Prof. Avishek Parui
Department of Humanities and Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology, Madras
Lecture – 42 Ulysses – Part 4
(Refer Slide Time: 00:13)
So, hello and welcome to this NPTEL course entitled Twentieth Century Fiction, where we were looking at James Joyce’s novel Ulysses. So, in the last session we talked about the anti-Semitism in Ulysses how the hatred of Jews, the xenophobia against Jews is displayed in a very little dramatic scene between the conversation between Stephen Dedalus and the headmaster of a school in which he works.
And, we saw how that xenophobia in terms of you know conferring a very negative aspect on the Jewish presence, how they bring in degeneration, how they bring in decline in culture, civilization etcetera was very much part of the contemporary Dublin culture, contemporary Anglo-Saxon culture, even in England that kind of a sentiment was quite rampant. So, that little political bit in Ulysses is quite interesting and not least because the protagonists of Ulysses; So, at least one of the two protagonists in Ulysses, Leopold Bloom happens to be a Jew as well.
So, in this section we will start with the Leopold Bloom the first time he is introduced in the novel and how we look at how the entire space around Bloom is basically something which informs his character and also the character of Dublin which he navigates through his musings and his walkings. And we see the section over here we find how consumption becomes a very important metaphor over here as there is a lot of talk about food and consumption on eating and obviously, that is related to bodily movements and we find later on Bloom, the very graphic description of Bloom defecating.
So, again different kinds of bodily movements - consuming, defecating, digesting, indigestion so, all these are displayed in very visceral and graphic details in Ulysses. And, as I mentioned in the very beginning of this novel when we started reading this, one of the things which this novel does is that it foregrounds the body and the bodily sensations and the different kinds of bodily functions and makes it a part of its realism. So, the body becomes very much part of the realist narrative in Ulysses which is obviously, part of its scandal, part of its shock package the reason why it got, it aroused such a massive scandal in its contemporary times.
Now, we see in this section Leopold Bloom is introduced along with Molly Bloom, his wife and you know as I mentioned there is a very superficial you know adherence to the original Homer myth, the Homer story, the Homer epic of Odysseus. So, Bloom over here is obviously, Ulysses - you know Stephen Dedalus is Telemachus, Ulysses’ son with whom they have a very strange relationship a very strained relationship if one may say so between the father and son and Molly Bloom over here is Penelope where the difference being that Penelope in Homer’s Odysseus was a faithful wife whereas Molly Bloom over here you know she chooses to be unfaithful to her husband and that unfaithfulness is very much again part of the scandal that Ulysses managed to arouse.
So, we see in this very section where Bloom appears for the first time you see the different kinds of food metaphors used in very graphic details especially meat metaphors, different kinds of meat are being consumed and again this constant connection to Jewishness is something which we you know should never lose sight of in this section especially in the section as foregrounded. So, this should be on your screen and we’ll just read out certain sections before we begin to unpack those in some details.
Mister Leopold Bloom ate with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls. So, very first sentence has almost like a cannibalistic quality right. So, he eats with relish the inner organs of beasts and fowls, it is almost like a carnivore or cannibal. So, the consumption narrative is very much foregrounded in Ulysses. He liked thick giblet soup, nutty gizzards, a stuffed roast heart, liver slices fried with crust crumbs, fried hencods roes. Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.
So, again look at the way in which excretion, consumption different kinds of bodily functions are not just foregrounded, they are almost celebrated - they are described in such graphic visceral details that it is meant to shock you, it is also meant to move you sometimes in repulsion sometimes in you know disgust. And, in this sense Joyce is very close to one of his Irish you know ancestors, literary ancestors that is Jonathan Swift. If you have read Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s travels for instance even Modest Proposal, we find that even swift is a master satirist and part of this satire relied on the bodily function.
So, the shock that Swift created was again produced through different kinds of visceral corporeal functions and the coporeality in Ulysses is very much part of its realism as I just mentioned. So, the body is foregrounded the body is displayed the body functions are celebrated and constantly described in graphic detail. So, excretion in the excretory system the digestive system the all these are constantly talked about as if we get up inside into the inner organs of Bloom himself ok.
