Well after the slow plough through chapter eight I expected things could only get more difficult but I fair raced through chapter nine. Why that is I don’t know because I understood less of it than any other chapter! Okay so it finally dawned on me they were in a library and Stephen was giving of his opinions on Shakespeare with particular emphasis on Hamlet. Haines has been and gone apparently. Mulligan shows up late on and appears to be his usual self – lowering the tone with his clever twisting of every ‘serious’ subject into a juvenile gag. The wandering Jew they pass at the end of the chapter must be Bloom. Having missed nearly every allusion going in this chapter I think I at least got the main thrust of it (though I may even be wrong about that) if none of the subtlety. I assume there is some – never having read any Shakespeare.
You might have to let me once more into the deeper meaning of this episode. My most pressing question is I suppose – the answer to which I cannot glean for myself – is precisely how is Stephen’s theory of Shakespeare received? Are his friends impressed – if indeed they are his friends – I couldn’t altogether make out who he was talking to! Best and Eglinton? Was this talk idle or was there some point to it – any money in it for Stephen?
You might wonder at my reading? After all, there seems to be very little in it for me. I don’t know. There are enough people telling me the novel is irrelevant. That the stream of consciousness has been done to death and that although this was new at the time ‘the shock of the new’ hardly lasts that well. I mean Duchamp’s urinal is important – but I don’t want to spend too much time thinking about it! Well, though I accept my reading is not terribly deep it is at least honest. I’m never going to be a scholar of this material (unless I’m converted at the end) and I wonder what end those who do study it seek to find – the Higgs Boson perhaps! I’ll go on my way to see what I can see – and maybe it will only be a few surface jokes – and maybe that will be enough. When the characters in the library begin to speak in Shakespearian voices and the form transforms for a moment into that of a play, well even people who have never read the Bard can find that funny. I did.