(U) Episode 1: “Telemachus” ~pp 1-24.

Important Themes of Episode 1

  • The Artist’s Isolation: Stephen divorced himself from Church and State. He has already expatriated from Ireland, only returning when notified of his mother’s impending death. Rejecting both British imperialism and Irish patriotism, he refers to Yeats’ elitist theme “The Celtic Twilight” as the cultic toilette. Stephen abandoned religion before his mother’s death. A recurring source of pain is that he refused to kneel and pray at his mother’s bedside as she asked. Stephen has chosen a life without any of the traditional supports of society. This novel is his search for a spiritual, artistic, and humanistic father to fill the emptiness. [Note- Joyce’s brother Stannie tells that biographically their uncle told Joyce to kneel and pray at May Joyce’s bedside. Joyce ignored the request (Ellmann)]. While Stephen continues to have relationships with his siblings, his mother is dead, and he distances himself from his father. He has never known a healthy sexual relationship. Finally, he is even shut himself off from the community’s economic life, he is soon to be jobless and without prospects.
  • A Unique Rejection of Church and State: Although he abandons Catholicism and Ireland, Joyce was the most Catholic and the most Irish creature in his exile. He roundly rejected the hierarchical clergy, denying a vocation to the clergy and invitation to join the Jesuit order. However, he embraced the logic and even the theologies of Thomas Aquinas and others. This rejection tortures Joyce because, as Frank Budgen says, ” He has a theologian’s logic and a churchman’s conscience.” Joyce is so devoted to the place of his upbringing that he vows to describe Dublin in such detail that were it destroyed, it could rebuild using his book.
  • Stephen’s Credo:  “I will not serve” (explained in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). Stephen’s established his strategy in the succinct motto-“silence, exile, cunning.” Stuart Gilbert describes the Stephen of the first three chapters of the book as soft-spoken and deferential. You might also think him passive-aggressive. Mulligan’s name for Dedalus is “Toothless Kinch,” a defenseless child. Stephen’s cunning is at work. He is still deferential but has begun his rebellion against Mulligan.

10 thoughts on “(U) Episode 1: “Telemachus” ~pp 1-24.

  1. How will you celebrate Bloomsday? A pork kidney? Instant chocolate with a loved one? A 4:30 pm interlude? Listen to Don Giovanni? Walk the streets wearing a sandwich board? Please share your plan. I’ll collect and publish them. ~Don

  2. I just read that when James Joyce died, a copy of Gogarty/Mulligan’s book of poems I Follow Saint Patrick was on his desk. I suspect, had he more time, Joyce would have left a note blaming the book for his demise. ~Don

  3. From a Comment posted on social media by Vardhan Le Zuz:” what r the words u used in the wordcloud?”
    My Reply: My wordcloud is not a depiction of the Telemachus episode. Instead, it is a wordcloud of what I wrote about the episode, that is, what I wrote about themes, symbols, quotes, and criticism (What They Are Saying). This first wordcloud was restricted to include fewer words. I experimented with the number of words used in the wordcloud in subsequent episodes, trying to eliminate the clutter of unimportant words like articles and pronouns and focusing on verbs and nouns. Let’s test my response. Does that answer your first question? I am most grateful for the chance to help new readers of Ulysses, so thank YOU!

  4. Question: “can you elaborate about the gilbert scheme why for example he choose gold as the color of the chapter, can you elaborate about the gilbert scheme why for example he choose gold as the color of the chapter(?)…”

    My Reply: Joyce disclosed the schemas to Gilbert and another to Linetti. There are minor differences. Joyce’s thinking may have evolved. Regarding the colors for the first episide. I believe that gold and white must be considered together. In tandem, they are the colors of the Papacy. The book begins with a mockery of the mass and later Mulligan quotes from his blasphemous poem “Goodbye,now, goodbye. Write down all I said./ And tell Tom, Dick and Harry I rose from the dead/” etc. Mulligan’s robe is yellow. His name Malachi suggests priesthood. The Papal flag also displays crossed keys that are important to this episode and to the novel in general. Mulligan will seize Stephen’s key to the tower although Stephen has paid the rent. An excellent question, I hope this helps.

  5. Question (continued from Vardhan Le Zuz) “what does YOUNG mean in style?”
    My Reply: Joyce writes each episode as an example of a particular style of writing. The first episode, in fact the first three episodes, are devoted to Stephen. That’s why the novel begins with an enormous “S” in most editions. Stephen is YOUNG, juvenile in fact, in his art and attitude. Episode 4 or Calypso is an narrative devoted to Leopold Bloom. He is a mature character. Late in the novel there will be an example of narrative devoted to an old character. That’s in the Ithaca episode I was asked to say a few words about this character for the U22 podcast. That episode will not be released by the U22 team for several months.

  6. Question (continued from Vardhan Le Zuz): regarding the lice issue – did i understood right that Ramey claims Joyce to b just an unoriginal ect’ i mean is this all his point?
    My Reply: Aristotle believed that lice don’t procreate but spring up without any help from a previous generation of lice. James Ramey says, like Aristotle’s beliefs about lice, ideas may then be independent of the thinker and may spring up from the ether. That is not what he believes but is using Aristotle as a way to say that Joyce’s great talent is to bring together what all the thinking of ten thousand years in Ulysses. Joyce’s art didn’t invent the Odyssey, for example, but his genius applies it to our lives in our centuries. Notes for Joyce by Gifford and Seidman is 700 pages of notes about other people’s ideas used by Joyce and sewn together into a single pattern– Dante, Homer, Maimonides, Confucius, Aristotle, and more and more and more. Joyce has taken all their lice collected them and made them into a single proposal for how to live a life. Ramey says Joyce’s great talent is not that he invented these great ideas. He didn’t. His great talent is that he made sense of them all in an integrated way.

  7. Q ( from Vardhan Le Zuz) Hi…. did anywhere in your writings or would u like to comment regarding the question – why did steven really got insulted Mulligan’s remark. obviously its not just his mother or his act of not kneeling at her side & more Steven refused to bend to any1…. what (& if there is a connetion to Heins behaviour & staying – the other triger of him leaving the martelo not to return
    My Reply: Stephen specifies that it’s not the insult to his mother who Mulligan says is “beastly dead” but the insult to Stephen himself that prompts the break. Stephen has broken with the Church and will soon break with Ireland. He is about to declare himself bound only to his art. Mulligan the Mocker ridicules any conviction. Buck Mulligan’s decisions seem to be only driven by situational ethics, nihilistic. Haines’ presence is an affront against Ireland. As the master, he presumes to look at the culture under a microscope as a butterfly collector might pin his prey. His treatment of the milk maid, who is a representation of Ireland, is insulting. There is also the suggestion of an insult of the Church by Haines. His dream causing him to shoot at the black panther suggests an interference with Irish Religion by England. Pantera was the Roman Legionaire sometimes said to have fathered Christ.

  8. u mean that the insult was the mockery against stephen pride [his values, ever seriousness] and it goes even as deep as the rift between a beliver vs beliver, stephen unwillingly was forced to be the beliver

    1. I think that is a perfect way to look at the exchange. Stephen has an ethic that he believes in one of his beliefs is a Mother’s love and he has been forced to refuse her dying request for the sake of the stand he has taken against Church and State. I think Stephen is satisfied with the beliefs he has chosen, so his defense may not be unwilling. But yes he is forced to defend his belief, even if it leaves him without a place to sleep. He is already homeless. ~Don

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