So, again different kinds of meat things the fact that he eats inner organs of beasts and the fowls that is meant to shock and create disgust, and also it is very much part of the gritty realism that Ulysses seeks to achieve and obviously, manages to achieve with great success in terms of its location and description of Dublin.
Kidneys were in mind as he moved about the kitchen softly, righting her breakfast things on the humpy tray. Gelid light and air were in the kitchen, but out of doors gentle summer morning everywhere. Made him feel a bit peckish. So, again hunger becomes you know part of the description over here. So, everything around him the bit of an uncouth kitchen over here, he is trying to set up the breakfast for him himself and his wife and the now that the day is about to break in over here, but the gentle summer morning is coming in and all that is making him a bit peckish or hungry.
The coals were reddening. Another slice of bread and butter: three, four: right. She didn’t like her plate full. Right. He turned from the tray, lifted the kettle off the hob and set it sideways on the fire. It sat there, dull and squat, its spout stuck out. Cup of tea soon. Good. Mouth dry. The cat walked stiffly round a leg of the table with tail on high.
So, again look at the almost automatic association that the thought processes achieve over here to a certain extent right. So, there is this degree of association, degree of automatism, about movements almost machinic in quality and also this is very much part of the stream of consciousness technique that the modernist used to great effect. So, we have different kinds of material signifiers, each triggering different emotions and how the human subjects navigate in through these emotions in a place as banal as a kitchen right.
So, even the kitchen can be the banal kitchen space can also generate streams of consciousness to the extent that it makes people nostalgic or hungry or you know mournful or all kinds of melodic emotions can come in looking at certain signifies or a kettle can be a signifier something, the tea of course, is a very Proustian symbol of memory. But, you know everything around him in the kitchen it; obviously, adds to the sensory economy it becomes very sensuous sensory economy which arouses certain feelings in him; hunger being one of those at the moment right.
(Refer Slide Time: 07:10)
And, the milk metaphor comes back again, we see how he has a little conversation with a cat tries to give him some milk give her some milk and takes a jug Hanlon’s milkman had just filled for him, poured warmbubbled milk on a saucer and set it slowly on the floor. Gurrhr! she cried, running to lap. He watched the bristles shinning wirily in the weak light as she tipped three times and licked lightly. Wonder is it true if you clip them they can’t mouse after. Why? They shine in the dark, perhaps the tips. Or kind of feelers in the dark, perhaps.
Again, look at the language used over here. So, warmbubbled milk – again warmbubble is not really a word, but it gives you the effect the real temperature of the milk has been conveyed to us using I mean one of those Joycean words, words that are coined together, put together and in the process a different kind of affective word is being produced. And also the whole idea of the cats you know mousing is obviously, meaning it seems to convey that they are able to hunt down mouse, mice for the matter. So mouse becomes a verb over here. So, to mouse something is to a kill a mouse and that is the whole purpose of having a cat in the domestic setting ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 08:16)
On quietly creaky boots he went up the staircase to the hall, paused by the bedroom door. She might like something tasty. Thin bread and butter she likes in the morning. Still perhaps; once in a way. He said softly in the bare hall: I am going round the corner. Be back in a minute.
So, he goes out to buy some you know some kidney from a nearby shops, nearby meat shop and again the gritty realism of Dublin will be conveyed very soon. He is he is going to walk down Dublin streets and he will walk down to a butcher shop, a Jewish butcher shop and we’ll see the irony of the Jewish butcher shop in a sense that the butcher sells certain kinds of meat which is non kosher which he cannot himself consume being a Jew.
(Refer Slide Time: 09:00)
And, when he had heard his voice when he had heard his voice say it he added – You don’t want anything for breakfast? A sleepy soft grunt answered: Mn. No. She didn’t want anything. He heard then a warm heavy sigh, softer, as she turned over and the loose brass quoits of the bedstead jingled. Must get those settled really. Pity. All the way from Gibraltar. Forgotten any little Spanish she knew. Wonder what her father gave for it. Old style. Ah yes! of course. Bought it at the governor’s auction. Got a short knock. Hard as nails at a bargain, old Tweedy. Yes, sir. At Plevna that was. I rose from the ranks, sir, and I’m proud of it. Still he had brains enough to make that corner and stamps. Now that was farseeing.
