Len Platt, ‘Corresponding with the Greeks: An Overview of Ulysses as an Irish Epic’, in James Joyce Quarterly, 36, 3 (Spring 1999), pp.507-23.

The encounter between Joyce and the Irish Literary Revival would be interesting if it were limited to the story of Stephen Dedalus but of marginal significance. [1] The larger claim made here is much more substantial: that Ulysses is constructed in opposition to revivalist historiographies and aesthetics. National culture thus becomes exposed in Ulysses as an ideology and as a cultural appropriation faking authentic ethnicity. This exposure penetrates to the basic design elements and structural principles of Ulysses. I would stress that Joyce’s assault is not a rejection of nationalism per se [2] but rather a displacement of very specific nationalist forms that are, in Joyce’s reproduction, both reactionary and Anglicized. At the same time, revivalist culture does seem to permeate all the nationalist discourses available to Joyce - from W. B. Yeats through Arthur Griffith to David Patrick Moran. For Joyce, Irish national culture, however much it was redefined by new generations of Catholic intelligentsia, remained an invention of landlord consciousness.

To demonstrate the intimate implication of revivalism in the fundamentals of Ulyssean design, this essay reads the Ulysses blueprints, the schemas, as the formulation of a literary strategy that engages the conservative and Anglicized nature of revivalism. These elaborate plans seem to insist on the epic status of Joyce’s book, apparently authenticating its canonical status by establishing a relationship with the premier text of the premier Western culture. In the reading that follows, however, Homeric correspondence, both as a scheme and as it is executed in Ulysses, will be presented as a satirical abduction of a traditional cultural practice. This practice united revivalist Ireland with Victorian and Edwardian England and so provides a very clear illustration of the Anglicized terms in which the Literary Revival expressed itself.

Homeric correspondence is absolutely central to the design to Ulysses. It is explicit, if problematized, in the Romanized title of the book and embedded in the various columnar schemas that Joyce [507] made available to key figures in the very early days of Joyce studies [3] to Herbert Gorman, the first Joyce biographer; to Stuart Gilbert, who wrote the first full-length study of Ulysses; and to Carlo Linati, the Italian critic. [4] In these schemas, the tripartite division of Joyce’s book into “Telemachia,” “Odyssey,” and “Nostos” is, of course, Homeric. Each episode of Joyce’s novel corresponds to an Odyssean event. All the columns in the schemas are referred in some way to the prototype text, with the single exception of an anti-epic column denoting the time of day in which each episode takes place. In the “symbol” designations, the symbol for “Telemachus” is “heir”; for “Nestor,” it is “horse”; for “Proteus,” “tides”; and for “Calypso,” “nymph.” Some of the “art” designations are similarly Homeric. The art of “Circe” is “magic,” for instance. In a similar way, the “organ” listings have “lungs” representing “Aeolus” and the “ear” representing “Sirens.” The “technic” designations include “gigantism” for “Cyclops” and “narcissism” for “Lotus Eaters.” The “correspondence” column itself, which was omitted in the version published in Gilbert’s James Joyce’s “Ulysses” but restored in Hugh Kenner’s Dublin ’s Joyce, is particularly insistent on Homeric linkage. [5] This column identifies both the transparent, where Stephen corresponds to Telemachus and Mulligan to Antinous, for instance, and the ingenious, like the resonant correspondences in “Wandering Rocks” between the Bosporus and the Liffey, the Viceroy and “the European Bank,” and Conmee and “the Asiatic Bank.” All in all, the columnar schemas insist on a central intertextuality, driving Ulysses at a very wide range of levels. This elaborate ghosting has been read in many ways, and there is still no real agreement about the overall effect of its execution in Ulysses, about whether this “epic” is entirely mock or whether there is a real mythopoeic waiting to be discovered. Some critics have regarded Homeric correspondence in purely formalist terms as a “scaffold” or a “framework” on which to peg modernist material that is incompatible with traditional structuring. [6] The precise meaning of “correspondence” is by no means established, but it should be uncontentious that Homeric epic is essential to Ulysses, if only because the schemas with their compelling provenance insist on this much. [7]

