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Read Nausicaa

In “Nausicaa” Bloom takes a quiet interlude on the beach at Sandymount, the same beach on which Stephen meditated in “Proteus.” Cissy Caffrey, with her two younger brothers Tommy and Jacky; Edy Boardman with her baby and Gertie McDowell are also on the beach. Gertie and Bloom indulge simultaneous fantasies about each other as the others move off to view a fireworks display. Gertie casts hers in terms of romance fiction, leaning back farther and farther to let the dark, sad (he is in mourning) stranger have a clear view of her legs and eventually her knickers. Bloom, meantime, masturbates through his pants pocket as he looks on. As the fireworks climax, so does Bloom. Gertie settles her clothes and begins to leave, revealing to Bloom’s dismay/excitement that she is lame. Overcome with lassitude, Bloom lingers on the beach revisiting his first encounters with Molly and the events of his day. He falls asleep briefly, before repairing to Andrew Horne’s Lying-In (Maternity) Hospital to see whether an old acquaintance, Mina Purefoy, has delivered her latest baby yet.

Stylistically, “Nausicaa” provides the last respite from the varying difficulties of Joyce’s stylistic experiments by turning to the style of women’s magazines and romance literature. As a result, the prose is more limpid though the access it affords to characters’ interiority is compromised in turn. The second half of the chapter returns us to interior monologue and stream of consciousness, leaving behind the sort of transparency that makes parts of this chapter feel almost as if they do not belong inUlysses. From here on out, fasten your seat belts, place your seat backs and tray tables in the upright and locked position, and turn off all electronic devices: we are about to take off.

Read Cyclops

In search of Martin Cunningham, Bloom ventures into Barney Kiernan’s pub, where a character known only as the Citizen holds court. The Citizen is an Irish nationalist of the “blood and soil” order, and gradually begins baiting Bloom on the issue of his Jewishness. When Bloom ducks out to see if Cunningham is at the Law Courts, Lenehan starts the idea that Bloom had won a significant sum on the horse “Throwaway” (which he inadvertently and completely unconsciously tipped to Bantam Lyons in “The Lotus-Eaters”), and that he has gone to collect it. Martin Cunningham arrives in the midst of general abuse of Bloom as a miserly Jew and tries to calm things down. When Bloom arrives Cunningham gets him out of the pub and into a cab. As they are pulling away, the Citizen, who has worked himself into an epic rage, hurls an empty biscuit tin at Bloom, bringing to a bathetic head the latent violence that has simmered throughout the chapter. He misses and Bloom taunts him about Christ’s Jewishness as the cab turns the corner. Stylistically, “Cyclops” provides the novel’s most savage satire as the blowhard Citizen’s romantic nationalism is repeatedly mocked through sudden inflations of tone and diction to describe mundane phenomena. The emptiness of (his) rhetoric is demonstrated thus, and the power of language to imbue everyday happenings with mythic and/or historical resonance is openly mocked.

Read “Cyclops” now. 

Read Sirens

In the bar of the Ormond Hotel the two “sirens,” Miss Mina Kennedy and Miss Lydia Douce, barmaids, ply their trade on the afternoon crowd. Simon Dedalus, Lenehan, Ben Dollard, George Lidwell, Brian Kernan, and Father Cowley all enter at intervals. Lenehan is there to meet Blazes Boylan (who will as a result be late for his appointment with Molly). Bloom meets Richie Goulding and they enter to have a meal together. Simon and Ben take turns singing at the newly-tuned piano as Father Cowley plays sentimental Irish tunes. Bloom decides to write back to Martha on the stationery he bought en route to the hotel, diverting Richie’s attention by claiming to be answering an ad. Boylan enters, has a drink with Lenehan, and then leaves with him. Bloom leaves soon after, while the singing continues. He stops outside and farts loudly as a tramcar passes, reading the while Robert Emmet’s last words from a portrait in an antique shop window.

Stylistically, “Sirens” abruptly pulls the rug out from under our feet as it takes the aspiration of literature to the condition of music to a further extreme than had yet been done. The chapter begins with a symphonic overture that introduces many of the leitmotifs and phrases that will be developed further in the remainder. The rest of the chapter employs techniques of musical composition, and relies heavily upon onomatopoeia for its aural effects.

Read “Sirens” now.

Read Wandering Rocks

Something of an interlude, this chapter follows Father Conmee and the Vice-Regal cavalcade as they make their distinct ways across Dublin. Their paths never cross, and each of the 19 short sections details from a distanced perspective their interactions with a wide cross-section of the Dublin populace. In terms of style, “Wandering Rocks” adopts an unsettling departure from the previous chapters. It presents objective, external, naturalist descriptions, bereft of stream of consciousness and interior monologue. In this, it represents the path-not-taken by Joyce in the rest of the novel, just as Odysseus chooses not to go by way of the Wandering Rocks in Homer’s Odyssey. First timers, see how many of the characters from other sections you recognize here.

Read “Wandering Rocks” now.

Read Scylla and Charybdis

“Scylla and Charybdis” again builds on a basis of interior monologue, stream of consciousness and quasi-realism, but injects a lengthy form of disputation with rapid-fire and unattributed dialogue that disorients the reader. The chapter is set in the Irish National Library, where Stephen Dedalus, A. E. , John Eglinton, and Lyster are in deep disputation about Shakespeare. Stephen propounds his famous theory that Shakespeare is both Hamlet and Hamlet’s father in the play, Hamlet. He argues as well that Ann Hathaway seduced Shakespeare, and that Shakespeare worked many elements of his intimate personal life into his plays. Mulligan arrives brandishing the telegram in which Stephen has broken off their friendship. He joins in the raillery. Bloom arrives at the library, but does not enter the conversation; he is remarked by Mulligan, who then prevails upon Stephen to leave with him. They pause on the steps to the Library, where Bloom passes between them on his own way out, eliciting comment from Bloom and re-staging the scene in A Portrait of the Artist as Young Man where Stephen determines to leave Ireland to become an artist. First timers: don’t even try to follow the ins and outs of Stephen’s theory; the point is his pedantic tone and insincere argument — even he doesn’t believe the theory in the end!

Read Scylla and Charybdis now. 

Read Lestrygonians

“Lestrygonians,” the eighth episode of Ulysses, takes place at noon as Bloom searches for somewhere to have lunch. He buys Banbury cakes to feed to the seagulls, casting his bread upon the waters in unconscious imitation of Jesus and demonstrating his characteristic empathy for others, particularly animals. His first stop, at Burton’s restaurant, leads to his disgust with the men chomping, slurping, and gnashing their way through their food like so many pigs at the trough. Of equal pertinence, though, is Bloom’s equation of hunger for food with hunger for sex, and his disgust at those who pursue sex for its own sake rather than for the deeper emotional connection it can provide. At last, Bloom arrives at Davie Byrne’s pub where he has a gorgonzola sandwich and a glass of burgundy wine in yet another parody of the eucharist. First-timers: see if you can spot where Bloom’s anxiety spikes because he imagines Blazes Boylan lurking unseen. And have lunch before you read this one.

Read “Lestrygonians” now.