So, we get a free series of interesting series of information about Molly Bloom over here. We get to know the he she grew up in Gibraltar which is again interesting because that connects up to the original Homeric narrative, where Gibraltar features, that geopolitical location features quite heavily as a voyage metaphor, as a voyage marker in Homer’s Odysseus. So, the fact that she comes from Gibraltar that makes her slightly exotic in Dublin where at the same time she is very much a Dubliner over here.
His hand took his hat from the peg over his initialled heavy overcoat and his lost property office second hand waterproof. So, again the sartorial signifiers are very important. He has got initialled heavy overcoat which is presumably not very cheap maybe pay some money for it because he has his initialled in his own name and, but the waterproof he wears on top of that is a lost property office second hand waterproof. So, waterproof that someone lost presumably as some things which he bought from that office after a period of time.
Stamps: stickyback pictures. Daresay lots of officers are in the swim too. Course they do. The sweated legend in the crown of his hat told him mutely: Plasto’s high grade ha. He peeped quickly inside he peeped quickly inside the leather headband. White slip of paper.
(Refer Slide Time: 10:47)
On the doorstep he felt in his hip pocket for the latchkey. Not there. In the trousers I left off. Must get it. Potato I have. Creaky wardrobe. No use disturbing her. She turned over sleepily at that time. He pulled the halldoor.
(Refer Slide Time: 11:00)
To after him very quietly, more, till the foot footleaf dropped gently over the threshold, a limp lid. Looked shut. All right till I come back anyhow.
So, again look at the very short sentences which is obviously, part of the stream of consciousness technique which have this very associative effects, the one thought associates itself with another thought and hence we have these winding sentences coupled with the short sentences put together in very incompatible mixture of different kinds of sentences, but the incompatibility is exactly the point because that is exactly how authentically the human thought processes occur.
The human thought processes, do not have a logical sequence they do not really have a symmetrical sequence. They have, short thoughts and long thoughts put together in a very interesting entanglements which is exactly what is happening here right.
(Refer Slide Time: 11:43)
And, then we have a description of his walk down Dublin. He approached Larry O’Rourke’s. From the cellar grating floated up the flabby gush of porter. Through the open doorway the bar squirted out whiffs of ginger, teadust, biscuit mush. Good house, however: just the end of the city traffic. For instance M’Auley’s down there: n g as position. Of course, if they ran a tramline along the North Circular from the cattlemarket to the quays value would go up like a shot.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:11)
Right. So, again we have this very interesting description of Dublin and little shops and real estate property prices at that point of time. So, we have this very interesting mixture of gritty, dirty, murky and materialist realism. Where we have things such as property prices, tram lines coming up all these are put together and then we have this very interesting abstract stream of consciousness with the series of abstract associations with which these thought process occur and they two intermingle with each other.
And, this particular passage too this particular section where we are reading at the moment we find that how this spiritual and the material, the spiritual and the vulgar, the spiritual and the banal they all come together in very interesting combinations which is not quite easy to demarcate anymore.
(Refer Slide Time: 12:54)
So, and then the reference to the funeral comes up, the Dignam funeral which is something which we will do in some details later. Stop and say a word: about the funeral perhaps. Sad thing about poor Dignam. Mister O’Rourke. Turning into the Dorset street he said freshly in greeting through the doorway: Good day, mister O’Rourke. Good day to you. Lovely weather, sir. It is all that.
Where do they get the money? Coming up redheaded curates from the country Leitrim, rinsing empties and old man in the cellar. Then, lo and behold, they blossom out as Adam
Findlaters or Dan Tallons. Then thin of the competition. General thirst. Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub. Save it save it they can’t. Off the drunks perhaps. Put down three and carry five.
(Refer Slide Time: 13:32)
What is that a bob here and there, dribs and drabs. On the wholesale orders perhaps. Doing a double shuffle with the town travelers. Square it to you with the boss and we will split the job, see?
