Calypso 0033

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While Bloom finishes the tea he skims the letter from Milly thanking him for her birthday presents.  Two things leap out:  “young student” and “Blazes Boylan” (“Seaside Girls” refers to a song, about which more in a moment; Lough Owel is a lough just north of Mullingar, where Milly has been sent to work as a photographer’s assistant).  We’ll take a closer look when we see Milly’s entire letter in a few pages, but for now it’s worth pointing out that Milly’s possible suitor and the name of her mother’s paramour push themselves to the forefront of Bloom’s attention.  This is one of the many moments over the next pages where Milly and Molly blend into a composite female image (thanks to the comic, they blend for real, as we shall see).

Milly’s letter also sparks memories of birthdays past.  Bloom remembers the moustachecup she gave him; this is a moustachecup, and it’s just what it sounds like–a cup that lets you drink without ruining your moustache:

Rob has cleverly decorated Bloom’s with one of James Joyce’s own sketches of Bloom himself (it kind of looks like this example).  Notice that Bloom’s memory puts the remembrances of things past in a drawer; this echoes Stephen’s memories of his mother and her belongings from Telemachus.  A point for discussion might be how the visual of the drawer works both literally and figuratively throughout the comic.

This section of Calypso, beginning with Milly’s letter, also has a number of musical allusions.  Thinking of his daughter prompts Bloom to recall popular song lyrics of the time–which as a singer himself Joyce would have been very familiar with–but these allusions also tie into Molly’s career as a singer and the role Boylan plays as her manager and soon-to-be lover.  So, once more, the songs emerge from Bloom’s mind because of fond memories of his daughter, but they will also be tinged with a darker emotion when they are associated with Molly.  This particular song alludes to a piece  by Samuel Lover called “Oh Thady Brady, you are my darlin’,”, but it also echoes a Valentine the young Joyce received from a Protestant girl named Eileen Vance when he was a boy, which began, “O Jimmie Joyce, you are my darling…”.

 

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Reader’s Guide to IV: Calypso

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