"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (1917) +
"Finnegan's Wake" (1939) ++
"The Dead" (1908)
"Ulysses" (1922) +++
James Joyce (Ireland, 1882)
1893 his ninth sibling (and sixth sister) is born
1902 graduates at University College in Dublin
1902 meets W.B. Yeats
1902 leaves Ireland in revolt against family, nationality and religion
1902-03 studies medicine in Paris
1904 a talented tenor, he competes in the most prestigious music competition of Ireland
1904 meets his future wife Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid on 16 June (later "Bloomsday")
1904 begins writing the autobiographical novel "Stephen Hero"
1905-20 moves to Trieste in Austria-Hungary
1905 takes music lessons from Giuseppe Sinico
1905 his first child, Giorgio, is born
1905 "The Dubliners" is rejected by a publisher
1905-07 writes 24 chapters of the novel "Stephen Hero"
1907 meets and befriends Italo Svevo
1907 publishes his first book, the 35 poems of "Chamber Music"
1907 his daughter Lucia is born
1908 writes "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man", a rewriting of "Stephen Hero"
1909 launches Ireland's first movie theater
1913 W.B. Yeats sends one of Joyce's poems to Ezra Pound, who becomes a fan
1914 "The Dubliners" is finally published (after submitting it 18 times to a total of 15 publishers)
1914 Pound includes Joyce's poems in the anthology "Des Imagistes"
1914-15 Pound helps him serialize "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" the English literary magazine The Egoist
1914 begins writing Ulysses
1914-18 World War I
1915 moves to Zurich during World War I
1915 completes his theatrical play "Exiles"
1915 befriends Harriet Shaw Weaver who becomes his main financial supporter
1915-18 studies Greek
1915 Ferruccio Busoni, who is working on the opera "Doktor Faust", moves to Zurich
1916 Dada at the Cabaret Voltaire of Zurich
1916 Vladimir Lenin hangs out at the Cafe Odeon of Zurich
1916 Pound finds a publisher in the USA for "A Portrait"
1917 Harriet Shaw Weaver's Egoist Press publishes "A Portrait" in London
1917 Joyce co-founds the acting company The English Players and sings at their performances
1918-21 "Ulysses" is serialized in Margaret Anderson's Little Review in Chicago
1919 Stefan Zweig organizes the premiere of "Exiles" in Munich
1920-40 moves to Paris where Pound finds him a job
1920 Sylvia Beach becomes his new financial supporter
1921 Valery Larbaud promotes "Ulysses" in France
1920 The New York Society for the Suppression of Vice sues the Little Review over the "obscene" content of "Ulysses"
1921 The Little Review is ordered to stop printing "Ulysses"
1922 "Ulysses" is published in Paris by Sylvia Beach's Shakespeare and Company and in London by Harriet Shaw Weaver's Egoist Press
1922 "Ulysses" is banned for obscenity in Britain
1923 begins writing "Finnegans Wake"
1924-29 "Ulysses" is translated into French by Auguste Morel under Larbaud's supervision
1924 an excerpt from "Finnegans Wake" is published in Ford Madox Ford's literary journal The Transatlantic Review
1926 chapters of "Finnegans Wake" are published in Eugene and Maria Jolas' literary journal Transition
1927 the 13 short poems of "Pomes Penyeach" are published
1928 meets Samuel Beckett
1929 Harry and Caresse Crosby's Black Sun Press publishes excerpts from "Finnegans Wake"
1929 Shakespeare and Company publishes "Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress", a collections of essays on "Finnegans Wake"
1930 Faber and Faber publishes two chapters of "Finnegans Wake"
1930 goes almost blind
1930-31 moves to London
1932 Carl Jung's essay on "Ulysses"
1933-38 Transition publishes Part II of "Finnegans Wake"
1934 Carl Jung treats Joyce's daughter Lucia who has schizophrenia
1934 "Ulysses" is legally published in the United States
1936 "Ulysses" is legally published in Britain
1938 helps Jews escape Nazi persecution
1939 "Finnegans Wake" is published by Faber and Faber in London and Viking Press in New York
1940 moves back to Zurich when France is occupied by Germany during World War II
1941 dies at the age of 59
"The Dubliners" (1914) collects 15 short stories, divided into childhood, adolescence, and maturity: the first stories are narrated by children and later stories by progressively older people.
"An Encounter": due bambini (Joyce e Mahony) giocano agli indiani e vanno a zonzo; incontrano un uomo che parla loro a lungo dei fatti della vita, ma Mahony è più preso dalla caccia ad un gatto;
"Araby": Joyce è innamorato della sorella di Mangan, e promette di portarle qualcosa dal ba zaar quando ci andrà; ottiene il permesso dallo zio, ma poi nel negozio non trova il coraggio di comprare nulla;
"Eveline": Eveline fugge di casa (dove il padre la maltratta) con un marinaio, ma sul punto di imbarcarsi si rende conto di cosa si lascia dietro e resta a guardare il suo marinaio salire trascinato dalla folla.
