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Mulligan’s regret over his obsequious behavior to Haines is quickly forgotten. A minute ago, he said he would join Stephen in surly revolt against their guest’s acquisitive interest in all things Irish, but now he dons a “rebellious” collar, tie, and watch chain, and goes out to join his guest. [The backwards text is meant to suggest Mulligan muttering as he rummages through his clothes.]
Mulligan’s line “do I contradict myself?” is a quotation from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself.” Whitman was a highly controversial figure in the English-speaking world at the turn of the century. None other than Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, spoke out as an undergraduate at Trinity College, Dublin, on the virtue of Whitman’s work. Whitman was a very important figure to Stoker, though whether or not Whitman is a presence in Stoker’s most famous work is a matter for conjecture.
Oscar Wilde knew Stoker as well… Stoker occasionally attended salons at Sir William Wilde’s house, where he met his future wife, Florence Balcombe. Ms. Balcombe was Oscar Wilde’s first love.. he never quite got over her. But I mention Oscar only because Mulligan’s reference to “puce gloves and green boots” evokes Wilde’s aesthetic tastes.