Circe: Thoughts and Questions

1) The Homeric parallels are getting thinner and thinner. In The Odyssey Circe has the power to transform men into swine, and transformation pervades the episode. Bloom's identity and appearance change regularly, and so do most other details. But would you describe the episode as primarily involving transformation? Or would you describe it in some other way?
      Note the dog and its changing species: see, among other places, 15:247, 356, 532, 659, 663, 667, 672, 706, etc. etc.

2) On a psychological level, Bloom and Stephen each "experience" six "visions" or "fantasies" or "hallucinations" or "nightmares." (But it isn't at all certain that they actually experience these scenes on any conscious level.) These are:

1) accusations: father, Molly, Mrs Breen (15:212-576)
2) masochism: more accusations, trial (15:676-1278)
3) political career (15:1355-1956)
4) Lipoti Virag (grandfather) (15:2299-2639)
5) Bella/Bello, nymph (15:2750-3479)
6) Boylan (15:3726-3863)

1) end of the world (15:2139-2278)
2) Artifoni and Philip Drunk/Sober (15:2501-39)
3) Simon Cardinal Dedalus (15:2654-92)
4) race (Deasy), Maginni and dance, mother (15:3942-4245)
5) street: Biddy the Clap and Cunty Kate (15:4438-4564)
6) Black Mass (15:4661-4718)

+ Bloom's final "vision" of Stephen at the end (15:4955-67)

3) These visions apparently occur within an instant of "real" time. See Zoe's words to Bloom, interrupted for the reader by 17 pages of Bloom's vision: "Go on. Make a stump speech out of it." (15:1353) and "Talk away till you're black in the face." (15:1958).

4) In light of "Circe" as an episode turning the characters' psyches inside out, look back at the "Oxen of the Sun" paragraph at 14:1344-55.

5) Odysseus was protected by an herb called "moly." What might be Bloom's equivalent here that protects him against the dangers of Nighttown?

6) But "Circe" involves more than the characters' psyches. Several details come only from the previous narration, a level of the text not available to the characters. See, for example, the "Cyclops" "I"-narrator at 15:1143-49, Black Liz the rooster at 15:3709-11 (previously in "Cyclops" at 12:846-49), John Wyse Nolan in a forester's uniform (15:3304-6, earlier in "Cyclops" at 12:1258-68 etc.).
--And, what about Edy Boardman and Cissy Caffrey in this episode? Are they "really" there? Were they "really" there in "Nausicaa"? See 15:41 etc., 88 etc,, 4380 etc. and compare "Nausicaa" 13:12-13 etc. and 13:270-80.

7) Everything talks in "Circe": bells (15:180), Stephen's cap (15:2096-2113), a gasjet (15:2279), a doorhandle (15:2693), etc.

8) Hugh Kenner once wrote, "As Ulysses is The Odyssey transposed and rearranged, 'Circe' is Ulysses transposed and rearranged" (in Clive Hart and David Hayman, ed., James Joyce's "Ulysses": Critical Essays, p. 356).

9) Some events apparently "really" did happen: some kind of incident happened at Westland Row Station, and Mulligan and someone else whom Bloom in a later episode describes as "that English tourist friend of his" (16:264-65) - Haines? Bannon? - deserted Stephen and Lynch (15:636); Bloom decided to follow Stephen into the red-light district (15:639-40); Bloom goes into Bella Cohen's brothel (15:2029 etc.); Stephen and Lynch are already in the brothel (15:2071); Stephen raises his ashplant (a walking stick) and damages the chimney of a chandelier (15:4243-45); Bloom pays Bella Cohen for the damages (15:4267-91); back on the street, Stephen insults a soldier by seeming to speak disrespectfully of the English King (15:4436-37, 4596-98, 4644-46), and the soldier knocks him down (15:4747-50); Bloom, with Corny Kelleher's help, gets rid of the police who stop to see what has happened (15:4807 etc.) and is left alone with Stephen (15:4924 etc.).

10) Another summary of Bloom's day (or, rather, of the 12 episodes in the middle section of Ulysses) appears at 15:1941-52.

11) What significance can you find in the episode's written form: a script for a play? In several ways the conception seems closer to a film than to a play (although, in both 1904 and 1922, films were silent).

12) Bloom hears Stephen mumble "Fergus" and thinks he might be referring to someone named Ferguson, maybe a girlfriend (15:4929-51). But look back to 1:239-41.