Each month a member of the crew behind the Bloomsday Survival Kit will provide an insight into the motivation and method behind their work.  This month James Moore tells us about the Sly Uses of Colour in Ulysses.


For a man with such bad eyesight we are constantly amazed at how much and how strongly colour figures in Ulysses. Joyce packed it chock-full of brilliant descriptive, suggestive and symbolic colour references.

Green for instance, is a colour worth paying close attention to in Ulysses.

Throughout the book it can’t help but put us in mind of traditional images of Ireland such as the Forty Shades of Green or the Emerald Isle. However descriptions such as snotgreen, green bile, Gaptoothed Kathleen and her four beautiful green fields undermine the usual saccharine and stereotypical associations between the colour and the country.

When bringing to the fore, in hilarious fashion, the underlying currents of sexuality inherent in the iconography of the Catholic Church, colour is again a powerful tool in the hand of Joyce. In Nausicaa for example, through the colour choice of flirty Gerty’s undergarments, Joyce playfully and subversively connects her with the Virgin Mary, who is traditionally depicted in blue and white.

Recently here at our At it Again! Dublin Headquarters we thought it would be fun if we too added some colour to the prints based on our Ulysses the Manual illustrations.

Here’s what Niall had to say about the subject of how colour spiced up the Cyclops illustration.


“It was so much fun experimenting with the seemingly unlimited possibilities of colour for our new prints. In the end I decided to add spot colours to some illustrations. For the Cyclops image, I wanted to evoke the Cold War era of 1950s science fiction B-movies. Often viewed as low budget entertainment for teenagers, the films’ subject matter also looked at the behaviour of the human condition when under attack. For the illustration I wanted to use a limited palette to add a chill to the mounting tirade of abuse from the Cyclops as he attacks Leopold Bloom.”


And here’s what James had to say about the colour choice for the Ithaca illustration.


“In Ithaca Joyce writes ‘The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit.’ I think many people would agree that this is one of the most beautiful and sensual sentences in the whole of Ulysses. The transition into a magical otherworld thanks to this nightblue filter is immediate and memorable and colours the rest of the episode. It’s as if this humid nightblueness becomes a kind of buffer zone between the absolute cold of interstellar space, as Bloom imagines it, and the earth womb warmth and hot-blooded red lustiness of Molly’s Penelope, between death and life.

When it came to adding colour to the illustration of Ithaca it simply had to be nightblue.”


You can see more of our new colour prints at www.atitagain.ie


If you feel like leaving a comment we’d love to hear your feedback and maybe you can let us know what are your favourite colour quotes or colour moments from Ulysses.