Skip to navigation – Site map
Essays

Some Textual and Factual Discrepancies in James Joyce's Ulysses: The Blooms’ Several “First Nights”

Luca Crispi
p. 104-124

Abstract

This essay investigates how in Ulysses James Joyce created several textual, biographical, temporal, and topographical discrepancies at the narrative origin of Leopold Bloom and Molly Tweedy’s life together. The textual and contextual evidence indicates that there were two (or possibly more) “first nights” ― different firsts on different evenings ― for the soon to be Blooms. This is one of the many instances in the book when the “facts” in the fiction ― as well as some of the seemingly analogous facts outside the novel ― do not cohere. The genetic study of this kind of temporal and spatial slippage in the book’s purportedly coherent texture challenges readers’ preconceptions about the fixity of the character’s life-stories in the narrative and uncovers some of the ways in which Joyce relied on the names and some facts derived from the lives of real people in a variety of often unexpected ways to create the life-stories of his fictional characters.

Top of page

Full text

  • 1 Carl Niemeyer notes this discrepancy, but as far as I know it has not been discussed elsewhere (Nie (...)

1One of the abiding cruxes in Ulysses is a seemingly simple question: when and where did Leopold Bloom and Marion Tweedy first meet? When readers sum up the evidence in the book about their first night, it seems that there were indeed two (or possibly more) “first nights” ― different firsts on different evenings ― for the soon to be Blooms.1 It might be surprising that even careful readers could be confused about this happy occasion, but what may be considered a more critical fault in Ulysses is that it seems that Bloom himself is of two minds about the date and location of this momentous event. The textual history of these scenes indicates that it was James Joyce himself who was imprecise about these facts in the novel, and this narrative inconsistency will always be part of Ulysses. This kind of slip-up should not surprise readers about any author or any book; therefore, this essay investigates some of the reasons why this sort of discrepancy does unsettle our conceptions of Joyce and of Ulysses.

  • 2 Adding to the topographical fluidity, Joyce names the suburb just outside Dublin city centre where (...)
  • 3 This notebook is one of almost two-dozen Joyce manuscripts acquired by the National Library of Irel (...)
  • 4 Although Joyce abbreviates Mathew Dillon’s first name as both Mat and Matt in his notes and manuscr (...)

2According to the various retellings of these stories, Leopold and Molly must first have met sometime between July 1886 and May 1887, but exactly when cannot be firmly established. Clearly, the slippage of almost a year marks quite a difference in the lives of the Blooms as fictional characters, and thus also in the reader’s understanding of them. Also, it seems that they could either first have met at the home of Luke Doyle in Dolphin’s Barn or at Mathew Dillon’s home in Roundtown.2 Although Leopold and Molly met often in the homes of both these friends while they were courting for over a year, the question of where they first met remains unresolved in the published work. On a minimialist chronological listing of some of the key events in Ulysses that Joyce prepared while finishing the book in Paris in 1921, he wrote in part “charades Dolphin’s Barn” for 1886, and simply noted “Matt Dillons” for 1887 (NLI MS 36,639/05B, p. [10v]). 3 This suggests that Joyce maintained that Leopold and Molly first met at a game of charades at Luke Doyle’s home in Dolphin’s Barn and continued to see one another there, and then they also met in Mat Dillon’s garden in suburban Roundtown the following year.4 But the facts as they are presented in the novel make a muddle of this clear chain of events. Like much of the preparatory material for Ulysses, even this late schematic list is not an accurate guide to the dating of some of the events in the published work. This is one of the many instances in Ulysses when the “facts” in the fiction ― as well as some of the seemingly analogous facts outside the novel ― do not cohere.

3Among other things, a genetic study of precisely these kinds of temporal and spatial slippages in the book’s purportedly coherent texture challenges readers’ preconceptions about the fixity of the character’s life-stories in the narrative. Such a genetic approach also questions the stability of the characters’ subjective identities and intersubjective relationships as they are represented in Ulysses. Furthermore, delving into these stories uncovers some of the ways in which Joyce relied on the names and some facts derived from the lives of real people in a variety of often unexpected ways to create the life-stories of his fictional characters.

