1984. THE POLYVALENCY OF JOYCE'S CHARACTERS
By C. George SANDULESCU, Monaco.
(Published in Études Irlandaises, No.9 (Nouvelle Série), December 1984, pp. 125-144. Université de Lille III, "Pont de bois", B.P. 149, F-59653 Villeneuve d'Asq, France.)
(N.B: This is a much expanded version of a ten-minute contribution to the Panel "Narrative Strategies in Ulysses", chaired by Monika Fludernik (Austria), as part of the Ninth International James Joyce Symposium, which took place in Frankfurt-am-Main in mid-June of 1984. I feel like dedicating this paper to John Kidd (U.S.A.), a kindred spirit in Joycean coincidences.)
The artificial part of poetry, perhaps we shall be right to say all artifice, reduces itself to the principle of parallelism. The structure of poetry is that of continuous parallelism.
Gerard Manley Hopkins
1. Introducing The Shamrock . . .
Reading and rereading Joyce's Ulysses over the years, I was struck by several major coincidences, some pertaining to form, others to subject-matter, and still others potentially placeable in the very fuzzy area lying between those two. Practically all Joyce readers -- even those evincing a mere superficial interest -- know by now the yes/yes business of the opening and closing of the last episode, and even -- more Finnegans-Wake-like -- the s/s opening/closing gimmick of the whole book.
But how many have so far noticed, as our Fritz Senn has done, that the stately -- first word of the very first sentence -- closely correlates with its last word crossed ? The State & The Church: IRELAND ! It is indeed this juxtaposition of initial & final positions in the very first sentence of the novel that is quite indicative to the perceptive reader of the location of the story of a book published in such a French city by a publishing house bearing such an English-(British ?)-sounding name.
The name of the publishing house hurls upon us another Joycean coincidence: everybody knows, though very few accept to draw structural substance out of it, that practically every page of the book contains a minimum of one (direct or indirect) reference to Shakespeare and/or Hamlet; the maximum per individual page has yet to be calculated. Now, it is not by mere chance, is it ?, that Joyce's Ulysses was published by Shakespeare and Company [sic !]: the book is such, particularly to a Finnegans-Wake-trained reader's eye, that even the name of the publisher as specified on the title page becomes part and parcel of the very text of the novel. Strictly speaking, any edition of Ulysses not issued by Shakespeare and Company contains at least one textual error: that one.
This is one of those things, unfortunately, that Hans Walter Gabler's highly errorless Munich-computer-operated synoptic edition, worth $200, has failed to capture. As it has also failed to capture the fairly elementary coincidence that the white and the blue of the Shakespeare and Company cover do convey to the attentive reader, most poignantly, the meeting of the Greek and the Jew: "Hiesos and Homer"; by Shakespeare and Company.
For this is what the book is basically about, poor Poldy Bloom being merely a Hungarian Flower in an Irish -- Wildean ? -- buttonhole, landing, quite by accident, in a Gibraltar bed. He is in fact made to carry so much extra meaning on his Virag shoulders, that the rose itself -- what's in a name ? -- wilts and withers quickly away, subtly vanishing into the dead of night at the end of the novel.
As Joyce himself was ever so fond of coincidences -- and this has more than amply been certified anecdotally by his biographers (q. v.) -- one day I started looking for coincidences myself. In the Book itself. I took, for instance, the initial and final word of each episode -- Fritzie style -- to see what it gives . . .
Technically, I deliberately collocated initial and final positions. Episode One gave me stately usurper; not bad at all for a start, if applied to the person of attendant Mulligan, who virtually dominates the scene. Episode Two gives you/coins, which is indeed the shortest summary of it. Episode Three -- the one on the Strand -- gives ineluctable ship. Within the framework of the symbolic meaning of ship as 'man' -- see, for instance, the phrase the weaker vessel -- it wraps Stephen and Odysseus as born loners at the right moment. The possible Biblical implication of it is also worth investigating. The Fourth Episode -- the breakfast scene -- begins and ends in a proper name, also a forward-moving summary of the whole of it: Mr Leopold Bloom/Dignam. Episode Nine gives urbane altars, which is such a sweet definition of a Library, more particularly so in the light of the "coffined thought" phrase. The last but one Episode -- the catechetic one -- begins with what and ends with where, preceded by when, which are indeed the fundamental questions to ask by any journalist worth that name, be he interviewer or subeditor.
In the light of the above observations, the present study becomes an amusing exercise in hermeneutics, placed within the most respectable Biblical tradition, though looking for coincidences might in iself be considered an irreverent, quite devilish, undertaking. However, one cannot help noticing that there are countless "coincidences" in Ulysses: some of them are structural, others are textural. Some may pertain to the book's dynamic structure, i. e. sequencing of narrative events; others help build the static structures, in other words, the equilibrium and poise of major (and minor) characters in relation to one another.
I contend in these lines, quite boldly, that one possible overall structure of the book is either in the shape of a trefle -- the French word happens to be far more transparent than the Anglo-Irish shamrock -- or in the shape of the Cross of Malta, which, in the last analysis, is a four-leaved shamrock of John Bull's other island.
2. Past Critical Views.
As I wrote in The Joycean Monologue (published in 1979), even before the publication of Ulysses in book-form, Richard Aldington attacked it, considering the novel an invitation to chaos. This was circumstantial proof that the early critics of it could not reach deep enough to become aware of the underlying order provided by the structural framework. More important even, these early criticasters did not seem at all well-equipped to perceive such underlying elements: in more Swiftian terms, they did not have the telescopes, or microscopes -- if you so wish --, necessary to blow up tiny specs of archetypal allusion to plainly visible sizes, and then proceed to investigate the positive implications of the method. It is particularly against the background of this short-sightedness of the critical populace that T. S. Eliot's first statement about the novel acquires its true and genuine significance.