So, different kinds of voices coming in which is interesting, these are not necessarily Leopold Bloom’s thoughts alone. So, the in that sense the reason why I read it out the seemingly nonsensical passage over here is that this goes to show the very a heteroglossic quality about Ulysses; heteroglossia, obviously, means many voices or the polyphony of voices. The polyphony and heteroglossia are two very important features of Ulysses. You have many voices speaking together at the same time which creates a sense of a so unstable like sequence in Dublin.
At the same time, it manages to make the entire narrative quite plural and polyphonic in quality of different kinds of voice of different pitches sometimes battling against each other, sometimes informing each other to speak out little stories which not necessarily you know rational or complete in themselves.
(Refer Slide Time: 14:26)
And, then we have this very visceral description of a kidney, a freshly cut liver presumably from you know from a mutton piece. A kidney oozed bloodgouts on the willowpatterned dish: the last. He stood by the nextdoor girl at the counter. Would she buy it too, calling the items from a slip in her hand? Chapped: washing soda. And a pound and a half of Denny’s sausages. His eyes rested on her vigorous hips. So, again look at the way in which the flesh metaphor moves from the dead meat to the human body over here. In a very vulgar kind of a transition, but at the same time this vulgarity is what exactly has been conveyed over here.
This entire mixture of different kinds of senses, he sees the dead meat is being chopped and there is the last piece of liver, the last piece of kidney is there and he is feeling a bit anxious whether the girl in the next counter might get it and he or she he wants to nudge her out, elbow her out and get the last piece, but at the same time his eyes fall on her and in a very voyeuristic kind of a way. He looks at her very vigorous hips which is also conjoined with the different kinds of meat which has been shown in this particular window ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 15:27)
Woods his name is. So, name of the butcher is Woods. Wonder what he does. Wife is oldish. New blood. No followers allowed. Strong pair of arms. Whacking a carpet on the clothesline. She does whack it, by George. The way her crooked skirt swings at each whack.
The ferreteyed porkbutcher folded the sausages he had snipped off with blotchy fingers, sausage pink. Sound meat there: like a stallfed heifer. Right. So, again the meat metaphor continues over here which is obviously, it carries different functions, it carries the function of consumption. It also carries a function of deadness, everything is dead we have this series of corpses and carcasses around which is also an extension of the corpse like quality, the sepulchral quality of Dublin the dead quality of Dublin over here, everyone seems to be dead - human being. So, human bodies are just flesh pieces of flesh walking around like carcasses over here right.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:27)
And, again look at the way in which the entire idea of the butcher the function of the butcher is manifested in the way he appears as well. The porkbutcher snapped two sheets from the pile, wrapped up her prime sausages and made a red grimace.
(Refer Slide Time: 16:36)
Now, my miss he said. She tendered a coin, smiling boldly, holding her thick wrist out.
Thank you, my miss. And one shilling threepence change. For you, please? Mister Bloom pointed quickly. To catch up and walk behind her if she went slowly, behind her moving hams. Pleasant to see first thing in the morning. Hurry up, damn it. Make hay while the sun shines.
So, this is obviously, Bloom being a voyeur over here. Bloom being a sort of a stalker so to speak. So, he sees this attractive woman and he wants to follow her, he wants to follow her appearance, he wants to follow her body and he wants to gaze at her body. So, the gaze obviously, is very voyeuristic in quality, is very vulgar in quality and the vulgarity and voyeurism is interestingly related to the very gritty, dirty Dublin realism which Ulysses is trying to convey over here right.
Hurry up, damn it. Make hay while the sun shines. She stood outside the shop in sunlight and sauntered lazily to the right. He sighed down his nose: They never understand Sodachapped hands. Crusted toenails too. Brown scapulars in tatters, defending her both ways. The sting of disregard glowed to weak pleasure within his breast. For another: a constable off duty cuddling her in Eccles lane. They like them sizable. Prime sausage. O please, Mister Policeman, I am lost in the wood.
