JAMES JOYCE'S ULYSSES

Introduced by Graham Harrison on 16 September 1997

There was a good attendance for this discussion of not the easiest of novels'. Graham's
introduction was somewhat novel - a breathless summary of the book in the words of Nora Barnacle, James's
wife and the inspiration for the Molly Bloom character in Ulysees, neither of whom had mastered the gentle
art of punctuation.
He then quoted a few of the views expressed in the years following its publication in 1922,
including:
The greatest novel of the 20th century.

The most famously obscene book in ancient or modern history

Enough to make a Hottentot sick

No other book of the 20th century has got so close to rendering in words what cognitive
scientists call Qualia, the minutiae of feelings, sensations and emotions.
The structure of the novel - based on the Odyssey, the epic poem attributed to Homer - was then
examined and parallels drawn between Ulysses' ten years wanderings, before his return to Ithaca and his
wife Penelope, and the perambulations of his counterpart, Leopold Bloom, in the Dublin of 16 June 1904.
The influence of music on Joyce's writing (he was a good light tenor and musically educated) was
discussed, Graham having pointed out that Anthony Burgess in Joyceprick had confessed to reading
Ulysses very much as a musical score" rather than a straightforward linear novel.
All this provided much scope for discussion and Queen Square was well into the shades of night, if
not Hades, when those attending departed for their individual Ithacas.
Graham Harrison