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.
Finally got around to reading James Joyce’s ULYSSES. Finished the first three episodes, moving on to “Calypso.” To celebrate my first foray into this literary landmark, I’m going to post my favorite passage from each episode (i.e. chapter). Obviously, because of how tumblr formats text posts, I’m not going to try and replicate the accurate length of the individual lines.
Episode 1, Telemachus
—How much, sir? asked the old woman.
—A quart, Stephen said.
He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk, not hers. Old shrunken paps. She poured again a measureful and a tilly. Old and secret she had entered from a morning world, maybe a messenger. She praised the goodness of the milk, pouring it out. Crouching by a patient cow at daybreak in the lush field, a witch on her toadstool, her wrinkled fingers quick at the squirting dugs. They lowed about her whom they knew, dewsilky cattle. Silk of the kine and poor old woman, names given her in old times. A wandering crone, lowly form of an immortal serving her conqueror and her gay betrayer, their common cuckquean, a messenger from the secret morning. To serve or to upbraid, whether he could not tell: but scorned to beg her favour.
—It is indeed, ma’am, Buck Mulligan said, pouring milk into their cups.
—Taste it, sir, she said.
He drank at her bidding.
—If we could live on good food like that, he said to her somewhat loudly, we wouldn’t have the country full of rotten teeth and rotten guts. Living in a bogswamp, eating cheap food and the streets paved with dust, horsedung and consumptives’ spits.
I quickly found myself astonished at Joyce’s ability to evoke images and textures with his writing. I especially love the way that he describes food and drink. Take the line “He watched her pour into the measure and thence into the jug rich white milk.” I could practically TASTE the milk.
James Joyce’s statue in Dublin. Also called “The Prick with the Stick”.
This would be me:
So how would you react to the Joyce statue in Pula, where you can actually sit at a table and have coffee with him?