By Richard Ellmann
A critique of the narrative, moral and aesthetic strands in Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.
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Extra resources for Ulysses on the Liffey
Blake was a mystic, but not a mysticist. He 'unites keenness of intellect with mystical feeling', a quality 'almost completely lacking in mystical art'. ' As for the Dublin Blakeans, however, 'they creepy crawl after Blake's buttocks into eternity of which this vegetable world is but a shadow'. 1$ ULYSSES ON THE LIFFEY Against them Stephen admonishes himself, 'Hold to the now, the here. . ' Joyce regarded the Dublin mysticists as in undisclosed collusion with the Catholic Church, which especially in Ireland, perhaps out of Jansenist lag, derogated the mortal body in favour of the immortal soul.
Denial expresses itself in cruelty. The scene is bereft of love or even liking except for Stephen's attachment to his dead mother and the quotation from Yeats's The Countess Cathleen, in which Aleel sings, 'And o ' IO THE M O R N I N G AFTER ( l) no more turn aside and brood/Upon love's bitter mystery'. To Mulligan this is a catchphrase, to Stephen a reality. Mulligan offers instead of affection a crude libertinism: to love is o to stew. He is like Goethe's Mephistopheles in having no context, his whole family being an aunt.
18 THE MORNING AFTER ( l) This cosmic pressure is never acknowledged in Joyce's remarks about Ulysses, but in Finnegans Wake he avowedly makes Shem and Shaun, Earwicker and Anna Li via Plurabelle, the gracehoper and the ondt, the tree and the stone, the two washerwomen, into time- and space-types. In Ulysses the roles are apportioned rather to episodes than to characters. I shall propose that in every group of three chapters the first defers to space, the second has time in the ascendant, and the third blends (or expunges) the two.