ULYSSES pp. 116-133 “Aeolus”


One of the things I love about Ulysses is the familiarity of it. To have so many connections to a text written nearly a century ago is remarkable. Last month, I walked down Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street, named for Daniel, who got a mention in the Hades episode). I passed the General Post Office, mentioned on the first page of Ulysses and scene of significant events in 1916. I walked to Parnell Street, named for the fallen hero who haunts Joyce’s work, and around to Middle Abbey Street, location of the Freeman’s Journal offices. Where Nelson’s Pillar once stood, there’s now a Spire, in the shadow of which a new transport system, the Luas, shuttles passengers to some of those places mentioned in Aeolus.

Outside of this familiarity, I find Aeolus a difficult episode. The objective voice takes us away from the humantity of the characters. For the first time (and not the last), the narrative seems to be obscured by the device. While I find some of the headlines humorous, they do get in the way and are often unrelated to the paragraphs they head.

Some helpful background to this episode, unrestrained by Twitter’s 140-character limit:

This episode has two parts: Bloom in the newspaper office, and then the other funeral attendees, talking in a pub. Remember, in the Homeric Aeolus, Odysseus is given a bag full of wind that might push him in the wrong direction. He gets blown off course. This episode is about machinery and wind. The wind of oratory, of political byperbole. Everyone’s a windbag. It’s noon, the funeral is over, and Bloom has work to do. It turns out to be more difficult than expected to secure Keyes’s ad Bloom wil have to go to the National Library to track the Keyes image down (in the Scylla and Charybdis episode). You’ll see again that Bloom is not exactly respected by his peers. Stephen Dedalus will show up at the same place as Bloom but not at the same time. And there’ll be a lot of talking, much of it about Irish history. It’s also helpful to be aware that the Weekly Freeman and Evening Telegraph are in the same building.

I love Joyce’s playful way with language though he is sometimes too self indulgent. The reversal of this line, representing the reversing Trams, seems to me a stroke of genius: “Grossbooted draymen rolled barrels dullthudding out of Prince’s stores and bumped them up on the brewery float. On the brewery float bumped dullthudding barrels rolled by grossbooted draymen out of Prince’s stores.”

And now it’s back to the twreading (really?!) if Twitter cooperates.


4 Responses

  1. Great start, Brendan. Are you in Ireland now? Where you raised in Dublin?

    Also, do you think at all the objective voice of the headlines sheds a different light on the characters?

  2. Glad to have you on board, Brendan. Read this one along w/ your podcast. Good work, sir.

    As for the playful language, Joyce seems to almost poking fun at himself with the line: “We mustn’t be led away by words, by sounds of words.”

    I agree that all of the titles are distracting & that the distanced narration also serves to isloate the reader from the characters. Although, I did notice that Stephen’s own internal monologues began oozing into the final few “stories.” I had forgotten what a depressing place his mind was after the humanist Bloom.

  3. I concur with the above commenters.

    My question: Do you have a last name? Or is Brendan like “Bono” or “Gandhi”?

    Just curious.

  4. The name’s McCabe, a grand old Irish name. Have you seen Richard Harris in ‘The Field’? You should. Lizanne, thanks for complimenting my reading – I’m glad to put it to use here, haven’t gotten much feedback since I recorded it 2 years ago. I know it’s imperfect & would like to rerecord it someday. I didn’t know there was a schema when I started & just recently edited those episodes.

    I accept that Stephen is a cynic and misses much that Bloom appreciates. For me, the poetry of his language overrides his depression. I was glad when his monologues oozed in.

    I’m back in the U.S., just visited Ireland for a week in July (came back with 10 books about Joyce!). I grew up in Meath, next county to Dublin, but visited a lot and spent a year there for college. I think the headlines are designed to seem as if they were placed there by an editor after the text was written, so they don’t add much to character. The intent is humorous though, and they were fun to read aloud.

    I think the funeral attendees at the pub part is wrong, and the General Post Office mention is of course on the first page of the Aeolus episode, not of Ulysses. Also sorry about a couple of spelling errors, will be more careful next time.

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