Monday, September 13, 2010

Ulysses Read-Along, Week 3: Episodes 8 and 9

I really liked this section of the read-along, for many reasons. I just sailed through these two episodes!

Episode 8: Lestrygonians

This is, at least in my opinion, the most fully visceral episode thus far in the book. There's food everywhere, and Leopold connects the food he sees in person with memories and ruminations on food the entire time. Leopold recalls a sensual day with Molly where she fed him seedcake from her mouth. He thinks about food as it relates to politics and religion. And, in a segment that almost made my stomach turn, he watches a roomful of men shove meat into their mouths and masticate it with disgusting detail, causing Leopold to move on to another pub and eat a light, vegetarian lunch.

I think this episode is one of the most easily accessible of the book so far simply because it is so vivid and visceral. Sure, Joyce turns Leopold's thoughts on food into several symbolic and allusive episodes, but nearly anyone reading this episode could get something out of it.

Episode 9: Scylla and Charybdis

I enjoyed this episode because there's so much in here about Stephen's theory of Shakespeare's Hamlet. Being the incredible Shakespeare fan that I am, I loved reading about his theory and putting the pieces together and seeing how it actually is a somewhat workable theory.

Inherent in Stephen's theory, and the others' reaction to his theory, is Stephen's poetic mind and heart. He develops his Hamlet theory because of a poetic connection he feels and assumes with Shakespeare. This rankles the men at the National Library, who prefer their theories to be based upon literary criticism and scholarship. Sometimes, though, the most interesting and best theories when it comes to literary figures about which little is truly known come from the gut reactions and feelings of others. Stephen's theory makes an amount of sense despite it not being based upon any actual facts, and that's what makes it so intriguing.

Running alongside Stephen's Hamlet theory is his paternity crisis again (Convenient that his theory revolves around one of the most intense father-son relationships (From beyond the grave) in literary history, isn't it??). Stephen theorizes that, not only was Shakespeare the literal father to his son Hamnet (The possible source of the name Hamlet), but that through his literary creation, he was a father to the entire world. It would seem, then, that much of Stephen's Hamlet theory is developed based upon his own insecurities regarding his own father (And even his mother).

What did you think about this section? Was it a little easier/harder than the last section? What did you like/dislike? What stuck out to you?


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