The concern here is not with any further identification of Homeric parallels in Ulysses but rather with an understanding of how Joyce recognizes and interrogates Homeric correspondence as a cultural practice. The focus is not on the reproduction of Homer in Ulysses but on Ulysses as a self-conscious participant in the process of Homeric correspondence. If we take Homeric analogy as a synecdoche for correspondence with classical Greek culture generally and the schemas, with their wider references to Plato and Aristotle, are partially consistent with such a view, then Joyce’s diagram becomes in some sense [508] an exposed product of the paramount status that classical Gree cu ture has in western historiography. Joyce’s schemas are in relation to Gerty MacDowell’s “Greekly perfect” mouth and to the statuary of shapely goddesses so admired by Bloom: “curves the world admires” (U 13.89, 8.921). The Joycean diagram itself is the sort of cultural object that would hold Bloom’s attention, precisely because of its pseudoclassicism. Bloom could identify with Joyce’s schemas just as he identifies with the bedroom print of “The Bath of the Nymphs” (U 4.369). This giveaway from Photo Bits is not only titillation but also a prestigious “masterpiece” (U 4.370). The “[n]aked nymphs” are, in Bloom’s lame justification, evocative of “ Greece : and for instance all the people that lived then” (U 4.372-73, 373). For Bloom, as for Buck Mulligan and Professor McHugh, classical Greek is “the language of the mind”; it carries the very “radiance of the intellect (U 7.564, 563). It gives us long obscure words like “[m]etempsychosis,” a word that is not just Greek but “from the Greek” (U 4.339, 341). Bloom, like many characters in Ulysses, practices correspondence with the Greeks (indeed, he reminds himself to write “Greek ees” in his secret correspondence with Martha Clifford, partly as disguise but partly to impress - U 11.860), and this is the sure sign of a cultured man - although Mulligan’s suggestion that he is “Greeker than the Greeks” (U 9.614-15) carries very different connotations. Conversely, the barbarian is identified in terms of distance from the Greek prototype of civilized culture, which is why Stephen’s surname is, in Mulligan’s estimation, a “mockery”: “ - Your absurd name, an ancient Greek!” (U 1.34). In Ulysses, the culture of classical Greece provides the model of civilization. Characters aspire to embrace it, however peripherally, and they contextualize their own social status and even their physical appearance against it.

Hellenization can easily be identified as a cultural process that is ridiculed as pretension in Ulysses. At the same time, Ulysses is loudly announced as an overdone exemplification of the very correspondence that it ridicules. For those readers who think that, by shadowing Homer, Ulysses is somehow showing deference to cultural tradition, there is an obvious problem here. It would be difficult to accept that Ulysses mocks the ridiculous cultural aspirations of its characters, only to exercise its own authentic classical parentage. The argument that I want to elaborate, however, is that far from deferring to the “precursors” of western cultural tradition, and “advancing beyond them into the literature of the future” [8] in some continuum of cultural excellence, Ulysses exposes the ideological basis of literary value; to a very significant degree, it does so through a highly subversive practice of “correspondence.”

The word “correspondence” means communication by letter, but [509] more importantly for our purposes, it also refers to congruity or agreement, a kind of relation between persons or communities. It is in this latter sense that “correspondence” is particularly suggestive of cultural process. The word registers a long history by which Homeric epic has been constructed as the “crown of creative achievement in the history of European literature from the days of ancient Greeks to modern times.”‘ [9] here is perhaps no other text, with the exception of the Bible, that better illustrates the politics of literary culture, the nationalistic and hegemonic basis of conceptions of literary value. Ironically, establishing correspondence with Homeric epic, far from being characteristically Joycean or even modernist, has been a deeply conservative cultural practice probably since the earliest transference of oral culture into the printed word. The first attempt at collecting and recording the tales that make up the Odyssey is usually regarded by classicists as the work of “a declining ruling class looking not to the future but back over the years to a more glorious past.” [10] In a remarkable correspondence to the makers of Ireland’s own cultural revival, these Athenians of the eighth century B.C. have been understood as displaced “emigres,” looking back through the story where the motif of “return” is so fundamental to “the greatest exploits of the days when their adventurous Achean ancestors were united and masters of the world.” [11] According to an influential literary historiography, literature starts with the writing down of the Homeric epic, in which case literature starts with correspondence. The first written version of the Odyssey is itself hegemonic and revivalist - an assertion of cultural relatedness to a much earlier culture. [12]

The Roman variety of Homeric epic also reformulates in directly political ways. The Aeneid both appropriates and transforms Homeric epic; Virgil’s poetic imitation of the Iliad and the Odyssey adapts the aesthetic power of the Homeric prototype to “fuel the ambitions of imperial power.” [13] In this decisive intervention, epic becomes “committed to imitating and attempting to ‘overgo’ its early versions”; it becomes “overtly political,” according to David Quint (44). Quint continues, with the following arguments: “Virgil’s epic is tied to a specific national history, to the idea of world domination, to a monarchial system, even to a particular dynasty... Epics of the Latin West subsequently took political issues as central subjects, whether they perpetuated the imperial politics of the Aeneid, or, as in the case of Pharsalia, sought to attack or resist empire” (45).

Andrew Fichtian, in an interesting essay entitled “The Dynastic Epic,” also sees the dynastic theme, “the rise of the imperium, the noble house, race, or nation to which the poet professes allegiance,” as central to the development of epic and argues that this produces a centrally defining characteristic: [510]

The dynastic theme ... brings into focus what must be considered one of the most basic elements of epic from Virgil onward, its consciousness of history. The narrative strategy of the dynastic poem reflects the assumption of a historically orientated mind that the present may be regarded as the culmination of a course of events set in motion in the past.. ... The dynastic poet is an analyst of historical experience. [14]

