Ulysses recap, pp. 184-204 of “Scylla and Charybdis”


Well, hopefully, my slow start on this section has given everyone a chance to catch up and make their way (in a nice, orderly fashion, of course) up to hushed reading room of “Scylla & Charybdis” (unfortunately presided over by some Quaker named Lyster, instead of Ruth Harrison, Reference Librarian).

For your edification, here are the tweets thus far, with important themes helpfully illuminated:

  • 184-We’re back in SD’s head as he talks to librarians, feeling superior. Amid literary jokes, conversation of poets, Paradise Lost & Hamlet.
  • 185-Russell argues art=ideas a la Plato; SD is over-polite then thinks of holy trinity, eastern religions & literature.SD=sacrificial butter
  • 186-J.E. tries to start debate b/w Plato & Aristotle, but no dice. Haines was reading Lovesongs but has gone.Guys think him “penitent thief”
  • 187-Best revives Hamlet discussion & teases French; Hamlet ending foreshadows holocaust? 1st mention of 2x dangers (saxon/yankee; devil/sea)
  • 188-SD prepares to defend position that King Hamlet =Shakespeare; sets scene, invokes muse, conjures images of fathers & sons (Ham & Shakes)
  • 189-Anne Shakespeare guilty queen? Russell says “who cares?” SD holds his tongue b/c owes Russ cash.Typically, SD defends debt w/ philosophy
  • 190-SD makes dreadful puns. Anne=SD’s momvia flashback. JE wonders if Anne was mistake best forgotten;SD says was “portal of discovery”
  • 191-more puns; did Anne’s seduction of Shakes influence all his female characters? SD says it’s so. JE invites Best to party– of mysticism?
  • 192-poets’ gathering; Haines invited.”necessity” defined.Moore & Mulligan=Quixote y Sancho.Cordelia=Dulcinea? SD gives Russ letter 2 publish
  • 193-librarian asks SD if he thinks Anne was unfaithful; he agrees gracefully. Then imagines Shakes’ & his own women.ponders might have beens
  • 194-JE says Shakes’s life is enigma & challenges SD to prove Shakes not Hamlet;SD says how past, present, & future become 1. Best confused
  • 195-“There can be no reconciliation if there has not been a sundering” says SD. rejects Shakes=Bacon; Argues that birth of Marina is upturn.
  • 196-Quaker urges SD to publish theories;SD says Dark Lady is wooed badly b/c Shakes lost confidence after Anne seduced him. SD poisons ears.
  • 197-king’s ghost knows b/c of God; Shakes hides from self behind own creation then becomes ghost. Buck enters & SD goes dark.Trinity=Shakes?
  • 198-Quaker tries to make peace. Buck teases. Actress is playing Hamlet; Wilde’s version of who wrote sonnets; “Of course, it’s all paradox”
  • 199- SD jealous of Buck; Buck mocks SD’s telegram & asks if he drank away the money. Says Aunt will go to SD’s father. Buck keeps the tele
  • 200-SD is blamed for Buck’s pranks; remembers France & meeting Faunman. Bloom enters library looking for newspaper & ad to copy
  • 201-Buck teases Jew, then says LB knows SD’s dad. JE asks for more on Anne; SD talks of Shake’s London lovers. Anne=Penelope under doubt
  • 202-What did Anne do? SD suspects Shakes loved a man at court; Anne took a lover. SD says case is proven by no mention of Anne by Shakes
  • 203-JE repeats old explaination of Anne & Shakes’ will. SD rebuts that Shakes was not poor & deliberately neglected Anne b/c she broke vows
  • 204-Other old wills used as contrast; Buck says Shakes died drunk. SD ignores interruption & says Shakes was tight w/ cash, like Shylock.

So, after all of the food and slobbery of the previous section, we find ourselves in what appears to be a nice, seemingly-random, academic interlude, far away from noisy, dirty ol’ Dublin.  English geeks, as I am, will easily recognize this literary debate, having participated in many like it.  Yet this prolonged conversation at this point in the narrative poses the twin dangers of its famous namesake: first, it threatens to suck Stephen Daedalus into a literary whirlpool of his own making, putting the kibosh on the rest of his journey through the city, and second, it poses a very real danger to the reader of getting utterly distracted by the gabble about Hamlet and Shakespeare and Anne and literary theory and the annoyingly chauvinistic double-standardness of it all, and thereby losing sight of how revealing the entire piece is about Stephen’s character.* [We apologize for the previous sentence.  It got a bit out of hand.  The people responsible have been sacked.  The rest of this piece has been written by highly trained llamas.]

As we have noticed many times throughout Ulysses, Joyce has carefully placed wormholes within the text, momentarily zapping us to the future.  (Note to self: be careful to avoid engaging the Borg.)  We had such a moment, way back in Telemachus, that Stephen “proved by algebra that Hamlet’s grandson is Shakespeare’s grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father” (18).  Buck Mulligan prevented Stephen from telling his theory at the time, though, because he wasn’t equal to “Thomas Aquinas and the fiftyfive reasons he has made to prop it up” without  a few pints in him (17).  Here, as it is now well into the afternoon, and Stephen, Buck, and probably the poets have all had their few pints (though I, sadly, have not), they are more than equal to the discussion.

Unless you have a particular passion for all theories Bard-related (bless you, my child!), let’s just hit the points that Joyce uses to highlight some key themes from the novel, shall we?

