ULYSSES p. 14-23, “Telemachus”


Seriously, these twreads are pretty awesome. I’m not missing a thing. You’re all suckers if you’re still reading the book.

  • P14. BM patronizes milkmaid. SD’s sympathetic to her but resents her submissiveness. Haines (Brit) speaks Gaelic, but maid doesnt understand.
  • P15. Haines guilts BM 2 pay milkmaid. BM underpays. Maid leaves. BM begs SD 2 bring money 4 drinks. BM 2 swim with Haines. SD doesn’t bathe.
  • P16. SD quips agn. Haines wants 2 collect SD’s quips. BM tries 2 get SD 2 ask Haines 4 $. SD refuses. BM resigned, says SD needs 2 play them.
  • P17. All get dressed 2 leave, SD takes cane & tower’s only key. All 3 walk together. Some tower talk. Haines asks 4 SD’s Hamlet theory.
  • P18. BM makes fun of theory, SD lets him. Haines says tower recalls Elsinore, one-ups w/another theory. SD feels odd as the only 1 in black.
  • P19. BM sings his own song about a joking Jesus, dances away. Haines laughs but says 2 SD he shouldn’t. Asks if SD a believer, SD rebuffs.
  • P20. Haines criticizes personal god idea. SD says SD’s misunderstood. SD knows they want 2 take the key. SD says SDs servant 2 church&England.
  • P21. SD’s esoteric thoughts about Church heresies, links thm 2 BM. Haines’ an antisemite. They watch boats. Mention Milly Bloom’s dirty? pic.
  • P22. BM gets ready 2 swim w/another dude already in sea. Old dude jumps out of sea. Redheads are horny liars. BM says he’s Adam, asks 4 key.
  • P23. SD gives BM key & money. BM extols theft & swims. Haines says theyll meet later. SD leaves knowing he’s been screwed & can’t come back.

So that brings us to the end of the “Telemachus” chapter. So far so good. 

Just a few more notes. I want to call attention to the subtle parallels to the Odyssey’s 1st books. We start with absent fathers (there are no dads here, but possibly for the old dude who pops out of the sea). There’s a milkmaid recalling Athena’s disguise, when she went to Telemachus to get him off his duff to find out about Odysseus. The maid shows up just as Stephen-Telemachus is usurped from his home, to begin his journey.

There are also a lot of references to the Irish Renaissance which was all the rage in turn-of-the-century Ireland (Yeats, Synge, and that crew), which meant to celebrate authentic Irish country folk (of the west, east was more cosmopolitan and British-influenced). The British rich guy Haines is there to collect Irish folklore and knows Gaelic. The old Irish lady is unfamiliar with Gaelic. It suggests Joyce’s dubiousness about this movement.

There are also references to what will be developed later: Stephen’s Hamlet theory, the “photo girl” picture of Milly Bloom (Leopold’s daughter), the drinking later that day.

My favorite word from this reading: dewsilky.

NEXT: Onward into “Nestor”! The “Telemachus” Funmary (huh?)

There’s still time to join the fun and recruit for more fun!


11 Responses

  1. Along w/ the Hamlet ref. is Buck a Mercutio?

  2. No disrespect to “dewsilky,” but it’s hard to make the case that anything tops “scrotumtightening.”

    Who/what is the “Usurper” in the last line? Both Buck Mulligan and Haines are candidates (BM for mooching milk & booze money, Haines for crashing on the couch indefinitely), but is Joyce alluding to something bigger than them? I’ll say up front that my annotations fetish threatens to plunge me waist deep into textual muck, and as a result obscure the bigger picture. I’ll need help on this.

    Also, I think we should be awarding bonus points to anyone who incorporates Ulysses slang (kip, ashplant, collector of prepuces, “I’m stony,” Agenbite of inwit) into his/her comments.

    Jerry, remember that time I debagged you in the dining hall? It was rotto.

    • Plot-wise, the usurpers are Haines and Mulligan. Haines wants to move in (thus his question about the rent) so as to have some place to stay during his Irish folk research. Mulligan is all too happy to oblige, given Haines’ wealth, even if that means screwing his homey.

      There’s also the political context. Some Irish felt betrayed by the Irish gov’t submission to the British empire. The usurpation re-enacts this betrayal.

  3. When was Eliot’s “Wasteland” published in relation to this? I know that Pound was influential on both authors b/c SD identifying himself as the “drowned man” (21) sounds an awfully lot like Eliot’s “hanged man” and Eliot’s ref to the Tempest’s drowned man. This is Joyce’s 2nd reference to drowning (plus all of the water earlier).
    Also, is episode 4 still open? If so, I’m game.