For it was T. S. Eliot who first pointed to the ordering value of the archetype -- the Homeric one -- focusing his attention on it to the exclusion of all other aspects. Rejecting Aldington's allegations as ungrounded, Eliot quite significantly entitled his essay "Ulysses, Order and Myth" (1923), and politely accused Aldington of missing the cue given in the novel's title. That was a good beginning indeed for solid Joycean criticism. In order to support his argument, Eliot brings in his favourite concept of classicism, and the point he makes in the conclusion of the article is very accurate, considering how soon after the publication of Ulysses the statement was published:
The question, there, about Mr Joyce is: how much living material does he deal with, and how does he deal with it: deal with, not as a legislator or exhorter, but as an artist ? It is here that Mr Joyce's parallel use of the Odyssey has a great importance. It has the importance of a scientific discovery. No one else has built a novel upon such a foundation before: it has never before been necessary.
The careful reader will certainly notice the extraordinary emphasis Eliot places upon the term parallel, which also happens to form the essence of my Hopkins epigraph -- the Glasnevin-buried poet that Joyce most probably had never had a chance to read in his student days as a voracious reader. But it is perhaps too early in the discussion to be able to assess Hopkins's Principle of Parallelism at its real value . . .
Eliot's statement is impressive not only on account of the emphasis on myth as a unifying factor, but also for the correctness of his priorities: first and foremost comes the living material, the myth only acting as a structural ingredient to give aesthetic finish, or, in the words of E. M. Forster, "the pattern which appeals to our aesthetic sense". There is nowadays not the slightest shade of doubt that the Homeric myth is present in the book, though not even Eliot could at the time see far enough: for in an age of rapidly advancing long-range-detection technology, his critical instrumentation was far too primitive, as it was only pre-Finnegans-Wake tools of critical analysis he had at his disposal. However, it must be conceded that Eliot's statement was subdued and moderate: there was nothing of Stuart Gilbert's later exaggeration about it. In short, Eliot realised full well that mythic structure gives order and aesthetic pattern to apparent textural chaos, whereas Aldington, seeing only the Dublin surface of the texture (the underlying part of which is indefinitely multi-layered), could not account for any aesthetic finish at all: he seems to have taken in only the façade of an elaborate science-fiction-shaped giant. It was perhaps not unlike the sceptical wonder of Caliban in front of one of the NASA computers. His lack of comprehension was no isolated phenomenon; it was shared with H. G. Wells, who said to Joyce in a letter "there is room for both of us to be wrong", John Galsworthy,and even Shaw, to say nothing of lower brow writers like Bennettt & Co. This deliberate reluctance to detect structural patterning inevitably led to distorted interpretations of narrative events, and from there to the inability of passing coherent judgment. Summarizing his point of view in the conclusion of his book review, Eliot seems to have been anxious that his point should not be over emphasized:
It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history.
It is at this point that not even Eliot seems to have been able to see far enough: for he posits the existence of only one monitoring myth, the Homeric one, the one carried by the very title of the Joyce novel.
It was the title too that blinded Stuart Gilbert into his manifold exaggeration of Odyssey superimposition. The author's own testimony, repeatedly made -- but how often with his tongue in his cheek only God Joyce knows -- was good enough evidence for him, and he -- Stuart Gilbert, I mean -- did not bother to search further. Or delve deeper.
3. Joyce's Own Confession.
For methodological purposes, I propose to leave aside both the statements Joyce made in his letters -- as published by his definitive biographer -- and the various statement he may have made aloud to his close friends Gilbert, Gorman, Budgen, and the more controversial Georges Belmont.
I would like to take as a starting point, for a change, one Joycean statement which happened to remain unknown until ten years ago. For the book I have in mind was only published for the first time in 1974 by Arthur Power under the simple title of Conversations with Joyce, and minutely edited by Clive Hart. The advantage of this book, in spite of its obvious pitfalls, is freshness in time, for it emerges a good forty years after the first Stuart Gilbert, and exactly fifteen years after the first Ellmann biography (who seems to ignore the Power book even in his latest 1982 edition !), to say nothing of either Budgen or Gorman, who both belong to the 1930s.
Reading Arthur Power more than once, I was struck by statements of the type "[Joyce] so rarely expressed his opinion that his fundamental beliefs were very hard to gauge". It is against this 1974-emerging key statement that I would very much like to place the following fairly lengthy and highly important expression of Joyce's views about Joyce's own artistic intentions. The statement correlates realization to authorial intention both in point of details of technique and in point of overall fictional impact.
(Power (1974 : 89)) - Then in your opinion, [Arthur Power] said, the critics and the intellectuals have boggled the issue, have not seen your intention clearly, and have put meanings into it which did not exist, which they have invented for themselves. -Yes and no, replied Joyce shrugging his shoulders evasively, for who knows but it is they who are right. What do we know about what we put into anything ? Though people may read more into Ulysses than I ever intended, who is to say that they are wrong: do any of us know what we are creating? Did Shakespeare know what he was creating when he wrote Hamlet; or Leonardo when he painted The Last Supper ? After all, the original genius of a man lies in his scribblings: in his casual actions lies his basic talent. Later he may develop that talent until he produces a Hamlet or a Last Supper, but if the minute scribblings which compose the big work are not significant, the big work goes for nothing no matter how grandly conceived. Which of us can control our scribblings ? They are the script of one's personality like your voice or your walk.
