Episode 8: Lestrygonians, ~pp 149-181

Important Themes of Episode 8

  • Consumed by love and “swan meat”: The idioms and the images of Lestrygonians simmer with fats and starches, foods fancy and plain, domestic or exotic. The calorie is the connection. Calories add life’s fuel and zest, but the word also refers to the burning away of that comfort. This is the dual nature of Bloom’s love for Molly. She remains his reason for being, his sustenance, but he burns away in the relationship, melting in innocent self-recrimination over Rudy’s death and his inability to console Molly. Cannibalism, though mistakenly associated with ghoulish intentions, is generally a homage to elders and heroic enemies. With ingestion, the consumer acquires the qualities of the consumed. Joseph Campbell wrote extensively about the topic. The reference to swan meat adds another dimension. Swans famously mate for life. Despite psychosexual impediments, infidelity, and deceptions, great and small, Poldy and Molly have also mated for life.
  • Moonlight, Sunlight: Bloomsday 1904 was also an astrological event. The full Moon torments the disturbed, but the new Moon on 13 June 1904 was also particularly lucky. Lunar phases don’t explain Denis Breen’s mad excitation or Molly’s infidelity. Still, it will be a particularly lucky day for Bloom, young Dedalus, and perhaps even for Molly, who will recommit to her marriage in her peculiar fashion. The solstice was just days away. The Moon is generally considered feminine, represented by the Goddess Selene; the Sun, male– like Apollo. Both Moon and Sun promise transformations human, environmental, and celestial. Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is his book of the night, Ulysses mostly a book of the day. It’s amusing that Molly only appears twice in Ulysses. In the morning, she wanes groggy. In the middle of the dark night, her mind is a riptide. And at 4 PM? Ellmann tells us that Cashel…Farrell is nicknamed Endymion (suggesting that he was loved by the Moon) and that he was from a brewer family. He fell into a vat and never recovered.
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