4Close readings of how Joyce represents his characters in various manuscripts versions reveals that he often altered both when and where events happened. Unsurprisingly, the process by which he established the temporal and spatial coordinates of the events in the characters’ lives was a complex endeavour. On some occasions, elements of certain scenes remained fluid while, on other occasions, these elements became stabilized at least temporarily. Ultimately, there is the inevitable juncture when the elements became anchored in the text as readers recognize and remember them in the published work. Because each of these stages can be critically differentiated, an analysis of their variations opens up further contexts for critical interpretations. While various forms of historicist and post-structuralist readings have explored the textual and factual fluidity of Ulysses, only a genetic approach can provide the necessary evidence to substantiate either or both of these conceptual frameworks.

One or more games of charades

  • 5 This mixed fair copy manuscript has been reproduced in colour as Ulysses: A Facsimile of the Manusc (...)
  • 6 References to Ulysses are abbreviated as U and cited in the standard format by the episode and line (...)

5Whether we read the book from cover to cover or trace the evolutionary history of the stories in the manuscripts, we come across the initial account of Leopold and Molly’s so-called first night in “Calypso”, the fourth episode of Ulysses. This recollection of the pivotal scene occurs in one of the earliest surviving manuscripts that feature the Blooms: the episode’s Rosenbach manuscript, which Joyce wrote in Zurich in February 1918.5 While Joyce had certainly worked out some of the facts of the lovers’ stories before this manuscript, it is clear that they kept changing as he continued writing. Even though the contours of the scenario do not change significantly, when the precise textual and narrative evolution of this scene is uncovered, the resulting insights alter our understanding of Ulysses. On its earliest version on the Rosenbach “Calypso” manuscript, Bloom thinks to himself: “Young still. The same young eyes. The first night after the charades at Dolphin’s Barn” (f. 10; my italics; see U 4.344–5).6

  • 7 For example, Joyce revealed the complex connections between the various characters in his work and (...)

6There is another reference to what is presumably this same first night in the eighth episode, “Lestrygonians”, when Bloom runs into Josie Breen (née Powell) on Westmoreland Street. Although the facts of the event remained consistent, Joyce is less certain about who this character is in the scene on the episode’s Rosenbach manuscript, which he wrote from January to July 1918. There he has Bloom think to himself: “Floey Powell that was” (f. 7; see U 8.273). Throughout the writing and rewriting of Ulysses, Joyce reassigned events, actions, thoughts, and feelings to different characters in his work. For example, in this case he put together parts of the names of what became two different characters in Ulysses: Floey Dillon and Josie Powell. These characters share the basic fictional fact that they were Molly Tweedy’s young Dublin friends, but their names (if not their fictional identities) already had complex associations in the historical Dublin of Joyce’s youth.7 Therefore, a reader who expects to discover a more or less direct correlation between Joyce’s fiction and the factual context to which it possibly refers might presume that these characters would have ready-made, distinct histories in Ulysses. On the contrary, given the limited extent of their elaboration at this stage in the genesis of the stories about the Blooms, neither character was as fully differentiated as a reader of the published work might suppose.

7The cumulative textual evidence suggests that Joyce did not simply make this transposition of characters’ names and identities through inadvertence, but rather that the issue of a character’s name (and therefore, as far as the reader is concerned, her history and identity) was often fundamentally adaptable for long periods of time until the first edition of the book was published on 2 February 1922. Nonetheless, as Joyce continued to write, Josie Powell Breen and Floey Dillon did become more fully determined, ultimately becoming the characters that readers of Ulysses confidently recognize as such. In this case, he simply changed Josie Breen’s maiden name to Powell on a missing typescript page before this section of the episode appeared in the Little Review in January 1919 (V.9, p. 34). With this transformation, Joyce stabilized her identity in the still evolving plot and, thereby, also left Floey Dillon aside, only to include her later in other stories that he would write for the book.

  • 8 The placard proofs of Ulysses are also known as the book’s earlier galley proofs. They are reproduc (...)

8Typical of the way in which Joyce wrote Ulysses, whereas the lexical elements and most of the facts of the scene were relatively fixed, the names of the characters who participate in the scene remained malleable until some other specific advance in the narrative made it necessary for him to explicitly distinguish them. In general, at least initially Joyce was less concerned with assigning names to most of the minor characters than he was with elaborating other elements of a scene. Subsequently, as he consolidated the thoughts and actions with a specific character’s name, he provided a semblance of greater solidity and stability to the world of Ulysses as a whole. For example, two and half years after Joyce wrote the previous mention of “the first night” of charades in “Calypso”, he connected Bloom’s memory of the young Josie with the pleasant games at Luke Doyle’s home. On the second setting of “Lestrygonians” in proofs for Ulysses, he added these sentences to the ­already-established storyline: “Josie Powell that was. ^In Luke Doyle’s long ago. Dolphin’s Barn, the charades^” (Harvard Placard 16.ii; U 8.273–4; see JJA 18:102).8 This enriches what Joyce had already written about the entertainments at Luke Doyle’s home in “Calypso”. While it is clear that something happened for the first time after a night of charades in Dolphin’s Barn, what that was may never become fully clear. Depending on our expectations as readers, what happened then and there may not matter, but let us try to untangle the rest of the information about the couple’s first night in Ulysses.