This passage is important in more respects than one: (a) it has the great merit of disposing of James Joyce as the supreme authority over both the interpretation and the "intended pattern" of ewither a part or even the whole of his own work ("Who is to say that they are wrong ?" and "Do any of us know what we are creating ?"); (b) scribblings is for him as a non-theorising craftsman "the Texture of the work as opposed to its Structure"; (c) then, it is not by chance that his only illustrations from the world of art are Hamlet and Hiesos (by Leonardo), the two non-Homeric structural/textural myths which form the object of discussion of the present study. Supremely important, (d), the fact that Joyce was perfectly conscious of his worth and was, deliberately and consciously, placing himself on a par with Shakespeare and Leonardo -- his peers and equals. Finally, (e), the whole statement is surrounded by the halo of God-like creation, which has been so present in Stephen D's theorising about Art in the Portrait (and in Stephen Hero, of course).
It is indeed amazing how the three H's -- Homer, Hamlet, and Hiesos -- emerge most closely woven together in the very texture of one Joyce casual statement about Joyce's own work. To me this passage from his conversation with Arthur Power proves that both the actual wording and trend of argument is beyond any shade of doubt true to actual fact: for no air or outsider could have chosen such closely intertwined illustrations, and such a precarious and most original stance in the argumentation, which by the way is also so very congenial with Joyce's own personality.
By denying himself, and any of his equals, the right to self-clarification and self-explanation, and by firmly rejecting the disciples' "O tell us in plain words" plea, James Joyce largely dismisses and cancels the portavoce roles of individuals like Herbert Gorman, Frank Budgen, and more especially Stuart Gilbert. He also manages to neutralize an overwhelming part of the statements made about his own work, whichever part of it it may be, in his private correspondence. For James Joyce never wrote critical essays, the way T. S. Eliot or D. H. Lawrence or Virginia Woolf used to do. In fact, he stopped writing criticism altogether around 1916, just after the publication of his Bildungsroman, at a time when his thoughts were turning seriously towards his major works. Nor did he write any prefaces, the way both Henry James and, far more notoriously, George Bernard Shaw used to do in order to most explicitly spectralise to more than the average reader the widest possible range of theoretical views and, also, ventilate artistic intentions. More astonishingly even, he never dedicated ! (This attitude of deliberate restraint, incidentally, his French translator of Finnegans Wake was far too blind to notice.) James Joyce received money from right and left, and assistance, support and encouragement, especially from women, but he never dedicated any of his works to any of them, nor to any members of his family. Arthur Power proves in the above extract that this attitude was deliberate: it was directly deriving from his silence, which he probably viewed as a form of cunning. As a writer is essentially characterized by inherent eloquence, Stephen/Joyce's slogan can "portray" no other meaning than that of deliberately withholding all asides in point of revelation of artistic intention. Joyce not only believed -- together with Mallarmé -- that "tout aboutit à un livre": he also applied this principle to the letter by including absolutely everything into the body of the book. No public asides, in essay- or preface-form, no dedications, and indeed no subdivision titles. Where did Stuart Gilbert get his famous Homeric titles from ? Not from Joyce's book, most certainly, for there is nothing there: not even the word chapter is there anywhere in the body of either Ulysses or Finnegans Wake . . . , the former being merely subdivided into I, II, and III (all three Roman numerals printed on completely textless pages in the Shakespeare and Company edition, in order to keep them as far from the text as possible).
By withholding all clarification of his own productions, Joyce's attitude is more in line with the stand of later writers like Samuel Beckett or William Faulkner with whom he may share the feature of (extreme ?) reticence, surfacing quite dramatically in the rhetorical question "Did Shakespeare know what he was creating when he wrote Hamlet ?". It is on the strength of such arguments that the statement made in 1965 by a very famous Joyce specialist on page 40 of his book -- "Joyce's death less than two years after [the] publication [of Finnegans Wake] must be acknowledged as the greatest blow to any expectation of a full explication" -- or other statements to that effect are proven flagrantly inaccurate or inadequate. Joyce never explained: he merely tolerated a few "friends" around him who might do something -- anything -- to help bring him into the public eye.
Thus, in the present discussion I propose to start from the fundamental postulate that Joyce himself never "explicated" Ulysses, genuinely and earnestly, and with intent to disinterested help, any more than he ever "explicated" Finnegans Wake. "What do we know about what we put into anything ?" he had stated to Arthur Power. I therefore propose to scrap the Stuart Gilbert approach altogether, which has over the years done so much damage to Joyce studies, and start looking at the way Ulysses is structured in terms of Hopkins' parallelism and of the Joycean coincidences, which ultimately boil down to one and the same thing.
This approach is very much in line with the methodological stance raken at the 1984 Frankfurt Joyce Symposium by scholars such as Hugh Kenner and Jacques Derrida as well as Fritz Senn, John Kidd, and myself. A study of narrative and display coincidences leads, via the Hopkins Principle, to the detection of static structures at a first level of analysis. (It is only a more sophisticated type of analysis, not at all envisaged in the present research, that could lead to the detection of dynamic structures.)
Given strict limitations of space, I propose to discuss here only coincidences (or correspondences; or parallels) deriving from character identity. I advance the idea, for instance, that all the three major characters of the novel have parallel identities (with some fuzzy areas simply in order to increase aesthetic ambiguity) in a way which can only be pinpointed if, and only if, one is to throw overboard the monopolozing nature of supreme authorial authority as typically embodied in the Stuart Gilbert Apocrypha. This approach will allow mythic identities relatively on a par with each other to emerge to the surface of the narrative and float freely togeher.
