Penelope: Comments by Joyce

"I am going to leave the last word with Molly Bloom--the final episode Penelope being written through her thoughts and body Poldy being then asleep."

(letter from Joyce to Frank Budgen, 10 December1920,
1:151-52, Selected Letters, p. 274)

"The last word (human, all too human) is left to Penelope. This is the indispensable countersign to Bloom's passport to eternity. I mean the last episode Penelope."

(letter from Joyce to Frank Budgen, 28 February 1921,
1:160, Selected Letters, p. 278)

"Penelope is the clou* of the book. The first sentence contains 2500 words. There are eight sentences in the episode. It begins and ends with the female word yes. It turns like the huge earth ball slowly surely and evenly round and round spinning, its four cardinal points being the female breasts, arse, womb and cunt expressed by the words because, bottom (in all senses bottom button, bottom of the class, bottom of the sea, bottom of his heart), woman, yes. Though probably more obscene than any preceding episode it seems to me to be perfectly sane full amoral fertilisable untrustworthy engaging shrewd limited prudent indifferent Weib.** Ich bin der Fleisch der stets bejaht.***"

(letter from Joyce to Frank Budgen, 16 August 1921,
1:170, Selected Letters, p. 285)
* the "star turn," or topper
** woman
*** "I am the flesh that always affirms." A reversal of Mephistopheles’ statement from Goethe's Faust:
I am the spirit that always denies.

"In conception and technique I tried to depict the earth which is prehuman and presumably posthuman."

(letter from Joyce to Harriet Shaw Weaver, 8 February 1922,
1:180, Selected Letters, p. 289)