"After the Race": all'arrivo d'una gara automobilistica, quattro uomini di diversa nazionalità cercano svago nei locali della città;
"Two Gallants": Leneham e Corley, due giovani galanti, parlano di donne: Corley ne segue e corteggia una e poi torna con in mano una moneta d'oro;
"The Boarding House": la signora Moarey conduce una pensione pensando all'avvenire della figlia e, quando questa seduce un onesto impiegato, lo obbliga a sposarla;
"A Little Cloud": Little Cahndler è un timido umile marito, che ha dovuto ridimensionare la sua passione per la letteratura, che, dopo tanto tempo, rivede l'amico Ignatius Gallagher, ora giornalista londinese, ma poi deve tornare bruscamente alla meschina realtà di casa sua, con la moglie che lo rimprovera perché ha fatto piangere il bambino leggendogli delle poesie;
"Counterparts": l'impiegato Farrington si ribella alla tirannia del suo capo, Allenpre, e viene licenziato; al pub ne ride con gli amici, ma a casa, ubriaco, si sfoga picchiando il figlioletto che l'ha atteso per preparargli la cena;
"Clay": l'anziana Maria va a portare i regali di Natale ai figli di Joe, che lei vide crescere, e la famiglia l'accoglie con gioia;
"A Painful case": James Duffy s'innamora, ricambiato, d'una donna sposata, ma quando si rende conto che stanno per diventare troppo intimi, decide di troncare la relazione; lei ne muore di dolore e lui, ricordando i passati appuntamenti platonici, capisce d'essere solo;
" Ivy Day In The Commitee Room ": nel quartier generale d'un candidato alle elezioni politiche: chiacchiere;
"A Mother": la giovane Kathleen Kearney viene assunta per quattro concerti organizzati dal signor Honolan, sennonché la madre decide di difendere i suoi interessi e, temendo che non le venga pagato il dovuto, minaccia a Honolan un'astensione nel bel mezzo del terzo concerto: dapprima gli organizzatori cedono, ma poi, visto che anche il pubblico presente sembra dalla loro parte, cercano una sostituta, ed all'autoritaria matrona non rimane che andarsene tirandosi dietro la figlia ed il remissivo marito;
"Grace": Kernan scivola ubriaco e, nel cadere, si mozza la lingua; per sollevare la moglie, gli amici si mettono d'accordo e lo convincono a partecipare con loro ad un ritiro; molte chiacchiere;
"The Dead" (1908): al ballo annuale indetto dalle anziane sorelle Kate e Julia Morkan partecipano anche il nipote Gabriel e sua moglie Gretta; al ritorno a casa lui vorrebbe fare l'amore, ma lei gli racconta la triste storia del suo primo amore, un ragazzo che morì per lei (venne febbricitante a salutarla la notte prima di partire per il collegio) e finisce per commuoverlo, anche se lui deve rendersi conto che in tutti quegli anni lei l'ha sempre paragonato all'altro.
"A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (1917) +, a coming-of-age novel derived from abandoned autobiographical novel "Stephen Hero", follows the childhood and adolescence of Stephen Dedalus, introduced the "stream of consciousness" method.
"2." La vita collegiale è movimentata da alcuni episodi: una rappresentazione teatrale, l'amore platonico per una ragazza, le zuffe verbali e corporali con Vincent Heron e gli altri compagni che lo scherniscono per la sua segreta infatuazione, o lo stuzzicano criticando i suoi scrittori preferiti.
Suo padre, un orgoglioso irlandese ed un fedele cattolico, lo educa ai sani principi della sua gente, e lo trasferisce nel collegio dove studiò lui stesso, ma Stephen, adesso padrone della propria vita, si dà alle spese folli e, nonostante la coscienza l'accusi di peccato mortale, va a conoscere il sesso in un bordello sprecando i soldi di un premio universitario. Il padre e` sempre piu` alcoolizzato e sempre piu` indebitato.
"3." Durante il ritiro spirituale, suggestionato dalle severe prediche dei suoi insegnanti, Stephen viene colto dal terrore della perdizione; in preda ad un delirio di visioni apocalittiche, vaga per le strade finché trova la forza d'entrare in una chiesa e farsi confessare. Riconquista così la pace dell'anima, ed è ossessionato dall'idea di poter peccare di nuovo. Il peccato lo tormenta: ogni volta che si confessa deve confessare di nuovo lo stesso peccato; l'espiazione non ha fine. Lunghi deliri in un'atmosfera d'incubo descrivono i moti della coscienza di Dedalus, la sua subconscia interpretazione dei fatti della vita.
"4." Il direttore del collegio pensa invece che, sia per il carattere, sia per il profitto dei suoi studi, Stephen sia vocato alla vita sacerdotale; ma Stephen non è attratto dalla grigia esistenza dei gesuiti: vuole vivere, "ricreare" continuamente "vita dalla vita".
"5." All'università, gli studenti (fra cui Stephen, che è uno dei meno loquaci, ma anche dei più acuti, e il suo miglior amico Cranly) discutono di filosofia e politica; Stephen è ancora innamorato platonicamente della stessa ragazza che conobbe bambina, Emma, anche se è affetto da un senso di colpa per le proprie crisi di lussuria. Il suo credo si fa sempre meno ecclesiastico e più eretico, sempre meno patriottico e più universale.
Stephen decide di lasciare l'Irlanda per andare incontro alla propria missione, benché sappia di spezzare il cuore di sua madre.
"Ulysses" (1922) +++ is divided into 18 episodes that "roughly correspond to the episodes in Homer's "Odyssey" (which is divided into 24 books). (See also Sarah Cole's talk on "Ulysses"). There are however many significant differences between Joyce's novel and Homer's poem: the action of Joyce's novel takes place during one ordinary day (16 June 1904 at 8 am till 2 am the following morning) whereas Homer's Ulysses took ten years to return home from the Trojan War. It is set in 1904 Dublin, and the protagonists are Dubliners: Leopold Bloom (Ulysses), his wife Molly Bloom (Penelope), and Stephen Dedalus (Ulysses' son Telemachus). Dedalus is the same character of "A Portrait", which is modeled after Joyce himself. Rather than a transposition, it feels like a parody (of Homer as well as of Shakespeare): Bloom does not triumph like Ulysses and returns home to a faithful wife who waited for him 20 years, but instead witnesses his wife sleep with another man. Homer's Ulysses is the king of Ithaca whereas Bloom is a cuckolded Jew in a Catholic city. Joyce's novel is not heroic but mock-heroic. Joyce was influenced by Italian historian Guglielmo Ferrero's theory of anti-heroic history ("The Young Europe", 1897). There is no triumph but instead only defeat. There is also martyrdom. And there is a general sense of pacifism, of anti-war sentiment, instead of Homer's glorification of warriors. Joyce wrote it in the middle of World War I and the Irish War of Independence. Bloom's long journey is simply around his city, not around the Mediterranean Sea, and the people he meets are neither monsters nor magicians, but simply ordinary people. The main difference between Homer and Joyce is perhaps that Joyce's novel mainly takes place inside inside the minds of the characters: it is mostly a novel of soliloquy rather than a novel of action. It's soliloquy that often looks like cinematic montage or impressionistic painting or psychoanalytic "free association". That soliloquy follows its own rhetorical method, which has little to do with logic and a lot to do with music: Joyce was a musician before he was a writer and his language is musical before it's logical. What is epic in Joyce is not the story but the vocabulary of the story. "Ulysses" contains countless references to music (notably the chapter "Siren"). But the language also seems like a deliberate strategy to make scholars spend pages and pages to analyze his choice of words: Joyce is playing a cat-and-mouse game with future literary critics. The novel also mocks literature ("Who ever anywhere will read these written words?"), so also demystifies the novel itself, Joyce's own profession.
