Telemachus 0030

[singlepic id=166 w=320 h=240 float=left]

We’ve been getting a lot of context for Mulligan and Stephen’s relationship over the last few pages, a lot of backstory.  Here we get a clearer picture of what their relationship is like in the present. Stephen has a job, and he’s getting paid.  More to the point, Mulligan thinks he has figured out a way to pimp out Stephen’s epigrammatic talent. And Stephen thinks of himself as the “server of a servant.”

Stephen’s feelings are very familiar to anyone who’s had a careless roomate–do I clean up after this jerk? or leave the bowl where it is?–but Mulligan’s class card has already been played, and it means more to Stephen than just bad manners.  It’s also a compact way of bringing Stephen’s role as Telemachus back into view: the suitors are making a mess and taking his money, and there’s nothing he can do about it.

About the money–we’ll shortly learn that Stephen is paid a bit less than four pounds, or “quid” on this day.  While it doesn’t sound like much, it’s not a trivial amount of money.  Think about it this way–you could buy a pint of beer for 2 pennies, or pence,  in Dublin in 1904.  There are 240 pence in 1 old-style pound.  You could therefore buy 120 pints with a quid.  A pint of beer in our fair city of Philadelphia in 2008 will set you back anywhere from 2-6 bucks–let’s say $4.  So using beer as our point of reference, a 1904 pound in contemporary US dollars would be about $480.  Now, economists and other sticklers among you will remind me that the price of beer was kept artificially low in Dublin at this time, and that it’s a lousy basis for conversion… but if you take as a basic rule of thumb that 1p is very roughly equal to $1 in contemporary dollars, you’ll be close.  Mulligan is asking for a rather large amount of money.

10 thoughts on “Telemachus 0030

  1. In regard to your comment: “Mulligan thinks he has figured out a way to pimp out Stephen’s epigrammatic talent. And Stephen thinks of himself as the ‘server of a servant.'” and “Stephen’s feelings are very familiar to anyone who’s had a careless roommate –- do I clean up after this jerk? or leave the bowl where it is?”

    I think this is sufficient proof of my comment on the demeaning nature of Mulligan’s “mosey” comment on the previous comic page (http://ulyssesseen.com/landing/2009/10/telemachus-0029/ ).

  2. I’m new to Ulysses criticism, and I expect someone has noticed this before, but couldn’t “server of a servant” be an ironic reference to “servus servorum dei”? While Stephen and (or via?) our narrator seem to indict Mulligan for his grandiosity, it seems to me that Stephen is aware that he’s guilty of, and complicit in, the profanity (in every possible sense) that he so loathes in Mulligan.

    (Also, in response to Frank D, I do agree with Josh that, like “server of a servant,” “mosey” is likely multivalent; the first time I read it, my mind went straight to Moses, and I daresay Joyce was aware of that association, free and loose though it may be, considering the shrewd wordplay throughout.)

  3. Don’t sweat it, Anne. We here at Throwaway Horse have all learned that, eventually and despite the usual resistance, we all wind up coming around to Mike’s way of thinking.

    To my mind, one of the things that makes his Readers’ Guide so useful to this project and to opening the floor for discussions on the novel is his ability to see the myriad ways in which new eyes interpret the text.
    -Rob

  4. Just to make easier Mike’s considerations (is that right ?) about money, Gifford’s comment :
    “Stephen’s monthly wage as paid (2.222 [30:6]) is £3 12s., not £4,
    and while not sizable in modern terms, would still compare favorably with the salaries of instructors in all but the wealthiest of modern preparatory schools.”

    So that’s like more than a monthly wage’s quarter, isn’t it ? Omg !

  5. Just to make Mike’s considerations (is that right ?) about money easier, here is the Gifford’s comment :
    “Stephen’s monthly wage as paid (2.222 [30:6]) is £3 12s., not £4,
    and while not sizable in modern terms, would still compare favorably with the salaries of instructors in all but the wealthiest of modern preparatory schools.”

    So that’s like more than a monthly wage’s quarter, isn’t it ? Omg !

  6. Shudhakalyan-

    I’m not sure I follow you entirely, but let it suffice to say that Joyce gives us many references to prices and funds exchanged, and Stephen’s pay is enough to buy well over 400 pints! It’s widely assumed that this is his monthly pay, based on the practice of the times, but I don’t think this is stated in the book.

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