The connection between “correspondence” and cultural politics has been transmitted in every assimilation of Homeric epic since Virgil. Alexander Pope’s neoclassical translations, for instance, and translation is precisely correspondence, display a standard of correctness in style that owes much more to a declining English aristocracy clinging to redundant and romantic aristocratic traditions than it does to the Greek prototype. [15] The contention here is that the centrality of Homeric correspondence in Joyce’s schema is the emphatic signal of his consciousness of these cultural dynamics. The identification between Ulysses and Homer is not, as some critics have suggested, a subscription to the premier culture of civilized Europe but rather the exact opposite: a hilarious subversion of the tortuous academic and creative practices by which both the English and the Irish establishments attempted to “correspond” with a culture that for Gilbert Murray embodied “the progress of the human race.” [16] In order to establish this argument, it is necessary to examine the Homeric incarnations that most influenced Joyce. I am referring here not to the “fringe” contributions to Homeric study, like Victor Bérard’s Les Phéniciens et “L’Odyssée” and Samuel Butler’s, The Authoress of the “Odyssey.” [17] These were important to Joyce because they decentered the cultural orientation of the Odyssey, Bérard by a racial shifting that linked Homer with an Orientalist Middle East as opposed to the civilized West and Butler because The Authoress of the Odyssey feminized authorship. However, it was Joyce’s sense of the orthodox correspondence that confirmed the importance of the likes of Bérard and Butler, and Joyce was exposed to this orthodoxy, in my opinion, through three main sources: first, through nineteenth-century English scholastic investment in classical studies, represented here largely by Murray’s course of lectures given at Harvard University; second, through Matthew Arnold’s important cultural realignments in Culture and Anarchy and in On the Study of Celtic Literature; [18] and third, from the context of the Irish Literary Revival itself, which was nothing short of obsessive in its own insistence on correspondence with the Greeks. This version of relatedness to classical Greek culture, so highly profiled in Joyce’s immediate cultural environment, was undoubtedly the single most important influence on Joyce. That it owed so much to Oxford academics is an irony ruthlessly, exploited in [511] Joyce’s own appropriation of correspondence.

Education in nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century England is usually represented as modernizing under the demands of England’s own industrial development and, later in the century, from the pressure of economic competition from Japan, Germany, and America. This is the age of technical and scientific “instruction,” particularly at higher-education levels, and it was accompanied by a concerted attack on liberal education and the classics. [19] There was, however, a strong resistance to these developments throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, which staunchly defended liberal ideals of education. The classics departments at Oxford and Cambridge were formidable centers of this response. As late as 1900, the number of “pass men” at Cambridge was still half the undergraduate population of England, and the prestige degrees continued to be classics ones from Oxford and pure mathematics and classics from Cambridge .

The defenders of this traditional curriculum, who included such luminaries as Edward Copleston, John Henry Newman, and Arnold, constructed western “progress” as a continuum of liberal humanist culture that had its origins and its most potent models in classical Greece and Rome. Murray, who became Regius Professor of Greek at Oxford in 1908, is a late exemplar of this tradition. His Rise of the Greek Epic, which developed from the Harvard lectures and which reached its fourth edition by 1934, begins with the assertion that the Greek epic embodies “the spirit of progress” that he defines as “both feeling the value and wonder of life and being desirous to make it a better thing” (26). He continues, saying that the origins of “progress,” the “seeds of Western culture,” are mostly “to be found in Greece and not elsewhere” (3). This status is demonstrated most potently in Murray’s construction of the value of classical Greek poetry, although the impact of the prototype culture is felt everywhere, in medical science (through Galen and Hippocrates), philosophy, ethics, and physical culture. But Murray ’s rigorous research, which is presented as a “scientific” demonstration of absolute cultural value, produces deeply ideological readings. His complete refutation of the notion that Hellenism was pagan, to take the most obvious illustration, is profoundly racist and Eurocentric:

Anthropologists have shown us what this Pagan man really is. From the West Coast of Africa to the Pacific Isles in many varying shapes he meets us, still with the old gaiety, the old crowns of flowers, the nightlong dances, the phallus-bearing processions, and untroubled vices. We feel, no doubt, a charm in his simple and instinctive life, in the quick laughter and equally quick tears, the directness of action, the unhesitating response of sympathy. We must all of us have wished from time to [512] time that our friends were more like Polynesians; especially those of us that live in University towns. And I think, in a certain limited sense, the Greeks probably were so. But in the main, as all classical literature shows, the Greeks and the Pagan were direct opposites. (9)

This linkage between the modern West and archaic Greece is illustrative of a correspondence that echoes throughout Murray ’s work. As he sees it, studying Greek poetry removes the distance and difference between Cambridge classics students and Homer because “the differences lie largely in the accident of our own remoteness” (10). There is, according to Murray, a liberal affinity between democratizing England and classical Greece - the Greeks did keep slaves, but they were “characteristically the first human beings who felt a doubt or scruple about slavery”; “gentleness to the slave population” was part of their “democratic ideal” (17). Homer, writes Murray, “always speaks of slaves with a half puzzled tenderness” (17). Similarly “the Greeks were not characteristically subjectors of women” (19). But perhaps the most significant correspondence is derived from a different kind of political extrapolation. The study of the classics was generally fundamental to the elitism of university education at this time. It was taken for granted that Latin and Greek were necessary for admission into university, which meant that only the products of a small number of schools were eligible for admission. The content of the classics, Plato’s classical defense of government by elites, for instance, reinforced what was fundamental to the educational system. For Murray, Plato, like Aristotle, is “somewhat anti-democratic,” but this becomes a product of “commonsense” and pragmatism, for “some men are born to obey, others to rule. Put down a dozen Greeks in a barbarous country: in a few months you will find the Greeks giving orders and the natives obeying them” (17).