Another powerful mythopoeic force in the novel is Shakespeare's "Hamlet". At the beginning Stephen "proves by algebra that Hamlet's grandson is Shakespeare's grandfather and that he himself is the ghost of his own father" and later (the chapter in Dublin's National Library from 2pm to 3pm) Stephen argues that Shakespeare identified with the ghost of Hamlet's father, that Hamlet represents Shakespeare's dead son Hamnet, and Gertrude represents Shakespeare's adulterous wife Ann Hathaway. Stephen speculates that Shakespeare himself played ghost Hamlet on stage and that the "son [is] consubstantial with the father", i.e. that Shakespeare was both Hamlet and the ghost of Hamlet's father. This sounds like a reference to the Christian trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
Another influence is Dante's "Commedia": not only Bloom's Dublin feels like Dante's Purgatorio, but the whole novel is an edifice of allegories like Dante's poem (and Joyce the self-exiled novelist from a land occupied by the British empire resembles Dante, the exiled poet from a city controlled by the Papal State, both somewhat hostile to the Catholic Church). "Ulysses" too is a comedy, and it does begin in an Inferno, except that Bloom never reaches Paradiso because his Beatrice is the very woman who cheats on him with another man. "Ulysses" is divided in three parts like Dante's "Commedia", but the three parts are not equal: Dante is guided by Virgil in the Inferno and the Purgatorio, and by Beatrice in the Paradiso; Stephen opens the book, Bloom dominates most of the book, the ending is Molly's.
Another major influence is Flaubert, both his "Madame Bovary" (that probes the inner life of a woman, and another novel that was accused of obscenity) and his "Bouvard et Pecuchet" (a "book about nothing").
"Ulysses" was accused of obscenity but in reality nothing is pornographic (as the judge also decided): Joyce simply details bodily acts like defecating and masturbating, and the effect is to further "normalize" the anti-hero of the novel. Joyce used hyper-realistic descriptions to dispel any notion of abstraction. The obsession for detail is also a way to establish a link between naturalism and symbolism: each action and sentence is automatically perceived as an allegory precisely because it is "exaggerated" in its tortured realism.
Bloom descends from a long genealogy of comic characters: Pantagruel, Falstaff, Alfred Jingle in Pickwick Papers... Joyce lived in an age when Jews were changing the way we see the world: Marx, Bergson, Freud, Einstein... They were outsiders but also revolutionaries. Their wanderings and immortalities were more intellectual than geographical (the "wandering Jew" of the 13th century was condemned to walk the Earth until the second coming of Jesus). Except that Bloom is also a coward and a voyeur, fundamentally indifferent to his own tragicomic adventures.
Stephen, the young and austere (and impoverished) intellectual ("History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake"), is the opposite of the older, mundane and pragmatic Bloom Like Herman Melville's Ahab in "Moby-Dick" he is lonely and paranoid, but without any of the heroic pulsion.
The dualism between Bloom and Stephen seems like an attempt to dialectically discuss the meaning of life: one ordinary day in an ordinary man's life (an infinitesimal and irrelevant amount of human history) versus the labyrinthine mind of the aspiring intellectual (who is engaged in profound historical theories). There is no philosophy, there is only mock-heroic absurdity. Nonetheless, it is Bloom who seems the one who goes beyond the material world as presented to him by the senses and searches for a deeper meaning in the surrounding world.
After living parallel lives, Stephen and Bloom finally meet in the evening.
Note that the narrator does not intrude in the story. The writer fills the novel of enigmas and puzzles, but the narrator leaves them to the characters to solve them.
One item never gets resolved: who is the mysterious man in a macintosh? Nabokov speculated that "the man in the brown macintosh... is no other than the author himself", a cameo by Joyce similar to the cameos of Hitchcock in his films. Nabokov loves the idea that "Bloom glimpses his maker!"
Joyce had lived several years in Italian-speaking Trieste and is likely to have known about two influential cultural phenomena of Italy: Luigi Pirandello's fiction and theater ("Il Fu Mattia Pascal" came out in 1904) and the futurists (Marinetti's manifesto was published in 1909).
Joyce wrote much of "Ulysses" while in Zurich. One has to wonder if he was influenced by any of the protagonists of the city's cultural life. Those were the years of Dada at the Cabaret Voltaire and the years of Carl Jung's dominance of psychoanalysis. During those years Lenin lived in Zurich and Ferruccio Busoni was in Zurich composing "Doktor Faust". Joyce was spared the war in Switzerland and most of the "Spanish Flu" (the pandemic that killed millions in Europe between 1918 and 1920), but he must have had feelings about these epochal events.
Focusing on space, Joyce shows us the ruins of time. Focusing on time, Proust shows us the ruins of space.
