The U22 Podcast, Week 3 (Proteus) and Ilaria Susmel’s Contribution

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To quote W.C. Fields, I’ll begin by saying, “Pardon my redundancy, Pardon my redundancy.” Today is not the first time I have noted that this site exists for two purposes. It may encourage a few first-time readers to crack the spine of a book written by Sunny Jim. Secondly, it promotes an international community of Joyceana,

The Ulysses Centennary podcast U22 is marshaled ably by Catherine Flynn of Berkeley (not the bishop but the California university). After three episodes, I conclude the strategy is to provide experiences and impressions from three classes of literary wanderers: researchers, teachers, and readers. That design, this week, first served Ilaria Susmel’s musings. She spoke to the interests of both the first-time reader and internationally interested readers lured from Shanghai to Sandymount and Monterey to Monto.

Ilaria was born as both a serial and international reader of Ulysses when she lived for three years in Dublin. There she braved public readings of the book at Sweny’s Pharmacy, encouraged by readers of more than a few nations. If she ever was hesitant to fly the banner of her love for Ulysses and Joyce’s lyrical language, she unfurls it now. You will hear her speak with affection about the reshaping of Joyce’s language from a Germanic language to the Romance tongues, about conservatory and exploratory translations. Most enthusiastically of all, she speaks of the musicality that persists across languages. This may be how an unlikely international community of readers binds together across oceans and mountain ranges.

The third layer of the podcast sandwichs Sam Slote’s academic discussion with another treatment of translation. Piotr Prachnio’s translation, however, is like no other. He briefly discusses the translation of sound from one culture through onomatopoeia into all languages. [Excuse me if I don’t wander off discussing how a dog’s bark or the pussen’s “Mkgnao!” is rendered differently in Chinese or Russian.]

Witnessing Omniscientific Joyce’s presentation on Translating Oxen of the Sun dismayed me. I became convinced that Joyce’s complete meaning could be unrenderable due to nuances of vocabulary, idiom, or culture. In this podcast, you’ll hear that meaning is not the sum of the literary parts. I enjoy the cadence and music of words, but I consider the poetry of prose to be secondary to the message. Listening to this podcast, I agreed to examine language solely for its beauty. Where meaning fails, there is another vehicle of communication. Agreed: failing to consider lyricism fully lessens the message.

Yes, I skipped over Professor Slote’s discussion of academic protein between two slices of translation in Proteus. Academics do great service in earning their bread by basting this protein. Some of this will attract readers of the JJRC. Slote’s essay is to be published, I believe, in the collection that will be the capstone of the U22 project. However. The one-hundredth celebration of the anniversary of Ulysses’s publication is assured, but the one hundred fiftieth anniversary is in question. It will take two new generations of readers to make a sesquicentennial. This is the audience I pursue. I’ll leave the discussion of Aristotelian baldness to others better qualified than I. While there may not be hilarity in the Proteus episode, there are maxims for living. Living and hilarity are specialties of mine; I’ll focus there.

Ilaria’s enthusiasm for Ulysses’ as a literary passport will entice a few of those needed readers. Next year and in coming years, attendees at The Joyce Centre’s Bloomsday, Bloomsday on Broadway, BloomsdayMontréal, or Omniscientific Joyce in attendance may represent demographics other than mine, the homely and decrepit. For a later U22 production, I’ll lisp a few words. They won’t be as entertaining or energized as Ilaria’s. That’s not my role or my nature. I know my mission.

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