Correspondences, constructed to underwrite an ideology of western “progress” and centrally connected to issues of class and power, were embedded in academic work on the classics at this time. The translation of the Odyssey that Joyce himself used, by S. H. Butcher and A. Lang, which has the wonderful title of “The Odyssey” of Homer: Done Into English Prose, was produced by a collaboration between Butcher, an Anglo-Irish academic, one-time fellow of Trinity College, and later Professor of Greek in the University of Edinburgh, and Lang, who held a Hon. LL.D from St. Andrews. [20] It too makes a heavy investment in correspondence, asserting, with no basis whatsoever, that “[t]he epics are stories about the adventures of men living in most respects like the men of our own race” (vii) and producing connections that bring together the two key texts of western culture through a totally spurious linguistic parallel: “Greek epic dialect, like [513] the English of our Bible, was a thing of slow growth and composite nature, … it was never a spoken language, nor, except for certain poetical purposes, a written language. Thus the Biblical English seems as nearly analogous to the Epic Greek, as anything that our tongue has to offer” (ix).

It is sometimes remarked that there are correspondences in the Joyce schemas that are wilfully obscure, like the identification made between Cyril Sargent and Pisistratus or the cocklepickers and Megapenthus or Martin Cunningham and Sisyphus or John Henry Menton and Ajax . But these and similar obscurities could well be read as wickedly comic appropriations of a customary process, correspondent to the extraordinarily obtuse connections made between modern England and, as we shall see, Ireland and ancient Greece as standard practice in the classical studies of the time.

Arnold ’s Hellenizing agenda, the second of the contexts under discussion, was well known to Joyce, and it is evident from Ulysses that he attached particular significance to Arnold . The specific association between Arnold, Oxford, and Mulligan’s elitist Hellenizing proposal in “Telemachus” very clearly establishes correspondence, in the opening pages of Ulysses, as a hegemonic cultural practice. Moreover, the whole Jew/Greek pattern in Ulysses is itself in exploitative correspondence with Arnold ’s dialectical treatment of class, race, and culture in Culture and Anarchy. Something of the character of the subversion can be seen in “Circe,” the episode where Arnold ’s face is featured as a ghostly presence in a brothel and where his elegant homily to “Hebraism” and “Hellenism,” the two most powerful constituents of culture and civilization in Arnold ’s account, is reduced to the crass formulation “Jewgreek is greekjew” (U 15.2097-98). All this indicates that Arnold was important for Joyce, his consequence determined partly by Arnold ’s prominence in the liberal tradition outlined above but also by the significant divergences from the mainstream orthodoxy in Arnold ’s thinking. These divergences are clearly illustrated in Arnold ’s controversial evaluation of ancient Irish culture. Arnold, like Murray, recreates classical Greece as the prototype culture of civilization: “The best art and poetry of the Greeks, in which religion and poetry are one, in which the idea of beauty and of human nature perfect on all sides adds to itself a religious and devout energy,” produces the “surpassing interest and instructiveness” of the classics (Culture 54). However, for Arnold, materialist Victorian England has become adrift from congruency with this ideal. England is the supreme exemplar of “progress”: “no people in the world have done more and struggled more to attain moral perfection than our English race has” (Culture 55). But it has achieved this elevated state under the direction of Puritanism and Protestant Nonconformism, [514] cultural forces that Arnold claims are correspondent with another ancient prestige culture: Hebraic culture. The English “tendency” to “over-Hebraise” has produced a “provincial” and “narrow” religiosity and a culture that Arnold sees regretfully as being “mechanical” and “external” (Culture 49). In Arnold ’s analysis, the new middle-class rulers of England have displaced Hellenic “spontaneity of conscience” by a Hebraic “strictness of conscience” (Culture 132). Hellenism’s characteristic perception of “things in their essence and beauty” has been usurped by Hebraism’s consciousness of “sin” (Culture 135). The new imperative is for England to reconnect with “spontaneity” and “imagination,” and, curiously, there is the suggestion, in Arnold ’s Study of Celtic Literature, that the literary heritage of the Irish Celt has something to teach the materialist middle classes of Victorian England in this respect (Study 86). Although Arnold identifies the “Celtic Irish” in traditionally racist terms as “undisciplinable, anarchial and turbulent by nature,” “ineffectual in politics,” and “poor, slovenly and half barbarous” (Study 86, 84), he also locates, in Gaelic literature, an eloquence and delicacy, an ardent aspiration “after life, light and emotion, to be expansive, adventurous and gay” that strikes precisely the Hellenic note (Study 81). This absurd piece of mystification arrives at an astonishing correspondence: “the Greek has the same perceptive, emotional temperament as the Celt” (Study 82).

The Literary Revival’s obsessive alignment of Gaelic culture with Greek culture was distinct from Arnold ’s version of analogue in some key respects. Yeats, who connected Arnold with the degradation of “classical moralityl” [21] saw parallels of aristocratic action, energy, heroism, and valor that are inconsistent with Arnold ’s identification of a more humble and less dangerous “lightness” and gaiety. But Arnold did identify Celticism with Hellenism. Moreover, there were compelling ideological similarities between the Oxford and Anglo-Irish intellectuals resisting a modernization that was reshaping both societies. In both instances, cultural retrospection reestablishes the authority of the elites; in both, tradition is privileged over innovation and continuity over change. The irony of England ’s most eminent cultural theorist massaging the basic Greek/Irish correspondence was one further illustration of the essentially Anglicized nature of revivalism in Ireland .