Finally, one wonders if the Ulysses of the title is in reality the reader of the book, the reader who has to travel through all the challenges and dangers of the text in order to reach the end.
1 Telemachus. At 8am of 16 June 1904, medical student Malachi "Buck" Mulligan chats with aspiring writer Stephen Dedalus on the roof of a tower by the sea. They are housemates and live in that tower. Buck is boisterous, arrogant and vulgar. Stephen, introverted, resents that (months earlier) Buck accused him of causing his own mother's death by refusing her last wish, to pray at her bedside. Stephen also resents that Buck has a guest, fellow student Haines. After eating breakfast together, the trio walk to the sea. Buck asks Stephen for money and Stephen hands him the key of the tower despite the fact that it's Stephen who pays the rent. Stephen, annoyed by Buck, is determined to move out. They make an appointment for 12:30pm at a pub.
2. Nestor. Stephen teaches ancient history to disrespectful pupils. He tells the students a riddle about a fox burying his grandmother under a bush. After class he tutors an ugly boy, Cyril Sargent, in math. Then Stephen meets with the school's pompous headmaster, Garrett Deasy, who pays his salary, gives him a lecture about England being the victim of a Jewish conspiracy, claims that women invented sin, and asks Stephen to find a way to get his own essay on a cattle disease published. During their discussion Stephen says that "history is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake".
3 Proteus. Stephen walks alone along the sea and his lengthy and convoluted monologue informs us that he was a penniless student in Paris when he was called back by his father because his mother was dying; that he is still haunted by his mother's death (he has vowed to wear black for a year); and that he is basically an apostate. We also learn that Buck has saved a man from drowning. He toys with the idea of paying a visit to uncle Richie (whom his father despises) and aunt Sara. His monologue wanders from Jesus' life to Irish history. Stephen urinates.
4 Calypso. At the same time (8am) that Stephen and Buck were chatting, Leopold Bloom, a middle-aged half-Jew, is making breakfast for himself and his wife, an opera soprano, and prepares to attend a funeral. They have a 15-year-old daughter, Milly, who is employed in the photography business. Bloom picks up the mail and finds a letter from Milly and a letter to Molly from her lover Blazes Boylan, her business manager. Bloom reads a magazine while defecating. He leaves the house at 8:45am, the exact same time when Stephen leaves the tower, wearing black because he's goind to the funeral of a man named Dignam, and without the house key. So both Bloom and Stephen are wearing black and don't have the key to their houses; and neither is a Catholic in a very Catholic country. However, the difference between the two is that Stephen resents his situation and plans to rebel (if nothing else, by moving out) while Bloom accepts it with resignation.
5 The Lotus-Eaters. Bloom walks around town, does some shopping, reflects on his father's suicide, and eventually heads for the post office, where, disguised as a Henry Flower, where he picks up a letter from a penpal, Martha Clifford. We learn that she is a prospective lover but he doesn't sound excited to see her. Bloom toys with the idea that Hamlet could have been a woman. Bloom has all sort of erotic thoughts (even when he stops inside a church) while at the same time upset by his wife's infidelity. Bloom imagines exotic places and meditates on the power of religious ceremonies. His wanderings include comic misunderstandings with friends.
6 Hades. On the carriage headed to the Dignam's funeral, Bloom meets Stephen's father Simon and other friends. They see Stephen walking in the street. They also pass Blazes Boylan, Molly's lover. People comment on both Bloom's father and Bloom's wife. We learn that Bloom also lost a child, Rudy, who died a few days after being born. We learn that Bloom cannot accompany Molly on her forthcoming tournee' because he has to attend the anniversary memorial for his father. Bloom thinks about death, and about his own death. His cemetery plot already exists: his mother and son are already buried there. On the way to the church Bloom crosses four rivers (like the four rivers to cross to reach the Hades in ancient Greece's mythology). At Dignam's funeral Bloom notices a stranger wearing a macintosh, who happens to be the unlucky 13th person. His meditations on death are somewhat comical, for example that it would be useful to have telephones inside coffins in case the death is buried alive or that it would be useful if the gravestones told the story of the dead.
7 Aeolus. Bloom, who works as a canvasser, walks to the office of a newspaper with the mission to place an ad on behalf of a customer, while Stephen's father Simon is chatting in another office of the same building. Bloom needs to research the design for the ad at the library. The workers of the newspaper discuss contemporary events (real ones). Stephen, who occasionally works for the newspaper, arrives at the same newspaper to offer the headmaster's letter about the cattle disease, which is accepted. Bloom, instead, does not get the deal for his client. Stephen and Bloom do not talk to each other although they see each other briefly in the office. Stephen and other workers of the newspaper leave for the pub. Stephen is treated friendly at the newspaper, while Bloom is treated by a peddler.
8 Lestrygonians. At 1pm Bloom is walking alone around Dublin. Someone hands him a flyer advertising an evangelist from the USA. Bloom sees Stephen's sister Dilly, who appears poor and starving, and Josie Breen, an old flame whose husband Denis has gone crazy, and thinks of Mina Purefoy, who is always pregnant, and relates it to the man who has just been buried: the cycle of life. We learn that Bloom placed an ad in the newspaper for a "smart typist" but with the intention to find a lover, and Martha is only one of the 44 women who responded. Bloom thinks of astronomical concepts: the parallax and the eclipse. He helps a blind boy cross the street. He walks into a pub to eat, where he remembers nostalgically when he met Molly and they fell in love. People who know him gossip about his career and his habits. Blood heads for the library to look up the design for the Keyes ad, but then he sees Boylan, he hides to avoid him.
