Wednesday, December 01, 2004


When we were talking about song in class yesterday, I wanted to share this idea I had come across in my research for my medieval paper.
"Bloch further argued that ritual speech, and especially song, do not explain anything and are not logical in nature. Hence, ritual studies that emphasize meaning, even according to Durkheimian explanations of one's place within social structure, fail to grasp the nature of ritual: 'You cannot argue with a song.' Within the ritual context, one can only sing or refuse to sing a song [this idea fit with someone's annoyance with song]."
From "Background: An Introduction to Perfromance Studies" by Mary Suydam in Performance and Transformation

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

"The Sea is not less beautiful..." is a real quote

The "famous Jewish philosopher" on p. 187 of the novel "The sea is not less beautiful for our knowledge that ships are wrecked on it."

You can find it here for instance: Simone Weil on affliction, necessity, and waiting for God. Scan down a few paragraphs...

It's weird that Wood calls her a Jew, because she is basically a Christian (read the link above, you'll see what I mean). The one saving, er, grace, is that she is of Jewish descent.

The poem Peter recites to Tom

Curious about the source of the poem Peter recites to Tom in fragments (224), I looked it up online. Titled "Peace," it is by seventeenth century poet Henry Vaughan (1622-1695), and it has often been set to music as a choral hymn. The full text is below:

My soul, there is a country
Far beyond the stars,where stands a winged sentry
All skillful in the wars.
There above noise, and danger,
Sweet Peace sits crowned with smiles,
And One, born in a manger
Commands the beauteous files.

He is thy gracious Friend,
And - O my soul, awake!
-did in pure love descend,to die here for thy sake.
If thou canst get but thither,
There grows the flower of Peace,t
The Rose that cannot wither,
Thy fortress and thy ease.

Leave then thy foolish ranges,
For none can thee secure
But One who never changes,
Thy God, thy life, thy cure.

Henry Vaughan (1622-95)

Monday, November 29, 2004

Puzzling over latest James Wood book review

James Wood reviews a new novel called Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

It's a novel about religion in 19th century America, and may be of interest to people who are interested in early American lit and historical fiction.

Most of the review is praise of Robinson's writing of one sort or another. It gets interesting when Wood tries to distinguish Robinson's style from that of "secular fiction":

In ordinary, secular fiction, a writer who ''takes things down to essentials'' is reducing language to increase the amount of secular meaning (or sometimes, alas, to decrease it). When Robinson reduces her language, it's because secular meaning has exhausted itself and is being renovated by religious meaning. Robinson, who loves Melville and Emerson, cannot rid herself of the religious habit of using metaphor as a form of revelation. Ames spends much time musing on the question of what heaven will be like. Surely, he thinks, it will be a changed place, yet one in which we can still remember our life on earth: "In eternity this world will be Troy, I believe, and all that has passed here will be the epic of the universe, the ballad they sing in the streets." There sings a true Melvillean note.

I'm not sure whether Wood likes this kind of writing (i.e., writing which is "renovated by religious meaning") or not. Perhaps one will need to read the novel to get a better sense of what Robinson is after?

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

Book Against God and Unamuno

The discussion in class regarding how the religion of the narrator’s priestly father is more about being the glue that holds the village community together than about hard belief versus unbelief reminded me of a novella by the Spanish writer and philosopher Miguel de Unamuno called San Manuel Bueno, mártir. That story deals with a village priest who can’t believe in God or an afterlife (if I remember correctly) but hides his lack of faith from the majority of the villagers in order, well, not to make them miserable and who also acts as the glue that holds a village community together. Here is an English translation of the novella; it’s not too long.

I suppose Unamuno can be considered another modernist who came up with his own particular version of spirituality or faith, built around the idea that everyone longs for immortality. He goes into it in his Tragic Sense of Life. This long bit deals with Unamuno's take on things.

As far as I know, he’s kind of considered a Spanish existentialist and has an interesting relationship to Kierkegaard. Plus, he generally seems to have been a better person than your average postmodernist.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Book Against God Gripe

Am I the only one who found the descriptions of the narrator and Jane's marriage and of the popping of the marriage question to be particularly nauseating and squirm-inducing? They seem like they've been ripped straight out of some nauseating Hugh Grant romantic comedy. And that's just bad.

Of course, maybe Wood intended those parts in particular to produce that reaction.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Pakistani film imagines assasination of Rushdie

Unbelievable. In 1990, the Pakistani film industry released a film called "International Gorillay," (International Gorillas), in which a trio of heroic crusaders plot to assasinate a Rushdie-like villain. The film was, until recently, banned from British television.