9In the earliest known version of Molly’s story of that evening as recalled in the book’s final episode “Penelope”, she seems absolutely certain about one thing at least: “the first night we met in Dolphin’s barn when I was living in Rehoboth we stood staring at each other for about 10 minutes” (NLI MS 36,639/14, pp. [10r]–[11r]; my italics; see U 18.1182–3). By the time Joyce wrote the episode’s subsequent extant manuscript, he further specified that the fictional Tweedy’s home was on “Rehoboth ^terrace^” when Molly and Leopold were courting (see Rosenbach “Penelope” MS, p. 21). This road is also in the Dublin suburb of Dolphin’s Barn, which means that they lived near the home of the fictional Luke Doyle. With such refinements Joyce is thereby striving to establish a greater sense of cohesion to the stories in Ulysses. While this is often Joyce’s goal, as we will see, other, competing narrative and stylistic considerations often thwarted his efforts.

10Joyce based various elements of the stories of the couple’s first encounters at least partially ― though just as often erroneously ― on the bedrock of personal and historical facts. In this case, Luke and Caroline Doyle, the Dubliners whose names Joyce appropriated for these characters, were Joyce family friends. Our understanding of Joyce’s practice of transforming and interweaving historical social facts in his fiction has not developed much in the past fifty years since Robert M. Adams wrote that

[t]he liberal use Joyce made of “pilings” ― figures drawn from real life, upon whose more or less buried support he created the structures of his fiction ― gives us good occasion to appreciate the mingled subtlety and boldness with which he controlled his materials. No general rules seem to cover the complex transformations which he now and then imposed on his materials; sometimes we find him elaborately circumstantial about the surroundings of an imaginary character; sometimes he presents only those few elements of a real character which make it seem not only imaginary but, actually caricatured. He divides, he multiplies, he adds, he subtracts; he draws freely upon his resources of his encyclopedic memory, upon the memories of his friends and relations, and upon a vast, undirected store of miscellaneous reading. The unevenness of his practice in matters of fact is more likely to throw a reader off balance because he never explains, and because, in the matter of individuating detail he is remarkably sparing (Adams 1962, 50).

11Making sense of the narrative facts in Ulysses is already a demanding process. Critical readers encounter further dilemmas when they try to bridge certain narrative inconsistencies with historical facts, and this is a good case in point. According to Peter Costello, though he does not provide the source(s) of his information: “The Doyles lived in Camac Place in Kimmage, then on the attractive rural side of the Grand Canal at Dolphin’s Barn. Later they moved to Mount Brown in Kilmainham. Much of the convincing background to the life of the Blooms was thus ready to hand for Joyce’s eventual use” (Costello 1992, 60). But the matter is not as simple as this. In fact, Ian Gunn and Clive Hart point out that “The charades in 1887 are doubly anachronistic: by 1883 the Doyles had moved to 4 Mountbrown [sic], Kilmainham, and not long afterwards Luke Doyle was dead” (Gunn and Hart 2004, 108, n. 168). Most if not all of which information Joyce presumably knew and recalled as he wrote his book. Therefore, it is quite unlikely that these historically factual Doyles are supposed to correspond to the ones in Ulysses. Nonetheless, Joyce found it expedient to use their names in his work while at the same time contorting their life histories to suit his creative purposes.

12Since the referential parameters are always different in the various narrative contexts of the stories in the book, sweeping claims about Joyce’s overarching commitment to historically accurate detail in Ulysses are often unconvincing. This is a topic that requires more nuanced study as further textual and historical information is documented, correlated, and analysed. Regardless, these games of charades at the Doyles are fundamental moments in Leopold and Molly’s courtship. They are obviously the earliest instances of the couple’s shared memories in Ulysses, and this encourages readers to compare and contrast the various ways in which Joyce represents the lover’s first memories together. It is from this perspective that the stories of the Blooms’ “origin” as a couple may be considered paradigmatic of the complexity of the workings of the representation of textual and psychological memory in narratives, especially in the context of modernism.