4. The Ghost Function.
Let us take the Ghost Function, to begin with. Not only there is a Ghost in Hamlet, but also it bears the name of the son. The Ghost in the Holy Trinity needs no addition to the plethora of comments, except on the part of exegetes like Sabellius "the subtle African heresiarch", and Photius and Arius "warring his life long upon the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father". As to the Ghost from Dublin, Harry Blamires says in his Bloomsday Book:
(1966/1970 : 78) The Shakespeare who returns to Stratford is a ghost, and Stephen (or Joyce) who returns to Dublin from Paris is a ghost. Likewise Bloom, long sexually impalpable in relation to Molly, is a ghost in his own home.
Hiesos Kristos, too, must have been a ghost himself, at least during those three days between the moment of Death and that of Resurrection. Hence, the somewhat rotating feature of the Ghost Function. But where, in the name of Zeus, is the ghost in the Odyssey epic ? As Stuart Gilbert never quite understood Joyce's definition of a ghost, it is simply not there in his 1930 book . . . But in exactly the same way in which Hiesos Kristos may very temporarily become a ghost by pseudo-death, Odysseus himself remains a ghost not only by long-standing absence from his island home -- how many years exactly ? --, but also, as a consequence of it, by widespread uncertainty as to his being alive: it is only his own dog that limply sniffs recognition before becoming itself a ghost, and the old nurse, who goes by the scar.
In neither Hamlet nor the Odyssey is the wedded (l)awful wife given the privilege of ghost visitation or even the more humble attribute of ghost recognition. How is it realistically possible that the wife is not able to recognize the husband even at close quarters, when our newspapers of the mid-eighties are full of the story of the two brothers instantaneously recognizing each other on a railway platform after no less than fifty years of absence ? How, if not both recognition of identity and the ghost function are assigned symbolic dimesions in Homer's Odyssey itself ? How in other words would the end of the Odyssey largely be realistically acceptable, had not Homer himself, "or any other poet by the same name", been thoroughly aware of James Joyce's own definition of a ghost ? And Shakespeare too ! For the Queen herself never sees Hamlet the Ghost in very much the same way in which Penelope fails to recognize her own dearly beloved husband who reveals himself to practically all his friends and allies including shepherd Horatio . . .
In point of actual fact, there are at least two, slightly different, definitions of a Ghost in Ulysses. First, the Library Episode:
(Gabler's Ulysses 9. 147) - What is a ghost ? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.
Then again, it appears, very much hidden and somewhat modified, in one of the answers of the Catechetic Episode:
(Gabler's Ulysses 17. 1955) By what could such a situation be precluded ? By decease (change of state), by departure (change of place).
It almost looks as if, in the process of writing Ulysses, the threefold definition of a ghost had between the early and the late episode shrunk to a twofold one: the less relevant "change of manners" had disappeared or been lost on the way. Perhaps it applied only to Shakespeare, who returned to Stratford (in the Episode Five discussion in the Library) to die -- a changed man. Perhaps the change of manners might have been incorporated in the departure/absence/return process, and as such it would cover Odysseus too.
As there is a ghost in Hamlet, and there is a ghost -- a Holy One -- in the Christian myth, the "ghost by absence" becomes by virtue of Hopkins's outlined symmetry, the ghost of the Homeric story, the ghost of the Shakespeare biography as well as the ghost of the Dublin Bloomsday story and the James Joyce real Ellmann-territory biography. It must be pointed out by way of conclusion at this stage that in some of these settings the ghost itself functions somewhat ambiguously, both Bloom and Stephen D, for instance, sharing some of its defining features.
5. The Triangles.
The ghost function, as sketched above, helps outline a most interesting set of triangles of characters: at least three, if not four; with most of them having one biography subsidiary, which brings the total up to seven.
First, there is the so very well-known Dublin Bloomsday "surface" triangle made up of the three major characters of the novel: Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Molly Bloom (in the order of appearance). Starting from them, Eliot's "scientific discovery" establishes clear character coincidences (or correspondences, or parallels) with the three major personages of the Odyssey: Odysseus himself, Telemachus, and Penelope (for the rest are all left far behind as remotely supporting characters). So far things are quite simple, many commentators over the past sixty years having preferred to draw the line there. But the very first five lines of the book, culminating in the "Introibo ad altare Dei" gibe, dramatically foreground the Holy Trinity: The Father, The Son, The Holy Ghost. But this is not at all enough, for the hundred or so Christian Religion pointers evenly spread over the next sixteen pages culminate in --
(Gabler's Ulysses 1. 577) - I read a theological interpretation of it somewhere, [Haines] said bemused. The Father and the Son idea. The Son striving to be atoned with the Father.
(Gabler's Ulysses 1. 584) - I'm the queerest young fellow that ever you heard./ My mother's a Jew, my father's a bird./ With Joseph the joiner I cannot agree . . ./
Two completely separate biography triangles emerge here, quite distinct from the "holy" one: the parodical Joking Jesus triangle (Jewess/bird/Joking Jesus himself) as against the more true to biographical fact one (Mary/Joseph the Joiner/Hiesos Kristos). The trouble begins with the Bird, the Holy Ghost and (God) the Father get all mixed up quite intentionally into one. The down-to-earth approach adopted in a book like, say, Man of Nazareth by Anthony Burgess (1979), claiming, in line with some factual evidence, that the Son had been married for quite a while before becoming a widower, only helps reinforce the symmetry of multiple apocryphal triangularities. to say nothing of a possible pointer to immaculate (vs. maculate) conception.
