ULYSSES pp. 60-65, “Calypso”


Now that we’ve all had a chance to refuel (with our beverage of choice), time to get back on track with the next few pages of Calypso.  While the rest of the passengers are boarding, let’s take a few moments to review my tweets covering this section.  Pay careful attention, please, because Joyce loads us up with insight into Leopold and Molly Bloom over the course of these 6 pages:

60-LB buys sausage, avoiding eye contact w/ butcher; saunters back towards home, reading posters cut sheets adverting far-away farms; leads 2 daydream

61-recalls estranged friends; cloud brings dark thoughts of barren land & people; thinks of home & Molly 2 cheer up; @ home finds mail on mat

62-LB delivers postcard & letter 2 Molly in bed; moves dirty clothes; makes tea; cooks kidney; scans letter from daughter w/ fond memory

63-LB takes b-fast tray 2 Molly, sees she has opened letter; LB lavishly describes her body; letter is from her manager Boylan about concert

64-M asks L 2 define “metempsychosis” from her smutty book; he tries; he recalls day they met & how much he hates circuses; M wants new book

65-still explaining migration of souls; puts book in pocket; kidney burns; LB rescues it & eats alone in kitchen; thinks of daughter’s note

 Let me ‘splain– no, there is too much.  Let me sum up:

 1. Leo here follows the plan that he set out for himself earlier in the section, so we can see he is goal-oriented, which fits what we already know of him as a businessman.  He has his day planned out carefully.  So carefully, in fact, that he refuses to acknowledge any connection to the butcher (just as he previously only made small-talk with the store-keeper), lest it lead to something for which Leo is unprepared: “No: better not: another time” (60).  [side note– his reaction to Molly’s novel is certainly startling.  Who knew that Leo circus-o-phobic?]

2. Leo multi-tasks at home as he does the job of both husband and wife (cooking, tidying, bringing in the mail, organizing laundry, etc) because that slovenly, slug-a-bed Molly has yet to arise from her Spanish?, squeeky-springed mattress {as the astute Scooter Thomas noted, she is an excellent napper}; although she does awaken enough to gobble her breakfast and to clandestinely read the letter from her lover, Boylan.  

2a. As the first female character to be properly introduced in the novel, Madame Molly does not demand our sympathies.  Instead, she plays the part of the over-indulged and over-sexed nymphette to a tee (by having her tea and drinking it too, so to speak). 

2b. However, we do have her question about “metempsychosis” to thank for illuminating a central premise of this novel: the transference of Odysseus’s spirit into Leopold.  There’s also a nice little example for us pointing to Molly as a nymph.

3. Despite his domestic placidity, however, there are dark depths to our Irish Odysseus.  During his trip back home from the butcher’s, Leo is unexpectedly overcome by a wave of despair (interrupting another lovely daydream of ripening fruit in the Promised Land) when he sees a cloud pass over him–an example of pathetic fallacy in reverse.  This incident, although Leo dismisses it out of hand as “morning mouth” (61) clearly throws him off his stride.  It echoes Stephen’s previous imagery of barren lands and sexually-unproductive women, here with the added themes of the lost and abandoned Israelites throughout the world.  Leo’s feelings of loneliness and disconnection also match Odysseus’s emotions as he weeps at the shore of Calypso’s island. 

3. In another of his refreshing contrasts to Stephen, though, Leo does not wallow in his misery.  Thoughts of Molly lift him out of his funk and cheer him as he arrives home.  Thus, Leo manages to score two points up on our Stephen in that he successfully makes it back home without his key and he does it cheerfully [interestingly enough, Leo brings himself back by conjuring up pleasant sensory images– echoing the experiment Stephen was trying earlier]. OH– make that three points, Leo actually likes his family members and recalls them fondly, as evidenced by his brief flashback to when young Milly gave him the mustache cup for his birthday. 

Right, time for nibbles and questions.  Buy some sweets from the nice lady’s tray– mind the chocolate frogs. 

Questions for discussion:

–How many sexual innuendos did you count in these 6 pages?  The “tender gland” one doesn’t count as it is too easy. 

–What do you think was REALLY in that letter from young Master Boylan?

–Would you like to see the Blooms on an episode of “How Clean is Your House?”  Explain using details.

–Calculate the probability of the word “metempsychosis” appearing in an dirty novel about circuses to at least 10 decimal places.

Bonus points: 

 a. Jerry mentioned several posts ago that each section has its own color.  Can you identify the color for this section? 

b. Did you catch the cameo appearance of rosy-fingered Dawn?


5 Responses

  1. Excellent work, Lizaanne. You’re trucking through this thing.

    I’m away from my book, so a little hesitant to answer the questions, but I just wanted to comment that I think it’s really great how you’re foregrounding the differences/similarities between Bloom and Dedalus. Understanding how these characters work in relation to each other is a key to understanding/appreciating the book.

  2. I share Leopold’s circus-o-phobia. But one would when a rogue elephant trampled and shattered one’s femur at the tender age of six.

    This is really an excellent summation. And I have enjoyed Lizaanne’s questions at the end of each post. I will tackle #1.

    Not counting the “moist tender gland,” and omitting Leopold’s gazing at Molly’s “large soft bubs”( “like a shegoat’s udder”??), I counted four sexual innuendos: “a plume of steam from the spout”; “its hump bumped”; “the sluggish cream”; and “let the scanty brown gravy trickle.” But I’m not terribly imaginative, so I bet there’s more like ten or twenty.

  3. It’s not that Bloom is afraid of the circus, he hates the abuse and captivity that masquerades as entertainment. He’s just a sweet dood.

    And no surprise voreblog is a little dimwitted in the innuendo detection department. I made four years of erotic suggestions, never got anywhere.

    #2: The letter sets up Molly and Blazes’ hookup later that day. However, I don’t remember if this is implied or if we actually find out what’s in the letter.

    Also, and this is something to keep in mind as we read, do Molly and Blazes actually hookup? Most readers just assume that they do because their experience of the book is filtered mainly through Bloom’s marginally paranoid perspective. It may be that nothing actually happens between Blazes and Molly.

  4. […] what Martha’s letter says because Leopold runs into M’Coy. As Lizaanne noted in “Calypso,” Bloom doesn’t handle distractions well. His first thought when he sees M’Coy is […]

  5. How about ‘foul flowerwater’ VoreBlog? Devastating!

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