  • 9 Joyce had already written a version of this scene on the episode’s earliest extant draft when he re (...)

13For example, later in the day, Bloom remembers a particularly memorable game of charades that he specifically recalls took place in 1887, the year before they married (U 13.1107). The precise dating here is just the sort of detail in the stories ― which are otherwise quite vague and certainly fluid in their manuscript versions ― that gives the published book the semblance of facticity and unity for which it is often admired. Bloom’s memory of that night is recounted in “Nausicaa”, the thirteenth episode.9 After his clandestine erotic encounter with Gerty McDowell, the flashing of the Bailey lighthouse on Howth brings back memories of the couple’s courtship and of the momentous day when he proposed to Molly, in between which Bloom also thinks of his daughter’s flirtation with Alec. Bannon in Mullingar, as well as his own epistolary dalliance with Martha Clifford. In a complex whirl of associations, these thoughts also bring up the older memories of the Doyles, the Dillons, as well as Molly’s father, Major Brian Tweedy:

Tired I feel now. Will I get up? O wait. Drained all the manhood out of me, little wretch. She kissed me. Never again. My youth. Only once it comes. Or hers. Take the train there tomorrow. No. Returning not the same. Like kids your second visit to a house. The new I want. Nothing new under the sun. Care of P. O. Dolphin’s Barn. Are you not happy in your? Naughty darling. At Dolphin’s barn charades in Luke Doyle’s house. Mat Dillon and his bevy of daughters: Tiny, Atty, Floey, Maimy, Louy, Hetty. Molly too. Eightyseven that was. Year before we. And the old major, partial to his drop of spirits. Curious she an only child, I an only child. So it returns. Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. And just when he and she. Circus horse walking in a ring. Rip van Winkle we played. Rip: tear in Henny Doyle’s overcoat. Van: breadvan delivering. Winkle: cockles and periwinkles. Then I did Rip van Winkle coming back. She leaned on the sideboard watching. Moorish eyes. Twenty years asleep in Sleepy Hollow. All changed. Forgotten. The young are old. His gun rusty from the dew. (U 13.1096–116)

14Looking out from Sandymount Strand as the light settles on Howth ― precisely when his wife and her lover, Hugh “Blazes” Boylan, are having their rendezvous — Bloom thinks about the various times when he and Molly were happy, distinctly happier than they are now, when they were single, and just starting to meet at the homes of the Doyles and Dillons. Then he thinks that the way life works reminds him of a circus horse walking in a ring, which is an apt metaphor for the cyclical working of the events in our lives (U 13.1111–2). In fact, the recurrence of events in our lives is a major theme of Ulysses. Bloom remembers the rhododendrons on Howth and thinks: “All that old hill has seen. Names change: that’s all” (U 13.1099), which is also an apt description of one of the ways in which Joyce constructed the nexus of characters in the stories.

15As Bloom contrasts his early lovemaking on Howth with the state of his marriage more than fifteen years later, he briefly laments his youth. In response, he thinks: “The new I want”, but instantly he reconsiders the matter: “Nothing new under the sun” (U 13.1104–5). His thoughts continue to swerve between the past and the present. He thinks of his illicit correspondence with Martha Clifford that he is sending to the post office in Dolphin’s Barn Lane (see U 11.897–90), which brings up earlier erotic memories associated with Molly’s old neighbourhood. According to the version of this memory on the “Nausicaa” draft, the night of charades does indeed take place in Dolphin’s Barn, but it was in “Flanagan’s house” (Cornell MS 56B, p. 30; see JJA 13: 233). As far as we know, this Flanagan makes no other appearance in the textual record of Ulysses. This is an exemplary instance of how Joyce sometimes merely uses a character’s name as a prop ― a temporary placeholder in the story ― while he continues to construct the linguistic and thematic contours of the scene, and only subsequently turns his attention to the multi-faceted issue of establishing a character’s identity. Since Joyce usually strove to consolidate rather than expand the cast of characters in his work, the other, better-known Dolphin’s Barn resident, Luke Doyle, simply takes Flanagan’s place in the story on the episode’s next extant manuscript (Rosenbach “Nausicaa” MS, f. 52).