In the play Hamlet, Act I, Scene 2 -- the State Council Scene -- we quite plainly perceive the same trinity of characters: Claudius king, Gertrude the Queen, and young Prince Hamlet (who is not yet aware of what had happened to supporting character Horatio in Scene One). As soon as young Hamlet meets Horatio, who triggers his meeting old dead Hamlet, the so very conventional Father/Mother/Son triangle of the State Council Scene (young Hamlet being an outsider to the State Council), reinforced by lines such as "Our chiefest courtier, cousin and our son", uttered by Claudius to Hamlet, most dramatically crumbles: by the mere insertion of the Ghost Function it is being brought very close to the symmetrical structure of the Holy Trinity. For the function of Claudius becomes that of Joseph the Joiner, and is placed on a par of symmetry with it: they are both, or wish to be, social, or society-oriented, fathers, not biological ones. it is from this angle of vision that Hamlet the Ghost parallels "my father's a bird", as chanted by Joking Jesus. But on top of the fairly complicated triangular symmetries of the play Hamlet itself, Stephen D brings in the biography triangle to parallel the play as symmetrically as possible -- for that is the very essence of the Library Episode. This is very simply achieved by two statements of equivalence of identity: (a) young prince Hamlet is ultimately Hamnet, Shakespeare's own son; and (b) being a ghost by absence, Master Will literally plays the part of the ghost on stage. This is more than enough in order to trigger an overwhelming range of correspondences, for the most part triangular, which closely link the fictional with the biographical: by this very device, the latter becomes, in its turn, fictional.
The son/son Hamlet/Hamnet correspondence, ultimately deriving from the so very Finnegans Wake-characteristic of consonant alternance of L/N graphemes, very much like O Hehir's (1967 : 403) P/K Split, also triggers, or backfires rather, the Stephen D/Joyce himself coincidence, both come back but recently from Paris/Wittenberg to bury a symmetrically close relative, telegram in hand. The biography symmetry is also reinforced by the factuality of both Stephen Hero and the Portrait narratives as well as by the very title and fiction contents of Giacomo Joyce. We are thus left with a very impressive number of parallel triangles, not at all in line with the famous "French triangle", but quite in line with what was decreed by the Hopkins Principle. If properly correlated, they do indeed form static structures upon which Ulysses is built, and upon which dynamic structures (i. e. different sequences of events) should only afterwards be imposed. The only question which is left open for discussion now is by what means are the four major coincident triangles and the three attendant biography subsidiaries achieved in the actual text.
6. The Homeric Myth.
it has often been stated that the name Ulysses does not appear as such in the body of the Joycean novel except as part of the name, the "middle" name, of an American general, who had visited Gibraltar. But researchers invariably fail to notice that the name of the author of the Odyssey himself does appear in the Joycean text as (Gabler's Ulysses 14. 1418) "gather thy homer of ripe wheat". However true it may be that, according to Weldon Thornton (1961/1968 : 347), "the homer is a biblical measure equal to about eleven bushels", the term stands in the first place and beyond any shade of doubt for the name of the blind Greek poet, even more than that of the roving American general. Then, taking the Thornton-defined meaning as secondary and operating only on the surface of the text, one cannot help pinning a third meaning to it, namely that of "a biblical term". As such, it becomes a point of correspondence, or coincidence, between the Homeric Myth of the novel and its Christian Myth. Moreover, this third meaning is not the least important of the three; Thornton's surface meaning becomes in its turn a meaning carrier: if we are to place ourselves within the frame of reference of Roman Jakobson's (1975) philosophy of signs, as expressed at the Bologna First Congress of Semiotics, when he stated that "tout signe est un renvoi", then, our homer (Ulysses 14. 1418) becomes a pointer. For, at second remove, and below the surface of the text, it points simultaneously to The Two Great Books called The Odyssey and The Bible.
All this Stuart Gilbert never bothered to notice, or "connect" (in the Forsterian "Only Connect" sense), and then put together in a coherent analytic solution. The notion of conjoined pointer, so essential to solid Finnegans Wake studies, was alien to him in 1930 anyhow, as he was too much hypnotized by the jungle of the story-telling in Greek and in English to pay enough attention to one or another tree -- or signpost -- of textural detail. In short, when Gilbert so paternally advises his readers in the Preface of twenty years afterwards --
(1930/1950 : 8-9) Indeed the Odyssey is quite easy reading: a smattering of Greek (seconded by a good dictionary ad W.W. Merry's notes [sic !] suffices. No other work of literary art in any language is equally refreshing and rewarding, and if I can persuade any of the readers of Ulysses to follow up with a reading of the Odyssey in the original -- translations are but reflections in a tarnished mirror -- I shall have done them a good turn.
(Not even Joyce himself had read the Odyssey in Greek! But that is by the way.) Even as late as 1950, Gilbert is thus blindly unaware that Joyce himself had pregnantly summarized all that plethora of words -- 75 of them, as quoted above -- , in three small words only, devoid of all didacticism: "Gather thy Homer !" Joyce had urged his reader so concisely as early as 2nd February 1922 (or even earlier if a "genetic" approach is attempted). And so packed with meaning the phrase is -- particularly to a Finnegans Wake habitué -- that by a mere switch of capitalization it might be brought round to mean "Gather thy Bible" . . . Could it also not be brought round to mean by implication, or implicature -- a most favourite concept to post-Frege, post-Russell, post-Grice linguists and language philosophers -- "Drop thy Thorntons, Gilberts, Giffords, Blamires, Ellmanns, O Hehirs etc" as well ?
