Calypso 0016

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So Bloom abandons his impulse to mention Paddy Dignam’s funeral to Larry O’Rourke. There’s a bit of chat about the weather, and Bloom moves on. I find Larry O’Rourke’s face to be almost aggressively friendly, and his position in the left-hand panel makes him seem to be blocking Bloom’s path or view. Maybe I’ve seen too many movies, but the whole exchange seems vaguely threatening, like something out of Goodfellas, or maybe an old-school Western gunslinging scene.

My impression is strengthened by Bloom’s asking “Where do they get the money?”, and then imagining under-the-table deals and ripping off customers. The O’Rourke family has also historically held a lot of power in County Leitrim, if I could push my Larry-as-head-of-a-crime family line just a tiny bit. But maybe more seriously, County Leitrim was one of the areas of Ireland most seriously affected by depopulation and migration in the 19th century. Here Bloom thinks about these country people coming into the city and making their way, but the collective sense of loss resulting from the Irish diaspora shows up in other places in Ulysses, too.

Fun fact: There are approximately 1000 pubs in Dublin today, according to; I’m no good at math, but if it helps to put that in perspective, the population of Dublin City in 2006 was 506,211 souls. Crossing Dublin without passing a pub remains a puzzle.


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Reader’s Guide for IV: Calypso

4 thoughts on “Calypso 0016

  1. Yes. Though we never talked about it (promise!) Janine hit the nail on the head.

    My reading of the annotations put me to thinking that O’Rourke here is a bit of the old school criminal.

    But speaking of shady figures, who’s that watching Bloom over Larry’s right shoulder (where the “angel’ sits in all those commercials)? He actually appears on the street with Bloom in the previous page before any other human is seen; the real “gunfighter” show down.

    Very tiny in these drawings, but he wears a brown Mac’intosh…

  2. I’ll have you know that my mother was an O’Rourke, so I won’t have any of this malicious palaver about the great family!

    The story about the O’Rourkes that comes up later in Ulysses involves an infidelity that led to the first British invasion of Ireland. Short version: Chieftain Tiernan O’Rourke, Prince of Breffni, loses his wife Devorgilla to a rival. Takes back wife from rival. Rival brings over English forces to get her back. More here: . That an O’Rourke is the first man he meets out on the street on this particular day is another Joycean “irony.” which is to say its not ironic at all.


  3. And I won’t stand by any such comments about County Leitrim, since that is where my grandfather came from in 1912 at the age of 12. The family story goes that they could afford to feed 5 children and when the 6th was born, the oldest was shipped to relatives in Philadelphia.

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