Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Ulysses Support Group Meeting:The Wandering Rocks

Everyone agrees that given the diverse nature of each of the separate sections we have read so far, restricting ourselves to reading just one section works best. And this section was chock full of activity. Here is a confluence of characters and events that can be seen as the 'centre' of the novel. Myriad characters, all encroach on each others' stories - sometimes interacting, sometimes in the background. I think everyone agreed that this section is worth re-reading, because there is such a lot going on and so many people to keep track of! Although Joyce is hamstrung by the linearity of text (we can only read one word at a time!) he has a pretty good go at recreating a snapshot of the day from multiple perspectives. Again - in terms of reading this isn't a difficult section, but there seems to be a lot going on beneath the surface. We start with Father Conmee and end with the Earl of Dudley riding through the streets in a carriage. Are these the pillars of Irish society (religion and aristocratic authority) between which all of Dublin life surges? There is more than a whiff of impropriety and sin surrounding the montages in between these opening and closing pieces: voyeurism and debt in particular. We also see Stephen confronted by guilt again, as he comes across his sister buying a French primer. There is no doubt that Stephen sees himself standing apart from the rest of his family - academia removes him from the toil of everyday survival that faces his siblings. It was also noted that thus far, women are generally represented as hard working and resourceful women - often surrounded by slightly feckless men - but often relegated to the background (misogyny?). We also revisited the idea of Bloom as the central character and the impression of him as 'an outsider' is pronounced in this section. Why does Joyce make his Odysseus a Jew? Is this a reflection of Joyce's own 'self imposed' exile status?
During the meeting, Ali managed to track down a film based on Ulysses. At two hours, we're dying to know which elements of the book feature.

We're moving on to the Sirens next, which is up to page 279 in the OUP version. Next meeting will be at The Salamander, from 6:45 on the 28th June. (Plus, we have noted how Radio 4 appear to be jumping onto our bandwagon with all sorts of Joycian fare going on!)

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