Ronan Crowley is a PhD candidate in English at the University at Buffalo. His dissertation project, “Gifts of the Gab: Quotation, Copyright, and Irish Modernism,” explores the writ of intellectual property in Ireland between the Acts of Union and Irish accession to the European Union. His work on Joyce appears in the James Joyce Quarterly and in the online annual Genetic Joyce Studies.
“Hades” is the underworld episode of Ulysses, the one that takes us with Bloom to Paddy Dignam’s funeral. It raises ghosts from Bloom’s past, including his father (dead by his own hand) and his son (dead at 11 days, 11 years ago). It’s not all gloom, though; Joyce intersperses humour in some unlikely places and links the Odyssean journey to the underworld with issues of anti-Semitism, colonialism, and venality all while letting us follow Bloom’s often-startling thoughts. First timers: watch for the sleek fat rat and its overt parallels with both Stephen’s vision of his corpse-chewing mother’s ghost and the dogs on the beach in “Proteus” and still to come in “Nausicaa.”
In place of a video lecture this week, the MVP has commissioned a blog post by Robert Berry, the talented individual behind the Ulysses ‘Seen’ comicbook version of the novel. The Ulysses ‘Seen’ team are also preparing a video, which will appear in this space within a month’s time. Until then, please enjoy the musings below… [SR]
Joyce studies, at least from my rather homespun and narrow view of them, can be a messy business. Still strongly standing very much at the forefront of a disarrayed battle line of modernist thinkers, Joyce, his work and his life, casts a very long shadow on how we look at the world today some seventy years after his death. He is an endless set of puzzles and fresh lessons. Though his work might often be rather specifically linked to the immediate world of its own creation and filled with allusions which today seem vague or enigmatic, it also has served to bring fresh questions to the mind of many readers and critical thinkers since the time of its publication, prompting that wonderful quote from Joseph Frank; “Joyce cannot be read. He can only be re-read.”
(I love that particular quote but, let’s face it, the idea of giving someone a seven-hundred page book to read and telling them, “no, you’ve got to read it many times over” isn’t the best way to attract a new audience.)
On Wednesday, August 15th at 2PM EDT, cartoonist Robert Berry will moderate our YoU Twitter chat. This conversation will focus on some of the difficulties and advantages of using the language of comicbooks to bring Joyce’s work to a new audience through his online adaptation ULYSSES “SEEN”. Rob is currently drawing the “Lotus Eaters” episode (which all of you should have read by now) so expect to see some new pages and hear some thoughts on adapting that section of the novel. The hashtag for the Twitter chat is #yearofulysses.
Rob was trained as a painter at Wayne State Univ in his hometown of Detroit but threw most of that experience away to move to Philadelphia and make comics. Adapting Joyce’s novel into the fully-annotated ULYSSES “SEEN” has been keeping him busy since 2008. Original artwork from the comic can now be seen at the James Joyce Centre in Dublin.