It goes without saying that the Odyssey, first and foremost on account of the title of the book, is the most obvious archetype, with the "highest percentage" of ordering value. It functions primarily at the level of character relationship in the sense that each of the three major characters symmetrically corresponds, very much in the sense of the Hopkins Quotation, to one of the characters of the Homeric poem. As to the possiblity of the event-level and episode-level coincidences of symmetry, both Joyce and Gilbert, and all the others coming after them in the same vein, have somewhat failed to convince. In fact, Joyce's own statement to Arthur Power, so modest and so very true in itself, so very much in line also with Joyce's own self-effacing personality (a spit-image of Beckett's, in fact), makes me more bold in foregrounding certain existing misdirections in current critical scholarship.
Furthermore, in contradistinction to the other two archetypes (i. e. Christian and Hamletic), the Homeric parallel is exclusively external to the characters' minds; it hovers, ghost-like, outside them, operating only at the abstract level of novel structure (as against the more "concrete" level of one or another character's actual possible world of awareness and universe of discourse). Or, to be more Gricean in meta-expression, the characters know that Joyce knows that they should not "know" the Odyssey, either silently or aloud. Neither Bloom nor Stephen ever specifically solliloquize or talk aloud about it ! (Such "absences" are most important to the analysis !)
To summarize the theory-of-the-novel implications of the above: the Gilbertian "chapter" names (so very unfortunately carried over by Gabler in his more popular editions of the Ulysses novel !) apocryphally assigned to each of the eighteen fictional episodes not only mean far too much, spelling things out with the finesse of a sledgehammer . . . but they mean it erroneously: for instance, they mistakenly foreground only one force of ordering value, the Homeric, to the detriment of the other two sets of symmetric coincidences.
I have had it explained on several occasions by Joycean father figures that they are there merely as mnemonic devices to replace numbering. (This is precisely what generates the student chatter, carried over even in writing, about " 'The Scylla and Charybdis Chapter' coming before (or is it after ?) 'The Wandering Rocks Chapter' ".) But as we already have had Three or Four German Reichs, Five or Six French Republics, twenty odd arrondissements in Paris, and just about fifteen universities in the city by the same name, so numbered (so that one is in Hamletic trouble over "to be or not to be Sorbonne"), I see no reason whatever why we should not currently say that "Episode Nine, or the Library Episode, deals exclusively and invariably with the Shakespearean Correspondence" rather than get bogged down in the so Gilbertian Scylly & Charissima (FW 561.22) [sic !] terminology ? After all, even Great Britain had seen the commonmarket light and gone decimal . . .
7. The Shakespearean Correspondence.
I have said elsewhere that there is a tendency in discussions of Ulysses to restrict Shakespearean thematic implications in the novel to the Library Episode, where, of course, Hamlet/Hamnet-cum-Ghost is practically the only topic of conversation. But on closer analysis, it is quite easy to prove that there are Shakespearean pointers (or allusions, or references, or slightly altered recurrent quotations) bobbing up evenly throughout the book. First of all, Shakespeare is there in the expressed universe of discourse whenever Stephen D is there: for he seems to be Shakespeare-obsessed. Or Hamlet-obsessed. Or both.
Certain characters dominate certain episodes, and there is Hopkins-type symmetry again in the very pattern of dominance. Distinguishing between complete dominance and partial dominance, it is interesting to note that whereas Molly fully dominates the last episode and that only, which also functions as a Coda, Stephen fully dominates the equidistant Episode Nine (out of 18 !). If Episode Fourteen is deliberately removed from the hierarchy of character dominance on the solid ground that its exclusive dominant is the ontogenesis vs. phylogenesis correlation in the art of literature, there is a striking Stephen symmetry in episode arrangement: leaving aside the Coda, Stephen clearly dominates the first three episodes, the last three episodes, and the equidistant Nine (as there are five other episodes, Bloom-controlled for the most part, between the first set of three and the last set of three).
There is a strange osmotic circulation of motifs throughout these seven Stephen episodes, based on either Shakespearean or Biblical themes, with the latter group of three episodes taking up, expanding, rephrasing and paraphrasing the motifs which have already been outlined in the early group of three. It suffices to think of Stephen's silent assertions on the beach emerging again with unexpected force in the Nighttown Episode. Here is an example taken almost at random in order to emphasize the various coincidences of symmetry:
(Ulysses 010.28) [ - Kinch ahoy !
(Hamlet I.5. 115) Marcellus: Illo; ho, ho, my lord !
both interrupting, and putting an end to ghost-centred discourse; hundreds of pages later, in Episode Fifteen, this is paralleled by --
(Ulysses 447. 18-19) Paddy Dignam: Bloom, I am Paddy Dignam's spirit. List, list, O list !
(Hamlet I. 5. 9) Ghost. I am thy father's spirit [and after exactly 22 lines:] List, list, O, list !
The only difference in the last element of the quotation is the comma in Shakespeare before O: the New Synoptic Munich-computer Edition might well tell us why that particular comma is missing in Joyce . . . The most important thing, however, is that these two instances, and their two Hamlet archetypes, stand clearly symmetrical as connected with ghost interludes. In Ulysses, this is done in most extraordinary Hysteron Proteron fashion over more than 400 pages of text: the end occurs in the early episode, the opening line occurs in Episode Fifteen, accreted by a two-word summary (Bloom/Dignam) of the Funeral Episode.