    • Episode 4, “Calypso,” is all yours. Thank you! You up for twreading?

      Wasteland was published in 1922. Ulysses was published in its entirety also in 1922, but it had been coming out installments since 1918.

      Eliot and Joyce were definitely friendly admirers to each other. Joyce may not be referring to Eliot, but they probably shared ideas about (and the influence of) the Tempest.

  4. sorry, there should have been a period after “authors” in my comment above.

  5. Good Christ, I’m already behind. But I’m going to stick my tow in here.

    Blerg! It’s cold!

    The only thing I can really speak to right now is the Irish Renaissance and Dublin vs. the rest of Ireland which might shed light on the relationship between Haines and SD. Hopefully it will prove useful in other aspects of the novel as well.

    There is a great divide in Ireland between Dublin and the rest of the country, even more so than just east to west. It has been there since Dublin was part of the Pale and exists to this day. The Pale was the original seat of English rule in Ireland in the 12th century. It consisted of Dublin and some of the surrounding area. The rest of Ireland was ruled by Irish Chieftains and some Norman Earls. A wall was built around the Pale and inside its borders Irish language, culture and music were forbidden, similar to the penal laws that were put into place in the 16th century (I think) for the entire country. Eventually they kicked out all of the Irish till it was completely English. It eventually dissolved and Irish were reassimilated in the 18th (I think, maybe 17th) century. So for hundreds of years that was the place where real Irish culture was squashed. There are people who are still ticked off about that and don’t really consider it to be “Irish”. Seriously. I have a friend who went to great lengths to explain to me that if someone’s last name has an “O'” or “Mac” dropped from it (i.e. Sullivan vs. O’Sullivan) then their families probably kowtowed to the English, Anglocized their names and effed over their real Irish buddies. These people know how to hold a grudge.

    In addition, there is this feeling with some Dubliners, which I’m sure was much stronger 100 years ago, that Dublin is a far superior, much more civilized place than anywhere else in the country. Perhaps that stems from the way the English settlers felt about the native Irish – that they were inferior, uncivilized and ignorant. Perhaps I am making that up.

    This is obviously a blanket statement and does not apply to all. But the rest of the country, especially in the really rural areas and especially in the west, feels this and can be resentful of it. It makes sense that someone born and raised in Dublin at that time, if the old Irish lady was, wouldn’t know Irish; there wouldn’t have been much value placed in knowing it. Even the Irish that was made compulsory after this Renaissance is a bland, Anglocized version of the native language that I’ve often heard referred to as “Dublinese” by native speakers.

    From what I know, the interest at that time in the language, music, literature and art that came out of rural Ireland was more from foreigners than Dubliners (it seems Joyce was more interested in classical and parlour music). I think the fact that Haines is an Englishman is important as well in that he’s from the nation that had, at one point, made everything that he’s researching illegal.

    It seems that the writers involved in the Irish Renaissance found more value in the rural areas and people because they lived significant parts of their lives there as opposed to Joyce (Yeats in Co. Sligo, Synge growing up in rural Co. Dublin and spending summers in the Aran Islands, Lady Gregory in east Co. Galway to name a few).

    Honestly, I don’t know if Joyce spent much, if any, time in rural Ireland and I also don’t know what his personal thoughts were on that culture. I know that he spent much of his adult life in continental Europe. And I know people today who were born in Dublin who would rather take a job on the continent or in the U.S. than any other town in Ireland because they would see that as a step down. I also know people from rural, western areas who resist moving to Dublin, even though the majority of jobs are found there.

    Anywho, I hope this helps. Sorry for the length.

    TGIF, y’all!

    • Holy moly, this is awesome. Thank you! I didn’t know about the Pale (However many times I’ve read Ulysses, I’m still really Ireland-ignorant).

      I think “The Dead” has a lot to say about Joyce’s attitude toward the Irish countryside…especially the Michael Fury story (which actually came from a story Nora Barnacle told him, who comes from the West). He considered it a backwater, beholden to superstition, but also recognized its vitality… and an antidote to the BS he found in Dublin living.

  6. I understand why people might have had that attitude but I find it really off-base (sorry J.J.). Having studied Irish a bit, I’ve found it to be a beautiful language. There is a great deal of poetry and depth in even basic conversation.

    The rural communities, especially in the west, had a wealth of epic stories, songs and poetry, much of which Lady Gregory complied and translated around that time.

    I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that it’s my opinion that Joyce has the Irish language (and generations of “backwater” dwellers through whom it evolved) to thank for the kind of English in which he was writing.

    There’s a quote from Oscar Wilde that goes something like, “The English forced their language on us and we returned it to them greatly improved.” That cheeky little bastard.

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