So, again in a very vulgar metaphors of voyeurism, stalking etcetera then this police figure comes in as a fear factor and then a police is seen as a predator over here someone people who predate, people who hunt a woman like this and then the last passage last stanza over here I am lost in the wood. So, again I am lost in my own chain of thoughts I am lost in the whole idea of directionless-ness in Dublin.
(Refer Slide Time: 18:08)
And, then it cuts back into the in the present time. So, reverie keeps being cut by. Threepence, please. So, again he wakes up from his dirty reverie. His hand accepted the moist tender gland and slid it into a side pocket. So, again look at the very fleshy, earthly quality about this entire exchange over here. Then he fetched up three coins from his trousers’ pocket and laid them on the rubber prickles. They lay, were read quickly and quickly slid, disc by disc, into the till. Thank you, sir. Another time.
(Refer Slide Time: 18:35)
A speck of eager fire from foxeyes thanked him. He withdrew his gaze after an instant. No: better not: another time. Good morning, he said, moving away. Good morning, sir. No sign. Gone. What matter?
He walked back along Dorset street, reading gravely. Agendath Netaim: planters’ company. To purchase waste sandy tracts from Turkish government and plant with eucalyptus trees. So, he is reading newspapers, the daily news of Dublin coming in all very depressing news and he is reading those as he is walking back to his home right. (Refer Slide Time: 19:04)
(Refer Slide Time: 19:10)
And, then we have this entire a very cinematic description of the sky where you know
Bloom looks at the sky and sees a cloud began to cover the sun slowly wholly grey far. So, very cinematic visual narrative is being you know, sort of slanting down the sky and he looks at it as if a camera gaze.
No, not like that. A barren land, bare waste. Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no fish, weedless, sunk deep in the earth. No wind could lift those waves, grey metal, poisonous foggy waters. Brimstone they called it raining down: the cities a plain: Sodom, Gomorrah, Edom.
(Refer Slide Time: 19:43)
All dead names. A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. So, again look at the way in which deadness comes as a mythic concept over here – almost a prehistoric concept the dead cities you know almost biblical cities. And, that immediately cuts into the present time of dead meat, of dead sausages, of dead imagination, of dead Dublin.
So, the meat metaphor over here becomes a trigger to certain mythical landscapes which are all dead the dead cities and then we come back again and cut into present day time which is about dead Dublin which is about the almost cannibalistic quality about dead Dublin where consuming or consumption becomes a form of cannibalism to a certain extent.
(Refer Slide Time: 20:21)
And, then of course, he hurries back into Eccles street which is the house of Leopold Bloom, as a matter of fact. If you go to Dublin you find there is actually an Eccles street where the Ulysses happens as a house of Leopold Bloom and that is a realism of Joyce, he actually uses houses which were really there as physical presences right.
(Refer Slide Time: 20:44)
And, then he comes back and picks up the letters from the holder hall floor and goes back to his wife and they have a conversation about different things about people who send letters etcetera and the passage ends with something interesting.
(Refer Slide Time: 20:55)
Yeah you know there is again this very interesting correlation between the metaphysical and the very grossly physical ok.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:03)
(Refer Slide Time: 21:06)
So, we are told that you know he has picked up a word metempsychosis and he wants to know what that means, he wants to discuss that with his wife. Metempsychosis is obviously, you know it is like a very ancient classical word about the transposition of soul, the journey of the soul right.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:11)
(Refer Slide Time: 21:19)
So, when the human being dies the soul moves from something else is like a reincarnation and wants the metaphysical discussion about it with his wife ok. (Refer Slide Time: 21:24)
And, obviously, that falls, flat because something else happens in the kitchen.
(Refer Slide Time: 21:27)
And, so, then again the gritty, dirty realism kicks back and it interrupts any conversation which is almost remotely metaphysical in quality. And, this is the conversation I want to highlight – Show here, she said. I put a mark in it. There’s a word I wanted to ask you. She swallowed a draught of tea from her cup held by nothandle. And, again look at the way held by nothandle. Joyce coins different kinds of words over here for different kind of affective significance.
And, having wiped her fingertips smartly on the blanket, began to search the text with the hairpin till she reached the word. Again, look at the meticulous description over here almost a camera gaze into something very close up. Met him what? he asked. Obviously, does not know the word you know met him what? Here, she said. What does that mean?