In Ireland, as in England, establishing correspondence with classical Greece was routine. In fact, cultural nationalists in all countries, certainly from the French Revolution onwards, have made claims for indigenous cultural status on the basis of classical parallels and correspondences. In Napoleonic France and Risorgimento Italy, for example, the prototype culture was classical Rome . In Ireland, it was [515] emphatically classical Greece, partly because, as the “authorized” version of history stated so unequivocally, Rome bypassed Ireland, and this explained everything. According to David Hume’s History of England, “The Irish from the beginning of time, had been buried in the most profound barbarism and ignorance; and as they were never conquered or even invaded by the Romans, from whom all the Western World derived its civility, they continued still in the most rude state of society.” [22]

In Irish cultural nationalism, this historiography was turned on its head. Rome was identified with a vulgar and brutalizing materialism, correspondent with empire and England, as it is, in a rare and perhaps unique convergence, throughout Joyce’s writing. The culture of the Gael, on the other hand, is wild, exuberant, “spiritual.” In his crucial “discovery” of Gaelic historical epic, Standish O’Grady disinterred a rough but passionate core, not just correspondent with but actually surpassing classical Greece:

I cannot help regarding this age and the great personages moving therein as incomparably higher in intrinsic worth than the corresponding ages of Greece. In Homer, Hesiod, and the Attic poets there is polish and artistic form, absent in the existing monuments of Irish heroic thought, but the gold, the ore itself, is here massier and more pure, the sentiment deeper and more tender, the audacity and freedom more exhilarating, the reach of the imagination more sublime, the depth and the power of the human soul more fully exhibit themselves. [23] (my emphasis)

From O’Grady onwards, the correspondence between Ireland and ancient Greece became a standard feature of revivalist rhetoric. In populist histories, the ancient Greeks actually discovered Ireland and deified it. The “imaginative Greeks,” a thousand years before Christ, carried out an expedition to “the Sacred Isle” and “yielding to that clinging belief in some blessedness as yet unattained, which, too easily attracted by earth, droops its wearied head towards any spot that is hallowed by distance, conceived that here were situated the Elysian fields.” [24]

According to James W. Flannery, Yeats’s linkage with an earlier Anglo-Irish incarnation of the Irish heroic age was powered by an identification with Homeric images of “savage strength,” “tumultuous action,” and “overshadowing doom”: a vanquished world in which “the soul had only to stretch out its arms and fill them with beauty,” one that Yeats set against the modern world “of whirling change and heterogenous ugliness.” [25]

Flannery believes that the image of “classical Greece,” where “civilisation rose to its highest mark,” “haunted Yeats’s imagination” (62). The Irish Literary Theatre, he continues, was designed to emulate [516] Dionysian and Eleusinian models, as a means of effecting the spiritual regeneration “in the body public of Ireland ” (65); “[w]ith the theatre of ancient Greece in mind, Yeats thought constantly of Homer” (66). Yeats also dreamed of “creating some new Prometheus Unbound, Patrick or Columcille, Oisin or Finn in Prometheus’ stead,” for his intention was to “plunge” art “into social life” and to provide Ireland with “a vision of race as noble as that of Sophocles and Aeschylus.” [26] Long before Joyce drew up his own elaborate design of correspondences, Yeats and MacGregor Mathers were undertaking extensive research to establish parallels between Celtic and Greek gods, as Flannery notes (64). The broad parallelism became part of the jargon of contemporary critical appreciation among revivalists, so that George Moore applauded The Countess Cathleen as “a play as beautiful as Maeterlinck” and noted that it contained “verse equal to the verses of Homer,” [27] and Yeats recalled a dinner with Oscar Wilde, who thought the Irish “the greatest talkers since the Greeks” and compared Yeats’s “art of story-telling to Homer’s” [28]. Yeats came away from a performance of an old-fashioned historical melodrama by Alice Milligan with his “head on fire” and said, “I want to hear my own On Baile’s Strand, to hear Greek tragedy spoken with a Dublin accent” ( Autobiographies 449). In Ireland, Joyce was surrounded by a cultural practice at the heart of which was correspondence with classical Greece . The very word “correspondence,” now connected explicitly with Joycean design, was, at one time, a revivalist word indicating something much more potent than simple parallelism. A new Irish Odysseus was on the agenda before Joyce wrote a word. Disputing Stéphane Mallarmé’s argument that modernity would make its medium the lyric, Yeats predicted that the Irish epic, modeled on Homer, would really put Irish culture on the map: “I think that we will learn again how to describe at great length an old man wandering among an enchanted island, his return home at last, his slowly gathering vengeance, a flitting shape of a goddess, and a flight of arrows, and yet to make all these things so different ... become ... the signature or symbol of a model of divine imagination.” [29] Edward Martyn, who had studied Greek, includes passages in both The Heather Field and Maeve that proclaim, just as Arnold did, a “brotherhood” between the Greek and Celtic races. Maeve, in the latter play, asserts that the Greeks discovered an “unreal beauty” that has its only parallel in Celtic culture (105-06). Flannery comments that, in the 1890s, Florence Farr and Yeats tried to link Greek and Irish oral culture by a “rediscovery” of how verse was spoken to music (196). Certainly, the Literary Revival, in its rejection of the modern, of “progress” and its consequent elevated transformation of what Murray would have called the “primitive,” shifted the terms of correspondence that had [517] emerged from Victorian England. In revivalist historiography, Homer is the poet not of civic duty but of the simple people, “Homer’s Phaeacians,” the “poor of heart” as AE puts it (U 9.110,109-10). But the Literary Revival played essentially the same game as the Oxford professors. In its aristocratic defense of feudalism, its conceptions of nobility and service, and its attack on modernity, the Revival exposed its elitist and hegemonic roots. The ridiculous pontifications that attempted to transform modern Ireland into ancient Athens, like the English varieties of correspondence, were ideological and fundamentally conservative.