As regards the last three Stephen episodes, it may be true that Bloom shares the scene with him, whereas in the first three Bloom had not yet emerged on the fictional scene. But the striking element in the last three Stephen episodes is that Leopold Bloom plays the part of the "attendant lord" in the strictest Prufrock sense: he is thoroughly aware throughout, unconsciously of course, of Eliot's --
No ! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be; / Am an attendant lord, one that will do / To swell a progress, start a scene or two, / Advise the prince; no doubt an easy tool, / Deferential, glad to be of use, / Politic, cautious, and meticulous; #
Bloom's clear attendant-lord function places Stephen D right in the centre of the scene. The remarkable coincidence is that Bloom parallels Buck Mulligan of Episode One (and elsewhere). In addition, Bloom is the exact mirror-image of Mulligan, as his benevolent, kind, loyal, respectful and even deferential attitudes place him in the Horatio category, whereas Mulligan-cum-Haines becomes almost automatically pairable to Rosencrantz & Guildenstern in their lack of loyalty. Such possible correspondences at the level of supporting characters can only reinforce the fact that Hopkins's Principle of Continuous Parallelism is permanently in operation in Joyce.
The point is therefore being made from various angles that many Shakespearean correspondences, quite unlike the Homeric ones, lie within the characters' own worlds of discourse, particularly so in Stephen's case. His much superior level of archetypal awareness of the Jew, of the Greek, and of the Prince, make him by far the most important character of the novel by the very fact that he controls the widest range of personage-internalized fictional ordering value. To be blunt, it is Stephen/Joyce that comes closest to Ulysses/Odysseus. Not Bloom.
However, it is worth pointing out that the Shakespearean archetype starts as a purely ordering factor, external to the characters' minds, quite in keeping with the Homeric Parallel: both the play and the novel open on the Platform of a Tower, one in the dead of Night, the other in the shine of Day. In both cases, the main personage emerges, sad and in mourning, on the express injunction of the attendant lord, in the above Prufrock sense. As they start talking, standing between them is the Ghost of Stephen's mother on one Tower, the Ghost of Hamlet's father on the other Tower, materialized differently (the former only in Stephen's mind's eye . . . the latter . . . played on stage by Master Will himself . . . ). After the attendant lord's disappearance in the distance, the prince's interaction with his father's ghost causes a most violent reaction in him. Both visions are interrupted by shouts from afar and outside. In both instances, the point at issue is the recent death of one of the parents, different in sex only in order to achieve a minimum of asymmetry. Stephen's vision, a Hamletic monologue, is put an end to by Mulligan's sudden "Kinch ahoy", quite analogous to the way Horatio and the guards dispel the web of magic round the two Hamlets -- the Father & the Son. But the striking parallel continues: for after the Tower Platform scene comes a ceremony scene, a stately and ceremonious breakfast in one case, the State Council, in the other. (In both situations, the exchanges of words can become quite multi-layered . . . ) Mulligan, addressing Stephen, had by now made remarks very similar in tone to those uttered by the King and Queen about Hamlet's black attire and the inevitability of death; the patronisingly conciliatory tone is there in both cases:
(Ulysses 010.32) - Dedalus, come down, like a good mosey. Breakfast is ready. Haines is apologizing for waking us last night. It's all right.
So far it is constructional parallelism: something the characters themselves are not supposed to be aware of. This very externality of the above outlined Shakespearean correspondence, occurring in the first half of the first episode (why so very early in the novel ?) places it quite on a par with the ordering value of the Homeric Myth. This is something that neither T. S. Eliot nor Stuart Gilbert had noticed.
But all of a sudden, as soon as breakfast is over, Mulligan is the first to make a deliberate reference to the play and its author --
(Ulysses 1, 487) Wait till you hear him on Hamlet, Haines.
Not unlike the play Hamlet itself, it is the attendant lord, faithful in one, unfaithful and even flippant in the other, who triggers the major chain of events: the bringing into focus of the Father and Son theme, its culmination in equidistant Episode None, and in the final scene, the disappearance of the main personage, who becomes a ghost, in one case by death, in the other by absence; not only absence from Bloom's Eccles Street home, but also by exile pushed to the uttermost limit from dear, but dirty Dublin.
Mulligan's remark to Haines, quoted above, turns an ordering device from an existence "external to actual characters" to an existence "internal", and inherent to them. And it is there, around line 385 (with the sudden advent of the Irish milk woman), that the second half of the first episode, made up of another 360 lines, begins. Externality and internality of overall patterning are thus symmetrically intertwined.
8. The Christian Myth.
Though the attendant lord Mulligan heralds a discourse on Hamlet, what we really get in the second half of the same episode as its highlight is -- quite paradoxically -- The Ballad of Joking Jesus, the positioning of which is, by the way, quite symmetrical to The Ballad of Persse O'Reilly in Finnegans Wake. The Joker Jesus theme is from the very beginning fully internalized to the characters and clearly introduces the Hiesos Kristos multiple triangle as the third, and perhaps the most important factor of ordering value (given its sanctity), in the Eliot sense.
If we assume that the latter half of the first episode is mainly devoted to the Christian Trinity, with the multiplicity of triangles generated by The Ballad of Joking Jesus itself, then by the end of the opening episode, the reader is left with three distinct formal entities on his hands as follows:
(a) a myth-oriented title, Ulysses, pointing to Homer;
(b) a half-episode externally built on the opening of Hamlet;
(c) a half-episode internally focused on Joking Hiesos,
the two halves separated by Mulligan's promise (Ulysses, 1, 487) "Wait till you hear him on Hamlet, Haines", a sentence the fourfold alliteration of which makes it sound quite Elizabethan.
