Reader's Guide: Lotus Eaters 0001

[cf. Gabler 58: 1-4; 1922 68: 1-4]


…Meanwhile, back in Bloom’s world…


We’ve skipped away from the “Nestor” episode & Stephen’s classroom for a moment to check in on Leopold Bloom  in the “Lotus Eaters” episode.  In the book, these two episodes (#2 and #5 in order) are separated by two others, #3 “Proteus,” and #4 “Calypso.”  We’ve taken the liberty of combining them here because they take place at the same time of day – 10 am – and Joyce built these two chapters to show coincidences between what Bloom and Stephen are experiencing at the same time in the same city. There are other similar pairings in the book (Telemachus and Calypso take place at the same as well, for instance), but we wanted to introduce you to the characters before we started messing around with the jump cuts.  Eventually, we will make it possible for a reader to go straight through the novel in the order dictated by the printed codex, but for now, we wanted to use this format to show an alternative path.


Bloom is on the move, but we don’t yet know why.  He’s not near his house any more, though.  He thinks to himself that he “could have given that address too,” but we don’t yet know what he’s talking about.  Be patient – we’ll find out soon!


One of the things that’s interesting (if you’re a literature nerd) about these few short lines is hard to see in our comic format.  The voice that begins the chapter sounds a lot like a typical narrator’s, like the voice in “Calypso,” [“Mr Leopold Bloom ate with relish…”]  referring to Bloom in the third person.  But then, without any punctuation or warning, there’s a thought from Bloom’s consciousness (“could have given that address…”).  We’ve made the point before, but the quick shift of narrative perspective is typical of Joyce’s work, and it can make it difficult to figure out exactly whose voice is talking to you.


And note that the narrator says, in the very first sentence, that Bloom is walking “soberly.”  This is the “Lotus Eaters” episode, which is all about the different ways that people medicate themselves.  Bloom, like his Homeric ancestor, is sober.