9 Scylla and Charybdis. At 2pm Stephen and other intellectuals debate Stephen's theory of Shakespeare at the National Library: Stephen argues that Shakespeare saw himself in the ghost of Hamlet's father, Hamlet corresponded to Shakespeare's dead son Hamnet, and Gertrude corresponded to Shakespeare's adulterous wife Ann Hathaway. Stephen speculates that Shakespeare himself played ghost Hamlet on stage and that the "son [is] consubstantial with the father", i.e. that Shakespeare was both Hamlet and the ghost of Hamlet's father. Stephen further speculates that Shakespear hated his two brothers Richard and Edmund. The others, however, don't pay much attention to Stephen, so much so that he is ignored when they discuss a forthcoming anthology of Irish poets, and he is not invited at a meeting with a famous novelist at which Buck and Haines are invited. When asked if he believes in his own theory, Stephen himself admits he doesn't. It sounds like he was just trying (in vain) to impress the other intellectuals of his acumen. Meanwhile, Buck has arrived, upset at Stephen for not showing up at the pub (Stephen sent him a telegram instead). Buck intrudes in the conversation and makes fun of Stephen and much more. Buck, noticing Bloom in a nearby room, tells Stephen that he saw Bloom staring at a Greek statue in the museum, implying that Bloom might be a pederast. Buck even recites a hymn to masturbation titled "Everyman His own Wife." Bloom exits the National Library at the same time that Stephen and Buck are stepping out and passes in between them, and Buck again makes fun of his presumed homosexuality. This chapter parallels the Odyssey's chapter on the six-headed Scylla, a monster that attacks Ulysses' crew: here Scylla is six intellectuals having a boring discussion on Shakespeare, juxtaposed to the simpleton Ulysses/Bloom. At the same time Bloom seems to fit Stephen's view of Shakespeare: an unfaithful wife and a dead son.
Chapter 10 ("Wandering Rocks") is devoted to 19 brief vignettes of ordinary Dubliners: a priest who is trying to find a Jesuit school for Patrick, the son of the man who died, Stephen's sisters Katey, Boody and Maggy Dedalus who discuss their poverty, Blazes Boylan who buys a basket of food, music maestro Almidano Artifoni who wants Stephen to become a professional singer, some people who gossip about Bloom and Molly, Stephen's other sister Dilly who asks her father for money and then meets Stephen, Buck and Haines who chat about Stephen in a coffeeshop (Haines thinks he's deranged and Buck thinks he's not talented), the blind man whom Bloom helped cross the street, pretty girl Gerty who is running an errand for her sick father, etc. What stands out is the poverty of Stephen's family after his mother has died. Both the men (father Simon, a notorious drunk, and brother Stephen, a penniless writer) don't provide for the girls. Stephen has just been paid at the newspaper but does not offer his money to them. One of his sisters calls their father "our father who art not in heaven".
The first 60 lines of chapter 11 ("Sirens"), the most "musical" section of the novel, compose a cacophony of events and interpolations. Notably we learn that Bloom has purchase an erotic novel titled "The Sweets of Sin" for his adulterous wife Molly. Bloom follows Blazes Boylan who is preparing for his appointment with Molly (set for 4:30pm). Bloom follows him discreetly to a hotel where Bloom meets a friend, Stephen's uncle Richie Goulding, and accepts to have lunch. While they are eating, Stephen's father Simon starts singing. Bloom is aware that Stephen's father and Stephen's uncle are not on talking terms anymore. Bloom pities him for wasting his singing talent in alcohol. Others starts singing both love and patriotic songs (corresponding to the "sirens" of the "Odyssey"). Bloom starts writing a reply to Martha and then leaves for a 5pm appointment. Meanwhile, Boylan arrives at Bloom's house to meet Molly.
12 Cyclops. At 5pm Bloom, aware that his wife is having sex with another man at that very time, enters a pub to meet with his associate Martin to take care of Dignam's life insurance policy on behalf of the Dignam widow. The rowdy and vulgar crowd of the pub includes a debt collector (who narrates the episode) and "The Citizen", an Irish nationalist who hates the English but also the Jews. Insulted, Bloom for the first time gets angry and reminds the Citizen that Jesus was a Jew. This episode is littered with passages that seem to parody the Bible, Irish mythology and contemporary events (sports, elections).
13 Nausicaa. At 8pm, after meeting the widow, Bloom walks by the sea in the same place where Stephen walked at the beginning of the novel. He sees three girls taking care of toddlers: Cissy, Edy and Gerty (a girl we briefly saw running an errand for her sick father). Bloom is attracted to Gerty (Joyce's version of Homer's Nausicaa), who is daydreaming about marriage in the style of women's magazines and sentimental romances (the first female stream of consciousness in the novel). She hopes to marry an older man. We also learn that her alcoholic father (yet another drunkard) ruined her chances of marrying a fine gentleman and that Dignam, a friend of her father, also died because of alcohol. Gerty notices Bloom. Cissy asks Bloom what time it is but Bloom's watch has stopped at 4:30pm (probably the time when Molly met her lover). Gerty's menstrual cycle begins. She wonders if Bloom is married. Gerty shows him her legs. Bloom masturbates. Bloom thinks that Gerty saw him masturbate (which is probably true). The Gerty episode happens while in a church (named St. Mary's Star of the Sea) a priest is blessing the worshippers of Virgin Mary, leaving the impression that Joyce is linking Gerty to the Virgin Mary (something that must have been perceived as sacrilege in 1920s Ireland). The girls leave and Bloom realizes that the beautiful Gerty is a cripple: walks slowly away with a lim. Bloom draws the letters "I AM A" on the sand with a stick (perhaps paraphrasing what Yahweh says in the Old Testament, "I am who I am") and thinks about his wife Molly (wondering whether her lover pays for sex) and his daughter Milly (not much younger than Gerty) before deciding to visit Mina Purefoy who is pregnant at the hospital.
