“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.
Associate Professor | English | U. of Victoria