ULYSSES Funmary #1: Telemachus


First, an administrative matter.

We need episodes adopted. “Proteus” doesn’t have anyone, and that could start as early as Tuesday. (It’s only 14 pages! It’s only a baby!).

If you plan on reading Ulysses with us, please find it in your heart to call one of these episodes your own. You will get to dictate the pace we read it, put up a tweet* for each page you read, post on your reading, and funmarize the chapter. 

For the bigger babies (over 40 pages), I’ve cut these into smaller baby pieces. (“Circe” poses a unique problem. I’ll talk about my special rotation for that one when  we get closer…let me know if you want to be involved in this, as well)

Feel free to adopt as many episode (or episode parts) as you can! They need you. I need you.

Picture 11

You won’t be alone. We’ll be there all along the way to help and to applause.

Now on to the funmarization…

I’ll hit the main plot points:

  • Stephen Dedalus has been back in Dublin, having been recalled from Paris (and his attempt to become a profligate artist) when his mother is dying. His mother has since died, and now he’s living in a tower with Buck Mulligan (plump, profane smoothtalker). They have a houseguest named Haines, a rich Brit in Ireland conducting folklore research, who also has night terrors. Stephen’s father is still alive and living in Dublin, but we’ll get to that.
  • Stephen hates being back. He feels oppressed by family, church, and state. He longs to be free so as to be an artist again, but finds himself stuck.
  • Stephen is haunted by his dead mother, and his guilt surrounding her death. She asked him to pray for her at her deathbed. He refused. For whatever his Jesuit education and demeanor, Stephen is not a practicing Catholic. He rejects the Church as an imposition on his art. Yet, he nonetheless feels guilt for his disobedience to his mom at her death. He’s a conflicted dude.
  • Buck Mulligan and Haines have probably been colluding with each other to get Stephen out of the tower, so Haines can move in. And Stephen has caught on. Mulligan is Stephen’s friend, but he’s a bigger friend to Haines’ money. 
  • Mulligan has gotten the only key to the tower away from Stephen (even though Stephen has paid the rent). Although, Mulligan and Haines have not made their move to boot Stephen out, Stephen knows what’s coming.
  • Stephen leaves Haines and Mulligan to collect his paycheck, to wander, and to figure out what to do.   

We’ve finished the first chapter (of three) that constitute the Telemachiad (the chapters that focus on Stephen-Telemachus).

Any questons?


* = This is actually really fun. Reducing Joyce to 140 characters is empowering.


4 Responses

  1. Per Jerry Grit’s request I am reposting this super-sized comment:

    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!

  2. […] Here we have Amor matris, made all the more poignant because as Eric Jerric Jerry noted in his Telemachus Funmary, “Stephen is haunted by his dead mother, and his guilt surrounding her death. She asked him […]

  3. Thank you, Katie, this is useful info, but Anglicisation was more widespread than just Dublin. My mother uses the expression (about her family): ‘We were English people living in Ireland’ i.e. in her youth in far north County Waterford (1920-1945) there were people born and bred with an ‘Irish’ history going back to Cromwell – who considered themselves English (and were considered English by the English too). These were people who lived in what are now called Big Houses i.e. Landed Estates (see http://tinyurl.com/ktlkta). These people spoke English (with a county accent) though some (like my mother) also spoke Gaelic, (which she learned for political reasons (because despite their birth and background the family supported Home Rule).
    I wonder if what we might call Capital City Syndrome is also a factor in Dublin being thought of as ‘other’? For good reasons, (mainly to do with money) capital cities do tend to be more sophisticated…

  4. […] note: I have since rescinded breaking up the longer chapters. That strategy was, apparently, […]

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