Chapter 14 (Oxen of the Sun) is a virtuoso linguistic tour de force. The chapter is both an allegory and a parody of the embryonic development, birth and evolution of the English language. It is a double-tracked allegory: on one hand the chapter is ostensibly about a woman who struggles to give birth to her 12th baby, and on the other hand the chapter is written in more than 30 styles that chronologically imitate and recapitulate famous styles of English literature all the way to the 19th century. There are no major inner monologues in this chapter as if Joyce implied that the next English style is his own, the stream of consciousness. The chapter opens with a chaotic set of sentences written like prehistoric pagan incantations. This segues into Latinate prose and then Anglo-Saxon alliteration, Daniel DeFoe's style and Lawrence Sterne's style. At 10pm Bloom, depicted as something between a medieval knight and the wandering Jew, enters the hospital where Mina has been in labor for three days. After a brief parody of the morality play "Everyman", Bloom finds a group of young men (mostly medical students) discussing with a very drunk Stephen. They are waiting for Buck (who is at the gathering of poets to which Stephen was not invited). Bloom listens to Stephen who argues (in Elizabethan prose) that the artist is also giving birth like a mother, and then argues that the Virgin Mary was the mother of her own father (if Jesus is God). Bloom thinks of his wife Molly and their baby Rudy, and then he worries about Stephen: Stephen is depressed and Bloom consoles him like a father. In his drunk stupor Stephen fears that the thunder is God's ire against him. Meanwhile the style has parodied also John Milton. "The Parable of the Bulls" (an allegorical history of Ireland as the battlefield between the Catholic Church and the English Monarchy resulting in the Irish diaspora) is written in the satirical style of Jonathan Swift. Meanwhile the style parodies Buck and his afriend Alec arrive. Buck captures everybody's attention with a dirty sexist joke. Alec, unaware of who Bloom is, boasts about his new conquest: Milly (Bloom's daughter). Mina finally gives birth to her 12th child. The prose mocks Edward Gibbon and then the gothic novel. Bloom thinks of his youth (first in the style of Charles Lamb and then in the style of Thomas DeQuincey) and we learn that he lost his virginity with a whore. The life of Mina Purefoy is told in the style of Charles Dickens. Bloom also remembers Stephen as a five-year-old boy, 17 years earlier and it sounds like he is comparing him to his own lost son, Rudy. Then we read imitations of Thomas Macaulay, Thomas Huxley, John Ruskin and Thomas Carlyle. The chapter ends in a chaotic cacophonous section of modern (and perhaps drunken) slang as Stephen and the other young men walk into a pub and are kicked out at 11pm. Alec finally realizes who Bloom is and slips away. Stephen and a friend hea"d for a brothel (Stephen is still determined not to sleep at the tower) while Buck and Haines return to the tower. The mysterious man in the macintosh reappears briefly.
Chapter 15 ("Circe") is the longest chapter (150 pages out of 730), it is written as a theatrical script, including stage instructions, and it features all the characters so far introduced in the novel, a sort of remix of the first 14 chapters. It also contains several hallucinations which in theory reveal hidden secrets of the subconscious, except that Stephen's hallucinations involve events of Bloom's day that Stephen cannot possibly know about and viceversa. Stephen and his friend are heading to the brothel and Bloom tries to follow them but loses them. Gerty's friend Cissy is walking towards the brothel in the company of two English soldiers. Both of Bloom's parents appear to Bloom. Then a pregnant Molly on a camel singing lines from Mozart's opera "Don Giovanni", the prostitute who took his virginity, the married Josie who flirts with him, the unmarried Gerty who doesn't, and his penpal Martha who takes him to trial. At the trial Bloom is accused of being a cuckold, a bigamist and a revolutionary. His main accuser is his former housekeeper, who accuses him of sexual assault, while his main defense witness is the dead Dignam from the underworld. Bloom's hallucination ends and he runs into Zoe, one of the prostitutes of the brothel (whose last name is the same as Bloom's mother's maiden name). Zoe asks him if he is Stephen's father. Another hallucination begins in which Bloom becomes not only mayor of Dublin but even king Leopold I, married to a princess. The man in the brown macintosh from Dignam's funeral appears and claims that Bloom's real name is Higgins. The country divides in followers and haters of Bloom. Bloom's popularity dissipates when he is revealed libertine and a pervert, thanks especially to Buck's testimony. Buck testifies that Bloom is a woman, and, sure enough, Bloom gives birth to eight boys, helped by the midwife who delivered his children Milly and Rudy. He is both man and woman and even pregnant. He is hailed as messiah Emmanuel but soon is set on fire while a choir of 600 singers intones Handel's "Hallelujah". As the hallucination ends, Zoe brings Bloom into the brothel and informs him that the owner, Bella, has a son who studies at Oxford. Stephen and his friend are chatting with prostitutes Kitty and Florry. The drunk Stephen is also playing the piano. Bloom suffers another hallucination in which his grandfather Lipoti Virag discusses the three whores (Zoe, Kitty and Florry). Bloom's alter-ego Henry Flower appears and sings a song. Meanwhile the drunk Stephen imagines his musical teacher Almidano Artifoni. Bella enters, but soon becomes another hallucination in Bloom's mind: she becomes Bello, and Bloom becomes a "she". Bello engages in sadistic rites, even riding Bloom like a horse, while Bloom masochistically enjoys his female identity. In another hallucination Bloom is treated like a servant by Blazes Boylan. Bloom and Stephen both gaze in the mirror and both see the same face: Shakespeare's face. Stephen sees the rotting corpse of his mother rising from the floor to reproach him and remind him of the fire of hell. A terrified and drunk Stephen smashes a chandelier and rushes out. Bloom pays Bella for the damage and follows him. Stephen gets in a brawl with the soldiers escorting Cissy. One of the soldiers interprets Stephen's delirious speech as a threat to assassinate the English king and attacks Stephen, despite Bloom's intervention. Stephen is about to be arrested (by soldiers that existed only in Bloom's hallucinations) but is saved by the graveyard undertaker. police are about to arrest Stephen but undertaker/informant saves him While Stephen lies unconscious, Bloom has another hallucination: his son Rudy as he would be had he survived to be eleven years old and reading the Hebrew scriptures.
