• Bloomsday in Melbourne

You want more information about the films, and Ulysses?

Here is a consolidated Guide to the films, and to the chapters they point to.

Bloomsday in Plaguetime:

A Film Festival in 18 Episodes

Directed by Jennifer Sarah Dean for Bloomsday in Melbourne

Introduction to the Films by Frances Devlin-Glass

Welcome to Bloomsday Downunder in the year of Plague, 2020. War was not the only global catastrophe that is part of the background and the rich texture of Ulysses: Joyce was in Zurich and Trieste during the worst of the Spanish Flu pandemic. It is a small footnote to history that Joyce biographers seem not to have noticed.

In his wartime asylum in Zurich in the second half of 1919, he witnessed two waves of cases of influenza, with some 83,211 deaths (16.5% of the 1910 population). An estimated 2m people succumbed to the disease, but reported cases of the disease were greatly under-reported (by an estimated 66%). Zurich was by far the worst afflicted part of Switzerland.

These were the years when Joyce was composing and sending publishable (first draft) copies of (the more elaborately worked and inventive) Aeolus, Lestrygonians, Scylla & Charybdis, Wandering Rocks, Sirens and Cyclops to Ezra Pound, and Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap were publishing them in the Little Review. He and his family were lucky to avoid the virus, but given the volume of work completed, he might have been practising social isolation without knowing it. He was well known to medics in Zurich, and that too may have afforded some protection.

Joyce and his family moved to Trieste briefly in November 1919 before decamping to Paris early in 1920. Both Trieste and Paris had also been hard hit in the second half of 1918 and the first half of 1919 by the virus. By the time he reached Paris, the virus was in retreat, and good first drafts of the remaining chapters were finalised between February/March 1920 and October 1921, starting with Nausicaa which prompted the most notorious pornography case in the history of literature. One could surely argue that surviving the virus was a major achievement in productive isolation.

To return to Bloomsday in Melbourne’s predicament in late February 2020: with a play cast and ready to start rehearsals (watch out for Love’s Bitter Mystery in 2021), we were disappointed to be confined to quarters and socially isolating. Far from assuming there would be no Bloomsday in Melbourne, we’re pleased that our 27-year tradition will undergo the most radical metempsychosis of its history, reincarnating itself not as a theatre event but as a film festival of Ulysses: 18 short films (created under Covid19 disciplines of social distancing), available on Facebook according to Joyce’s timetable for the events of each chapter. If the second wave of Corona virus happens, and let us pray it does not, and assuming we are still self-isolating to some serious extent, please sit (in bed, in the jakes, in your kitchen cooking kidneys, in a deserted restaurant where the diners are at least 1.5 metres apart?) and enjoy this astonishing novel in a medium that is new to us, and a medium that lends itself to playful breaking of its conventions.

The aims of the project were simple: not to let a Bloomsday pass without engaging memorably with the novel (Bloomsday in Melbourne is proud to present strikingly new original plays on the novel annually); to produce a ‘slam’ version of it that does not compromise its variety, its cleverness, its playfulness, and its poetry, and to celebrate each chapter at its appointed hour.

We owe warm thanks to our scripters who turned on a sixpence and produced 18 ‘film scripts’ suitable for 2 actors at a time at an appropriate distance from one another and the camera operator, and to our redoubtable director, Jennifer Sarah Dean, whose bravery is legendary (her first job with Bloomsday was bringing Oxen of the Sun to the stage), and her enthusiastic home-bound actors who are currently locked out of their stages.

On 16 June 2020, 18 films were posted simultaneously on FaceBook and on this blog-site according to Joyce’s timetable (until we reached Nausicaa, when the timetable was speeded up). Facebook provided the opportunity to conduct the most democratic seminar in its history, hosted by Philip Harvey, and Bloomsday in also posted a blog which will tell why those scripting chose the passages they did and provide useful context, and also what else in the chapter may be of interest.


1 - Telemachus. 8am. Sandycove Martello Tower

Martello Tower, Sandy Cove


Guide: Max Gillies

Malachi 'Buck' Mulligan: Kurtis Lowden

Stephen Dedalus: Matthew Connell

Buck, a medic-in-training, teases Stephen (‘Kinch’) by parodying the mass. Stephen grieves his mother, dead for almost a year.

—Isn't the sea a great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea.… She is our great

sweet mother…. Our mighty mother! —… The aunt thinks you killed your mother. That's why she won't let me have anything to do with you.

Someone killed her.

Reflections on the relationship between film and book...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

Joyce opens his novel provocatively with Stephen Dedalus’s foil, Buck Mulligan, play-acting a perverse and jocose priest. He begins with the opening lines of Catholicism’s most sacred and quotidian ritual, the mass, ‘Introibo ad altare Dei’ (I will go unto the altar of God). His shaving basin doubles as a chalice (a nod to Cervantes?). Buck mocks and updates this ritual by treating the transformation of bread and wine (into the body and blood of Christ, as catholics understand it) as a problem with an electrical circuit (a reminder that Joyce is a high-priest of modernity and in love with all things new and shiny). We are immediately thrown into a debate about the competing claims of secularism (Buck is a medic-in-training) and the religion both men have grown up with. Buck in this scene is

much more transgressive than Stephen. Joyce’s dialogue is trenchant and Stephen is (apparently) worsted in the debate as to why he couldn’t accede to his mother’s dying wish to do his Easter duty (go to confession and communion – the minimum requirement to remain a catholic). He is made to look rigid in his thinking, deeply conservative and arrogantly heartless by a man who is better equipped to play the fool than be a confessor or mentor but who is not backward in coming forward with unwanted advice.

The debate set up by Joyce reveals Stephen’s ambivalence about the religious thinking that has formed every aspect of him (including his ambition to be a poet) and his need to break that umbilicus, and the pain and guilt of doing that. It agonises Stephen because it is focussed on a mother he loves and who loved him. Part of him is susceptible to the barbs of Mulligan (as he was in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to Cranly’s).

