Calypso 0022

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Bloom’s resignation in the face of a thwarted desire, a lost object of desire, might be familiar by now; if it’s not, it will be. He was hoping for the small pleasure of a glimpse of the nextdoor girl’s ass as she walked away, despite the “sting of disregard”; alas, he is too late. This missed opportunity, coupled with reading about kibbutzim in Palestine in the paper he takes away from Dlugacz’s, will darken Bloom’s mood considerably over the next few pages. The loss of the girl, who he of course never really had, combines with other losses and the transformation of the exotic East of earlier into a desert wasteland. The association of feminine imagery with loss and devastation in this sequence is pretty striking. You might want to think back to Stephen’s dark imaginings of loss around his mother and his perceived desolation of the sea and sky in Telemachus.

At first, the quotes collecting in Bloom’s mind from the advertisement for a Zionist planters’ company, perhaps something like the Palestine Land Development Company mentioned a bit ago, depict a lush and fertile place. The Jews returning to their homeland will take the wasteland and replace it with abundance, orangegroves and melonfields. We can see the Dublin street scene in the background, but it’s taking on the warm glow of the Middle East. Is Bloom in this moment regretting his exile from his homeland? “Nothing doing. Still an idea behind it.”


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Reader’s Guide for IV: Calypso