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Substance Reads (1900-1945) > Ulysses - Episode 6 - Hades

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Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
Please use this thread to discuss Episode 6 - Hades of...

Ulysses (Oxford World's Classics) by James Joyce Ulyssesby James Joyce


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
We'll discuss this episode during July 2011.


Jan C (woeisme) | 903 comments From the Evanston, IL Public Library reading of Ulysses

What do we learn about Bloom’s family in Episode 6?

Who do you think the man in the mackintosh was?

How does this episode parallel Odysseus’ journey to Hades in The Odyssey?


message 4: by Ed (last edited Mar 08, 2011 11:30PM) (new)

Ed Smiley Jan C wrote: "From the Evanston, IL Public Library reading of Ulysses
What do we learn about Bloom’s family in Episode 6?
Who do you think the man in the mackintosh was?
How does this episode parallel O's journey to Heck...."


I just re read Ulysses this year, so I may pop in from time to time. I have some plot summaries left over from the Joyce group that might help folks.


I think the parallels are pretty obvious. Hades. I see dead people. Yup.

OK to be serious, I am told that the the Dodder, the Liffey, the Grand Canal, and the Royal Canal are the four rivers of Hades. And the street is torn up, providing a symbolic passageway to the netherworld. "The carriage, passing the open drains and mounds of rippedup roadway before the tenement houses, lurched round the corner and, swerving back to the tramtrack, rolled on noisily with chattering wheels...."
And at the end: "The gates glimmered in front: still open. Back to the world again."

I think that the man in the Mackintosh is the ghost or spirit of language itself that takes on a life of its own. I'd say this is a spoiler, but in Ulysses, it is so easy to miss things the first time you can't really give away anything! Anyway, the man in the mack turns up in a newspaper article as McIntosh, in a list of mourners. And Bloom shows up as L. Boom.

In U, the language is a living and lively thing: the walking billboards with H E L, etc, for Heleys' store pass though at one point, and keep getting jostled, and risk getting out of sequence.

Moving from the humor of the book, the most telling family details are the tragic suicide of Bloom's father--which not known to all in the funeral, and somebody makes an injudicious remark about suicide (a mortal sin), and Bloom's thoughts of his dead son Rudy--he tries to imagine what he might have been like if he were alive. His father, Rudolf Virág (family name changed to Bloom) is another Rudy; Bloom is sandwiched between two generations, both dead.


message 5: by Charles (last edited Jul 24, 2011 09:18AM) (new)

Charles | 241 comments Jan C wrote: "Moving from the humor of the book, the most telling family details are the tragic suicide of Bloom's father--which not known to all in the funeral, and somebody makes an injudicious remark about suicide (a mortal sin), and Bloom's thoughts of his dead son Rudy--he tries to imagine what he might have been like if he were alive. His father, Rudolf Virág (family name changed to Bloom) is another Rudy; Bloom is sandwiched between two generations, both dead. ."

Well said. This is what, don't you think, raises the book from being a jeu of symbols and references to a human document? This is what makes it compelling. The intellectual bits add a great deal, and particularly an underlying and largely unperceived structure, but it is this human sympathy, hardly intimidating, which ought to be in one's mind the meaning and the emotional core of the book.


Charles | 241 comments I'm sorry I've not been keeping up with this discussion -- I've been in the mountains out of internet range much of the time, or traveling -- and sorry too to be working largely from memory, missing the chance to re-read a magnificent tale. Appropriate to the subject of this chapter, I hope others feel as I do that this is one of the great books that make me cry with joy and pain, one of the most wonderful affirmations of life. (An embarrassing effusion, I'm afraid, for which I can only plead personal matters -- but isn't that just the origin of all our literary judgments?)


Jan C (woeisme) | 903 comments Charles wrote: "Jan C wrote: "Moving from the humor of the book, the most telling family details are the tragic suicide of Bloom's father--which not known to all in the funeral, and somebody makes an injudicious r..."

I think it makes Bloom a much more sympathetic character and makes him more human.

Having finished this book in June, I have found myself dipping into it at various points. And, what a surprise! The book that I found so torturous all last year I now find quite enjoyable. Maybe because I am able to relax more and just sit back and enjoy the language.

Not sure if I re-read this episode or not yet.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
I must admit that I've become a bit behind in my reading too. I'm going to try and have a week off work soon to recharge my batteries and will hopefully catch up on my reading then! I'll be back in this discussion soon!


Jennifer W | 541 comments Mod
I'm still reading, but the most frustrating part of this is that I have no idea who anyone is at any given point in the story. I don't know who died (someone's father, I think?), how, I don't know who the travelers in the carriage are, why they would come to this funeral, etc. I don't know if this is due to the style in which this book is written or if it's because I'm reading it 1 chapter per month and forgetting details in between each reading.


Jan C (woeisme) | 903 comments Did you want these questions answered? I don't want to spoil it for you if you are still working on it.

Bloom's father had committed suicide and the guy who is talking (I don't have the book in front of me) didn't it was Bloom's father that he was talking about.

They are on their way to Dignam's funeral and this is an event that will be referred back to throughout the book.

Actually this was one of my favorite episodes. It was one that I could actually understand, to some extent. I also found a lot of humor in this episode.

At this point, I was using the New Bloomsday Book as a guide but I had not yet started using the Annotated Ulysses. Both of these books helped me to understand what exactly was going on. They were each a big help.

I don't know if I've been any help or not.


Jennifer W | 541 comments Mod
Thanks Jan, that does help. I think what I need is one of those "cast of characters" tables in the front of the book. I'm actually just using wikipedia to help me through it. Overall it's not as bad as I feared it would be, but it's not going on to my favorites' list, either.