The discipline of the very short film means that we’ve left out much of what Stephen broods on in this chapter, and readers are encouraged to dig deep to find evidence of Stephen’s love for his mother. He remembers difficult details of her dying. The white china bowl holding ‘green sluggish bile she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning and vomiting’ reproaches him, as does her crying over his failure to do what she thinks is necessary to save his soul from damnation. Stephen, in thinking of his mother’s few relics (her fans, dancecards, and the simple pleasures she enjoyed –pantomime and baked apple after her communion fast), and her devotion to him as a child and even as a young adult (she deloused him while at university) is racked by guilt. This is exacerbated by a Buck, a man he considers a friend. His moody brooding also gives us some insight into the kind of poet/writer Stephen might in some distant period become. Thinking of the Yeatsian song he sang to her as she lay dying, he indulges in a favourite pastime: word-smithery, and ‘[w]avewhite wedded words [shimmer] in the dim tide’. Joyce invites you to judge whether he’s simply being narcissistic or has real talent, or both.

Another aspect of this chapter we’ve glossed over in the short film version is its politics. Stephen identifies two forms of political servitude: to the church (epitomised by his mother’s identifications), and to the British empire. Interestingly, Joyce chose to set this episode in a Martello tower at Sandy Cove, built by the English Prime Minister William Pitt to repel the French during the era of Napoleon. Stephen expresses his ‘rage’, the rage of a Caliban not seeing his face in the mirror. He argues that Ireland under British rule gives rise to a distorted literary tradition: it is a ‘cracked looking-glass of a servant’. Haines, an Oxford-educated linguist/anthropologist is in Ireland to collect the quaint sayings of the natives, and Stephen resents being patronised and objectified as an informant. As well, he’s terrified because during the night of the 15 June, he has been disturbed by Haines having a nightmare. It’s interesting to watch the antics of Buck, his blasphemous ‘Ballad of Joking Jesus’, his casual talking over the head of the milkwoman, and how he extracts from Stephen drinking money and the key to the Tower, earning himself in the process the soubriquet, ‘Usurper’. From this point on, Stephen is truly outcast.

Frances Devlin-Glass

Mr Deasy's School, Dalkey

2. Nestor. 10am. Mr Deasy's School, Dalkey

Guide: Max Gillies

Stephen Dedalus: Matthew Connell

Garrett Deasy: Don Bridges

Voice Off: Hunter Perske

Stephen, at his school, is trying to help a dull student with his maths. It’s payday and Deasy, is equally liberal with advice.

Ugly and futile. Yet someone had loved him. But for her the race of the world would have trampled him underfoot, a squashed boneless snail.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

In the film, we’ve rendered the first half of this chapter as an interior monologue, and the second half as a dialogue between the headmaster Deasy, a Northern Protestant, and Stephen. In the novel, we see Stephen operating as a very eccentric teacher who asks riddles with no answers, and who is pushing uphill to engage boys who’d rather be eyeing girls on Kingstown pier, or playing hockey.

We’ve narrowed the focus to the lad he keeps back from hockey to help him with his algebra. This allows us to see more of Stephen’s interiority. He is strangely identified with the child who reminds him of a younger self, and this thinking takes him back inevitably to thinking about ‘amor matris’ a mother’s love and love for a mother (in Latin it can mean both). It’s a touching meditation on unloveability and (most) mothers’ unwavering and unconditional commitment to their offspring (more scratching the itch of guilt). It’s also a moment in which Stephen is unusually lacking in arrogance, and seeing himself from another perspective (his mother’s).

Other aspects of the chapter we’ve not covered include the scholars’ love of stories, and their sense that Stephen is a reliable purveyor of interesting ones. They even tolerate a ghost story in the form of Milton’s elegy ‘Lycidas’ for his dead friend, Edward King, drowned in the Irish Sea in the c17.

The chapter gives ample evidence of Stephen’s mind running on two tracks: he is on semi-automatic pilot in moving from a history topic to a literary one in the classroom, while his well-stocked mind moves fluidly between thinking about Haines’s project, Greek and Roman history and the theoretical possibility that events may have turned out differently, a contemporary struggle in Siam (between the French overlords and the colonised and how it was fomented in Paris by a visiting scholar from Siam). His meditation on algebra as a form of dance is delicate and delicious.

Stephen’s historical consciousness prepares the reader for the second confrontation of the filmed version, that with Deasy, the headmaster. He’s the second imperialist we meet in the novel: he values money (and has archaeological treasure – Stuart coins found in a bog) and he too presumes to lecture Stephen on how to spend his hard-earned lucre. Like Haines, he also purveys a distorted form of history – one that is seriously misogynistic, while at the same time trying to impress Stephen that he is a rebel nationalist, but getting his facts wrong.

Deasy’s anti-semitism usefully gives the reader a first glimpse of the world Leopold Bloom occupies (though Joyce delays our meeting him till Ch.4). Stephen is actively resistant to such ideological straight-jacketing, and to being confined to the historical narratives of either ‘side’ of Irish history.

Leahey's Terrace Steps, Sandymount Strand

3. Proteus. 11am Sandymount Strand

Guide: Max Gillies

Stephen Dedalus: Matthew Connell

Stephen, an aspiring poet, takes a long walk along Sandymount strand, becoming aware of sensory input and thinking about theology, history, and seawrack.

My boots tread again a damp crackling mast, razorshells, squeaking pebbles, wood sieved by the shipworm, lost Armada. Heavy of the past.

Feefawfum. I zmellz de bloodz odz an Iridzman


Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

Bloom kills time in Lotus Eaters, just as Stephen does in Proteus before his meeting with Buck at the pub. He chooses Sandymount Strand just south of the Liffey mouth for a meditation on life and death. He meditates in a more organised and poetical way than Bloom, first testing his senses of sight and hearing. He seems to need to do this more self-consciously than Bloom who is more at home in his body.