If you follow the link, you end up at a site where you can view a scene from the film.

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

The crazy French guy: Georges Bataille, Postmodernism, and The Satanic Verses

Today's discussion regarding the possible extreme applications of post-modernism (for example, that one person’s pain would be another person’s pleasure and thus there can be no compassion in the world) reminded me a lot of a course I took three years ago in contemporary rhetoric. That semester, we studied George Bataille, who, at the time, I referred to as the crazy French guy because reading his translated works was driving me bonkers.

Anyway, I didn’t have time to go back and pull a lot of information on him from my notes but I did find some interesting quotes from "The Bataille Reader" (edited by Fred Botting and Scott Wilson, Blackwell Publishers, 1997) that seemed, scarily, to fit very well into our discussions of "The Satanic Verses." If anyone is interested in reading more from the book, I can loan you my copy.

I also came across some websites that provide more detailed information. But I want to give fair warning to anyone with a squeamish stomach: this guy was pretty extreme and some of the pictures on the sites can be disturbing. Definitely NOT for children.

As one of the websites below suggests, Bataille is a very difficult philosopher (?) to summarize and there is an inherent danger in taking quotes out of context like I am about to do. Still, I thought it would help to give just a flavor of his ideas. All of the following quotes are taken from the chapter labeled 'Torment in "The Bataille Reader," which presents material published in English in "Inner Experience" (1988) and originally in French as "Le Supplice" in 1947.
- “To face the impossible—exorbitant, indubitable—when nothing is possible any longer is in my eyes to have an experience of the divine; it is analogous to a torment” (page 64).
- “it is necessary for me to die (in my own eyes) to give birth to myself” (pages 64-65).
- “We cannot be without end that which we are: words canceling each other out, at the same time as resolute non-entities, believing ourselves to be the foundation of the world” (page 65).
- “My conduct with my friends is motivated: each being is, I believe, incapable of his own, of going to the end of being. If he tries, he is submerged within a ‘private being’ which has meaning only for himself. Now there is no meaning for a lone individual: being alone would of itself reject the ‘private being’ if it saw it as such…” (pages 72-72).

Here are some web addresses (sorry they don’t actually link—Blogger doesn’t seem to like my browser and doesn’t give me all of the options):

Fairly straight-forward biographical site:

Comprehensive dialogue regarding the basics of Bataille:

Warning: This last site is not for the faint of heart. It contains some rather explicit images of the pain/ecstasy principle advanced by Bataille. This is the very picture I stumbled across three years ago when I first encountered Bataille. It still makes my stomach turn. AGAIN, this is NOT for children.

Friday, November 05, 2004

Opera version of Rushdie's "Haroun" now in New York

Salman Rushdie wrote a children's novel called Haroun and the Sea of Stories while he was in hiding, after the Ayatollah Khomeini's Fatwa against him.

That story has been made into an opera that is now playing in New York City. The New York Times has a story on it.

Sunday, October 31, 2004

Paul Brians Satanic Verses Study Guide

Try this "study guide" for The Satanic Verses, by Paul Brians.

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Really Cool Website relating to *Passage to India*

Hi everyone,

I came across this really interesting website that I think some of you might like to take a look at, especially if you are considering writing about *Passage to India.* The library at Louisiana State University has a webite called "British Voices of South Asia" reproducing a special exhibition that ran in 1996 -- it's a collection of transcribed oral interviews with British people who lived and worked in pre-independant India; most of their stories about events in the 1930s. Though a little later than Forster's book, I think it's interesting all the same. The site has a few categories: accounts of why working/living India appealed to them, what daily life was like, travel, departure, and, most interesting to me, the relationship between the British and the Indians.

It's fascinating to hear actual people who participated in the cultural situation about which Forster wrote, espcially when they talk about the attitude they had toward the Indian subjects. Here I'm just going to excerpt a few of my favorites:

Sir Charles Dalton: One of the things that we missed out on, in my time, was the fact that we had absolutely no intercourse with the Indians, except the servants. At the very top level, we did meet one or two Indian princes. But nowhere else. The Army and the Civil Service were completely in a world apart. We were British and they were Indians and never the twain shall meet. This was the sort of feeling. And I'm sure that this was wrong and that, if one were doing it again, I think one would take a lot of trouble to get to know Indians.

Colonel W.A. Salmon, British Army: It did have a magic, there's no doubt about it. I got tremendously fond of the Indian people. It didn't matter what they were, Mohammedans, Hindus or anything else. They had a charm. They were natural gentlemen. Many's the time I'd be riding around Peshawar, for instance, out hacking. You come somewhere and a chap in the field would stop and salaam. So you'd rein in and talk to him for a bit. And he might say, "Sahib, come to my house," which was probably only a little mud hut. You'd go there and he'd give you a cup of tea and you'd talk about this or that and then be on your way. It was a very happy, brotherly, friendly feeling.