I advance the thesis that these three entities are respectively devoted, with various degrees of reality, to the three major trinities of characters. These three trinities, each of them carrying biographical subsidiaries, with the exception of the Homeric one, are all endowed with equal, or near-equal, ordering value. The ordering value of the Dublin trinity of characters, with its Joyce-biography subsidiary, remains to be assessed separately.
As space is very limited, it does not fall within the scope of the present study to provide ample circumstantial evidence. The fairly simple point that is being made is that, by the end of the first episode, the three ordering trinities of Homer, Hiesos, and Hamlet have already been put across twice over: once, in the title closely combined with the blue-and-white colours of the cover (symbolizing The Meeting of The Greek with The Jew ?), which should be, in its turn, connected with the fully written out Shakespeare and Company name of publisher. The second time, in the way the first episode itself is structured, the external Shakespearean elements of the early part being balanced against the blasphemous trinitarian song, internal to two of the three participating characters.
Thus, in typical Finnegans Wake manner, all the ordering elements required for a reasonable understanding of the whole are there already for the reader to see in the very first twenty or thirty pages of the book. The novel itself becomes a trinity of trinities in much the same way in which each trinity itself becomes a set of trinities by developing biography potentials. And the Father - Mother - Son trinity already heralds the very essence of Finnegans Wake, where themes acquire cosmic proportions. It is thus that the prophecy --
(Ulysses 9. 999) God becomes man becomes fish becomes featherbed mountain.
is being fulfilled in Joyce's novel Ulysses. Hence, the following diagram of coincidences.
9. The Four-leaved Shamrock Shape with its biography mirror image.
HIESOS Nazareth + Elsinore HAMLET
SUMMARY IN THE FRENCH LANGUAGE OF THE ABOVE STUDY:
Georges SANDULESCO: La Polyvalence des personnages joyciens.
published in Études Irlandaises, No.9 (Nouvelle Série), December 1984, pp. 391-392. Université de Lille III, "Pont de bois", B.P. 149, F-59653 Villeneuve d'Asq, France.
Le poète T. S. Eliot a été le premier à souligner l'extraordinaire force coordinatrice des procédés narratifs joyciens dans son compte rendu du roman Ulysse, peu après sa parution. "Le parallèle avec l'Odyssée a une grande importance -- l'importance d'une découverte scientifique. Avant lui personne n'a construit de roman sur un tel échafaudage: il n'a jamais été nécessaire." Notre discussion prend comme point de départ l'existence évidente de la structure mythique, qui a pour fonction fondamentale d'introduire dans le chaos de surface et d'apparence du livre.
Mais il y a beaucoup d'indices, que Roman Jakobson appelle "des renvois", en faveur de la thèse selon laquelle le roman ne serait pas construit sur un seul mythe coordinateur, mais sur trois, sinon quatre, archétypes analogues. Les trois personnages principaux d'Ulysse -- Stephen, Bloom et Molly -- corrspondent certainement aux trois personnages de l'Odyssée d'Homère. Mais l'extraordinaire coïncidence joycienne commence quand on s'aperçoit de la même correspondence structurelle statique avec les personnages de la pièce Hamlet et aussi avec la biographie de William Shakespeare lui-même, telle qu'elle est présentée par Stephen D. dans le neuvième épisode du livre et partout ailleurs.
Aussi, les renvois tellement fréquents dans le roman à tout ce qui concerne la religion chrétienne, à la Trinité sanctifiée par le dogme, ainsi qu'à la Trinité parodique de La ballade du Jovial Jésus -- "Ma mère était une juive, un oiseau mon papa" -- nous font bien penser que le livre est aussi structuré assez étroitement sur l'archétype généré par les personnages principaux (sacrés ou non) du Nouveau Téstament.
En tout cas, c'est dans le cadre du Principe du Parallelism Structurel Continu, formulé par Hopkins en 1865, qu'on doit interpréter la proposition "Dieu se fait homme se fait poisson se fait oie barnacle se fait édredon" (Ulysse, Gallimard, p.52).
SUMMARY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE OF THE ABOVE STUDY:
Georges SANDULESCU: Polyvalency of Joyce's Characters.
Published in Études Irlandaises, No.9 (Nouvelle Série), December 1984, p. 392. Université de Lille III, "Pont de bois", B.P. 149, F-59653 Villeneuve d'Asq, France.
Proposition One. All texts of literature evince a texture by the side of a simpler or more complex structure: poetry, by definition, foregrounds the texture; prose, again by definition, foregrounds the structure.
Proposition Two. Structure carries explicit information: texture carries implicit narrative information.
I demonstrated elsewhere (The Joycean Monologue, A Wake NewsLitter Press, Colchester, 1979) that Joyce had turned the epiphany into a textural device par excellence. He had in that way become "texture-conscious", and could not write in any other way . . .
Proposition Three. The novel Ulysses evinces a clear, author-acknowledged, title-supported structural archetype directly derived from Homer's Odyssey, which impresses some order upon the apparent chaos.
Proposition Four. By the side of the structural myth expressed in the title, the novel Ulysses is closely patterned on two textural archetypes -- the Story of the New Testament, either told very jokingly, or pointed at in all respectfulness, and the Story of Old Prince Hamlet, told over-biographically.
The novel's texture is very rich in evenly-spread evidence in support of this proposition.
Proposition Five. Exaggeration of the monitoring structural myth is damaging to the process of detection of the ordering capabilities of the two main textural myths, identical in point of trinitarian symmetry.
Proposition Six. Ulysses is therefore constructed on multiple myth: the binding force of the Hiesos & Hamlet trinities equals Homer. Taking Dublin into account, the narrative may be visually rendered in stylised four-leaved shamrock shape.