For the film, we’ve selected what in this chapter gives best evidence of Stephen’s sensuous response to language – the sounds of it, its expressiveness as onomatopoeia, its alliterative appeal, and its capacity to be concatenated into new words like ‘snotgreen’ that feel because of long vowels and assonance (eg., ‘brightwindbridled’, ‘panthersahib’) to feel luxurious in the mouth. He’s also drawn to their symbolic potential and for making them do new and countercultural things.

It’s also an extended meditation on history and how subsequent generations live with the violence of the past – he’s particularly taken by how he literally treads on the dust of ancient Scots, Vikings, sailors of the Armada, and Famine victims, and how Haines in his own genteel way and Mulligan in his (by demanding the key from the man who pays the rent), are continuing the tradition of violence by usurping his place in the tower.

Another body is waiting to surface in the Irish sea, a sailor drowned nine days previously and that takes Stephen back to his mother’s death and to the Shakespearean way of transforming brute fact into poetic fantasy in The Tempest. It is not Stephen’s way.

There’s much more to be found in this chapter that we’ve elided in the film. There’s an extended depiction of Stephen’s time in Paris, haunt of Kevin Egan, modelled on Joseph Casey, one of many rebels (he was involved in a Fenian jail breakout in Clerkenwell, England in 1867) who fled to France, ostensibly to gather support for an renewal of patriotic activities. There’s an encounter with a dead dog and a live one, and a distant encounter with two midwives who ‘lugged [him] squealing into life’ which gives rise to (disgusted) thoughts about his own conception, fatherhood and his sense of alienation from Simon Dedalus, and to a theological rumination on trinitarian theology. It is difficult for Stephen to avoid thoughts of theology and they are generally linked to thinking about church Fathers excommunicated for their take on dogma. Like Bloom, Stephen is an outsider; unlike Bloom who endures and overrides ego, Stephen luxuriates in the role of romantic suffering, even seems to enjoy scratching the itch.

Bloom and Molly live at 7 Eccles St. (closest to lamp-post)

4. Calypso. 8am. Bloom and Molly's house, 7 Eccles St.

Guide: Max Gillies

Leopold Bloom: Alexander Pankhurst

Molly Bloom: Annabelle Tudor

Leopold Bloom is in his kitchen, dreaming of a pork kidney (best on a hot day), for breakfast. Two letters have been delivered, both mildly disturbing, one more than the other. Molly also makes a slovenly appearance.

Pungent smoke shot up in an angry jet. He turned the kidney turtle on its back – only a little burned – tossed it onto a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Sian Cartwright

This chapter is rich in interior monologue as it offers a warm, touching insight into the domestic life and characters of Leopold and Molly Bloom as they eat breakfast. It flags Bloom’s tentative concerns about his cuckoldry and about his 15-year-old daughter, Milly, who is away learning photography at a studio in Mullingar. The language in this chapter is very subtle. In editing it for film, we chose to focus on Leopold and Molly’s interaction – this is the first time we meet Molly in person until the final episode, Penelope, and she’s still alluring to Bloom, who has been preparing her breakfast in bed. Molly is also fascinating to Blazes Boylan (concert manager and presumed lover) who has written, intent to see her that day.

In the novel, and in the film, Bloom’s tastes for a range of carnivorous delicacies are presented as amuses-bouche to his own prepared breakfast of kidney and toast. Drafts of the chapter included the appearance of the Blooms’ cat – implicitly compared with Molly – whose interest is piqued by the cooked breakfast smells. However, owing to constraints of the short film, the cat was excluded.

The collection of the day’s mail exacerbates Bloom’s fears. Bloom has received a letter from Milly, thanking him for the birthday gift she’s received, while mentioning a resident student, Bannon, who, like Blazes Boylan, happens to be a singer. Molly has received a letter and a card, the former from Boylan, the latter from Milly. Rather than the conventional mode of address to Mrs Leopold Bloom, the letter has been addressed directly to Mrs Marion Bloom – bold, as the sender identifies as being on first-name terms with her, and as Bloom becomes aware that Boylan and Molly will meet that afternoon. Indeed, one of the operatic pieces Molly is to sing at an upcoming concert ‘La ci darem la mano’ comes from a Mozart opera about seduction – Don Giovanni. Bloom’s concern is included in the film, as Molly takes her breakfast in bed – Molly asking Bloom to explain a word she’d come across in a novel she’s reading – before Bloom is able to digest his own breakfast and the letter from Milly (which we have abbreviated, as Joyce does, to create the illusion of a quick scanned read). 

This is followed by a trip by Bloom to the outhouse, during which he reads columns in a popular journal (Titbits) and calculates the rate which the author was paid for quite ordinary copy – inspiration for Bloom perhaps to pen a contribution to the journal.

Bloom’s trip to the outhouse is an ordinary daily bodily function, but its depiction in literature was quite extraordinary. Writing about the body so explicitly had not been done before and was ground-breaking and transgressive. So, inasmuch as the events in Calypso might be quotidian, they set the basis for the day’s events, including at a practical level, his attending a friend’s funeral (Bloom’s wearing black on a warm summer day) and at an emotional level, his feelings of helplessness to prevent both: (a) Molly’s affair with Boylan and (b) his daughter, Milly’s awakening adolescent sexuality, out of his control as it is at some distance from home.

Turkish Bathhouse, Lincoln Place, Dublin

Ch.5: Lotus Eaters. 10am, Westland Row and environs

Guide: Max Gillies

Leopold Bloom: Alexander Pankhurst

Priest: Hunter Perske

Bloom heads off to the Post Office to see what his erotic penpal has for him, and then to Church but not for the reason you might suspect.

Dear Henry…Angry tulips with you darling manflower punish your cactus if you don’t please poor forgetmenot

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

In the novel, ‘Lotus Eaters’ has Bloom leaving home for a day spent wandering the streets, possibly to make space for Molly to decide her marital/romantic future. One has to wonder if Bloom is cravenly passive, or is thinking generously, along the lines of ‘what is love if it is constrained?’. It’s a risky all-or-nothing gamble on Bloom’s part.