This climate of revivalist Ireland with its Hellenist obsession is reflected throughout Ulysses as a specific revivalist practice so that, for instance, “the revival of ancient Gaelic sports ... for the development of the race” is modeled on “physical culture, as understood in ancient Greece” (U 12.899-901, 900). Hellenism also has its general impact on someone like Bloom. In the Circean vision of a rejuvenated Ireland where Bloom develops a scheme for a civic beautification that will edify the citizenry, revivalist Ireland is reproduced in cartoon-like terms:

The keeper of the Kildare street museum appears, dragging a lorry on which are the shaking statues of several naked goddesses, Venus Callipyge, Venus Pandemos, Venus Metempsychosis, and plaster figures, also naked, representing the new nine muses, Commerce, Operatic Music, Amor, Publicity, Manufacture, Liberty of Speech, Plural Voting, Gastronomy, Private Hygiene, Seaside Concert Entertainments, Painless Obstetrics and Astronomy for the People. ( U 15.1703-10)

The comedy here works partly through the ironic counterpoint of Bloom’s earnest desire for civic improvement and his equally earnest interest in statues of naked women. But this ironic contradiction is more than a simple joke at Bloom’s expense. Bloom’s attraction to statues of Greek goddesses caricatures the high status that Yeats and his allies gave to the culture of ancient Greece . Hellenization here is ruinously combined with a decidedly voyeuristic fascination, and even more outrageously, it is disastrously conflated with the culture of middle-class modernity that Yeats so despised. Correspondence to the Greeks in Ulysses, however, is much more than a matter of periodic allusiveness. It is famously constituted in the elaborate architectonic that the schemas represent diagrammatically. Hellenism is activated in a hugely exaggerated form, becoming a hilarious literalization of revivalist attempts to synchronize with the first culture of Europe . It skips the Celts entirely, which is the first and most fundamental subversion. When classical epic is translated on the Joycean scale against modern culture as opposed to an idealized past, parallels [518] necessarily become hopelessly strained. The result is that Hellenization suffers a total ideological collapse through exposure. Ulysses is an absolutely studied delivery of what the Literary Revival claimed was the immanent reality of Irish culture. Ulysses announces itself as a thoroughly Hellenized Irish epic where everything corresponds. But the outcome is a farcical entanglement that is characteristically obscurantist and distorted. Analogies are not just occasionally crooked. They are invariably so. The “fit” between classical Greece and Joyce has very little to do with deference, tradition, or mythopoetics. In fact, in Joyce, there is an absolute refusal to “correspond” in any way that is recognizably consistent with the ideology of English or Anglo-Irish traditions. There is almost an enmity between Ulysses and the prototype text(s). It is not just at the edges of Joyce’s structure, where the nurses in the hospital stand in so obscurely for “Lampetie and Phaethusa” or Corley translates as “Melanthius,” that the issue of correspondence somehow becomes compromised. It is compromised from the very beginning, in the title of a book that is itself Romanized and that establishes correspondence not in terms of consensual tradition but in terms of cultural appropriation. With this title, Joyce disputes the very idea of the cultural thoroughbred from the outset.

Stephen’s discourse on the politics of culture in the early episodes of Ulysses then is hardly self-contained. It spreads into the architectonics of Ulysses and continues in the ridiculously appropriative BloomOdysseus parallel. Bloom is neither a Greek nor an Irish Celt but an Irish Jew. He is neither aristocratic nor rural but bourgeois down to his boots and utterly urban. He does not heroically resist the temptations of women; on the contrary, he will go to great lengths for a flash of underwear. He is no displaced traveler, desperate for return, although he does take a pleasure cruise round Dublin bay on a boat called “Erin’s King” (U 4.434). His Penelope is simultaneously his Calypso and his home the prison from which he initially “escapes.” These and many other variants are not simple artistic license; they are far too embedded to be so. Distortion and discordance expose the obscurities, contradictions, and absurdities that are inherent in conventional correspondence. It may be that Bloom embodies some standard of personal heroism held to by Joyce, but this would not be inconsistent with the fact that in every conceivable respect Bloom is a deep affront to the aristocratic notions of heroism and heroic action that were fundamental to the Revival’s version of correspondence with the Greeks.

