Telemachus 0029

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Mulligan calls to Stephen from within the tower, pulling Stephen out of a series of flashback visions of his mother.

He tells Stephen to come on down like “a good Mosey.”  Gifford, in Ulysses Annotated, parses this as “one who moves slowly or shuffles.”  But I think there’s a strong overtone of “Moses” in it too.  Later in the day, Stephen will think of Moses and his view from Mt. Pisgah, as he writes a “parable of the plums” rooted in modern Dublin life.

The way Rob presents this moment, with an enormous, distant horizon, gives you a strong contrast to the claustrophobic visions of the past.   There’s a long view before Stephen, (a view towards Britain and beyond that, Europe), but he’s pulled away from it by his tie to Mulligan, as well as by the past that haunts him.


6 thoughts on “Telemachus 0029

  1. In regard to your comment: “He tells Stephen to come on down like “a good Mosey.” Gifford, in Ulysses Annotated, parses this as “one who moves slowly or shuffles.” But I think there’s a strong overtone of “Moses” in it too.”

    In all the dictionary definitions I can find on Google, “mosey” appears as a verb, meaning to walk slowly, shuffle along, amble, etc., but _not_ as a noun, and with its origin unknown. However, Mulligan is clearly using the word as a noun, not to ask Stephen to amble on downstairs, but to _patronizingly characterize_ Stephen (that is, Mulligan uses “like a good mosey” to imply “Hey, Stevie boy, be a nice (something) and come on down here.”

    My point: In my earlier days in New York City, circa 1960, I heard the term “moseys” applied to bus-boys (i.e., servants who cleared tables, carried used crockery and mopped the floors) in Horn & Hardart’s Automat ( To me, the word mosey has only ever meant “servant” — not just “one who walks slowly,” although perhaps some servants do move slowly.

    My view is that Mulligan, by using the term “good mosey,” is condescendingly referring to Stephen as “a good servant” and not as a slow walker, and certainly NOT a modern-day Moses. In effect, he is treating Stephen like a little servant boy who is having a bad day, and is trying to get him to come downstairs and be a *good* little servant boy.

  2. I wasn’t clear, but my thought was that if Mulligan’s referring to Stephen as a “mosey,” that this wasn’t to say that Mulligan thinks of Stephen as Moses, but rather, might be making a tasteless joke about how Stephen’s black wardrobe makes him look like a Jew.

    But the great thing about Joyce is that you don’t have to choose. It’s never either/or with Joyce. That “mosey” could mean “servant” makes perfect sense, and is consistent with Mulligan’s attitude (not to mention his scripted role as Antinoos).

    I would think it entirely consistent with Stephen’s character to take in Mulligan’s “mosey” insult and convert it into his own potential to become a Moses… but that’s going out on a long limb of speculation…

  3. Mike, I had not thought at all about the Moses aspect or your reference to it except in, IMO, its non-applicability to Stephen in this chapter, in view of my confidence in the _mosey=servant_ aspect. On your next page it is confirmed that Stephen has indeed picked up on Mulligan’s “servant” slight — in spades.

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