Rt. Rev. Leslie Newbigin, Missionary, later Bishop of Madras: The British, of course, were very respectful of Indian customs. I mean this is the reason even to this day why government offices only open about 10:00 or 10:30 in spite of the fact that this means you've lost the cool hours of the day and you're working in the worst hours of the heat. The reason for that is because in the early days the offices were all staffed by Brahmins, and Brahmins had to go through all their religious duties [before they started work].

Geoffrey Lamarque, Indian Civil Service: You find this [Indians wanting to be separate] in the Indians in Britain today. They're terribly clannish, they keep together, they have their own clubs, and nobody objects to this. And just the same in the days when we ruled India, you did want a place, certainly in the larger cities--it was only in the larger cities where this happened--where the Europeans could get together of an evening and, as it were, unwind and relax and criticize Indians in an uninhibited sort of way or talk about any subject they liked. There is a great gulf, certainly in north India, between Indians and Europeans in their whole backgrounds. If you did have Indians there it did inhibit conversation, the feeling of relaxation. The British are clubable people; they love going to a club and playing tennis and so forth. The Indians on the other hand find this slightly odd. The club is an entirely British invention. Indians don't naturally go to clubs the way we do--we did. So I don't think you can be too hard on the British, who paid for these places. I think that the mistake that we made, really, was that we didn't say, "All right, any Indian can come and join the club if he wants to," because I'm entirely certain nine out of ten Indians would never have bothered to come. All they wanted to know was that they could join if they wished, because they don't enjoy club life.

That's just a tiny sampling from the section called "Never the Twain" about British and Indian relationships. If you'd like to read more, the web address is:

*I've assumed that all this was credible since it's out of LSU, but I might be wrong....


Monday, October 18, 2004

William Blake

I have always found William Blake to be a fascinating artist, not just because he illustrated (with his own method) his works by hand, but because of his ideas about organized religion and the state, which I think made him far ahead of his time. He distrusted organized religion; indeed, he set up his own mythology (clearly seen in "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell") in which God is represented by Urizen, basically a tyrannt, and religion is the Tree which sends its roots deep into men's minds to imprison them. He believed in mysticism and that man knew God through personal revelation rather than religious teaching. I believe some of his ideas were solidified when he looked through a window to a meadow and had a "vision" of his dead brother. He was often considered a little mad by his contemporaries.

According to the Wikipedia Free Encyclopedia site,, "What he called his 'visions' were perhaps hallucinations, experiences that he allowed to guide his life. It was these that gave him such a strong and uncompromising belief in his own artistic direction." Still, his unique talent was pretty much ignored in his time, but was admired and copied by later poets, such as Yeats. And he has been popularized in the twentieth century by critics like Harold Bloom. His work is fascinating and has a dense and mystical quality that we don't often associate with 18th and early 19th century poets.

Friday, October 15, 2004

William Blake and Swedenborgian doctrine

While reading Ulysses, many of you may have noticed several references to the late 18th-century English poet William Blake. Blake's relationship to formal religious doctrine was highly antagonistic; one of the main goals of his poetic "prophecies" was to reappropriate Christian mythology and deploy it subversively within/as his own poetic framework. However, Blake did have some strong affiliations with more radical religious movements of his era, particularly the religious "cults" of Swedenborg and Mesmer (which in time would also be reprocessed via Blake's own myth). However, for those of you interested in Blake's early formal relation to these systems, a fine essay can be found on the topic at 'Romanticism on the Net.' Here's the link:


Bernard Shaw

All of this business about Eliot's conversion to Anglicanism made me think about Shaw. While Shaw never embraced a religion, that I know of, he did come around to his own sort of mysticism: the Life Force/Creative Evolution.

His take in Saint Joan on Joan of Arc deals with the Life Force, presenting Joan as kind of an embodiment of it.

Then again, I'm not sure how modernist Shaw considered himself or is considered to be, so his Life Force might not belong under the heading "Spirits of Modernity" (?).

Wednesday, October 06, 2004


Here is Sonnet 29, an interesting choice in that the narrator is frustrated by his life--he feels some kind of lack, until the couplet in which he realizes he wants no other life as long as this "you" is with him.
When in disgrace with fortune and men's eyes,
I all alone beweep my outcast state,
And trouble deaf Heaven with my bootless cries,
And look upon myself, and curse my fate,
Wishing me like to one more rich in hope,
Featur'd like him, like him with friends possess'd,
Desiring this man's art, and that man's scope,
With what I most enjoy contented least:
Yet in these thoughts myself almost despising,
Haply I think on thee,--and then my state
(Like to the lark at break of day arising
From sullen earth) sings hymns at heaven's gate;
For thy sweet love remember'd such wealth brings
That then I scorn to change my state with kings'.

