The everyman hero of Ulysses, Joyce’s reworking of Odysseus. Bloom is 38 years old, Hungarian Jewish from his father (Rudolf Virag) and Irish Catholic from his mother (Ellen Higgins). He currently works as an ad canvasser for the newspaper The Freeman’s Journal, but he’s had other odd jobs throughout his life. He spends the day of June 16 wandering around Dublin: going to a funeral, checking in at the office, visiting the National Library, walking on the beach. He’s a deeply human and compassionate character, and carrying around with him two heavy emotional burdens: grief over the death of his infant son Rudy 11 years before the action of the novel, and anxiety over his impending cuckoldry by his wife Molly, with whom he has not had full sexual relations since their son died.
[Cf. 1922 5:20-27, Gabler 1:86-94]
We get an important glimpse of Stephen here, as we learn that he refused to pray for his mother at her deathbed. What kind of a**hole doesn’t obey his dying mother’s wish to pray with her? Discuss.
I mean, yes, Stephen is an Artist of Profound Integrity, who cannot compromise his belief in his unbelief. And yes, we are meant to think of him as kin with Hamlet, with Telemachus, with those who fight to leave behind their lives as boys to become men. And I even think that we are meant to pity Stephen more than a little, who has become so alienated through his extremism.
Mulligan refers to himself and Stephen as “hyperborean.” What does this mean? Gifford gives us the basics–it’s a classical allusion, to a kind of perfectly youthful master race who lived at the far ends of the earth. More specifically, Gifford pegs the reference to Nietzsche & a passage in The Will to Power, wherein the Ubermensch were described as hyperborean, as beyond the constraints of conventional morality, especially Christian morality.
Anyone out there have more to say about hyperborean? About Stephen’s refusal to submit and what we’re supposed to think about it?
I love the bottom panel here… Mulligan looking stately and plump indeed, beautifully framed and posed like he’s about to start shooting lasers out of his hands. Which would make things interesting. His pose, his position, his framing, all speak together with the authority of Mulligan’s perfectly reasonable criticism of Stephen. And Stephen knows it, but he doesn’t care.
[Cf. 1922 6:7-28; Gabler 1:112-134]
Mulligan is fencing with Stephen fairly aggressively here. He is by turns generous and condescending, surprisingly dismissive and admiring, charming and intolerable.
One thing that strikes me on reading this passage is Mulligan’s none-too-subtle playing of “the class card” with Stephen. “Dogsbody” has all kinds of associations, and will gather even more in the “Proteus” episode, but at the very least it refers to an underling or a “gofer.” Mulligan also teases Stephen for his “second leg” trousers, his improper etiquette, and even offers his own old clothes to him. We’ll soon learn he’s wearing Mulligan’s boots already. [“Poxy Bowsy” is glossed in Gifford, but basically means vd-ridden lout.]
Stephen’s insistence that he can’t wear grey is pretty extreme. Gifford‘s gloss is very useful–like many other entries, it “reminds” us of things we don’t yet know, that Stephen’s mother died on June 23, 1903, and so it’s been almost a full year… though we actually won’t find out it’s June 16, 1904 for a few hundred pages yet. Gifford observes that under the strictest standards of Victorian mourning, a son would wear only black for a full year after his mother’s death, so Stephen’s within that period. Mulligan catches the irony of Stephen’s assiduous sartorial etiquette and his cruel treatment of his mother, but we don’t necessarily feel better about Mulligan for this.
Point of trivia: if you’re following along in your Gabler edition, you’ll see that several of Mulligan’s lines here end with exclamation points [Dogsbody! Insane! Bard!]. He’s quite an exclaimer. The exclamation points appear in the Rosenbach manuscript, but not in the 1922. Because we’re following the ’22 here, they’re not used. Write them in if you like.
Point of admiration: I love how Rob has Mulligan using the mirror here.
so, riddle me this:
1. We’ve been wondering what the mirror should look like. Anyone have a good sense of what the cracked lookingglass of a servant should look like? Please post a picture.
2. About that dogsbody. What difference does it make, given the trends and themes of this chapter, that Mulligan is talking about Stephen’s body and his appearance?
3. Why is it important that Stephen is so hyper-observant of the etiquette of mourning? Can you answer this question by going through Hamlet or the Odyssey?