Telemachus 0008

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We’ve talked already about Stephen as “Daedalus”, master builder and whatnot, but Rob’s drawing  brings home that Stephen is in a labyrinth.
Despite Stephen’s Greek name, however, here Mulligan is thinking of a trip to Greece and Stephen is focused on the present moment and an unwelcome guest.
Would Stephen go to Athens if Mulligan’s aunt were to pay?  No.  That’s why Mulligan calls him “jejune” or immature.  He wouldn’t take advantage of misplaced generosity in the name of a good trip.

Mulligan points the way to the association with his riffing on Stephen’s “absurd” Greek name. Why is Mulligan talking about the Greeks, anyway? I’m sure part of what’s going on is Joyce signalling to the reader that we are both in Homer’s Greece and and in Joyce’s Ireland at the same time. Mulligan’s interest in Greek also marks his superior education, and for a few brave interpreters, suggests that he may be gay.

Stephen is an artist, and he’s looking for direction. For many Dublin artists, the logical place to go was London–that’s where the publishers and readers were, that was where the roots of English literature were planted, that was where the money was. In 1904, with a great Celtic awakening in full swing in Ireland, many artists were looking instead to the island’s native culture–think of John Millington Synge, or of Miss Ivors’ cutting remarks to Gabriel Conroy in “The Dead.” Mulligan proposes a third way–looking to the traditions of the ancient world, and past the less-culturally-stimulating history of the Roman empire to the world of the Greeks.

Many articles have and will continue to be written on this subject, but for now, let me put in a small placeholder to indicate that that the concept of the classical world was very important for all kinds of “modern” artists–advances in archaeology in the late nineteenth century made that world suddenly far more real, and many artists of the period looked to the classical world for a purity and humanism in art that would get them past what was seen as the decadence and chauvinism of the late Victorian period. This trend is the very place Ulysses comes from, after all. [Tho’ on this, another brief note–Joyce himself did not know much ancient or modern Greek. He sure knew his Latin, though!]

One would expect that Stephen would be more sympathetic to Mulligan’s invitation, then. But Mulligan’s invitation, we will see, is utterly insincere. And also, Telemachus doesn’t go back to Troy to find his father…

 

View the Comic

Reader’s Guide for I: Telemachus

Dramatis Personae for I: Telemachus

3 thoughts on “Telemachus 0008

  1. Comment on the drawing of the tower: the distance across top of the tower is much smaller (my estimate: 12 to 14 feet, or two tall people lying head to foot across the diameter) than the image one gets from the drawings. See a photo at http://www.travelblog.org/Photos/2675418.html. The drawings portray the diameter to be something more like 30 feet, but in reality there isn’t that much space up there.

    Frank D

  2. Very true. Frank has pointed out here one of the first things I spent weeks fretting over before beginning this project. But it was a conscious decision on my part.

    Verisimilitude is a characteristic of this novel’s style and it’s importance. But to hard a connection to the appearance of a character or object is, in my opinion at least, a weakness of creative integrity in comic art. It can greatly reduce the power of cartooning when an artist relies too much on factual representation.

    There are, of course, many classic exceptions to this rule. Too many to name and too few that are still being done today. For now, let’s just say that I was trying to find a way within these first few pages to show readers that I’d be showing them the events depicted in the novel but with an open-mindedness to using the full set of tools that cartooning can give. Since this first scene is actual quite spare in the number of characters and objects depicted, I decided to focus on stretching the space of the stage on which the scene is set.

    There were in fact a set of sketches that made the space quite small and claustrophobic, but when I decided to use the longer format for the pages this didn’t seem to work or leave enough room for the dialogue between character to, as only comics can do, physically exist between the characters. So, instead, I began to imagine the space of the tower to be quite plastic giving it that “bullfighter ring” quality that Mike has mentioned. You’ll find numerous other little visual tricks in there regarding the flagpole that stands between the figures and the horizon line that establishes the ups and downs.

    So, thinking of the top of the Martello tower like a stage, if there’s more space between the characters its largely because of the things they’re talking about than the architecture itself.
    -Rob

  3. Traduction française :

    Nous avons déjà parlé de Stephen
    « Dédale », de ce grand architecte et de tout ce qui
    tourne autour, et le dessin de Rob nous fait comprendre que Stephen
    est comme pris dans un labyrinthe. Tout en se moquant du nom
    hellénique de Stephen, Mulligan songe à un futur voyage en Grèce,
    tandis que Stephen se focalise sur l’instant présent et sur un hôte
    importun (NDT : Haines).Stephen irait-il à Athènes si la
    tante de Mulligan ne payait pas le voyage ? Non. C’est pourquoi
    Mulligan le traite de « maigrichon de jésuite » et
    d’immature (NDT : la traduction de 1929 donne « gnognote
    de jésuite »). Stephen ne saurait profiter d’une générosité
    aussi déplacée, fût-ce pour un beau voyage.

    Mulligan insiste lui-même sur le lien
    entre ce voyage et sa raillerie au sujet de l’ « absurdité »
    du nom grec de Stephen. Mais au juste, pourquoi Mulligan parle-t-il
    des Grecs ? Je suis convaincu que Joyce cherche ainsi à
    signaler au lecteur qu’il se trouve simultanément dans la Grèce
    homérique et dans l’Irlande de l’auteur. L’intérêt de Mulligan
    pour les Grecs est aussi le signe de sa haute éducation, voire de
    son homosexualité selon quelques hardis exégètes.

    Stephen est un artiste, et il cherche
    sa voie. Pour beaucoup d’artistes dublinois, il était logique de
    partir à Londres, car c’était l’endroit où trouver des éditeurs
    et des lecteurs, le lieu où la littérature anglaise trouvait ses
    racines, et c’est là que se trouvait l’argent. Au contraire, en
    1904, dans un grand mouvement d’éveil de la celtitude en Irlande, de
    nombreux artistes se tournèrent vers la culture originelle de leur
    île – pensons à John Millington Synge, ou aux remarques acerbes
    de Miss Ivors envers Gabriel Conroy dans « Les Morts ».
    Mulligan propose une troisième voie, allant des traditions du monde
    ancien (NDT : celtique) au monde grec, en passant par l’histoire
    de l’Empire romain, moins stimulante au plan culturel.

    Nombre d’articles ont été et
    continueront à être écrits à ce sujet, mais pour l’instant,
    ouvrons une parenthèse pour dire que la notion de monde classique
    était très importante pour toutes sortes d’artistes « modernes »
    – des découvertes archéologiques à la fin du XIXème siècle
    rendirent ce terme soudainement bien plus concret, ce qui amena
    beaucoup d’artistes d’alors à se tourner vers le classicisme, la
    pureté et l’humanisme de son art l’emportant sur ce qui était pris
    pour une marque de décadence et de chauvinisme propres à la fin de
    l’ère victorienne. Et c’est bien de là que part « Ulysse »,
    après tout (bien que, soit dit en passant, Joyce lui-même ne savait
    pas grand chose du grec ancien ou moderne ; mais pour sûr, il savait
    son latin !).

    On pourrait s’attendre à ce que
    Stephen reçoive l’invitation de Mulligan avec plus d’entrain, mais
    celle-ci, comme nous le verrons, est totalement hypocrite.
    D’ailleurs, Télémaque ne retourne pas à Troie pour y retrouver son
    père…

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