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MonkeyNotes-Ulysses by James Joyce
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The Homeric correspondences are concerned with food. Odysseus loses all his ships but one at the island of the Lestrygonians. These people are cannibals and their king Antiphates sends his daughter to lure the sailors ashore to their death. All are eaten except Odysseus’ own crew.

The Biblical correspondences have nothing to do with food, however. Continuing with the outline of Jewish history, Joyce takes us to the era of Solomon and the building of the great Temple of Jerusalem. There are many references to stones and building, including the first words, "Pineapple rock." Bloom is thinking about food and rock, as in "Brighton rock" which means hard candy. But it also means the foundation of the Temple or the foundation of the Christian Church. Jesus said to Peter in a famous pun, "thou art Peter (i.e. rocky) and on this rock" he would found the Church. Physically St. Peter’s Church is the Vatican, in the gardens of which there is a famous pine- cone. The running theme of masonry invokes poetically the beautiful public building of Dublin. It also points to the major subject of Freemasonry, which will turn out to be the religious center of Bloom’s life.

The practical work of the stonemasons is also prominent in ‘Lestrygonians.’ The art of the chapter is architecture. Dublin is a city of splendid buildings in brick and stone, and this chapter pays a special tribute to this aspect of the city. It also describes many of the statues and monuments of Dublin: "He crossed under Tommy Moore’s roguish finger. They did right to put him over a urinal: ‘meeting of the waters’." Joyce tells us that the symbol of the chapter is to be found in "constables." Dublin was a densely policed city, with many of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, who later became the "Garda" and are there today. Many were of the Royal Irish Constabulary, a paramilitary force who were disbanded at once after the Treaty. The police are the embodiment of law and order: "A squad of constables debauched from College street, marching in Indian file. Goose step. Food heated faces, sweating helmets, patting their truncheons." If the D.M.P stands for the inevitable order of civilization, the R.I.C. stands for the brutality of conquest. Their phallic truncheons are associated with the overheated penis of Blazes Boylan, Molly’s conqueror.


Bloom’s search for lunch is, at one level, a commonplace and universal experience. At another level, it is a heroic quest. The light lunch he has at Davy Byrne’s has an almost magical effect on him. It converts gloom and melancholy nostalgia to a genial self-esteem and general good will. As Bloom wanders through the streets he sees various sights, starting various trains of thoughts. But they all come back to the question of food. So, for example, the appearance of Parnell’s brother, John Howard Parnell, produces first images from food, then jokes about food, and finally an imaginative picture of the peculiar diet of the patriot, scorned and poverty stricken. The subsequent appearance of the poet A.E. similarly brings to mind his supposed vegetarian diet, "Only weggebobbles and fruit. Don’t eat a beefsteak. If you do the eyes of that cow will pursue you through all eternity." All events seem to turn to the acts of eating. Mrs. Breen’s handbag contains a medicine bottle and a pastille. The Irish Times has a notice for a girl wishing "to hear of a post in fruit or pork shop." Bloom’s memories of his youth center on the meals he ate. Even the imagery tends to have a consistent undercurrent of food references. The river has "treacly swells." The clerk, ignoring the customers, leaves them there "to simmer." The informer is dropped "like a hot potato."

The most frequent habit in "Lestrygonians" is for Bloom’s monologue to interrupt conversation. The stage directions are still intermittently present but in these passages they seem less noticeable than when Bloom is off stage. Thus after one almost uninterrupted page of Bloom’s conversation with Mrs. Breen we have two paragraphs of inner monologues. Then we return to dialogue for a half page before the interruption of another snatch of monologue, and so on to the end of the exchange between Bloom and Mrs. Breen.

The dialogue in "Lestrygonians" is fairly conventional, except for the insistent breaking in of Bloom’s monologue. To put it differently, the eighth chapter of Ulysses is really Bloom’s interior monologue interrupted by a narrator filling in objective details and by a series of dialogues, which dramatize situation rather than consciousness. Dialogue and authorial or narrative presence then work to suggest an intrusion from without on Bloom’s thoughts.

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