He leaned downward and read her read near the polished thumbnail. Metempsychosis?
Yes. Who’s he and when he’s at home?
(Refer Slide Time: 22:23)
So, there is a flippant address a flippant response to the whole idea of metempsychosis which is supposed to be very profound and metaphysical word. Now, this becomes very interesting because metempsychosis is a Greek word which is a direct connection with the Homeric landscape from which Ulysses is obviously mimicking in a very postmodernist kind of a way.
Metempsychosis, he said frowning. It’s Greek: from the Greeks. That means, the transmigration of souls. So again, the direct reference to Greeks becomes very almost funny and amusing in a nice way because obviously, references to the Homeric landscape, the Homeric political and cultural climate from where this particular word is borrowed. O, rocks! she said. Tell us in plain words.
He smiled, glancing askance at her mocking eyes. The same the some same young eyes. The first night after the charades. Dolphin’s Barn. He turned over the smudged pages. Ruby: the Pride of the Ring. Hello. Illustration. Fierce Italian with carriage whip. Must be Ruby pride on the on the on the on the on the floor naked. Sheet kindly lent. The monster Maffei desisted and flung his victim from him with an oath. Cruelty behind it all. Doped animals. Trapeze at Henglers’. Had to look the other way. Mob gaping. Break your neck and we will break our sides. Families of them. Bone them young so they metempsychosis. That we live after death. Our souls. That a man’s soul after he dies.
So, this entire passage becomes a series of streams of associations or streams of consciousness very associative streams of consciousness there he looks into her eyes and thinks of some of the memories of courting when they first met and then it goes on forever to certain events that they witness together. And, then the whole idea of soul comes in and the reference to Dignam the dead man comes back again Dignam’s soul.
(Refer Slide Time: 23:59)
Did you finish it? he asked. Yes, she said. Something and there is nothing smutty about it. Is she in love with the first fellow all the time? Never read it. Do you want another? Yes. Get another of Paul de Kock’s. Nice name he has. She poured more tea into her cup, watching it flow sideways.
(Refer Slide Time: 24:12)
Some people believe, he said, that we go on living in another body after death, that we lived before. So, this is the idea of reincarnation in a metaphysical way. They call it reincarnation. That we all lived before on the earth, thousands of years ago or some other planet. They say we have forgotten it. Some say they remember their past lives. The sluggish cream wound curdling spirals through her tea. Bette reminded her of the word:
metempsychosis. An example would be better. An example?
The Bath of the Nymph over the bed. Given away with the Easter number of Photo Bits: Splendid masterpiece in art colours. So, again the bath of the nymph is a Homeric allusion over here, it is a painting which is obviously, Grecian in quality; Greek in quality and that again connects it in a very interesting structural way to the original Homer story.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:07)
Tea before you put milk in. Not unlike her with her hair down: slimmer. Three and six. I gave for the frame. She said it would look nice over the bed. Naked nymphs: Greece. Again, the reference to Greece is important and for instance all the people that lived then. He turned the pages back. Metempsychosis, he said, is what the ancient Greeks called it. They used to believe you could be changed into an animal or a tree for instance. What they called nymphs, for example.
Right. So, he is going to give an example and the obvious example comes as a Grecian example, a Greek example, Hellenic example which has been delivered over here and that obviously, connects the modern Ulysses, the Dublin Ulysses with the original Hellenic myth right. So, metempsychosis is a metaphysical transition or transposition or transmutation of souls which has been talked about.
(Refer Slide Time: 25:39)
Her spoon ceased to stir up the sugar. She gazed straight before her, inhaling through her arched nostrils. There’s a smell of burn, she said. Did you leave anything on the fire? The kidney! he cried suddenly. He fitted the book roughly into his inner pocket and, stubbing his toes against the broken commode, hurried out towards the smell, stepping hastily down the stairs with a flurried stork’s legs.
Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet from the side of the pan. By prodding a prong of the prong of the fork under the kidney he detached it and turned it turtle on its back. Only a little burnt. He tossed it off the pan onto a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.
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