Bloom, however, does operate some defences. He has a bit on the side, an erotic pen-pal, Martha Clifford. We learn later in the novel that she is one of 44 applicants for the role of ‘smart literary lady typist’. But to retrieve her mail, he has to act furtively and take a very long way round. Only from the air could you see his elaborate circumlocution – a big s-shape meander from Eccles St to Rogerson Quay and then via Lime St to the Post Office and Church on Westland Row. When he meets McCoy, he wonders if he’s pimping for Boylan and checking out his movements! It’s a paranoid thought.

This is the second time in the film when we perambulate at length (Stephen has done something similar on Sandymount Strand in Proteus), as Bloom has a lot of time to kill before Dignam’s funeral at 11am. It’s the first time too as ‘film-makers’ we wish for a real-life set (up to this Joyce has us inhabiting heads and that has sufficed). But the budget does not allow, nor in a time of plague could we fly to Dublin even if we could afford to do so. But what are we missing? There’s the slum-dwelling kids of Lime St, one of whom is languorously stuffing sausage skins with offal (or is he scraping animal skins to sell?). Either way, the air would be pungent, and it’s a sharp glimpse into the mind of a writer who knew how poverty-stricken some parts of Dublin were in 1904 and how often the posh are rubbing shoulders with shoe-less.

Ideally, we need smellorama for a film of Lotus-Eaters to render Bloom’s experience of the tea-merchant, the smell of the taxi-horses’ urine, the cold smell of stone in All Hallows (Westland Row), and the strange herbal and chemical smells of Sweney’s, the chemist. He is very aware of how the heat of an unusually hot June day is releasing odours, and narcotising a whole population – the kids on the street, the Royal Dublin Fusiliers drilling, the churchgoers, and himself.

This is a chapter which revels in interior monologue, and the associative logic, well-motivated, of Bloom’s veering from one topic to the other. This narrative modus operandi gives us access to a mind that observes like an anthropologist, that is continually puzzling things out, sometimes getting it wrong (especially on science which intrigues him but about which he is under-educated), and offering an outsider’s view especially on religion. He approaches the church with the mind of an adman and businessman, looking at what is offered and what withheld, how it operates as a highly successful corporate entity. He’s very intrigued by confession and repentance, and sceptical.

For the film, we’ve focussed on what it is that Martha’s coded love-letter might mean to him. The Language of Flowers (there were many practitioners, including Kate Greenaway) enabled a repressed population a coded way of declaring themselves and their erotic intentions, and also it seems, in Martha’s case attempting to be a dominatrix of sorts.

The film omits a sequence that is very rich: Bloom’s inconvenient encounter with McCoy. It’s worth reading this to see how skilfully and half-attentively Bloom deals with the insinuations of McCoy (‘Who’s getting it up?’) while in his own mind his attention is rivetted by the silk hosiery on the ankle of a lady entering a carriage outside the Grosvenor Hotel, and is frustrated. His uncensored thoughts (emphatically not PC) give us (apparently) unmediated access to Bloom. His final daydreams of a bath reveal the apex of his hubris (echoing the sacred moment of the Mass), ‘This is my body’ and, comically, his generative potential, ‘the limp father of thousands’.

Prospect Cemeetery, Glasnevin

6. Hades. 11am Glasnevin Cemetery

Guide: Max Gillies

Leopold Bloom: Alexander Pankhurst

And now to the funeral. The graveyard is full of memories and Bloom thinks inexpressible thoughts.

'I daresay the soil would be quite fat with corpsemanure, bones, flesh.'

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Bruce Beswick

In Homer’s Odyssey, Ulysses and his men sail to the underworld of Hades to consult the spirit of the dead prophet Teiresias and learn what lies ahead on their journey home to Ithaca. It is a profoundly spiritual experience in which Ulysses meets the soul of his mother and many lost friends, none of whom can embrace him because of their incorporeal existence. In Joyce’s Ulysses, Bloom and his companions take a carriage to Glasnevin Cemetery to bury their friend Paddy Dignam. There Bloom contemplates the loss of his father, who took his own life, and of his son Rudy, who died in infancy. But in keeping with Joyce’s inverted allegory, and true to his crusade to embrace experience in all its physical reality, his treatment of death is very different from Homer’s. His hero Bloom unblinkingly confronts the corporeal realities of death and decay, imagining in lurid detail the decomposing ‘meat’ in the earth beneath him.

The episode begins cheerily enough, as we see Bloom for the first time in his wider social milieu, sharing a carriage with Martin Cunningham, Simon Dedalus and Mr Power. There are glimpses of other key protagonists – Stephen and Boylan. There are also glimpses of an ambivalence towards Bloom in the attitudes of his fellow Dubliners. And there is humour that is genuinely funny without undermining the respect for the dead. As Simon remarks: ‘Poor little Paddy wouldn't grudge us a laugh. Many a good one he told himself.’ This is the Dublin in which the reader will be increasingly immersed as the novel progresses. But when the carriage reaches its destination, Bloom largely withdraws into his own thoughts, treating us to his decidedly materialist views on the cycle of life and death, including snatches of grim humour and doggerel that are no doubt deflating to those who view the significant moments in life’s journey as sacred events. Even the conception of Bloom’s dead son Rudy is recollected without spiritual sentiment. ‘Give us a touch, Poldy. God, I’m dying for it. How life begins.’ Importantly, though, for Bloom as for Joyce, these key moments have an incontestable significance in the lives of individuals (‘in the particular is contained the universal’). Moreover, they are part of a never-ending cycle of life and death that has an immortality of its own. Bloom may present it sacrilegiously, joking about ‘corpsemanure’ and a fat gentleman ‘invaluable for fruit garden,’ but the idea of death as part of a larger concern through which life goes on is clear in his thoughts. As he says, ‘the cells or whatever they are go on living,’ and ‘in the midst of death we are in life.’