  • 10 Joyce added this line to introduce this particular memory on the episode’s typescript just before U (...)

16This was the night Bloom acted out “Rip Van Winkle”, which further reinforces the episode’s and the book’s themes of the interconnectedness of the present and the past, of the seemingly forward, progressive movement of time, and the compulsion to return, or as Joyce simply put it Ulysses: “History repeats itself” (U 13.1093).10 In the published versions of that night’s games, the young Henny Doyle’s torn overcoat was instrumental in Bloom’s successful pantomime, but in the earliest draft version the article of clothing was a “waistcoat” and it belonged to another otherwise unknown character named “Daly” (Cornell MS 56B, p. 31; see JJA 13: 235; see U 13.1112). This Daly is yet another placeholder in the stories of Ulysses, and he too makes his exit before most readers catch a glimpse of him.

  • 11 I elaborate these ideas more fully in Crispi 2015.

17More fundamentally, this is an example of the more persistent question of whether or not Joyce’s characters, and the traits attributed to them, are actually integral to the stories being told in Ulysses. When Joyce wrote the next version of the scene, he simply assigned the story to the younger Doyle, just as it was, without altering any other aspect of the scene (Rosenbach “Nausicaa” MS, f. 52). While much of the story remains stable, these are just some of the examples of the more fluid elements before they became fixed in the published book. Especially in their earlier versions, Joyce appears to be more concerned with establishing the precise linguistic and thematic elements, rather than such seemingly incidental details like a character’s name or where and when an event took place. These later aspects of the story are all subsidiary to another primary concern in Ulysses: the storytelling process.11

  • 12 For further information about this “Penelope” manuscript, see JJA 16: xi.

18In this scene Bloom also recalls all the elements of his winning performance, Molly’s pose, and her Eastern look. He then thinks more about what Rip Van Winkle must have experienced waking up after two decades: “All changed. Forgotten. The young are old” (U 13.1115), which is how Bloom must feel when he lets himself think about the current state of his life and what his wife and her lover are doing just then in their home in 7 Eccles Street. About a year after Joyce wrote Bloom’s memory of the charades at the Doyles in “Nausicaa”, he added to Molly’s memories of that seemingly same night in “Penelope”. In Molly’s memory, the young man is firmly established as Henny Doyle. In an addition on the episode’s typescript, Joyce has Molly think to herself: “he [Bloom] had a few brains not like that other fool Henny Doyle he was always breaking or tearing something in the charades I hate an unlucky man” (Huntington TS, p. 10; see JJA 16: 308; U 18.321–3).12

19Readers are implicitly encouraged to think that these are all the same night of charades, but there simply is not enough contextual information in Ulysses to determine if this is the case. For whatever reason, Joyce did not clarify the relationships between these stories. While this lack of consistency among the stories and memories may not be particularly significant for our reading of Ulysses, it does indicate the kinds of narrative slippages that go unmarked in the book. Readers must interpret for themselves the consequences of these slippages in the fictional biographies, whether from narratological or thematic perspectives.

20From the fair copy version of Bloom’s memory of the charades in “Nausicaa” onwards (Rosenbach f. 52), Joyce has Mat Dillon and his daughters in attendance at this memorable night of charades at the Doyles. Readers can account for this fact by the simple proposition that the Doyles and Dillons (and their children, who appear to be the same age as Leopold and Molly) were part of the same circle of friends, and so they all met regularly at one another’s homes. But it is also quite likely that Joyce never fully differentiated between the two families, or between what he may have planned as separate events in their respective homes. Therefore, in very basic ways, these (possibly differing) encounters become intertwined in the text, and thereby in Bloom’s mind, and so in the reader’s understanding of Ulysses as well. Nonetheless, some readers tend to attach an unwarranted degree of specificity to the characters, locations, and chronological sequences in such narrative scenes (and correspondingly to the varying ways in which textual memory is supposed to work), whereas close genetic readings of the many versions leading up to and including the published work put such specificity into question.

21In the early hours of 17 June 1904, as Bloom looks up at the heavens in their back garden in the seventeenth episode, “Ithaca”, we read about another memorable morning when he saw the sunrise seated on a garden wall after a particular night of charades:

What prospect of what phenomena inclined him to remain?

The disparition of three final stars, the diffusion of daybreak, the apparition of a new solar disk.

Had he ever been a spectator of those phenomena?

