Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ulysses Wednesday #14

Welcome to Ulysses Wednesday, where I track my progress reading James Joyce's tale of a day in the life of Leopold Bloom.

Status: page 700 of 783


  So Bloom and Dedalus were last seen at the off-hours pub, and Bloom is deciding whether or not to take Stephen home with him so that he can sleep it off.  He decides in the positive, but when they arrive at the house poor Poldy realizes that he doesn't have his house key and must break in (lest he awake Molly). 
  The chapter I'm in now is in the style of an interview - a very scientific interview.  It is explaining quite a bit about Bloom, Stephen, and their families, which I wish I read before the rest of the book.  There's also some really weird stuff (weirder stuff, I should say) -- an implied connection between Ireland and Israel, for example, and a strange poem/nursery rhyme that I don't think I'd want to be singing with any children I know:
Little Harry Hughes and his schoolfellows all
Went out for to play ball.
And the very first ball little Harry Hughes played
He drove it o'er  the jew's garden wall.
And the very second ball little Harry Hughes played
He broke the jew's windows all.
Then out there came the jew's daughter
And she all dressed in green.
'Come back, come back, you pretty little boy,
And play your ball again.'
'I can't come back and I won't come back
Without my schoolfellows all,
For if my master he did hear
He'd make it a sorry ball.'
She took him by the lilywhite hand
And led him along the hall
Until she led him to a room
Where none could hear him call.
She took a penknife out of her pocket
And cut off his little head,
And now he'll play his ball no more
For he lies among the dead.
  A treatise against playing ball where you might break something, or an example of anti-Semitism?
  I have about 30 pages left in this chapter (oops - sorry - EPISODE) and then I'm on to Molly's stream of consciousness rant.  I feel I need to read that part all at once, so if I'm able to do that, I might just finish the novel within the week!

1 comment:

  1. I'd say that it's a commentary against anti-Semitism, I think Stephen is alluding to popular ignorance and prejudice in an ironic way. Nobody said, Stephen is mister sensitive to people's feelings, he's too outspoken and self absorbed for that. (Joyce based Stephen on his earlier self, as he got older he became far more of a mensch, and grew to regard his young self, albeit brillaint, more critically.)

    I love this chapter by the way, its question and answer is deadpan funny, and the details are so telling and human, it's what I was referring to when I said that things would tend to start to all come together.

    There is a trick to reading Molly Bloom, that when I realized it really helps. Not punctuating it gives the impression of a continuous flow, and drifting off to sleep, and free association. But actually, the super-long sentences are really composed of much smaller ones, with quite conventional grammar. Not untypical of the way poorly educated women in Ireland wrote at the time (we have examples from Joyce's wife, Nora.) If you figure out where the periods would be, it will help you a lot if you get lost--reading it aloud also helps.


What do you think? Good or bad, I'd love to hear from you (but be nice - I'm sensitive!)