For Bloomsday 2020, we have remained true to the spirit (pardon the pun) of Bloom’s contemplations while taking some fairly outrageous liberties with the order in which they are presented. Unable to show all the meanderings in the mind of Joyce’s everyman philosopher, we have arranged some of his thoughts in a way that captures their variety while creating a fairly linear meditative flow. For this sin we are prepared to face the wrath of our literary hero, should we ever confront him in whatever life is to come.

Freeman's Journal banner, 16 June 1904

7. Aeolus. 12 noon. Office of the Freeman's Journal

Guide: Max Gillies

Ned Lambert: Drew Tingwell

Simon Dedalus: Paul Robertson

Professor MacHugh: Tref Gare

Bloom goes to the Freeman's Journal to place an advertisement. The habitues of the office are deep in talk about the merits of some speeches.

Shite and onions! Enough of the inflated windbag!

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Bruce Beswick

Scholars may argue about the precise moment in the writing of Ulysses when James Joyce decided to adopt a different style for each episode of the novel, but to more casual readers, that point has undeniably arrived when they turn from the musings and snatches of conversation in the Hades episode to the capitalised headlines that punctuate Aeolus. In fact, these are the first and only headings in the book, since the episodes themselves were not named in the published text. And why are they there? As if to ease the reader into a method that becomes an obsession by the time the book is completed, they are the simplest and most accessible expression of Joyce’s determination that form should mirror content. What better way to set the scene in a newspaper office and emphasise the uses of rhetoric that are the episode’s central theme than to adopt this very familiar form of persuasion?

The mock newspaper headlines are also the first examples of Joyce overtly inserting himself into the text as its creator. While the more subtle variations in style that are detectable in earlier episodes might be attributed to the personalities of the characters, in Aeolus there is no doubt who is the source of the stylistic innovation. And so, with this episode, Joyce introduces himself as the playful author of the wild ride that is to follow. From this point on, the reader is not only in the company of Stephen and Bloom and Mulligan and Si Dedalus but of Joyce himself, who turns out to be the most entertaining companion of all. For scholars of rhetoric, Joyce’s presence is even stronger and clearer in this episode, since he crams it with examples of virtually every rhetorical device identified by Classical Greek and Roman authors (113 at last count). Curious readers can find extensive lists of these tropes in Stuart Gilbert’s book James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses’ and in Don Gifford and Robert Seidman’s Ulysses Annotated.

For Bloomsday 2020, we have chosen to focus on the two main speeches quoted at length in the episode, illustrating two of the three main types of rhetoric that define the episode’s ‘technic’ according to the schema Joyce provided for his friend Carlo Linati. In addition, we have included some of the repartee that illustrates the episode’s many tropes and captures the spirit of playful irony that dominates conversation in the offices of the Freeman’s Journal, where hot air is the order of the day. In this way, we hope we have done justice to the parallel with Homer’s Odyssey, where Aeolus, warden of the winds, provides Ulysses with a bag of winds that his men release, blowing their ship off course. We have taken a few minor liberties with the text, even inserting a short line as a segue, and unfortunately, our selection didn’t allow us to include the novel’s two main characters, Stephen and Bloom, who both make appearances in the episode. Bloom visits the newspaper offices to discuss placing an advertisement, and Stephen delivers his employer’s letter on foot and mouth disease, then stays to entertain Professor MacHugh with his ‘Parable of the Plums,’ a story in which two elderly nuns climb Nelson’s pillar and spit plum stones onto the street below. For this and other delights, readers are encouraged to further explore this episode, which provides a digestible entrée to the literary feast that follows.

Davy Byrne's Bar

8. Lestrygonians. 1pm. The Burton Restaurant, and Davy Byrne's.

Guide: Max Gillies

Leopold Bloom:Alexander Pankhurst

Bloom is low and needs to eat, and the wine revives memories of the day Molly got him to propose.

Mr Bloom ate his strips of sandwich, with relish of disgust pungent mustard, the feety savour of green cheese....Mild fire of wine kindled his veins

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

Lestrygonians brings us to lunch, and to a place where real hunger looks remarkably like sexual hunger. Our stripped back film of the chapter focuses on hunger – real actual hunger and memories of a sexually richer past with Molly during their courting in 1888. Bloom is a fussy eater who picks and chooses before settling on a vegetarian repast with burgundy at Davy Byrne’s, having been disgusted by ravenous gristle-munchers at the Burton.

The encounters with women earlier in the day (the girl in the butcher’s in Ch.4, the exposed ankle in Ch.5) pale into insignificance by comparison with his memory of his first kiss with Molly. This memory of Molly makes Martha’s language of flowers in Lotus Eaters seem distinctly artificial. The language of this primal encounter is earthy, mythic. She is nothing less than the principle of fertility as she offers him the seedcake she has masticated and her eyes welcome him with their own message: ‘Flowers her eyes were, take me, willing eyes’. The act points to mutuality and psychic nourishment. Molly at the end of her monologue in the final chapter will offer up her alternative, – and less romantic – reading of this same event.

Lestrygonians in Joyce’s novel has much more to say than our short film about poverty and the contradiction between the church’s injunction to ‘increase and multiply’ with the attendant difficulty of feeding families of 15: ‘Potatoes and marge, marge and potatoes’. It pungently comments on how well his reverence does: ‘All for number one’ and tight with the money (derived from his poor parishioners) to boot. The famished seagulls provide Bloom with plenty of evidence for the drive to eat, and some comic insight into their excremental targets too.

Maybe the reason Bloom chooses to drink wine (having taken in the ‘galoptious’ eaters and swillers of stout at the Burton restaurant) is his earlier reflection on how the rats drink the draft, get bloated as big as collies and puke into the porter at the Guinness brewery. By comparison, the wine ignites his blood (‘Sun’s heat it is’) and lifts his depression.