16 Eumaeus. It is almost 1am. Bloom helps Stephen out of the red-light district and advises him to sleep at his father Simon's house. They browse the newspaper. Bloom reads about Dignam's funeral and Stephen looks for the essay about the cattle disease. A drunken sailor, Murphy, talks about Stephen's father as if he knew him well but Bloom suspects he's an impostor. Stephen and Bloom have the first real conversation as Bloom gives him fatherly advice, but their conversation is full of lengthy, unfinished, bungled sentences. Bloom tries to engage Stephen by discussing Irish politics but Stephen is clearly not interested. Bloom shows Stephen a picture of Molly and decides to take Stephen home. Stephen sings in the street and Bloom is impressed by his vocal talent.
Capter 17 ("Ithaca") in which Bloom returns home with Stephen is structured as an itemized catechism of 309 questions and answers, an excess of mostly irrelevant, redundant details (Joyced called it "a mathematico- astronomico- physico- mechanico- geometrico- chemico sublimation of Bloom and Stephen"). During their discussion we learn that Bloom is 38 and Stephen is 22, that Bloom only has a high-school diploma whereas Stephen already has multiple university degrees, that Bloom has a scientific mind and Stephen an artistic one. They discuss philosophy and music, in particular relating to their respective cultural heritages, the Irish and the Jewish. Stephen refuses to sleep there (a refusal somehow symmetrical to Bloom's refusal to have dinner at his house 12 years earlier) and doesn't seem interested in the friendship that Bloom is extending. Stephen leaves and Bloom goes to sleep in the bed where Molly is sleeping (and probably had sex with her lover). Bloom is happy about Martha's letter, and about his encounters with Josie, and Gerty. We get a detailed list of the contents of his drawers, including financial records and memorabilia. Bloom thinks of Boylan and all the other lovers his wife has had, but his jealousy fizzles in resignation. Molly wakes up and asks him what happened. He summarizes the day but omitting and changing a lot of details (nothing about Martha, the Citizen, Gerty). We learn that they have not had sex in "10 years, 5 months and 18 days" (never after Rudy died). Frustratingly, the chapter asks a lot of silly questions but doesn't ask the important ones. One of the questions of the chapter reads: "What selfinvolved enigma did Bloom risen, going, gathering multicoloured multiform multitudinous garments, voluntarily apprehending, not comprehend?" The answer is: "Who was M'Intosh?" Which seems to be about the mysterious man in the macintosh. This chapter ends with a large typographical dot. Note that in Homer's "Odyssey" Ulysses and Telemachus meet to kill the suitors who threaten Penelope, whereas here they part and Bloom simply accepts his fate as a cuckold.
Chapter 18 ("Penelope") is simply a lengthy stream of consciousness (with no punctuation) by Molly Bloom as she lies in bed next to her husband and revisits her life. (Joyce wrote that "Penelope has no beginning, middle or end", a prelude to "Finnegans Wake"). We are confirmed that she had sex with Boylan (three or four times, she says) and informed that she is suddenly having her menstrual period. She remembers her best friend, Hester Stanhope, and her first love (whom she masturbated) and another suitor, who left for South Africa to fight in the Boer War. Molly comes through as a woman jealous of the success of other women and aware of Bloom's infidelity (she suspects that he has been seeing a woman the whole day) but also as a wounded woman. Throughout the novel we sympathized with Bloom, viewed him as the victim, but Molly's version of the facts reveals Bloom as the voyeur and pervert that it's been hinted all along, a lazy, coward, incompetent and stingy man. (Bloom once suggested that she posed naked for a photographer in exchange for money, Bloom once borrowed her underwear, he doesn't kiss her face but her bottom, collects pornography, and more importantly, Bloom has been cheating on her for much longer than Molly started cheating on him because we learn that, contrary to what Bloom thinks, Boylan is her first lover, coming after ten years of no sex). Then Molly begins to criticize Boyland and the chapter ends with Molly remembering how she accepted Bloom's marriage proposal: "yes I said yes I will Yes." The "obscenity" contained in this monologue (including frank depictions of orgasm, penis and oral sex) were the main reason for the novel to be banned in the USA and Britain.
A quick summary of Leopold Bloom's life. Bloom's father was a Hungarian Jewish immigrant who converted to Protestantism and changed his name to Rudolph Bloom. Bloom's father was Ellen Higgins, an Irish Protestant. Bloom was born in 1866, a only child. His father committed suicide. Bloom converted to Catholicism to marry Marion in 1888. They had one daughter, Milly, born in 1889, and a son, Rudy who died after 11 days in 1893. Since the child's death Leopold and Molly have not had sex. Bloom may be based on Italian writer Italo Svevo who was also half Jewish.
"Finnegan's Wake" (1939) ++ is a stream of consciousness, and perhaps a dream, that takes place in one night inside the mind of pub owner HCE (Humphrey Chimpden "Earwicker"). There is no action, no plot. The book is a sequence of blurred photographs: the patrons of the pub, his wife ALP (Anna Livia Plurabelle), their children Shem, Shaun and Issy; plot-less characters that behave like ghosts. Together they evoke the turbulence of the unconscious. Each character seems to possess more than one personality, a multi-layered personality, ranging from the direct and local one to the universal and allegorical one. Joyce uses his own language (or a linguistic game) to play with the reader, a language made of 50 or 60 different tongues plus Joyce's his own linguistic inventions (including ten one-hundred letter words), a language rich in neologism and wordplay that tests the limits of communication while rediscovering the prehistorical auditory imagination that first created language itself. While the neologism of the Italian futurists were meant to use that auditory imagination to compensate for the lack of vocabulary to describe the sounds/noise of the industrial world, the neologism of Joyce compensates for the lack of psychological vocabulary. And so the novel also becomes a cacophonous symphony. The allegory, which mixes mythological and historical characters, could as well be a private biography of Joyce himself (the artistic son Shem is the author of the "Book of Eccles", i.e. "Ulysses") as a public chronicle of Dublin.