Once, in 1887, after a protracted performance of charades in the house of Luke Doyle, Kimmage, he had awaited with patience the apparition of the diurnal phenomenon, seated on a wall, his gaze turned in the direction of Mizrach, the east. (U 17.1259–63; my italics)

  • 13 David Hayman writes: “I use the term ‘arranger’ to designate a figure or a presence that can be ide (...)

22It is impossible to know whether this passage refers to the same evening of charades recounted in “Nausicaa”, which may also be reprised in “Penelope”, and whether they are all refer to that “first night” mentioned in “Calypso”, because the “facts” as they are presented in “Ithaca” contradict those other versions of the stories as well as the geographical and historical reality towards which they may be supposed to gesture outside the covers of the book. Whereas the Doyle’s home is firmly established in Dolphin’s Barn in all the other stories about them in Ulysses, Joyce has relocated them to Kimmage in this rendering of Bloom’s memory. In this case, it seems clear that this is not an obvious error on Joyce’s part, but rather a purposeful misstatement by the episode’s “arranger”.13 While the arranger pointedly confirms that this scene took place at Luke Doyle’s in 1887, a date that conforms to the fictional chronology of the book, it moves the family about two kilometres over the Grand Canal from Dolphin’s Barn to Kimmage, which disrupts the fictional geography of the narrative. Besides the textual evidence, there is no historical evidence that the real-life Doyles ever lived in Kimmage. For example, the Thom’s Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland for the year Joyce was born lists Luke Doyle residence at “8 Camac Place, Dolphin’s Barn” (Thom’s 1882, 1649). These facts highlight a telling slip in Costello’s account of the historical Doyles that I cited above. By situating the real Luke Doyle in Kimmage, Costello is following in the tradition established by Richard Ellmann in his canonical biography of Joyce. He confounds the fictional and historical facts in the “life stories” of the characters and their real-life namesakes.

23Earlier in “Ithaca”, the arranger increasingly confuses addresses and further comingles the stories about the Dillons and the Doyles. It appears that the Dillon clan have also moved and now seem to reside in “Medina villa, Kimmage road, Roundtown” (U 17.467–8). There was no such address in Dublin, which is an obvious fact Joyce would have known (or could have discovered) if this sort of misstatement by the arranger were not part of the point Joyce was trying to make in this episode. These examples show that understanding the facts as they are represented in Ulysses often also requires that readers judge the effect of the episode’s specific style, which sometimes trumps narrative coherence and the consistency of the work ― let alone its extra-textual factual veracity ― when that is not important to the fiction. Rather than trying to resolve the conundrums involved in disentangling the locations of the families’ respective homes in the world of Ulysses or in Dublin, it seems sufficient to assign the contradictions to an overarching stylistic device, especially since Joyce never changed either of the Kimmage-related addresses after he first included them in the text about six months before the book appeared.

  • 14 Joyce sketched a rudimentary telling of this scene at dawn on the proto-draft of “Ithaca” (NLI MS 3 (...)

24Regardless, an evening of charades marked a turning point in young Leopold Bloom’s life.14 As is often the case, Joyce began with a story that was concerned with specific conceptual, thematic, and aesthetic concerns that were pertinent to the particular episode he was working on. Given the emphasis on science in “Ithaca”, at first the scene here was focused on making an astronomical point. Later Joyce managed to subsume a romantic memory of an evening with Bloom's soon to be wife within this framework. Specifically, it initially takes up the fact that at least once in his life Bloom had witnessed the sunrise. From this tangential starting point, Joyce found a way to interconnect this storyline with other events in Bloom’s life as he kept adding to this scene. This is one of many examples that show how Joyce tended to combine and intertwine the relatively few stories that are told in Ulysses, and thereby strove to establish the semblance of unity and totality that readers and critics often consider as one of the book’s hallmarks.

  • 15 This means that Joyce wrote the scene in “Circe” after all the descriptions of the one or more nigh (...)
  • 16 Furthermore, as he did in “Nausicaa”, Joyce conflates “Rip Van Winkle” with Washington Irving’s oth (...)