Joyce’s uncomfortable relationship with the Homeric event and Homeric geography is similarly incongruous. It too illustrates that the architectonic thought by Arnold to be characteristic of “true art” and “great works, such as the Agamemnon,” the sort of art “which the Celt [519] has not patience for” (Study 83), is, in Joyce, turned to subversive practice. Again, difference and distortion are not a resource drawn on when an otherwise smooth parallel proves to be limiting. They are characteristic. Events that are briefly referred to in the Odyssey become whole episodes, like “Wandering Rocks,” in Ulysses. Identities shift so that in “Scylla and Charybdis” it is Stephen and not Bloom who steers a course between the rock and the sea monster. The latter are completely removed from any geography in this episode, because Homer’s Scylla and Charybdis in Ulysses are correspondent with Aristotle and Plato. Stephen and Bloom meet much earlier than Telemachus and Odysseus do in the Homeric prototype, and the former pair are not father and son. The displacement of the one-eyed monster blinded with a stake by a drunken nationalist who is in proximity to Bloom’s cigar is only the most famous example of a mismatch that is absolutely central in Ulysses.

In the same passage where Arnold denies that the Celt had any capacity for architectonic, a passage that one suspects Joyce must have known, he also writes that, unable to face “the facts of human life,” the Celtic poet “runs off into technic” and “sentimentality” (Study, 83). Ulysses is both an absolute confirmation and an absolute refutation of this statement. It squares up to reality in obvious ways and refuses sentiment. But it does indeed deploy “technic.” Ironically, technic is incorporated precisely into the design of Ulysses, into its architectonic. Technic, in Joyce, is again frequently commandeered into subversive correspondence. In “Aeolus,” for instance, it is Homeric prototype that produces a particularly accumulative linkage, so that the Aeolian “bag of winds” translates into a barrage of rhetorical devices and a whole wind lexicon. There are phrases like “what’s in the wind” and “raise the wind” and words such as “breath,” “puff,” “draught,” “zephyrs,” “breeze,” “squalls,” “gale,” “whirlwind,” “hurricane,” and “cyclone” and then a range of allusive words and phrases like “bladderbags,” “afflatus,” “breath,” “flatulence,” and so on. There are similar lexicons in “ Ithaca,” where the root is the idea of return, and in “Sirens,” where musical terminology corresponds to the sirens’ song, and in “Proteus,” where the idea of change is linked to wordplay. These textual characteristics are subtle only because they work. They are readable as features of a text that is not just a list. As a conception, however, the process seems grotesque. The point is that they are no more grotesque than the importunate corresponding practices that they displace.

Literalization, exaggeration, distortion, and overdeterminationthese are the central characteristics of Joyce’s correspondence. There is a strong sense of Joyce outdoing his Anglo-Irish contemporaries with his ornate Homeric design and also a liberating articulation of [520] the absurdity of the correspondence that lay at the very heart of cultural nationalism. Hilarity is the most obvious characteristic of Joyce’s “Celtic revenge,” and this is quite distinct from the bitter splenetic of Stephen’s “voice of Esau” (U 9.981).

That this hostile interference with the cultural elitism of Anglo-Ireland constitutes a class position is clear from one further defining feature of the schemas, which is their Aristotelian insistence on structure. Architectonics is about structure and form. Again, according to Arnold, the “failure” of “the Celtic race” to produce great painters or sculptors is an indication of the ill-disciplined Celtic mind, which is incapable of structure (Study 94-96). Yeats turned this argument upside down by privileging a mystique of art where the Irish artist is an unconscious mediator between the divine and the earthly. Spontaneity and lack of discipline have great status in the Yeatsian aesthetic. Joyce, however, takes up Arnold’s challenge and produces obsessive structure, insistent order, the catalogue, and the list - and all these are signatures of a Catholic intellectual tradition that has its greatest philosophical exposition in the “Angelic Doctor,” as Thomas Aquinas was commonly referred to [30], who proved the existence of God in five ways and who took as his own classical authority, ironically enough, Aristotle. The supersaturation of the Joycean aesthetic in these cultural traditions constitutes correspondence of a different kind and with a very different cultural tradition.

1. I have argued this case in some earlier essays published in JJQ. See, for instance, “The Voice of Esau: Culture and Nationalism in ‘Scylla and Charybdis,”’, in JJQ, 29 (Summer 1992), 737-50.

2. It is perhaps necessary to point out that it was very much easier to reject nationalism in the early decades of the twentieth century than it is in the post- colonial present.

3. The schema referred to in the account that follows is published in Charles H. Peake, James Joyce: The Citizen and the Artist (London: Edward Arnold, 1976), p.120.

4. See Herbert Gorman, James Joyce (New York: Rinehart Publishers, 1929); Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce’s “Ulysses” (London: Faber and Faber, 1930), p.30; and on Carlo Linati, see JJII 521n.

5. Hugh Kenner, Dublin’s Joyce (Gloucester: Peter Smith, 1969), p.226-27.

6. This was Ezra Pound’s view and T. S. Eliot’s. The latter’s remark about Joyce using myth to impose aesthetic order on the chaos of contemporaneous reality influenced formalist accounts of Homeric correspondence in Ulysses. Eliot’s remark, however, said more about “The Waste Land” than it did about Ulysses. The latter has very little trouble in establishing ordering principles, mythic or otherwise, and it effectively banishes urban angst to the realms of metropolitan liberal faddism. See Eliot, “Ulysses, Order and Myth,” The Dial, 75 (1923), 480-483. See also Pound, “Ulysses,” Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. Eliot (London: Faber & Faber, 1974), p.403-09.

