Saturday, 6 August 2011

Ulysses Support Group: Nausicaa

Any sympathetic feelings for Bloom in the last section are tested here. Dirty old man or romantic fantasist? As a voyeur, watching three young Irish girls by the sea at dusk, Joyce spares us no details as to the desire felt by Bloom. Homer didn't quite have Odysseus messing his trousers, but there are strong parallels in this section again between his encounter with the beautiful women washing clothes in the river and the girls that Bloom encounters. Whilst some in the group felt that the syruppy language and excruciating small talk of the girls was in some ways more tedious to read than Stephen Dedalus' intellectual ramblings, others found that the section was a novelty: Joyce presents a scene with an omniscient narrator, description, dialogue, internalisation.

There was a lot of discussion around whether Gerty's thoughts are really hers, or whether the whole chapter is Bloom's creation and he is imposing his fantasy upon her. Claire (who is fast becoming our close reading specialist) pointed out that Bloom knows who Gerty is and a little bit of biographical detail about her from the conversation in Barney Kiernan's pub: 'Gerty Mac Dowell loves the boy that has the bicycle' which would enable him to do this. Plus, the voice of Gerty perhaps paints Bloom in too enigmatic and romantic a light - referring to him as 'handsome'.

There was also a lot of discussion around the significance of the idolatry of women going on outside, at the same time as a church mass is taking place, worshipping Mary and the cult of the virgin. There is also the significance of Bloom rejecting Gerty once she leaves and he realises that she is lame. Joyce's women at the moment exist and are weighed and measured in the minds of men thus far....roll on Molly Bloom!

We all enjoyed the liberal opportunities for Joyce to ham up the double entendres: we even have fireworks at one point. As the 'cuckoo' call echoes Bloom's situation as cuckold though, the scene ends with feelings of pity.

4 weeks to the next meeting which will be at 6:45 on Tuesday 30th August at the very hospitable Salamander pub. Plenty of time to get to grips with 'Oxen of the Sun' (p366-p407 in the Vintage edition) and a return to centre stage of Stephen Dedalus.

No comments: