Daily Archives: June 16, 2010



The last lines of Ulysses.  Molly Bloom: “Yes”

June 16th, 1904, is the day the events of James Joyce’s Ulysses occur: Bloomsday.  It is also the day that Joyce and his future wife, Nora Barnacle, had their first, well, date.  Christopher Hitchens has called Ulysses the greatest literary work ever inspired by a handjob.

Frye puts it this way:

An association is implied between Stephen and Icarus, and in some respects Ulysses is a version of the fall of Icarus.  Stephen, an intellectual of the type usually described as in the clouds or up in the air, comes back to Dublin and in his contact with Bloom meets a new kind of father, neither his spiritual nor his physical father but Everyman, the man of earth and common humanity, who is yet isolated enough from his society to be individual too, an Israel as well as an Adam.  Stephen approaches this communion with a certain amount of shuddering and distate, but the descent to the earth is clearly necessary for him.  Traditionally, however, the earth is Mother Earth, and what we are left with is a female monologue of a being at once maternal, marital, and meretricious, who enfolds a vast number of lovers, including Bloom and possibly Stephen, and yet is narcist too, in a state of self-absorption which absorbs the lover.  Marion Bloom is a Penelope who embraces all her suitors as well as her husband, and whose sexual versatility seems much the same thing as the weaving of her never-finished web–the web being also one of Blake’s symbols for female sexuality.  The drowsy spinning of the earth, absorbed in its own cyclical movement, constantly affirming but never forming, is what Marion sinks into, taking the whole book with her.  (“Quest and Cycle in Finnegans Wake,” CW 29, 110)