Chapter 12, Part 2
Lecture Fifteen -- Citizen Cyclops, Il
(from "Joyce's Ulysses" by Professor James A.W. Hefferman of Dartmouth College)
The previous lecture treated the narrative of chapter 12 and its
reenactment of what happens in the Cyclops episode of Homer’s
epic; this lecture will focus on interpolated passages-32 in all-
that break up the tone and style of the narrative. While the
unnamed narrator talks his way through the chapter, telling us all
that is said and done in a colloquial diction, the interpolated
passages are conspicuously written in a variety of styles meant to
parody particular kinds of writing. This lecture shows how the
work of the unnamed parodist pops the balloon of Irish
nationalism and reveals the folly of our own impulse to magnify
Bloom beyond his all-too-human proportions.
I. In chapter 12, the parodic intrusions spring from the restlessness of
Joyce’s imagination, his unrelenting quest to find new perspectives on
the action and conversation of his characters.
A. The speaking voice of the original narrator is interrupted 32 timesby a rival narrator-a parodist.1. This rival narrator is clearly a writer, not a talker.
2. Because the rival narrator works in a variety of styles thatparody various kinds of writing, he is commonly called theparodist.B. The parodist offers yet another perspective on the action of this
chapter.1. From the outset, the narrator makes us see Bloom in a newway-through the eyes of a man who scorns all Jews.
2. When the narrator mocks a Jewish merchant for demandingpayment of a debt, the parodist apes the formal language of alawsuit-comically overstating the gravity of the debt.
II. To reveal the fatuity of Irish revivalism, the parodist reconstructs the
contemporary figures in this chapter as gigantic heroes of medieval
epic Written in “translatorese.”
A. As the citizen and the narrator head for the pub, the parodist turnsthe pub into a “shining palace” in a lovely land.1. The Irish revivalists have repeatedly called for a national epic,but the parodist shows us how ridiculous such an epic wouldbe: a museum piece of nationalistic propaganda.
2. The parody exposes the difference between the dead languageof translators (translatorese) and the living language of thenovel-the language spoken by contemporary men andwomen of Ireland.B. The gigantic heroes of the parody reveal the whole revivalist
enterprise as a gigantic balloon just waiting to be popped.1. In linking the loudmouthed, belligerent citizen with therevivalist tendency to inflate old Irish heroes, the parody alsolinks those heroes to the stupidity of Homer’s one-eyed giant.
2. The huge list of would-be Irish heroes and heroines in theparody includes many who are not Irish at all, but who areused to mock the extravagance of the claims that revivalistsmake.
III. The parodies chiefly take aim at patriotism, romantic fantasy, and
A. A would-be newspaper report on Garryowen, the citizen’s dog,reports that he can recite verse that sounds like Old Irish poetryThis, of course, implies that Old Irish poetry sounds like thegrowling of a dog.
B. The parodist mocks the legend of Robert Emmet, the doomed
martyr to Irish nationalism, and especially Emmet’s “last farewell”
to his fiancee before he was executed. In the parody, the execution
becomes a gloriously sentimental farce played out for a huge
audience of tearful spectators and culminating in the moment when
Emmet’s fiancée accepts a proposal from a handsome young
IV. Inflation drives most of the parodies. Simple actions or statements are
recast in the grand old light of Irish legend or blown up into major
A. When Alf Bergan appears, the parodist calls him a “godlikemessenger. . .radiant as the eye of heaven.”
B. When the citizen demands that the trees of Ireland be saved, the
parodist reports a grand wedding of a forest ranger with Miss Fir
Conifer of Pine Valley.
C. When Martin Cunningham says, “God bless all here” as he orders
a drink at the pub, the parodist describes a vast procession of
deacons, abbots, monks, and so on, all heading toward the pub to
D. When the citizen throws the biscuit box at Bloom, the parodist
describes a catastrophe equal to an earthquake.
V. The parodist also ridicules the speeches of Bloom, including his
advocacy of love.
A. When Bloom claims that a hanged man’s erection is a “naturalphenomenon,” the parodist mockingly treats him as a distinguishedscientist.1. Bloom’s explanation is correct, but we know from otherexamples that his command of scientific phenomena is shaky.
2. The parodist makes fun of his implied pretensions to scientificauthority here.B. When Bloom advocates love as an alternative to hatred and
persecution, the parodist mockingly pretends that love is universal.1. The passage offers a long list of people who love others.
2. But the passage makes no claim that any of these loves isrequited -- or legitimate.
3. Also, its threadbare claim that “God loves everybody” hasalready been contradicted by the drunken Bob Doran, who hascalled God a “bloody ruffian” for taking the life of PaddyDignamC. Hence, the parody raises a question; Can Bloom’s declaration that
love is essential to life withstand the parodist’s withering blast of
sarcasm? The answer is yes--for several reasons.1. Unlike the citizen, Bloom doesn’t blind himself to anything-including the nightmare of history.
2. Bloom manifests his sincerity in the simplicity and bluntnessof his language. He speaks without grandiloquence orpretense.
3. Though Joyce may have wished to hide his own belief in theredemptive power of love behind a mask of mockery,mockery can’t kill the message. If love is the only alternativeto force and hatred, it will prevail against everything-evenridicule.D. The final parody of the chapter mocks our own impulse to see
Bloom as the reincarnation of Elijah, heroically speaking truth to
power1. Having seen Bloom stand up to the citizen, we may concludethat the modern Elijah is not the Streetwise preacher advertisedby the throwaway but, rather, Leopold Bloom.
2. But in the parodist’s account of Bloom borne to heaven asElijah, Bloom ends up in earthbound form-like a bit of dirtthrown by a shovel.
Nunes, “Beyond the ‘Holy See' "
Questions to Consider:
1. Why does the parodist hold up Bloom to ridicule-since he is already
being ridiculed and scorned by the narrator?
2. What do the parodies tell us about Joyce’s conception of his own
relation to the Irish Revival?