Telemachus 0013

[cf. 1922, 5:26-30; Gabler 1:94-99]

What does Mulligan mean when he calls Stephen a “lovely mummer”?  Here in Philadelphia, mummery capital of the world, we can’t help but think like this.

Sadly, this is probably not what Mulligan has in mind.  Rather, Mulligan means that he’s disguised, he’s pretending to be something he’s not.

The tradition of mumming came to Philadelphia from many places, but the strongest thread runs from Ireland & the other Celtic countries. By tradition, around the holidays, a gang of costumed men would go from house to house and basically trick or treat for booze.  There might be a play or a performance involved, but there’s a costume and some kind of entertainment and probably “something sinister” in having them come into your home… as Mulligan suggests.

And as for sinister… here’s another question for the masses.  Was Joyce left-handed?  Stephen, based on a number of references in this book, seems to be a leftie. And Joyce’s corresponding figure in Finnegans Wake, Shem the Penman, is left-handed.  Of course, even if Joyce were left-inclined, no school in Ireland would have let him actually write that way…

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5 thoughts on “Telemachus 0013

  1. he is shaving, so he cant say summer. he murmurs mummer instead.  you go off the deep end here about mummery and i’m questioning whether i should continue reading any of this.

  2. @ Nieven13 : In the first french translation of the book, the word “mummer” is translated into “baladin” (a kind of buffoon, or strolling player like Harlequin, famous for his costume !). In the new translation, it is translated into “cabot” (it means “mutt” but also “ham acting” player). So I think Mike is right.

  3. French translation / Traduction française :

    Que veut dire Mulligan lorsqu’il appelle Stephen “séduisant baladin” ? Ici à Philadelphie, on ne peut que penser à notre ville, capitale mondiale de la mascarade.

    Hélas, ce n’est probablement pas ce que Mulligan a en tête. Il insinue plutôt que Stephen se travestit pour paraître ce qu’il n’est pas.

    La coutume de la mascarade est arrivée à Philadelphie de beaucoup d’endroits, mais principalement d’Irlande et des autres contrées celtiques. Traditionnellement, à l’approche des fêtes de fin d’année, une bande d’hommes déguisés allait de maison en maison, non pour récolter les bonbons comme pendant Halloween, mais carrément pour picoler. Cela pourrait faire partie d’un spectacle, il est question de déguisement et d’une certaine sorte de distraction, avec ce que peut avoir de “sinistre”, comme dit Mulligan, le fait de recevoir chez soi ce genre de visiteurs…

    Et à propos de “sinistre”, voilà une autre question lancée à la cantonnade : Joyce écrivait-il de la senestre ? Stephen, d’après nombre de références dans ce livre, semble être gaucher. Et Shem the Penman, l’avatar de Joyce dans “Finnegan’s Wake”, l’est assurément. Bien entendu, même si Joyce y avait été enclin, aucune école d’Irlande ne lui aurait vraiment permis d’écrire de cette manière…

  4. kinch the loveliest summer of them all wouldnt make any sense at all. the description of stephen as a masked prankster makes sense in the context – stephen hasnt said a word for ages at this point , in the comic its four pages. so mulligan is saying you are hiding what your thinking, masking your thoughts

  5. I am French, so I be may be misunderstanding … But when I first read this sentence, although I knew he proper meaning of “mummer” , I thought there might be as well some way of playing with the word “mummy”. (After all, just a moment ago Mulligan was talking about Stephen’s mother, wasn’t he? Could Stephen, in his mind, be the loveliest “mummer ” as well as some sort of “mummier” or “mummiest” boy – and I understand: much more deeply attached to his mother than he had pretended to be). Please forgive me if I am wrong, and this being just some foolishness .

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