It is not enough that there is no plot: there is permanent instability. There are snippets of recognizable stories, stories that fit stereotypes of literary fiction, but they indulge in all sorts of disorienting expedients, as if the narrator were fighting an alter ego intent on disrupting the narration. It is not only non-linear narration, it is narration that digresses all the time, sometimes obsessively reexamining what has been narrated, sometimes distorting what has just been narrated (with new or different details), sometimes simply abandoning what is being narrated. There are many coexisting and confliting planes of narrative. A chapter consists in twelve riddles and answers, and one answer is a parable ("The Mookse and the Gripes"). It is an exaggeration of Laurence Sterne's approach in "The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy". It may imply the impossibility of knowledge or indifference towards knowledge.
There is, however, an organization of sorts. The book is inspired by Giambattista Vico's 18th century cyclical view of history according to which civilisations undergo three transitions: from theocratic to aristocratic and then to democratic and then back to theocracy.
"Finnegans Wake" is about a dream and a dreamer and it is not a necessarily chronological work, so it could be that the story begins with the couple having sex, the man falling asleep and dreaming while his wife thinks. The dream explores Jung-ian collective myths (and the novel becomes a collective dream) such as the resurrection, tragic love (the legend of Tristan and Iseult), the warring brothers (Cain vs Abel, Romulus vs Remus), Oedipus complex, etc. The characters are archetypes / ciphers, and that's why their names change, and sometimes they even turn into rivers, stones, trees. The novel begins with "riverrun" and 600 pages later we realize that the word is not part of a description of the landscape but part of a woman's monologue. Maybe ALP is the true protagonist of the novel, personifying the river of history (and in particular the river of Dublin), whereas HCE represents humankind (and in particular Dublin). It also incorporates myths from the "Book of the Dead" of ancient Egypt, the Bible, the Viking sagas.
The plot (if there is a plot) is ultimately about HCE's secret sin (that is never clarified) and ALP's letter (that we never read). Both are better explained as manifestations of the subconscious during a dream.
Or perhaps Joyce the dadaist deliberately fooled future generations into thinking that there was a meaning when in fact there was only free association of unrelated and unorganized allusions, a dysfunctional encyclopedia of incomplete thoughts. After all, the book is a labyrinthine, polyglot, impenetrable and erudite nonsense, written by a half-blind man.
The stream of unconsciousness of "Finnegans Wake" begins at the very point where the stream of consciousness in "Ulysses" ended: when Molly was falling asleep. While reading "Ulysses", we spent an exhausting day with Bloom, and now reading "Finnegans Wake" we spend an even more exhausting night with HCE.
Part I. The story is set in "Howth Castle and Environs" (i.e. the Dublin region). The first book is actually more similar to a deconstructed medieval ballad: Finnegan dies in a freak accident but then he is resurrected when accidentally touched by alcohol in front of all his friends and relatives. However the crowd talks him into staying dead because it's better than staying alive. His wife Annie prepares Finnegan's corpse as a meal for the mourners, but he disappears before they can eat him. The resurrected Finnegan is HCE, who sails into Dublin Bay. The nickname is given by the king but it is misunderstood as meaning "Here Comes Everybody", which helps the humble man to rise to prominence. HCE gets in trouble after molesting two girls (the details of the act change throughout the book so we are not sure whether it happened or not). The rumour spreads quickly throughout the city, he incriminates himself when he misunderstands a question asked by a stranger, and a troubadour called Hosty composes "The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly" about his case.. HCE hides but is captured and put on trial. The main evidence against him is a letter dictated by his wife ALP to her son Shem (who is a writer). Their other son Shaun, a mailman, never delivered the letter as instructed but the letter is eventually found in grotesque fashion. Shaun hates his brother Shem and describes him as a forger and a "sham". Two washerwomen gossip about ALP in mythological terms until they are turned into a tree and a stone at dusk, and we learn that ALP has 111 children and has sent them gifts via Shaun.
Shem doesn't see well and fails a test when playing with some girls. Dolph (Shem's alter-ego) tutors Kev (Shaun's alter-ego) in geometry and Kev realizes that this is a Freudian reference to their mother's sex. Butt and Taff (new alter-egos of Shem and Shaun) tell the story of Buckley, who shot a Russian general (another Freudian reference, this time to their father HCE). HCE is summoned upstairs by his wife ALP while the patrons in the pub can hear the children tell the story on the radio. When HCE reenters the pub, he is insulted by the patrons and he confesses that he is indeed a pedophile. The police close the pub, the patrons leave, and HCE gets drunk alone. He falls asleep and dreams of being a mythological Irish king. He dreams four men whose names are those of the four Christian Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John) who are spying two young lovers of the Middle Ages (Tristan and Iseult).
Part III. Shaun the postman is on his way to deliver ALP's letter to the court. On the way he ends up floating in a barrel down the river and some unnamed people ask him 14 questions about the letter. The answer to one of the questions becomes the story of the Ondt and the Gracehoper, an allegorical representation of the relationship between Shaun and Shem. Shaun's new alter-ego Jaunty Juan is turning into a baby while he lectures to his sister Issy's 28 classmates at school. Mr and Mrs Porter, alter-egos of HCE and ALP, who have three children named Jerry, Kevin, and Isobel (alter egos of Shaun, Shem and Issy), are having sex but are interrupted when one of the children screams.
Part IV. HCE falls asleep while ALP delivers a lengthy monologue that ends at dawn. ALP becomes the river that disappears at dawn into the ocean.