Jan C (woeisme) | 903 comments I believe Cliff's Notes is online and a number of people in my library said that helped.


Charles | 241 comments I've been catching up, rereading the 3rd episode which gave everyone trouble, and I'm going to have to withdraw my support for the Stephen-mind/Bloom-body thesis. This is the last time we encounter Stephen before the end of the book. He is our first encounter with this inward self-querying, and in the Proteus episode too -- Bloom will be protean in his encounters with experience -- and look at what Stephen is doing. Of course he begins "Ineluctable modality of the visual" but this is only the way of an intensely classical education by Jesuits for saying that he intends to walk on the beach with his eyes closed, guided by sound and feel. Everything that follows is a perception, some contexted, some just gloried in. He ponders the drowned man and the wait for his body to wash ashore, thinks of being drowned himself, describes the waiting beach "Do you see the tide flowing quickly in on all sides, sheeting the lows of sands quickly, shell cocoacolored? If I had land under my feet. I want his life still to be his, mine to be mine. A drowning man. His human eyes scream to me out of horror of his death." Earlier he had written about the beach "A porter-bottle stood up, stogged to its waist, in the cakey sand dough. A sentinel: isle of dreadful thirst. Broken hoops on the shore; at the land a maze of dark cunning nets"... The evoking the wrack of seaweed, and on and on. I think what we have to conclude about Stephen is that he is unwillingly disconnected from the world (why this is is a separate matter) in the existential condition of becoming longing for being, for wholeness in the kind of relationship to the world which he will find in Bloom.

You see I'm always arguing for the emotional core of the book, under the pyrotechnical surface, without which most of us wouldn't read a page. I think we have to see Bloom through the lens Stephen holds, in contrast. Look at the difference between Bloom at the funeral and the passage about the drowned man I quoted. Bloom absorbs everything. Stephen struggles in the water, an incomplete Bloom.


Jennifer W | 541 comments Mod
I had a dream the other night in which I picked up Ulysses and continued reading it. Obviously I've got some guilt around letting this go unread. If anyone else would like to join me in a second effort to get through this, I would enjoy the company!


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
I know exactly what you mean Jennifer! - I'll join you again. - I do have a dream that I will eventually get through this one!

Do you think I shoulod re-label the reading schedule? - i.e. make episode 6 Frb 2012 and move on from there?

what do you (and others) think?


Jan C (woeisme) | 903 comments I think you should. Give it another try.

And maybe I will do some re-reading.


Jennifer W | 541 comments Mod
I think relabeling the months would be good. It might encourage others to pick it back up, too. At the very least, psychologically, I won't feel like I'm sooo far behind!


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
OK - I've re-labeled the dates we plan to read these episodes.

I've started episode 6 in March 2012. I hope this will give others, who may want to join us, the chance to catch up with episodes 1 through 5 during February 2012.


message 19: by Ally (last edited Mar 04, 2012 03:17AM) (new)

Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
...am ploughing through episode 6 again and will post my thoughts soon!


Charles | 241 comments I find this one of the more affecting and aproachable episodes. Bloom goes to the funeral of a business acquaintance, networks, gives out platitudes, and then at the very end one of his neurotic obsessions -- where is the soap he bought? In his hip pocket, "tepid paper stuck. Ah, soap there! Yes. Gate. Safe." A little of the physical body as always. The soap safe, Bloom is safe (he's found the cleansing soap), and he's through the gate safely, escaped what he takes more seriously than his earlier manner might have suggested? A cover? And all in just a few words.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
Today is Bloomsday (16th June) and here in the UK there is a day of radio programmes on Ulysses: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-18469904


Jennifer W | 541 comments Mod
I forget why it's Bloomsday. Is it because today is the day the book takes place, or is it Joyce's Birthday?

I had intended to get back into Ulysses, but then I had to move, so the book got packed. Now that it's been unpacked, I do want to put some effort into it.


Ally (goodreadscomuser_allhug) | 1361 comments Mod
The book takes place over one day on 16th June 1904 byt Bloomsday is more a celebration of Joyce's life so it's about more than just Ulysses.

I too want to make more of an effort with our Ulysses read - I'm listening to BBC radio 4 right now - I think its about 4pm in the story so further ahead than I've actually read but it's a good adaptation.


Charles | 241 comments The copyright on Ulysses expires today.


Charles | 241 comments I suppose this discussion is deceased. A shame. The current New Yorker (July 2) has an article by Louis Menand on Joyce where he quotes Jung as saying "What is so staggering about Joyce is the fact that behind a thousand veils nothing lies hidden; that it turns neither toward the mind nor toward the world, but, as cold as the moon looking on from cosmic space, allows the drama of growth, being, and decay to pursue their course." I suppose this is not an encomium or an invitation to some. What I find so inspiriting about the book is (among other things) its elevation of the quotidian, the respect, acceptance, and intense interest awarded to everything from the smallest to the largest, without prejudice. And of course the final episode has got to be the most thoroughgoing expression of love ever written down, and exactly because of that quotidian.

This was not, I suppose, the way to talk about Ulysses. Aside from stretching it out too far, there was something missing -- the mind's ear, perhaps; the face-to-face encounter with the excitement of discovery; the means of ranging over the whole book at once; the rodomontade of incautious enthusiasm. Such as this one.

The book is bottomless, and intimidating to anything but a ramble. If I knew how I would suggest something, but not in the summertime. I'm not reliably internetted now.


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