Ulysses: Hello, Leopold Bloom!

The_ButcherShop_TinSign_largeI have finished ‘chapters’ 4 and 5, and by jove I might be getting the hang of this thing. Or probably not. I have a feeling that this book is going to keep me on my toes.

Chapter 4 is ‘Calypso’ where we meet Leo and his wife Molly Bloom. They are an interesting couple, let me say that. Leo has a penchant for ‘the inner organs of beasts and fowls‘. Here is the line that made me laugh and cringe at the same time:

Most of all he liked grilled mutton kidneys which gave to his palate a fine tang of faintly scented urine.

If that doesn’t conjure up some senses for you, I can’t help you. Joyce really knew how to paint a (scented) picture.

This chapter was relatively easy to follow along with. Molly is some sort of singer who likes to lounge in bed. Leo (as mentioned above) likes organ meat. They have a cat. Molly has some sort of lover who writes letters to her at her house. Turnabout is fair play, as they say. Leo has a female friend that he is writing letters to – under his fake name – Henry Flower. Wait! I just got that….Flower….Bloom. Boy am I dim.

Anyhoo….these two chapters basically are about Leo going about his morning routine, feeding the cat, going to the butcher to get a kidney for breakfast, and getting ready for a funeral at 11:00.

Here is my fear, we are only 70 or so pages into the book at it’s already 11:00 am novel time – what’s going to happen for the rest of the day that takes 600 more pages to relate! <insert scared face emoji here>

Here is what Joyce is a master of – this stream of consciousness thing. I mean, duh! I remember in high school (or university) the teacher speaking about this and learning that’s what Joyce’s style is. And I was like, yeah cool. In my advanced age, I feel like I have a better understanding of what that means. I still think it’s cool, even after all these years. Here is the thing, you get in your car and drive to the grocery store, get out of your car and go shopping. Your mind is off in about a million different places during that time. Oh apples, I need to get some, remember that apple pie that my mom made that was so delicious, and onions, I need one of those too, I need to remember to do the laundry when I get home, do I need laundry detergent…..and so on. (See, I’m no James Joyce.) But you get the drift. Our minds don’t work in a linear way, and I think he really gets to the heart of that. And to me, it’s fascinating.

As BJ mentioned in his potato post, there are tons of references, allusions, and other (I guess you could say) easter eggs in the book. And that’s great if you want to pick through them an understand it. I think, (and I am also hoping) that if you can just get in the current and ride the waves of words and let them wash over you, you can actually enjoy it.

 

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