7. Perhaps even more than the provenance, the importance of the schemas is underwritten by the fact that they show how Joyce can somehow reduce the 644 pages of his huge book to a meaningful diagram. These schemas are more than working notes. With their obsessive ordering and structuring, the insistent intertextuality, their notification of narrative shifts and discontinuities, the schemas do indicate something substantial about what Ulysses amounts to and perhaps about what kind of an “epic” the book is.

8. Richard Ellmann, The Consciousness of Joyce (London; Faber and Faber, 1977), p.10-11. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. According to Ellmann, perhaps the most eminent and influential Joycean in the postwar period, Homeric correspondence in Joyce is substantially a matter of “deference.” It signals Joyce’s intention of moving beyond his own “personal moment” to invoke “the collective past as well,” by which Ellmann means the literary past. However iconoclastic the Joyce text might be, Homeric correspondence, for Ellmann, signifies continuity with the literary canon of Western civilization. The weight of classical Greece also produces “archetypal significance.”

9. Christopher Gillie, Longman Companion to English Literature (London: Longman Group, 1972), p.567.

10. H. C. Baldry, Greek Literature for the Modern Reader (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1951), p.67. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

11. See Baldry (p. 67). Much of Baldry’s discussion on this subject really is curiously suggestive of Ireland ’s history. He writes, for example, of “the disintegration of aristocracy and the rise in Ionia of tyrants dependent on support from the East”; this was, “unlikely to favour anything so national and pan-Hellenic as a heroic story of the Trojan War” and brought about “the decline of epic in the region where it was born” (p. 91).

12. See William G. Thalmann, “The Odyssey”: An Epic of Return (New York: Twayne Publishers, 1992), p.6, where Thalmann describes eighth-century interest in Homeric epic precisely as cultural revivalism.

13. David Quint, Epic and Empire: Politics and Generic From Virgil to Milton (New Jersey: Princeton Univ. Press, 1993), p.44. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text. See also Virgil, “The Aeneid” of Virgil, trans. E. Fairfax Taylor (London: J. M. Dent, 1907).

14. Andrew Fichtian, “The Dynastic Epic,” The Epic: Developments in Criticism, ed. R. P. Draper (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1990), p.165.

15. See, for instance, Alexander Pope, trans., “The Iliad” of Homer (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903), and “The Odyssey” of Homer (London: Oxford Univ. Press, 1903).

16. Gilbert Murray, The Rise of the Greek Epic, 4th ed. (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1934), p.3. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

17 Victor Bérard, Les Phéniciens et L’Odyssee (Paris: Armand Colin, 1902- 1903), and Samuel Butler, The Authoress of the “Odyssey”: Where and When She Wrote, Who She Was, the Use She Made of the “Iliad,” and How the Poem Grew Under Her Hands (London: Longmans, Green, 1897).

18. Murray’s The Rise of the Greek Epic developed from the lectures that he delivered at Harvard University in 1907. See Matthew Arnold, Culture and Anarchy (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 1961), and On the Study of Celtic Literature and Other Essays (London: J. M. Dent, 1910). Further references to both works will be cited parenthetically in the text as Culture or Study.

19. This confrontation between modernism and antiquity was probably initiated as early as 1809 by R. L. Edgeworth’s Essays on Professional Education with its assertion that the value of knowledge was to be measured by its utility. See Michael Sanderson, ed., The Universities in the Nineteenth Century (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1975), p.26-61.

20. S. H. Butcher and A. Lang, “The Odyssey” of Homer: Done Into English Prose (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1893). Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

21. W. B. Yeats, Memoirs, ed. Denis Donoghue (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1972), p.169.

22. David Hume, The History of England: From the Invasion of Julius Caesar to the Revolution in 1688 (London: Jones & Company, 1826), p.454.

23. Standish O’Grady, History: Critical and Philosophical (Dublin: B. Ponsonby, 1881), p.201. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

24. W. A. Conor, History of the Irish People (London: John Heywood, 1886), p.5.

25. James W. Flannery, W. B. Yeats and the Idea of a Theatre: The Early Abbey Theatre in Theory and Practice (New Haven; Yale Univ. Press, 1989), p.16. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.

26. Yeats, Autobiographies (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1927), pp.493-94. Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text as Autobiographies.

27. See George Moore, in his introduction to Edward Martyn, The Heather Field and Maeve (London: Duckworth and Company, 1909), p.xx. Further references to the Martyn work will be cited parenthetically in the text.

28. See Yeats, Selected Prose, ed. Norman Jeffares (London: Macmillan Publishers, 1964), p.57-58.

29. Yeats, “The Autumn of the Body,” Ideas of Good and Evil (Dublin: Maunsel and Company, 1905); quoted in Ellmann, The Consciousness of Joyce, (pp.10-11).

30 See U 9.738, where Thomas Aquinas is referred to as “[t]he doctor.”

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