1.  The whole mess of Shakespeare, Hamlet, the King’s ghost, fathers and sons, etc. draws attention to Stephen’s own conflicted relationship with his father and Stephen’s difficulty in recognizing how he has (and hasn’t) changed since his days as an “Artist as a Young Man.”  We are also meant to think forward to our up-coming encounter with the ghost of Bloom’s son.

2. The whole mess of Anne’s possible unfaithfulness and Shakespeare’s many (and possibly multi-gendered) lovers casts a glow around Bloom and Molly and little Miss Penpal, not to mention young Stephen’s own indiscretions.

3. We may be tempted to overlook it in the middle of all this, but our main characters are all gathering.  The Englishman Haines has been and gone.  Our frienemy Buck has crashed the literary party, and most importantly, Bloom and Stephen are in the same place at the same time– FINALLY!  Athough they still have yet to meet, Buck does point out to Stephen that Bloom is a friend of old Mr. Daedalus.

4. Our old chum “consubstantiation” makes another appearance here, now with added back-up band (197).

More will be forthcoming in our final segment of this exciting adventure!

Now, it has been a long time since we have had questions for discussion, so here is a new batch for you (because there are not yet enough lists in this post):

a. Hands up all who agree that one more doubled verb/ adjective/ or adverb out of young Stephen gives us free reign to take drastic action.

b. Compare and contrast being “the sacrificial butter” to being the walrus.  Could you be the walrus, too?  Would you still have to bum rides off people?

c. On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 is a Car Talk pun and 10 is a Terry Pratchett pun, rate Stephen’s puns in this section.  Explain how you calculated the negative square root of pi.

In a Head’s Up for next time’s reading: your Money Quote is on page 205.  Can you find it?

*Wi nøt trei a høliday in Sweden this yër?


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.

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!

Odyssey Funmaries #1: Telemachus (Books I-II)


So how does an epic poem begin? With an invocation to the muse, of course. The writer (or more properly, the singer) asks for the strength to tell the story of “the man of twists and turns”…i.e., Odysseus. I wonder how Ulysses will begin?

The singer catches us up on how things are. Things are crappy. After defeating Hector and conquering Troy with his Trojan horse trick (seriously, how do you fall for that one?), Odysseus is still not home since leaving Ithaca 20 years ago. The singer tells us King Odysseus’ crew is dead, he’s the only survivor, and he’s homesick on some  island, where the bewitching nymph Calypso spends all day trying to get in his draws.

On top of that, a bunch of freeloaders (calling themselves “suitors”) have overrun his palace in Ithaca, drinking and eating his wealth, threatening his kid Telemachus, and trying to sleep with his ever-faithful wife Penelope.

Also, the sea god Poseidon has it in for him. Because Odysseus blinded his one-eyed son (ha!). 

However, Poseidon is now “worlds away.” Which means, what, Saturn? Nope, Ethiopia, which is only like a couple hundred miles from Greece. Couldn’t Fagles have revised this thing to give us a more appropriately distant place…like Indiana?

With Poseidon away, Athena (Zeus’ sparkling-eyed daughter and goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice, and skill…a real Type A goddess) recognizes an opportunity.  As the rest of the gods are complaining that mortals wrongfully blame them for miseries in the wake of the Clytemnestra fiasco, Athena tactfully points out Poseidon has been serving up a shit sandwich to Odysseus. The gods (recognizing an opportunity for damage control?) agree to support her helping out. Athena, also the goddess of PR? 

So she teleports Odysseus home to Ithaca and slaughters all the suitors.

Of course not. Instead, she goes to his son, Telemachus, in some gender-bending disguise (which doesn’t fool anymone) and encourages him to sail off to Pylos and Sparta where he *might* learn something about a dad that he doesn’t know.

Way to lend a hand, war god.

We also learn that Penelope has been successful putting off the suitors who are spend all day at her house, eating her food, drinking her wine, while trying to marry her (what kind of courtship is this?). She tells them she’ll marry whoever after she finishes sewing a shroud, which she begins everyday and secretly undoes everynight. She gets away with this FOR THREE YEARS. Holy moly, the detachable thumb trick would have these people on the floor.

No wonder Penelope is holding out for Odysseus. It’s been a lonely 2 decades, but that’s no reason to slum it with one of these numbskulls.

Telemachus announces his travel plans to an assembly of Ithaca elders, who are all pretty disgusted by what’s happening at Chez Odysseus. And they support him, but he still gets beef from the freeloaders. They demand if Telemachus is unsuccessful in finding any information, he has to give up his moms to one of the couch-surfing slobs.

And then (and I think this comes up in Ulysses), two eagles “wing to wingtip” fly over the assembled crowd and then start fighting each other. Old man Halitherses recognizes this as a symbol that Odysseus will be coming home and that he will kill the slobs.

The slobs respond, “flocks of birds go fluttering under the sun’s rays / not all are fraught with meaning” [2.204-205]…i.e., a cigar’s just a cigar…meaning they’ll die horrible deaths.

Telemachus once more announces his plans to leave. If he finds out that his dad is dead, he’ll give Odysseus the proper funeral rites and gives his mom away to one of the douchebags. If not, he’ll wait *another* year.  

Why does it take this guy 20 years and divine intervention to get the rocks to simply find out what happened to pops?  

Athena secretly puts together a crew and fully supplies a ship so Telemachus can sneak off to Pylos. Maybe she should have told Telemachus that it was going to be a secret trip before he announced it to the entire kingdom?

Great job, Athena.

Countdown to Bloomsday…

We read page 1 of Ulysses in 18 days.