Now for my favorite passage from episode III of James Joyce’s ULYSSES.
Episode 3, Proteus
In long lassoes from the Cock lake the water flowed full, covering greengoldenly lagoons of sand, rising, flowing. My ashplant will float away. I shall wait. No, they will pass on, passing, chafing against the low rocks, swirling, passing. Better get this job over quick. Listen: a fourworded wavespeech: seesoo, hrss, rsseeiss, ooos. Vehement breath of waters amid seasnakes, rearing horses, rocks. In cups of rocks it slops: flop, slop, slap: bounded in barrels. And, spent, its speech ceases. It flows purling, widely flowing, floating foampool, flower unfurling.
This chapter was easily the most difficult to get through so far. Joyce focused much more explicitly on using stream-of-consciousness to describe Stephen Dedalus’ walk on Sandymount Strand. The constant barrage of obscure references and multilingual puns made it hard for me to keep focused, particularly when he started to abruptly switch between Stephen’s thoughts and the actions of the gypsy couple further down the Strand. I may have to revisit this chapter later. But I especially loved the above passage. I could read Joyce describing the sounds of nature all day.
Now for my favorite passage from episode II of James Joyce’s ULYSSES.
Episode 2, Nestor
A stick struck the door and a voice in the corridor called:
They broke asunder, sidling out of their benches, leaping them. Quickly they were gone and from the lumberroom came the rattle of sticks and clamour of their boots and tongues.
Sargent who alone had lingered came forward slowly, showing an open copybook. His thick hair and scraggy neck gave witness of unreadiness and through his misty glasses weak eyes looked up pleading. On his cheek, dull and bloodless, a soft stain of ink lay, dateshaped, recent and damp as a snail’s bed.
He held out his copybook. The word Sums was written on the headline. Beneath were sloping figures and at the foot a crooked signature with blind loops and a blot. Cyril Sargent: his name and seal.
—Mr Deasy told me to write them out all again, he said, and show them to you, sir.
Stephen touched the edges of the book. Futility.
Even though the lion’s share of what I’ve read so far has primarily demonstrated Joyce’s use of stream-of-consciousness to portray Stephen Dedalus’ thoughts, I am struck by his ability to illustrate movement and describe characters. His language may be verbose, but it doesn’t seem overbearing or tedious.