And here is Yeats's poem "The Second Coming"
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; (HENCE the title of the Achebe novel)
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming!
Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Monday, October 04, 2004

Unavailable on the web, but a good article

"Bronze by Gold by Bloom: Echo, the Invocatory Drive, and the 'Aurteur' in 'Sirens'"
Susan Mooney
Found in Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce, ed. Sebastian Knowles

Mooney argues that the images of the mirror, shell, and piano tuner all create a setting conducive to echoes, the foundation of "Sirens." She spends little time discussing the first 64 lines I base the majority of my paper on, but she does look at the scene in which the word "echo" stands alone as a sentence. She plays with the language in that section as I play with it in the introduction. Her last sentence sums up her argument nicely. "Little pieces of the real--sounds and objects--are draped in language, and then that language is woven and rewoven and then worried away between one's ceaselessly seeking fingers, twisted and twined through one's cocked, shell-like, waiting ear (the unclosable orifice)" (239).

Friday, October 01, 2004

Annotated Bibliography

I know it is probably too late for these articles to help anyone else for Tuesday’s paper, but I hope you find them interesting. Unfortunately, I just found out that all of the formatting that made this a nice and neat bibliography seems to have disappeared, along with all of my web addresses, and I don't know how to get them back. If you want to know how I got these sources, let me know.

Fischer, Andrea. “Strange Words, Strange Music: The Verbal Music of ‘Sirens.’” Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce. Ed. Sebastian D.G. Knowles. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999. 245-262.
Fischer took a linguistic approach to “Sirens,” examining the intonation, rhythm, and signification inherent in both language and music and then applying it to specific passages in the episode. She particularly focused on the phrase “Bronze by Gold” and the repetition of the colors.

Rogers, Margaret. “Mining the Ore of ‘Sirens’: An Investigation of Structural Components.” Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce. Ed. Sebastian D.G. Knowles. New York: Garland Publishing, 1999. 263-275.
The bulk of Roger’s article was a detailed examination of the coding of “notes” in “Sirens” based on Renaissance system that had its roots in Pythagoras’s concept of music and mathematics. Rogers used the tools of cryptography to decode the episode and focused her analysis on the opening lines as the outline of the fugue, which she then encoded to correspond to musical notes and chords for her analysis.

Smith, Don Noel. “Musical Form and Principles in the Scheme of Ulysses.” Twentieth Century Literature, 18.2 (1972): 79-92. 25 Sep. 2004 . [J-Stor Database]
Smith used musical forms as his analogy to interpret the Ulysses and pointed to history of scholarship that uses musical concepts and terminology to analyze the work. The episodes were categorized into sections and then those sections were assigned musical forms based on the dominant themes and techniques of the chapters.

Hayman, David. “James Joyce, Paratactitian.” Contemporary Literature, 26.2 (1985): 155-178. 25 Sep. 2004 . [J-Stor Database]
Hayman analyzed Joyce’s use of parataxis, the subordination or coordination of clauses without an indication of connection in a text, across several works, including Ulysses and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

Heusel, Barbara Stevens. “Joyce and the Drama of Cognition: Escher as Visual Analogue.” Twentieth Century Literature, 34.4 (1988): 395-406. 25 Sep. 2004 . [J-Stor Database]
Heusel used M.C. Escher’s visual (and mathematically based) “tricks” to analyze several of Joyce’s works, including Ulysses and Stephen Hero, comparing Joyce’s verbal tricks with Escher’s visual ones to examine the way in which both manipulate audience reactions.

Zimmerman, Nadya. “Musical Form as a Narrator: The Fugue of the Sirens in James Joyce’s Ulysses.” Journal of Modern Literature, 26.1 (2002): 108-118. Literature Resource Center. Thomson Gale. Lehigh University Lib. 25 Sep. 2004 .
Zimmerman’s article is based on the evidence that Joyce himself indicated that “Sirens” was based on a fugal structure. Her detailed analysis was intended to move beyond the question of the success of Joyce’s translation from music to language and into issues of the impact of such an attempt, specifically looking at its effect on narratology.

