Posts Tagged ‘Martello Tower’

Telemachus 0031

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009

This page made me smile when I first saw it–there’s not much happening, but it gives a  visual dimension to a moment in the novel that I had never really thought about visually, even after reading this chapter many, many  times. Rob’s drawing emphasizes how the scene moves from an a bright exterior to a very  dark and smoky interior, which isn’t as apparent from the text. Those who have visited the James Joyce Museum in Sandycove can attest to the close, dark quarters inside the tower, but Rob’s drawing saves you the flight.  As we move through this scene, you might keep an eye out for the differences in the dialog & the thoughts of the characters when inside the tower as opposed the outside.

The exchange about the key is also revealing–Mulligan tells Haines to open the door, says Stephen has the key, but the key is in the door the whole time.   Why is Haines the one to open the door?

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Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

[cf. Gabler 3:1, 1922 p. 3]

Some pudgy guy is carrying a bowl to the top of a tower.  So begins the most important novel of the twentieth century. A ceremony of sorts is about to happen.

This is not our first main character, but is instead a secondary one–this is his biggest scene. He’s based on a real acquaintance of Joyce’s Oliver St. John Gogarty, a physician and writer who would go on to be a Senator in the Irish Free State.  In 1904, he rented an abandoned military fortification outside the city, which he lived in and would use as a kind of salon for over twenty years.  Joyce lived there, but only for a week in September 1904.

Let us say something obvious. Living in an unheated Napoleonic fortification, 7 1/2 miles from the center of town as the crow flies, is not a practical decision.

And one more obvious thing–there’s a practical reason Mulligan comes to the top of the tower to shave. It’s very dark and smoky in the living quarters below, not to mention the heady aroma of one rather unclean Dedalus (more on that later) and a sleeping Englishman.

Rob’s drawing gives us an intriguing birds-eye view that conveys at least two important pieces of information: a) we’re out in the middle of nowhere, and b) Mulligan is putting on a show without an audience. Not having an audience is intolerable for Mulligan, so he will shortly summon Stephen Dedalus to serve as an altar boy to his perverse shaving mass. Making the “S” extra big, like Random House did when they designed the first American edition of Ulysses, Rob really makes it stand off the page.  Some scholars have taken the fact that the book begins with an S to suggest that Stephen is the focus of the early chapters… we just like the way it looks and how it lends an epic feel.

I’ve always thought Mulligan gets a bad rap… and I identify with him in a way.  Here, at the beginning of the day, he seems a little glib,  a little snobby, but he’s more sensible than Stephen. And he’s funny and stately and plump.
We’ll meet Stephen in a minute, who is skinny and anxious. If we were casting Mulligan, we’d need someone a little officious, with a touch of wickedness and a sharp wit, a little aristocratic, a little paunchy, someone not entirely in control of their appetites but who’s comfortable with that…. a young John Malkovitch, perhaps?

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Telemachus 0002

Sunday, April 12th, 2009

This is what we in the business call an “establishing shot.”  It shows us where the story is about to begin–a little round tower overlooking the sea.

The tower is called a Martello Tower. It’s a real place, and Joyce really lived there for about a week in September of 1904. They were built by the British early in the 19th century, when they feared a French invasion of Ireland. It’s now the James Joyce Museum, run by a wonderful guy named Robert Nicholson. [By the way, if you go to Dublin and ask for the Martello tower, you will get blank stares. There are many Martello towers on the coast of Ireland, especially the southeast coast.][Also, do not confuse the James Joyce Museum with the James Joyce Centre.] The museum is the tower. The Centre is in downtown Dublin & has more going on in terms of programs & activity.]

When I first saw a picture of the tower I was surprised by how stubby it was. Less phallic than you’d think, but not beyond the realm of physiological phenomena.

If you are lucky enough to go to the Joyce Museum and see theview from the top, you’ll notice that you have a great view of Dun Laoghaire (pron. “Dunleary”) , the primary ferry terminal for Dublin, the primary departure point for voyages from (and to) Ireland. So–a castle overlooking the sea: Hamlet. A castle with a view a port for leaving the island: the Odyssey. And it ties out to a moment Joyce’s life, and a moment in Irish history as well. A perfect “overdetermined” multiple overlaying of the personal, the literary, the historical… and we haven’t even talked about the religious elements… and we’re just getting started!

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Buck Mulligan

Thursday, April 9th, 2009

Buck Mulligan is the antagonist of the Telemachus episode. He attempts to maintain superiority over Stephen Dedalus through mockery and other subtle bullying tactics.

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