The chapter is the most compendious so far in Ulysses. They will become much more encyclopaedic from here in. Joyce’s account of the food of poets is comedic: is Esthetes’ preference for ‘weggebobbles and fruit’ a necessary precondition for poetic production: Does diet influence the ‘dreamy, cloudy, symbolistic’?

Bloom expresses in this chapter a preference for vegetarian food, and a squeamishness about the suffering occasioned to animals slaughtered for food. Flesh-eating (mirroring Joyce’s Homeric parallel which deals with the man-eating cannibals) occasions disgust in Bloom, as does the food of the elite, which tends to favour protein, the more expensive the better. Contamination of food is also a concern to him – as he watches with dismay a ‘dewdrop’ a drip from Nosey Flynn’s nose almost fall into his beer, while he scratches in response to a ‘[f]lea having a good square meal’. For the moment, Bloom relishes ‘the feety savour of green cheese’ and goes around ‘the last sardine of summer’.

Joyce in Lestrygonians has Bloom thinking in more orderly ways: the pace has slowed, the segués are more streamlined, and this chapter functions as a parallel and contrast to Ch.3, Proteus, where Stephen meditates on life and death. Whereas Stephen constructs an archaeologist’ or historian’s version of time and history, treating it as stratified layers under the feet, Bloom is more likely to think in metaphors of flowing water and to talk about the stream of life. The implications of the metaphor are profound: water in a stream is to all intents and purposes unstoppable, just as the city that passes away and the civilisation that yields to the desert, transform into another and different ones in the future. What does line of philosophising mean for the man about to be cuckolded? Can Bloom rise above his sense that ‘No one is anything…. Feel as if I had been eaten and spewed’? Is it in fact ‘Useless to go back’? Does it ‘have to be’?

At the end of this episode, Bloom catches sight of his rival. It is subtle, easily missed: ‘Straw hat in sunlight. Tan shoes. Turned up trousers’. Bloom’s response to seeing Blazes Boylan is almost visceral, and Joyce turns to an obsolete dialect word to express the feeling: ‘His heart quopped softly’ [present writer’s emphasis]. His heart is pulsating uncomfortably. He feels unsafe.

National Library of Ireland

9. Scylla & Charybdis. 2pm. National Library of Ireland

Guide: Max Gillies

Stephen Dedalus: Matthew Connell

Lecture audience (Best, Lyster, Eglinton, AE, Mulligan): L to R May Jasper, Johnathan Peck, Kevin Hughes, Anthony Corcoran, Hunter Perske.

In the reading room of the library, Stephen gets to show off to the senior literati of Dublin and to expound a theory about how Shakespeare's life fed his art. Is he too smart for his own good?

The play begins. A player comes on. It is the ghost, the king. The player is Shakespeare who has studied Hamlet all the years of his life in order to play the part of the spectre. To a son he speaks, the prince, young Hamlet and to the son of his body, Hamnet.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

Scylla and Charybdis is perhaps the second-most demanding chapter in Ulysses, partly because we have returned largely to Stephen’s consciousness and partly because one needs to know a fair bit about Shakespeare’s poetic and dramatic oeuvre to understand Joyce’s metafictive gambits – his thinking about how fictions are created.

It’s another social chapter (like Telemachus, Hades and Aeolus), and being confined to just Stephen’s mind, with some commentary by the Guide is a major diminution of its significance as a literary performance in a crowd of hostile peers. Early in the film, Stephen’s outsider status is established: the literary giants of Dublin have excluded him from the party they are planning for the evening. But they are curious enough to know what he has to say about the relationship between Shakespeare’s life and works. This chapter is as close as Joyce gets to outlining his own literary manifesto and it’s a dazzling intellectual display of close knowledge of the works and the biographies of Shakespeare that had been written up until 1910.

In 1904, Bardolatry was still fashionable and had been so since the mid-eighteenth century, despite Shaw’s attack on it in 1901. The Romantics praised him as a genius; indeed Shakespeare was the yardstick of literary merit, and was his oeuvre was read in neoplatonic terms, even idolatrously, as the secular and literary equivalent of the Bible. Joyce is at pains to interrogate such uncritical adulation, and to demonstrate the multiple and contradictory ways in which Shakespeare contradicted his own position (as political and economic needs dictated) and how he built self-understanding by re-framing his personal mistakes and transforming them into art. He does not judge Shakespeare, but rather demonstrates how he cannibalised his own life and life-errors to make something other of them. It is a canny demythologisation strategy which in fact can be applied to Joyce’s own oeuvre.

Bloomsday in Melbourne’s very short film version of the chapter picks up where Deasy left off. Instead of a shrew (like Anne Hathaway) bringing death and destruction on a civilisation, might she function as a ‘portal of discovery’? Might his errors be ‘volitional’? And then, we’re offered a list of shrews in Shakespeare’s life and art, and evidence for a serious rending of the relationship between Shakespeare and Ann Hathaway and a process of reconciliation, mirrored in the late plays.

On that analogy, if Othello is both bawd and cuckold, is Joyce all of Bloom, Stephen and Molly (and a huge cast of Dubliners)? Our Guide’s job is to alert you to the ways in which Stephen is seen by the more conservative Dubliners to be overstepping his authority.

What is particularly interesting in this chapter, and we’ve seen it before in Bloom’s chapters from Lotus Eaters onwards, is the dialogue going on in Stephen’s head which is in counterpoint to the dialogue he is engaging in with his auditors. In his own head, he’s his own coach, and it’s intriguing to see him draw from the religious tradition, in particular on the spiritual exercises of St Ignatius Loyola, to do this: ‘Local colour. Work in all you know. Make them accomplices’.