Monday, September 27, 2004

Argentina / Joyce

I just wanted to share this link with you all.
This was a special event at my university last June. It was called Joyce's week. It lasted from June 22 to the 26. There were talks and movie screening. Unfortunately the papers are not online, but if you are really interested in one of the talks I may contact the speaker for you.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Mixed Genre (aka Multi-Genre) Works

In yesterday’s class, I mentioned that the “Sirens” episode of Ulysses reminded me of a proto-mixed-genre work, after which I realized that was an unfamiliar term to several people. I went looking on the web today for sites that might better explain what I meant by that. I wasn’t able to find exactly what I was looking for, since some people seem to call the type of work “mixed genre” and some “multi-genre.” I came across many online syllabi and course descriptions for writing courses that use mixed genre but not a lot of good descriptions or examples.

I’ve listed a few links below, for those who are interested, to at least get a flavor of what I was referring to. If I can figure out a way to get the mixed genre piece I wrote translated from Windows to Mac (and if I can find the disk), I will try to load that on here as well.

This website contains a manuscript of a mixed genre piece that is not as varied as some as I have seen but should give you an indication of what one can look like:

This site is much higher on the technology curve, utilizing advanced web techniques and visual rhetoric. It is also a bit explicit (matching, actually, fairly well with where we are in Ulysses). So be forewarned: This site is not for children:

This link will take you to a journal article describing a professor’s efforts to implement a multi-genre research paper (the page is a bit long but may also be of pedagogical interest as well):

Along the pedagogical track again, here is a “How-to” guide for putting together a multi-genre paper. It also includes a reference to one of my favorite compositionists of all time, Donald Murray:

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

The basilisk

Since I've always been unsure just what "the basilisk" is, when I saw it mentioned in chapter 9, I thought it would be a good time to look it up. What I found is that there are two basilisks--one is a real creature, the basilisk lizard, and the other is a mythological beast described in Pliny's Natural History written in 77 AD. In comparing the beast to another mythical creature called the catoblepas who had the power to kill people with its vision, Pliny writes that "The basilisk serpent also has the same power...not more than 12 inches long, and adorned with a bright white marking on the head like a sort of a diadem. . .It kills bushes not only by its touch but also by its breath, scorches up grass and bursts rocks. Its effect on other animals is disastrous; it is believed that once one was killed with a spear by a man on horseback and the infection rising through the spear rising [killed?] not only the rider but also the horse." The site I visited mentions that it is not often used in myths and stories; it continues to comment that its no wonder since it kills in so many ways and creates such a destructive path that the story would be over before it began. Interestingly enough, according to Pliny, "the venom of weasels is fatal" to the basilisk, so that often "they throw the basilisks into weasels' holes, which are easily known by the foulness of the ground, and the weasels kill them by their stench and die themselves at the same time." This I found to be an ignominious death for such a mysterious creature, yet a humorous one as well. Imagine, a beast who can "by its mere breath and glance...shrivel and cripple whatever comes its way, brought down by the stink of a rodent!
Stories of the creature can be found in the bible, although sometimes it is referred to as a "cockatrice" because of the method of its birth from "an egg laid during the days of the dog star sirius by a seven-year-old cock." Its birth is, then, "not part of a normal reproductive cycle, but is rather, a genetic fluke." This reminds me of Stephen's thoughts on "misbirth" along with other unusual instances of births gone wrong in Ulysses, like the woman who still had not delivered after three days of labor, and of course, Rudy's death as an infant of eleven days. In addition, it references the evil serpent in the garden that seduced Eve, the first mother.
In mentioning the basilisk in his text, Joyce is in the company of other great authors; the creature is mentioned in the works of Chaucer, Shakespeare, Coleridge, Keats, and Shelley.
It is a bit of a disappointment to find that the real basilisk lizard falls far short of its mythical counterpart: "When scared the little lizard runs away on its back legs. It can even run across water... [because] its feet have a very broad sole and fringe on its toes. However, it only works when the lizard runs fast, as it slows down it starts to go through the surface and then has to swim." No killingbreath here. So much for fantastic beings.
The sites I used are: and

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Joyce is humbling... (A link to an essay I wrote)

The essay I wrote on "The Pisgah Sight of Palestine" has actually been online for awhile, and I didn't know it.

The link is here. The journal it appeared in is called Semeia.

Let me know if you guys have any feedback or criticisms. I'm currently revising the essay for inclusion in my book on secularism.

Friday, September 10, 2004

Famous adulterers in “Aeolus”

The entry in Gifford’s Ulysses Annotated explaining the “onehandled adulterer” (7.1018) as referring to Admiral Nelson’s affair with Emma Hamilton reminded me that Emma has been alluded to in the first “adult” romance novel I read as a teenager and made me think that maybe Joyce was being a bit hard on this famous scandalous romance. [Boy is that a bad sentence... sorry for the passive voice.] Then when the text follows Stephen’s thoughts as they eventually wandered to Penelope Rich, with whom I wasn’t familiar, I began to wonder what connections and inferences we are supposed to be making between these two famous (or infamous) women and the narrative of Molly Bloom.

