).†
  • “Monkeydoodle” is, according to the O.E.D., an American colloquialism, meaning foolish, meddling or mischievous, but its use here as a verb appears to be without precedent. We also considered the idea of print being laid over the same bit of paper, “over and over and up and back,” so as to resemble a ‘doodle’, perhaps of the kind that monkeys might make.
  • The “cool head” that would be needed to stop the machines might be Nannetti’s, or it might, in a gesture typical of Bloom, be Bloom’s own, he here considering what he would need to do if Nannetti were incapacitated.
  • For Hynes to refer to the Evening Telegraph as the “evening edition” seems to conflate the two daily titles produced in this place into a single organ – unless he is referring to a later edition of the Evening Telegraph itself?
  • We noted the deferential tone sounded by Hynes’s use of the word “councillor” and the way in which ‘councillor’ and ‘foreman’ are deliberately set in juxtaposition with each other, not only here but in the next two headlined sections as well.
  • The ‘my’ in Bloom’s “my lord mayor” initially struck us as odd, but this may have been how the mayor, when presiding over meetings of Dublin City Council, would have been addressed by councillors and aldermen in the chamber itself. Nannetti served as mayor from 1906 to 1907, Joyce’s hindsight here endowing Bloom with the gift, if not of prophecy, then certainly of political shrewdness.
  • The power behind the mayoral office here is ‘Long’ John Clancy, subsheriff and renowned ‘mayor-maker’ (he was himself elected mayor after the First World War, but died before taking up the office). In ‘Wandering Rocks’ the figure is named as Long John Fanning, but we wondered whether Joyce had made any decision about the character’s name when writing ‘Aeolus’: “Long John” on its own leaves that question unresolved.
  • Nannetti seems to write the actual word ‘press’ here, makes a “sign to a typesetter” – to summon him from a distance or to alert him close at hand? – nor were we clear about the “dirty glass screen,” its position or function. The layout of the interior of this building remains difficult to pin down and Nannetti’s curious reading closet seems a microcosm of that nebulousness.
  • Hynes is less deferential towards Nannetti in “moving off” (much as the trams move off at the start of ‘Aeolus’): Nannetti seems not to have exchanged a single word with him (nor will he speak to Bloom for an awkwardly long time after their discussion has apparently begun).
  • The budget in ‘Ithaca’ suggests that Bloom has indeed seen the cashier (17. 1459), for all that he gives no definite answer to Hynes’s defensive question at line 115. However, where Bloom recommends the other man “draw” (money owed), Hynes is instead looking to “tap” (an advance). Hynes’s “old man” struck us as being a Britishism much like those employed by Bloom at various points in ‘Hades’, whereas Bloom’s “Look sharp” may be an attempt to speak in Hynes’s register. “Three bob” would have covered more than one large round of drinks in the nearby Meagher’s (Bloom must have seen Hynes at least three times in as many weeks), but we concluded that, if the first two of Bloom’s hints were as oblique as this one, it is little wonder Hynes has so far managed to avoid honouring the debt.‡
  • The next headline is direct, even a little earnest, a simple description of what lies beneath. We considered whether this might work as a picture caption and imagined a regular ‘side feature’ in which a variety of occupations might be examined, week by week.
  • Bloom’s deference is of a different kind from Hynes’s, respectful and even humble, but businesslike also. We considered Joyce’s use of “Mr” – not only here, but in ‘Hades’ and in Dubliners as well – and the intricate mapping out of status effected by Ulysses in its use of titles and honorifics, names and nicknames.

We will continue to canvass the canvasser on the 7th of June.

* * *

* I made the suggestion at the start of the seminar (and it remains a suggestion, which is why I’m appending it here), that we may have missed something about Nannetti’s presence in this chapter which, if true, seems also to have been missed by any number of Joyceans before us. It is well known that Joyce moved the date of Nannetti’s speech in the House of Commons from the 16th to the 17th of June in order that he might be found here, in ‘Aeolus’, at work as the foreman of the Freeman’s. However, it is possible that a far larger adjustment of the reality has been overlooked. The Nannetti of ‘Aeolus’ is unmistakably Joseph P. Nannetti, councillor, M.P. and future Lord Mayor of Dublin, but it may well be that the Nannetti who would have actually been found working as foreman at the Freeman’s on the 16th of June 1904 was Joseph J. Nannetti, the son. Given what Brian unearthed this month about the Italian Capranis and the family nature of the printing business, it would make perfect sense for the younger Nannetti to have come to work under his father – which, it seems, he did – and he may then have taken over as foreman some time before, possibly when his father’s political career took off. So, having wondered how it was possible for J.P. Nannetti – now in Westminster, now in Dublin City Council, now acting as foreman at the Freeman’s – to keep so many balls in the air, there may be a simple answer: he had in fact put down one of the balls a few years earlier. This might alter considerably our approach to Nannetti’s “workaday worker tack” and other matters besides. Then again, if J.P. Nannetti had given up his role at the Freeman’s altogether, how would he have supported himself, given that Westminster M.P.s drew no salary until 1911? Might father and son have shared the role of foreman? See John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello, John Stanislaus Joyce (London: Fourth Estate, 1997), p. 192. If anyone has further evidence for or against this currently wobbly hypothesis, I’d be delighted to see it.

† It may prove impossible to establish exactly what kind of printing machinery the Freeman’s had in 1904. Different models abounded at this time and technological developments were coming along especially quickly around the turn of the century. One element that does seem to have been more or less standard with a press of any size is the use of very large rolls of paper, feeding into a rotary type-revolving machine. In Bloom’s imagined scenario, then, that the paper would eventually run out is something of which we can be relatively sure (if of nothing else whatsoever).

‡ Bloom returns to the debt in ‘Nausicaa’ (13. 1046-47) and Helen has sent on two further references to it playing on Bloom’s mind in – or at least surfacing in the text of – ‘Circe’ (15. 1191-95, 1611-13). “Third hint”: Philip suggests here the relevance of Bloom stressing the importance of repetition in ‘Cyclops’ (12. 1147-48). This three-shilling loan appears to be a more thoroughly sewn-in thread in Ulysses than we appreciated during the seminar itself.

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3 Responses to Seminar, 2 May 2014 – ‘Aeolus’ 98-123

  1. Harald Beck says:

    Re Nannetti:
    Nannetti’s son was just 29 in 1904 and an ordinary printer compositor.
    When Nannetti sen. became Lord Mayor of Dublin an American paper wrote: “He […] sits in Parliament for the College Green Division. Although he has his residence in Dublin’s splendid Mansion House, and has an official salary of $17,500 a year, he nightly takes his place in the composing room of the Nationalist Freeman’s Journal, as its foreman.”
    For information about Nannetti’s father see
    Harald Beck

    • S.M. says:

      That quotation is a lovely bit of “workaday worker tack” on Nannetti’s behalf! Still, given his regular journeys to Westminster, it can’t have been ‘nightly’, even before he became Mayor. Brian – who has been doing most of the digging on this – also thinks the son (another Joseph Patrick) too young to have been foreman. But someone must have covered for Nannetti in his absence; must have done so on the real 16th of June for a start.

  2. Harald Beck says:

    There’s evidence that the Freeman’s Journal had Victory Web printing machines at the time.

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