One wonders how calculated an insult is the senior litterateur’s judgment that ‘[o]ur young Irish bards…have yet to create a figure which the world will set beside Saxon Shakespeare’s Hamlet’. They are so steeped in neoplatonic ways of reading literature that they cannot stomach the intrusion of less than idealised biographical detail into the act of criticism. They cannot bear the thought that Shakespeare was an exploiter of famine or that he was a political chameleon. Joyce mocks such idealisation, using mystic poets AE (George Russell) and Mme Blavatsky, and even Yeats on occasion, as his whipping boys.

Joyce is fascinated by the roles Shakespeare chose to play in his own company and by his bisexuality (with Wilde’s Portrait of Mr W.H. coming in for honourable mention), by his grubby money-making ventures, and by the strategic reorientations that allowed him to play to kings and queens with very different political and religious leanings. And to incorporate those whom he meets in a long and crowded life into the self and the plays.

If we may return to John Eglinton’s lament that Irish bards have yet to invent a Hamlet, it could be argued that Ulysses could claim to be just such a text. To create it, Joyce needed to ‘walk through [himself], meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love. But always meeting ourselves’, or himself.

Holles Street Maternity Hospital

10. Wandering Rocks. 3pm. The Streets of Dublin

Guide: Max Gillies

Malachi 'Buck' Mulligan: Kurtis Lowden

Dublin is on the move. The Poddle is less complimentary than the cits of Dublin.

Mr Leopold Bloom searched for books in a book barrow, for the same lady. He considered Tales of the Ghetto by Leopold von Sacher Masoch and Fair Tyrants by James Lovebirch, but he knew the lady’s taste and settled on Sweets of Sin.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

In the novel, Joyce offers us 19 satirical cameos, intricately knotted together, of Dubliners wandering the streets, shopping, dining. Bloomsday in Melbourne’s short film inspired by this chapter gives us fragments of seven of them. They are selected for their difference and variety, and the choice covers a range of social ranks, from a clergyman to the Vice-Regal couple, and from Blazes to Buck. Stephen and Bloom are also in motion and the parts create the illusion of a whole. Dubliners by the score. The little orphan Patrick Dignam, eponymous son of the man buried in Ch.6, scores a pound and a half of pork steaks as early as cameo 9, and then he is keen enough to be out of the orbit of older mourners, but his poignant discomfort at his last memories of his booze-crazed father are delayed until the point he registers the size and finality of his coffin. We hear of the viceregal cavalcade on its way to the Mirus Bazaar as early as cameo 9, but the River Poddle’s tribute is saved for the last one. There’s a short story in every cameo, and they are fierce, whereas Dubliners tends to be mild.

Inspired by the unnamed narrator of Cyclops (Ch.12), we invented a know-it-all Dubliner, who is worldly-wise, cynical and with a high sense of the ridiculous, and in whose mouth the satire seemed to sit easily. There are surprises in it: who could imagine that Bloom would continue his search for pulp fiction for his adulterous wife, or that pity could inspire such a large donation to the family of a man he hardly knows?

There are further riches to be had in Wandering Rocks. The cameos are mainly naturalistic, except that they become a little more fanciful when Stephen is in play – then, they are playful, allusive, rich in literary reference.

A series of intrusions in each cameo link each to one or sometimes more than one other cameo: it is, for instance, Molly’s arm which makes an appearance in cameo 2 and cameo 3. The girl who scampers through the hedge in cameo 1 is still divesting her clothing of twigs in cameo 8. These interpolations create the impression of a very crowded field, and one in which the river of life continues to move and change shape but remain recognisable.

Musical Soiree, not quite Ormond Hotel style.

11. Sirens. 4pm, Ormond Hotel.

Guide: Max Gillies

Conductor: Carly Ellis

Leopold Bloom: Alexander Pankhurst

Bloom listens to music at the Ormond Hotel while Blazes sets out to bed Molly.

Flood of warm jamjam lickitup secretness flowed to flow in music out, in desire, dark to lick flow invading. Tipping her tepping her tapping her topping her. Tup.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

Sirens ratchets literary experimentation to a new level, and we’ve tried to reflect this in scripting this episode. The chapter begins with what is variously referred to as an ‘Overture’, or maybe ‘a tuning of the orchestra’, understood as instrumental as we all human. Whichever it is, one can discern in it a sounding of a number of motifs which will be amplified in the body of the chapter. We’ve invented a conductor to voice this ‘overture/tune-up’.

We’ve also abridged this overture (the selection principle: ensure comprehensibility, and don’t compromise on musical language) and seeded it with narrative passages drawn from the body of the chapter, our own form of augmentation.

The events take place in a musical hotel with a dining room, and Bloom listens to a number of musical items including ‘Goodbye, Sweetheart, Goodbye’, ‘Love and War’, ‘M’Appari’ from Flotow’s Martha, and ‘The Croppy Boy’. Bloom is swept up into emotion of all the songs, but also, eventually, strives to keep his emotional distance. He’s especially vulnerable because Boylan turns up and will leave from the Ormond bar a bit later than he’s expected by Molly (Bloom is rightly offended by this cavalier behaviour), and because the inherent love drama of a tenor aria from ‘M’Appari’ echoes his own sense of impending loss. Martha (also curiously the name of the lost woman of the aria) and responding to her letter offer some welcome distraction.

The chapter allows Joyce to mount a case about the ways in which language is itself musical, and about how a novel might be similar or different from music in its effects. It’s constructed in a stunningly elaborate way around a matrix in which Bloom hears only fragments of songs, and they provoke thought and strong emotional responses. As in an opera, sounds are here associated with particular characters or events, so Blazes is the bright particular sound of the jingling of his horse drawn hackney-car, jauntily and cockily making its way to Mrs Marian Bloom’s bedroom. The barmaids, whose job it is to lure men to the bar, are mostly identified by their colouring, ‘bronze by gold’ but they too have particular sounds: Mina trills and Lydia tinks, when she’s not playing with her garter. Bloom is a sad fife-note.