There seems to be a complicated path/formula from Stephen’s Parable to Bloom’s wife that goes something like this: Emma Hamilton (via Nelson’s statue) to Penelope (from The Odyssey) to Molly (via correspondence in Ulysses) to Penelope Rich (directly cited). Since Odysseus’s wife is the only non-adulterer in the mix, it made me think that she is just the bridge to get us to connect Molly to these other women.

Anyway, from my previous exposure to Emma’s story and from what Gifford wrote about Penelope Rich (7.1040), I realized that both these women Stephen considers were actually caught in unhappy marriages, yet famously found love and flouted convention to eventually find some sort of happiness. We will have to see how all this plays out with Molly Bloom but we have already seen that she is unhappy in her marriage (we think) and is having at least one affair.

All of this got me thinking about the real women, Emma and Penelope, and I did a bit more digging. I don’t have room to go into too much detail here but the gist of both their stories is the typical tale of a women forced into unpleasant marriages by financial circumstances and unscrupulous guardians. Where their stories are not so typical, though, is in their unwillingness to play along. Neither Emma nor Penelope, when they found someone else, made much of an attempt to hide their affairs and both were actually quite influential in their own positions. Both are famous for whom they loved but both also had quite a bit of power of their own.

Here is a quick summary of their lives, with links to websites that go into much greater detail:

Emma Hamilton
- Was the daughter of a blacksmith who was sent to be her future husband’s mistress by her guardian in exchange for the settlement of her guardian’s debts. Hence, she was essentially sold into being a courtesan (a step above a prostitute) but Sir William Hamilton did make it right by marrying her five years later (1791).
- Met Nelson in Naples in 1793 before he went to war (his ship was the Agamemnon, by the way).
- Nelson came back a famous war hero and a mangled mess—Emma nursed him back to health and made no secret of her devotion to him, even inviting 1800 guests to the 40th birthday party she threw for him on Naples.
- Nelson thought he was above the requirements to keep his marriage vows and Emma was too in love to care about hiding their relationship.
- Apparently, Nelson and Hamilton got along, with Nelson even going back to England with the couple when Hamilton was recalled in 1800. All three set up house together in 1803, causing quite a scandal.
- While Emma and Nelson are considered one of the great love stories of their time, Emma played a fairly significant role on her own: as a favorite among the Naples court, she acted as an intermediary between her husband, the British Envoy to Naples, and the Queen of Naples, influencing the role Naples played in the battles between England and France.

Quick summary of the Emma/Nelson affair:

Site is more focused on Nelson but there is a picture of Emma here:

A less flattering, but more socially constructed description of Emma:

Penelope Rich
- Member of Queen Elizabeth’s court and Elizabeth’s goddaughter.
- The “Stella” in Sir Philip Sidney’s Astrophel and Stella sonnet sequence (probably how Stephen knows of her).
- Had been betrothed to Sidney but when her father died, her guardian saw more financial gain in her marriage to Robert Rich. They were married, despite her objections, in 1581 when she was 18.
- Several other writers of the time wrote poems and songs about her.
- Finally obtained a divorce from Rich in 1605 by pleading adultery and married her true love, Charles Blount, Lord Mountjoy, with whom she had been having an open affair for many years.
- Her affair, divorce, and suspect remarriage (divorce was still a thorny issue) did not hurt her reputation on the court until Blount died. Then she was defamed as an adulterer, until her own death one year later.
- Had been defamed for years by scholars and critics until more recent research has looked past the rigid social customs and judgments of the time to put her life into a different perspective.

This is a comprehensive explanation of Penelope’s life as a member of the court, as well as her relations to the men of her time and includes a portrait of her.

Thursday, September 09, 2004

History of Kashrut and Bloom's "Jewishness"

Here are three links that may prove of some interest to those of you interested in exploring Bloom's relationship with Jewish dietary laws as well as his (and Joyce's) relationship with Judaism.




The first link is to a short article on Joyce's relationships with Jewish friends and some scholarship of the time relating to Jewish identity, particularly Weininiger's Sex and Character, which examines some prevailing ideas of Jewish self-hatred and misogyny.

The second link is a recent article from The Irish Times regarding conflicting debates over Bloom's Jewish identity.

