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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. 

Amanda Hansen

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