Ulysses chapter one-- Telemachus

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Post questions or comments here about the first chapter of Ulysses. [Ulysses at RobotWisdom]

-- Jorn (jorn@mcs.com), October 21, 1999


Congratulations to your site!

I just have discovered it. I have read U. at the age of 25 and 31. Both times I was very impressed by the technique given in the quoted passage, on one hand reflecting the memory of S.4s mother4s death and - on the other hand - the external view of the bay.

Unfortunately, my English is not good enough to express the very fascination emerging from this short passage, so I have to leave it like that ...

Bye Peter

And here is what I mean:

"Stephen, an elbow rested on the jagged granite, leaned his palm against his brow and gazed at the fraying edge of his shiny black coat-sleeve. Pain, that was not yet the pain of love, fretted his heart. Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown grave-clothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the well-fed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting."

-- Peter Wagner (alle.wagners@t-online.de), December 10, 1999.

Question about Latin prhase:

What does this mean? I assume it's a prayer or part of the Mass..

Liliata rutiliantium te confessoram turma circumdet; iubilantium te virginum chorus excipiat

It must be important since Joyce repeats it at the end of the chapter. (Was he trying to write a haiku? It might work that way if you slur some of the syllables...)

Edward J. Cunningham eddiejc1@erols.com

-- Edward J. Cunningham (eddiejc1@erols.com), March 12, 2001.

Where can i find pictures of the meeting of Telemachus and Odyssey on Google? can u email me the answer right now? thank u!!!

-- Jessica (BoWwOwGrL5686@aol.com), May 08, 2001.

1.242 "Woodshadows floated silently by through the morning peace from the stairhead seaward where he gazed."

Jorn wrote: a mystery-- what are woodshadows? (Since they're coming from the stairs, could it be Mulligan's fire's smoke?) ------------------------ I think "woodshadows" refers not to images present at the time, but to Stephen's fantasy conjured up by the Yeats poem Buck quotes just above, which refers to "the deep wood's woven shade," and "the shadows of the wood."

-- Jennifer (jenniek159@hotmail.com), July 07, 2001.

Hello Jorn. I have been using your wonderful site (it is extraordinary, even though many of the links are, inevitably, dead - I am much looking forward to your cdrom) preparing my class, particularly since I had a fire and all my books and papers were bundled up and stored in the garage while the house was redecorated, so I had nothing to refer to.

Below you will find my Telemachus quiz (plus my "model answers") for my students. It is intended to be doable by those who have only read this chapter. It may be too difficult.

Anyway, it contains some line-readings which could be added to your excellent "advanced notes". The general point of this quiz is that the chapter is about the possibility of an Irish Art. It is about, in other words, the meaning of the last word, "Usurper". To redeem his "mother", Ireland, the poet must find a new way of writing. This means the destruction of the "usurpers", symbolized by Mulligan, who prevent this happening. All the quiz questions point in this direction.

Another thought: You move FAR too easily, in your notes, between model and portrait (between, for instance, Gogarty & Mulligan, between JAJ and SD). You really need to bear in mind that they are quite different: who cares who the model for La Gioconda was ? It is illegitimate to move between one and the other as if they were identical; this is not a roman a clef. JAJ happens to be a portraitist. That doesn't mean the actual lives of his models can be read back into his work. yours, Richard Stack (stack@purchase.edu)

Ulysses quiz # 1 TELEMACHUS 1. Laughing again, he brought the mirror away from Stephen's peering eyes. -- The rage of Caliban at not seeing his face in a mirror, he said. If Wilde were only alive to see you! Drawing back and pointing, Stephen said with bitterness: -- It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant. Buck Mulligan suddenly linked his arm in Stephen's and walked with him round the tower, his razor and mirror clacking in the pocket where he had thrust them.

The word “servant” is used several times in this chapter. This is the first time. What do you understand Stephen’s aphorism to mean ? 2. Warm sunshine merrying over the sea. The nickel shavingbowl shone, forgotten, on the parapet. Why should I bring it down? Or leave it there all day, forgotten friendship?

The cloud covering the sun has passed on and we overhear Stephen saying to himself “Warm sunshine merrying over the sea.” What do you make of the word “merrying” ? Have you ever heard it before ? What is Stephen doing here with this word ? 3. To serve or to upbraid, whether he could not tell: but scorned to beg her favour. “Whether” here means “which of the two”. What exactly is Stephen wondering about ? What meaning is he attaching to the milkwoman ? 4. -- Well? Stephen said. The problem is to get money. From whom? From the milkwoman or from him. It's a toss up, I think. -- I blow him out about you, Buck Mulligan said, and then you come along with your lousy leer and your gloomy jesuit jibes. -- I see little hope, Stephen said, from her or from him. What is the sense of Stephen’s last remark. Who or what, exactly, do these two figures seem to represent to him at this moment ?

Answers to quiz #1 Telemachus 1. Using the traditional image of poetry as “holding the mirror up to nature”, he claims that the work of Irish artists, insofar as it is an imitation of the poetry of their colonial masters, is doomed to being servile and therefore second-rate.

2. Stephen is, throughout this chapter, looking for poetic material. He hears the word “merry” in Mulligan’s little ditty, and applies it to the sunlight which has chased away his blues. The sunlight has, in effect “merried” him, so he transfers the sense to the sunshine itself and invents a verb to carry the meaning. It is a creative moment.

3. As elsewhere in the chapter, Stephen is preoccupied by the role of national poet which he has imagined for himself. Here he has been clothing the milkwoman in the mythical role of a possible messenger in disguise. But then he realizes that he cannot quite make out what her message for him is: is she attacking him, or is she there to help ? 4. Haines and the Milkwoman have been reduced here to the role of metonymic representatives of their respective nations: the British and the Irish. Stephen is saying that he expects little support from either. He is, in effect, anticipating exile.

-- Richard Stack (stack@purchase.edu), September 04, 2002.

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