The last link is a fairly general look at Jewish dietary laws and, of more interest to me, their history. In the eighth episode of Ulysses, Bloom references kosher custom in regard to hygiene (lines 750-755). One possible historical explanation of Kosher law links the creation of those laws with potential hygienic dangers of the period (for example, the fat content of pork may have led to physical illness). Another even more interesting hypothesis regarding the creation of Kashrut laws suggests that they were developed in order to separate (and thereby preserve through intermarriage) Jews from the general population through everyday customs (eating) and physical appearance (circumcision).

Sinn Fein

Knowing nothing about Irish history, I found out more about Sinn Fein, a political organization Bloom thinks about as he walks in Chapter 8, his thougts apparently jumping between Irish political movements (8. 458). Our annotated guide tells us that Bloom uses the term Sinn Fein to refer to an underground organization of the Irish Republican Brotherhood that "advocated that the Irish should. . . create their own [political and economic institutions]" and that although the creator of the organization (Arthur Griffith) did not have an underground military aim, many Irish republicans "rallied to Sinn Fein's cause" (170).

Sinn Fein, interestingly, is still a political force in Ireland today -- here's information I found on the official website:

Sinn Féin seeks the establishment of a new Ireland based on sustainable social and economic development; genuine democracy, participation, equality and justice at all levels of the economy and society; and a lasting and meaningful peace with unity of purpose and action.

--- Its objective is to end British rule in Ireland. It seeks national self-determination, the unity and independence of Ireland as a sovereign state.

--- Sinn Féin has a vision that sees beyond the present conflict and beyond the present phase of Irish history. The party's vision foresees the unity of the people of this island. It is a vision for the redistribution of wealth, for the well-being of the aged, for the advancement of youth, for the liberation of women and for the protection of Irish children. It is a vision for a free Ireland and a free people.

--- Sinn Féin is committed to its peace strategy.

--- Sinn Féin maintains its goal of a just and lasting peace as part of its agenda for change.
Elections continue to produce further gains for the party. In the Six Counties, Sinn Féin is the leading nationalist party.

There's a lot more on the website; I just chose what I thought was interesting. (


The Church of Ireland

At Dignam's funeral in Hades, I couldn't help but notice the mention of the Church of Ireland ("The service of the Irish church used in Mount Jerome is simpler, more impressive I must say."). The minor mention made me wonder which church, exactly, Mr. Kernan was referring to. The Gifford only describes it as the Irish counterpart to the Church of England, disestablished in 1869. I looked a little further into the matter and found that although the Church has been deprived of governmental support for over a century, it still exists today with 350,000 members throughout Ireland. Under the "Who We Are" section of their website (, the Church of Ireland:
  • is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion which has 70 million members in 164 countries.
  • is an apostolic church, maintaining an unbroken link with the early apostles and drawing on the apostolic faith in its teaching and worship.
  • is a Catholic and Reformed church.
  • is able to trace its roots to the earliest days of Irish Christianity.
  • is a church with three orders of sacred ministry - Bishops, Priests and Deacons.
  • has services which follow an accepted liturgical form and structure.
  • has one prayer book - The Book of Common Prayer (2004) - plus other services authorised for use by the General Synod.
  • keeps a balance in doctrine and worship between Word and Sacrament.
  • has the Holy Communion or the Eucharist as its central act of worship.
  • is one church embracing Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
  • has 350,000 members - 275,000 in Northern Ireland and 75,000 in the Republic of Ireland.
  • has two provinces, Armagh and Dublin, each with an Archbishop.
  • has 12 dioceses, 466 parochial units and 528 stipendiary clergy.
  • is a representative church, with each diocese electing those who will represent them at the General Synod, the 'Parliament' of the church.
  • has in its General Synod a House of Bishops which has 12 members and a House of Representatives which has 216 clergy and 432 laity.
  • also has Diocesan Synods where representatives of the parishes meet usually once a year.
  • has a parochial system where decisions at local level are made by Select Vestries whose lay members are elected each Easter by the people of the parish.

What was most interesting in their description of themselves (to me, at least) was the sublink on the Church of Ireland being both a Catholic and Reformed church-they seem to be able to look to a blend of the two religions to form the basis of their Church, which is definitely a different approach to matters.

