Calypso 0014

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This is the first page where we see Molly’s name uttered in Bloom’s interior monologue; it is also the first time in Joyce’s actual text. I think this is important for a couple of reasons. First, I think it’s significant that Bloom’s first mental “mention” of his wife’s name occurs during an exotic fantasy and in conjunction with her underwear. It makes her seem kind of mysterious and sexy (she goes out and buys herself new purple garters–ah, but for whom?). Joyce was kind of obsessed with his wife Nora Barnacle’s underwear, too. Nora is considered by some to be a model for Molly, and underwear shows up throughout Joyce’s letters. It is, frankly, a bit of a fetish. For example, during a difficult period in their relationship (Joyce–probably mistakenly–believed Nora had been unfaithful, an incident I believe was really critical for the writing of Ulysses), Joyce wrote from Ireland to Nora in Trieste that he wished she wouldn’t leave her underwear lying around for others to see, that he preferred that she keep her intimates intimate, for his eyes only.

There’s another female image here, too: Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated points out that Bloom’s thoughts about the girl playing the dulcimer, and the quote “In the track of the sun,” comes from a book called In the Track of the Sun: Diary of a Globe Trotter, published by Frederick Diodati Thompson in 1893. It is a travel narrative of the Near and Far East, and Bloom has it in his library. The dulcimer also echoes Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s fantastical poem “Kubla Khan”: “A damsel with a dulcimer/In a vision once I saw:/It was an Abyssinian maid,/And on her dulcimer she played,/Singing of Mount Abora.”

But by the bottom panel, Bloom has emerged from this world. His final comment is pretty ironic: he’s noting that there’s a rather big gap between the real world and what you get in books. Ultimately, Bloom has a clear-eyed view of the world, and he lives in a pretty mundane place.

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Reader’s Guide for IV: Calypso



One thought on “Calypso 0014

  1. My most heartfelt and sincere apologies to everyone who lives in this little neighborhood of Dublin. And a confession; I’ve not yet been.

    I tried to pick up staples of things here that could identify what Bloom (and Joyce) are saying about the neighborhood without the much preferred method of actually being there. Fact is that this chapter is not so much an introduction of Dublin as “Lotus Eaters” (which comes next) as it is a depiction of a relatively common middle class existence there in 1904. As a child of the “60’s and ’70’s,common middle class to me means a lot of “cookie cutter” houses and wide open streets. Probably a lot wider than they are in truth. But the interest here for me was in capturing Bloom on a quiet, lonely part of the morning in a world that he might easily dissolve into fantasy. It stands in contrast to the “Telemachus” chapter in which Stephen’s environment, equally empty of human clutter, seems heavier and much more difficult to escape from. In doing so I probably echoed back to the bareness of my hometown of Detroit in the early morning and the drab architecture of its suburbs.

    I’m trying to find a way to get to Dublin and draw the next chapter on location. Anyone who knows of a good artist residency there for cartoonists, hell, drop me a line.

    I think you see my problem.

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