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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. 

Amanda Hansen

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