Rawhead and bloody bones

When Bloom is walking to Davy Byrne's pub and thinking along the meat-is-murder lines, the phrase "Rawhead and bloody bones" pops into his head (8.726). Ulysses Annotated notes that this is a "nightmare figure out of Irish folklore invoked to frighten children into obedience" (179). Here he is in the flesh, peeking out of a cabinet:

Seems like it might make a good Halloween costume.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Carmelite order

Our Lady of Mt. Carmel and the Carmelite order

Perhaps because I went to Little Flower High School, named in honor of St Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897) herself a carmelite nun, the exchange between Bloom and the carmelite nun interested me. In his gloss of the feast of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Gifford states that it celebrates the founding of the Carmelite order in Syria in 1156. However, he doesn't mention, and I didn't know, that the original order consisted only of men, while the second order, of nuns, was not founded until 1452. The expanded history of the Carmelites can be found at the Catholic Encyclopedia site However, there is a much shorter version on the Carmelite Nuns in Great Britain's website.
According to this site, "Until the 15th century the Order consisted only of friars, priests and lay brothers, although there were several groups of pious women living according to the Carmelite spirit. The Second Order, of nuns, was founded in 1452 by Blessed John Soreth, Prior General of the Order who also founded the Secular Order of Carmel for lay people." All this can be found at In addition, despite its long history of priests and friars, the order is most known for its nuns, especially its two major saints, the Little Flower and St. Teresa of Avila. In the 16th century, St. Teresa of Avila reformed the order of women from a mendicant order to a contemplative one--cloistered. So, I question whether Bloom would have talked to the nun face to face since the rules of the cloister would have prohibited it. He most likely would have spoken to her through a wooden grate (which wouldn't allow him much of a glimpse of her face) and it most likely would have been with the Prioress and not a young nun.

Yom Kippur

Maybe all of you already know a lot about this holiday, its origins and traditions, but I was interested in finding more about Yom Kippur, the most sacred of the Jewish holidays, the "Sabbath of Sabbaths."
I'll just mention the five prohibitions of Yom Kippur:
  1. eating and drinking
  2. anointing with perfumes or lotions
  3. marital relations
  4. washing
  5. wearing leather shoes

I guess it'll be interesting to have it in mind each time it's mentioned in the book. I found a very interesting site if you want to learn more about it:

Christian Burial

The note about burial customs (and a conversation with my girlfriend this weekend about the oddity of putting people in the ground) sent me to the Catholic Encyclopedia online. After wading through the 18 pages, I can offer you these highlights and points of interest.
1) Every man is free to choose his burial ground. If he dies without stating his choice, he is to be buried in the ground of his parish.
2) Originally no fee could be exacted for burial without simony (the buying or selling of a church office or ecclesiastical preferment).
3) Only baptized persons can have a Christian burial. The following are to be excluded: pagans, Jews, infidels, heretics, schismatics, apostates, those excommunicated, those who commit suicide (see Ophelia’s burial), those who have been killed in a duel (I swear it says it), notorious sinners who die without repentance, those who hold sacraments in contempt, and monks and nuns who are found in the possession of money of valuables.
4) The above rule has become more lenient over time; the bishop can decide if an exception can be made.
5) An interval should be observed after the death to ensure the person is really dead.
6) There are no special prayers associated with the washing of the corpse.
7) The clergy must be buried in their ecclesiastical costume.
8) When the body is taken to the church, a bell is to be tolled (this tolling is absent in the burial of a child—instead there should be joyous peals or no bell at all).
9) The feet of a layman’s corpse are to be turned toward the altar; alternately, a priest’s head should face the altar.
10) Several readings are to occur at the mass, including readings from the Book of Job (the sufferering of man’s lot is contrasted with the unalterable trust in God).
11) If one is buried on a Holy Day, then mass need not be said.
12) There is no kiss of peace at the funeral mass.
The absolution follows the mass and should never be omitted. "O God, Whose attribute it is always to have mercy and to spare, we humbly present our prayers to Thee for the soul of Thy servant N. which Thou has this day called out of this world, beseeching Thee not to deliver it into the hands of the enemy, nor to forget it for ever, but to command Thy holy angels to receive it, and to bear it into paradise; that as it has believed and hoped in Thee it may be delivered from the pains of hell and inherit eternal life through Christ our Lord. Amen."
13) The body is then carried to the grave in a procession.
14) The final petition is "May his soul and the souls of all the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace."
15) At a child’s funeral, all should wear white, including the priest.
16) Children are to be born in a special section of the cemetery.
17) The special prayer for children is "Almighty and most compassionate God, Who upon all little children that have been born again in the fountain of Baptism, when they leave this world without any merits of their own, straightway bestowest everlasting life, as we believe that Thou has this day done to the soul of this little one, grant we beseech Thee, O Lord, by the intercession of Blessed Mary ever Virgin and of all Thy saints, that we also may serve Thee with pure hearts here below and may consort eternally with these blessed little ones in paradise, Through Christ our Lord, Amen."
18) A cross without a handle is carried to symbolize an incomplete life.

This information (and much, much more) can be found at