The MVP is thrilled to present the next installment of the YoU Lecture Series: Alan W. Friedman’s “Reading Ulysses at 90.”
Bloom and Stephen take refuge in a cabman’s shelter possibly run by one Fitzharris, or “skin-the-goat,” the driver of the getaway vehicle in the Phoenix Park murders carried out by a band of nationalists known as the Invincibles in 1882. As Bloom tries to sober up Stephen with a stale bun and bad coffee, he also tries to forge a stronger connection with him. He sees in Stephen the young man his dead son might have become, and deplores the severance between Stephen and his own father, Simon. As Bloom works over this new relationship and its possibilities, he and Stephen are regaled with (tall) tales by a returned sailor with the alias W. B. Murphy. When Fitzharris joins in the conversation, and the topic turns to nationalism, Parnell, and infidelity, Bloom decides he and Stephen should leave.
Stylistically, “Eumaeus” returns us to the realms of interior monologue and stream of consciousness, as well as quasi-realism. The interaction between Bloom and Stephen resumes centre stage, and the prose gets correspondingly less opaque though there remain more than enough misdirections, misidentifications, and misunderstandings to keep things interesting.