Reader's Guide: Lotus Eaters 0001

[cf. Gabler 58: 1-4; 1922 68: 1-4]

 

…Meanwhile, back in Bloom’s world…

 

We’ve skipped away from the “Nestor” episode & Stephen’s classroom for a moment to check in on Leopold Bloom  in the “Lotus Eaters” episode.  In the book, these two episodes (#2 and #5 in order) are separated by two others, #3 “Proteus,” and #4 “Calypso.”  We’ve taken the liberty of combining them here because they take place at the same time of day – 10 am – and Joyce built these two chapters to show coincidences between what Bloom and Stephen are experiencing at the same time in the same city. There are other similar pairings in the book (Telemachus and Calypso take place at the same as well, for instance), but we wanted to introduce you to the characters before we started messing around with the jump cuts.  Eventually, we will make it possible for a reader to go straight through the novel in the order dictated by the printed codex, but for now, we wanted to use this format to show an alternative path.

 

Bloom is on the move, but we don’t yet know why.  He’s not near his house any more, though.  He thinks to himself that he “could have given that address too,” but we don’t yet know what he’s talking about.  Be patient – we’ll find out soon!

 

One of the things that’s interesting (if you’re a literature nerd) about these few short lines is hard to see in our comic format.  The voice that begins the chapter sounds a lot like a typical narrator’s, like the voice in “Calypso,” [“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish…”]  referring to Bloom in the third person.  But then, without any punctuation or warning, there’s a thought from Bloom’s consciousness (“could have given that address…”).  We’ve made the point before, but the quick shift of narrative perspective is typical of Joyce’s work, and it can make it difficult to figure out exactly whose voice is talking to you.

 

And note that the narrator says, in the very first sentence, that Bloom is walking “soberly.”  This is the “Lotus Eaters” episode, which is all about the different ways that people medicate themselves.  Bloom, like his Homeric ancestor, is sober.

 

 

6 thoughts on “Reader's Guide: Lotus Eaters 0001

  1. Its probably important that I make a comment or two about what we’re doing here. The process of intercutting these two episodes from the novel, and of handling the early part of our adaptation chronologically rather than in the order of the novel, was a formal decision of mine.

    In designing the comic the goal for me has always been to stay faithful to the poetry of it’s language, try to omit little to nothing of it’s complexity or enigma, while at the same time use my own art, the language of comics, to illuminate (or sometimes further unfold) some of the qualities first-time readers find difficult to grasp. Because this is being made with the digital format in mind each page of the comic will, I know, lead to a page in our Readers’s Guide like this one that can take the educational aspect of the project much further than I could as a cartoonist. In this way the comic becomes a kind of gateway to learning more about the novel rather than what might have otherwise seemed a silly and insipid bastardization of Joyce’s masterwork for a graphic novel cash-in.

    But it also means that I get to make some firm and personal aesthetic choices as a cartoonist; I get to decide the best way in which I can use my own talents to tell a story that I take as both a bannercry for artistic freedom and a sacrament that I have a the most humblingnearcrippling respect for. So taking loyaliberities is part of the process.

    To my mind you are now looking at the third chapter of “Book One” of ULYSSES “SEEN”. “Telemachus” and “Calypso” each form very separate ways of introducing Stephen and Mr Bloom to a world of new readers that may be using the comic for they’re first glimpse of this novel that they’ve all heard is so difficult. I’ve tried to give them some room to breathe in those first chapters; amped up the comedy perhaps, certainly played down the period-style and spent more time and more pages indicating the what-to-look-for at the possible expense of the subtlety the language of comics brings to a more enigmatic story. I’m trying to bring people into a very complex story and the visual elements I explore for them here will get wrapped up in the fugue of Joyce’s language like so many little black and white keys on a piano.

    But in this third installment of “Nestor/Lotus Eaters” my intention is to show those new readers how to look at the collisions and harmonies of those visual elements, to establish simultaneity (something no Joyce reader can go far without appreciating).

    So “Nestor/Lotus Eaters” will stack these comparisons between two characters who, in the comic, won’t meet for years to come. Comics are slow. Yet I think this is the way to provide new readers with a rewarding sense from our first book of what they’ll need to be looking for when they proceed further in the novel; an introduction not just to both men but to their connection.

    I look forward to hearing your feedback as to where the jump-cuts occur; why I may’ve chosen to connect scenes in the way I’ve done. I’m also looking forward to see how many unique forms of montage I can manage to use in these chapters as well. Happy for any suggestions there.

    So, yeah, that was long but now we’re into our most interpretive work yet on the project and I hope you’ll all enjoy it

    -Rob

  2. Love reading your work. So happy the Joyce Centre has added this feature. I have a fledgling website, but it seems redundant in light of the Centre’s new site. Would love to work on any project, even in some small way.
    All the best!

  3. its not it’s twice
    their not they’re

    ??? “I have a the most humblingnearcrippling respect for. So taking loyaliberities”

    • [It’s] a common enough mistake for someone who spends his day drawing rather than correcting Freshmen Lit papers. Been a long time since I’ve had to worry that my grade would depend on such things.

      You’ve made numerous comments on the grammar within our posts, jb, and those are useful in their own way of course, but I’d really like to see this forum open for discussion of the teaching points Mike raises here and how our work on the adaptation itself might make Joyce’s novel more accessible for new readers.

      Anything to say on the meat of the matter?

  4. Apologies–“redundant” isn’t the right word when comparing my fledgling attempt to the Centre’s site. More like “amateurish.” As for volunteering assistance, I am a copyeditor . . .

    • Hello, Shelby, and thanks for the kind words on what we’ve been doing so far.

      Since the original website first kicked off we’ve had a lot of support from readers. We’re always happy to have more hands on the deck (and, as you’ve noted from the above post, copyediting isn’t exactly my forte).

      The comic pages for “Nestor/Lotus Eaters” have all been edited in accordance with the ’22 edition of ULYSSES. Because of the eccentricities of that book there will be a lot of issues to discuss along the way here in Mike’s Readers’ Guide. Keep your eyes open here if you can and, please, add any insights along the way.

      But we’ve also been talking about adding some kind of chat link for quick questions from new readers. Is this something you website does? I’d love to take a look at it.

      Feel free to drop me a line through website and we’ll talk further.
      -R

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