The film is designed to entice readers to a fuller immersion in this chapter, and the RTÉ recording ( of it provides what we can’t – a simulation of listening to the music in real time. It is a treat, and possibly the best way to encounter this chapter as it supplies the music of the hotel. To know the narrative behind Lionel’s song of lost love for Martha, and the lyrics of the song, is to be caught up into the powerful – even orgiastic – feelings that music may engender in lovers, and to understand the intense identification that Bloom experiences with Lionel (the lover in the opera), Simon (the tenor who sings the song at the Ormond) and the consubstantial ‘Siopold’ (Simon+Lionel+Leopold) at the consummation of the song.

Bloom’s tension is finely caught in a largely unconscious action: he stretches and relaxes a rubber band, a ‘slender catgut thong’ as he thinks about many songs written on the theme of ‘Thou lost one’ (words from the song). The catgut band eventually snaps, but not before Bloom indulges in memories of his alluring wife as a younger woman, and self-torturing thoughts of someone else ‘Tipping her tepping her tapping her topping her.’ It is as if his internalised Iago is at war with an uxurious Othello.

As he steps back from being unduly influenced by the music, Bloom attempts in a ham-fisted pseudo-scientific way to think through his homegrown theory of Musemathematics: the connection between mathematics and music. He attempts to distinguish music from noise and to wonder about sounds that are not technically music but are musical in themselves, like the music of the chamberpot. These thoughts are interrupted continually by thoughts of Boylan.

Bloom’s more rational manoeuvres to some extent serve to inoculate him from the next powerfully rhetorical and persuasive song, a ‘lugugubrious’ political ballad about the failed 1798 United Irishman uprising, ‘The Croppy Boy’. It is sung by the ‘base barreltone’ of the party, Ben Dollard. Its sadness should chime with his mood, but his soul reacts against its gloom, resists the suggestive sirens at the beerpull, and leaves the Ormond.

In what might be construed as a rejection of music used to achieve political ends, he slowly releases intestinal gas while pretending to read on a plaque in an antique shop another powerfully emotive statement, Robert Emmet’s last words from the dock.

The language of Sirens is particularly poetic and sumptuous, designed to take one from the depths of despair to ecstatic exultation and then to the next overcharged emotion….

Barney Kiernan's Pub

12. Cyclops. 5pm. Barney Kiernan's Pub.

Guide: Max Gillies

'Deranged Poet': Bridget Sweeney

The Citizen: Callum McKay

Leopold Bloom: Alexander Pankhurst

A brawl in a pub over who qualifies to be Irish, and some poetic effusions that interrupt the narrative.

The [Lords of Guinness] garner the succulent berries of the hop and mass and sift and bruise and brew them and bring the must to the sacred fire, those cunning brothers, lords of the vat.

Reflections on the relationship between film and novel...

by Frances Devlin-Glass

There’s a new element in this chapter: an unnamed character narrator (a bailiff’s man with an ugly tone on him and a deep hostility to Bloom). Mostly what we’ve seen of Bloom has been via the rendering of his thoughts and a very few bits of dialogue with other characters. Joyce’s technique of rendering interior narration is built up gradually in the Bloom and Stephen chapters, so it becomes quite habitual to register that what they thinks is often at odds with what they say and do. So it comes as quite a change to have a hostile observer of Bloom. He (and the other barflies in Barney Kiernan’s pub) is very aware of his difference: he doesn’t drink, a sin in a pub-goer; nor does he shout drinks (even more of a social transgression as he’s erroneously thought to be in the money after winning on a horse-race); and worst of all, he is a Jew – effeminate by their standards, being dominated by his wife. There had been a pogrom of Jews in Limerick in 1904 and the barflies give voice to their prejudice (long held by churchmen) that the Jews killed Christ. This chapter will comically invert that with Christians ‘crucifying’ Bloom.

There’s a second – even more disorienting interruption to the narrative – a series of more than 30 interpellations in a variety of exotic and often archaic modalities, about half of them specifically Irish in reference and style. We become aware of the Arranger: someone is meddling with the narrative. Why? How do these unexpected interpellations in weird styles add to the narrative? Do they even, always, connect with the naturalistic prose? To communicate this change in register, we’ve invented a character that is not in Joyce’s original, a demented poet to give voice to these wild excursions into poetic extravagance.

Bloomsday in Melbourne’s film of this chapter highlights the idealisation of a pre-colonial past by the barflies in Barney Kiernan’s and provokes an outpouring of political fantasies which in fact exist in an interesting relationship to historical fact. There is much evocation of martial heroes of prehistory and of the centuries since colonisation, and real grievances – the loss of Irish industries through tariff barriers and the trauma of the Great Famine. The real situation in the pub is of small-scale drinkers inflamed by stories of rebellion but not doing much.

The chapter in the novel makes much of the contrast between the real and the imagined. The pub is one which features a museum-like collection of paraphernalia associated with hangings – including a letter of application for the job of hangman. One of the interpellations entails a reworking, quite subversive on Joyce’s part, of the barely disguised story of Robert Emmet, one of the most loved heroes of the nationalist pantheon (whose last words from an extempore dock speech are referred to at the end of Sirens). It is a parodic version of a newspaper account of a political execution and makes fun of the brutality and rationalisations of the ‘need’ for such exemplary displays of state power. The nationalists also get a serve for literary extravagances, as does the church for its bizarre practices in raising up martyrs for adulation and the revelling in the goriness of their apotheoses. It’s a chapter too in which the satire takes the form often of mock-heroic, whereby little things are made to be world-shattering in scale.

The chapter offers watchers of the film and readers of it a rare glimpse of Bloom surviving the seismic catastrophe of an Epps cocoa tin hurled at him by anti-Semites. Rising in glory as he bests the barflies by turning their arguments against them, he is manifest ‘clothed upon in the glory of the brightness’ as he ascends like a prophet, or Christ resurrected, into heaven. His moment of glory is necessarily abbreviated, as it must be in mock-heroic.

Bathing Beauties, post-card variety.