Telemachus 0063

[singlepic id=433 w=320 h=240 float=left]

Mulligan engages in a little smack-talking before diving in the water. Self-consciously or boastfully, he stands naked before jumping in and shows off his Nietzsche, and though he’s joking, he’s also revealing his not-so-secret desire to be linked with Stephen as a superman, as the architect of a new age.

One of the great things about seeing this chapter in the comic form is the way it makes obvious visual elements of the scene. Like Mulligan’s nakedness. When you read the chapter, you know that he’s taken off his clothes and is going to be swimming naked, and on some level you know that as he talks about himself as the Ubermensch, that he’s naked… but seeing it illustrated is another thing entirely.

What does it say about Mulligan? It would have been perfectly ordinary for a man to swim naked at the Forty Foot on a warm June day in 1904, but Mulligan needs to make a show out of it. He ain’t shy. And he also wants to be seen by those around him as being connected to Stephen.

I suppose there’s more I could say about Mulligan’s reference to Nietzsche–just Google “Nietzsche and Joyce” and you get a whole cascade of articles and books. [Here’s one of some interest.]  But I’m leery of going too far down the rabbit hole of references and annotations. Suffice it to say that there was a considerable intellectual fad for his writings across Europe in the early 20th century, and that Mulligan’s reference shows him to be attuned to that fad.  It’s also true that Oliver St. John Gogarty, on whom the character of Mulligan is based, was reading the German philosopher at this time.

<< previousnext >>

Oh, I Do Like To Be Beside The Seaside

ulysses_gunkI forge ahead, but shortly after entering the forbidding jungle of meaning that is Chapter III, or part the third, or as I am reluctant to call it Proteus (I say reluctant as it seems the unnecessary addition of just one more word that escapes my understanding), I at last feel some sympathy for those who have indeed given up, lain down and expired on this Joycean journey.

Green Hell. I think it may be safe to say that everyone has a threshold for ‘this kind of thing’ and I can’t help feeling the desire for a sort of game-show type scenario (as at right) whereby readers are eliminated one by one. I myself have the uncomfortable feeling I’m about to take a short fall into the tank of gunge at any moment.

However, sheer meanness at the thought of wasting money prevents me from hurling the 1922 out of the nearest window. I am not a man to be defeated so easily. Well, not today anyway.

Continue reading