25Finally, what may or may not be the same night of charades is reprised in “Circe”, the fifteenth episode, and it first appears on its Rosenbach manuscript (ff. 51d–e).15 This version of the story further complicates the attempts to differentiate between what took place at the homes of the Doyles and that of the Dillons. Presumably, the context is meant to suggest precisely that same night of charades at Luke Doyle’s when Bloom acted out “Rip van Winkle”, but predictably enough it is not as clear as that.16 In “Circe”, Bloom repeats the fact that this was indeed the “first night”, but now it does not take place at Luke Doyle’s home. In fact, as Bloom’s memory of that night returns he exclaims: “I see her! It’s she! The first night at Mat Dillon’s!’ (U 15.3162–3; my italics). It is difficult to account for this significant change in the setting: it could simply be an error on Joyce’s part, though that seems unlikely at this late stage in the evolution of the story; or it could be an intervention by the arranger in this complex episode, but, if so, no satisfactory account for its relevance has been detected so far; and so the reader is left with an unresolved conundrum about the origin of the Blooms’ love affair in Ulysses.

Another “First Night”

26That is all we know about that first night (or nights) of charades at the home of the Doyles (or was it at the Dillons after all?). Nonetheless, Joyce wrote a distinctly different version of Leopold and Molly’s so-called first night for “Sirens” at the start of 1919. He finished this draft of the book’s eleventh episode about a year after he had written the other “first night” scene in “Calypso”. There is no evidence that Joyce had written this other first night scenario before, and it is important to bear in mind that he continued to expand and refine it substantially on several of the episode’s subsequent manuscripts. The physical disposition of the text on the page suggests that it was a new idea and for a long time it clearly remained relatively adaptable.

27The episode’s dramatic focus is Bloom’s compulsion to be near Boylan as he stops into the Ormond Hotel before setting off for his rendezvous with Molly. Bloom’s poignant thoughts oscillate between his troubling current marital dilemma and the passion and love he felt the “first night” he saw his life mate. Music structures the episode’s style and themes, and the arranger describes Father Cowley’s rendition of Lionel’s sorrowful memories of lost love in M’appari from Friedrich Von Flotow’s opera Martha:

The voice returned. Weaker but unwearied it sang again how first it saw that form endearing, how sorrow then departed, how look and form and word charmed him and won his heart (NLI MS 36,639/09, p. [10r]; see U 11.716–20).

28Moved by the emotions that the music has stirred in him, Bloom recalls his own past and thinks to himself: “First night at Mat Dillon’s I saw her” (p. [10r]; my italics; see U 11.725). Then he recalls the summery dress Molly wore that night. He remembers her full voice as she sang Waiting while he turned the music for her. More particularly, Bloom recalls her ample bosom and Spanish eyes, which are recurrent motifs. This pointedly sexualized memory of Molly, as usual both erotic and exotic, exemplifies how the other men in the Ormond (and generally in Ulysses) think of her. Precisely this sort of formulaic depiction of Molly is essential to how Joyce represents her as a character. Furthermore, here Bloom associates Molly’s voice with the Dillon’s garden flowers, which is also typical of both their memories of pleasant times at Mat Dillon’s even after so many years have passed. This shared memory of that time and place remains an idyllic setting and moment in their lives.

29Joyce initially wrote that the scene took place in June, presumably in 1886, though he never specifies the year, but then he also crossed out the month as well, rendering it a timeless event in the couple’s lives. This exemplifies a prototypical narratological pattern in Ulysses: almost all of Leopold and Molly’s memories of their early courtship revolve around the theme of the repeating cycles of time in their lives. Whereas in “Calypso” Leopold Bloom figures the cyclical pattern of his life in terms of “Ponchielli’s dance of the hours” (U 4.526), in “Sirens” his conception of life is figured in the game of musical chairs the couple played. Joyce added this as an introduction to the scene all at one go in lead pencil in the bottom corner of the page, wrapping it around what he had already written in ink:

Then musical chairs we too the last after her. Round and round. Slow. Quick. And round. Halt. She sat. Her legs (NLI MS 36,639/09, p. [10r])

30Six months later, in July 1919, this became:

Musical chairs. We two the last. Fate. Fate. After her. Round and round. Slow. Quick. Round. We. All looked. Halt. She sat. Yellow knees. (Rosenbach “Sirens” MS, f. 25)

31Then, after Joyce revised this memory several more times, it finally appeared in Ulysses on 2 February 1922 as:

Musical chairs. We two the last. Fate. After her. Fate. Round and round slow. Quick round. We two. All looked. Halt. Down she sat. All ousted looked. Lips laughing. Yellow knees. (U 11.726–8)

32Besides showing that Joyce’s writing method was almost always accretive, this is an exemplary instance of his meticulous and persistent revision of the syntactical structure of even the shortest bit of text in “Sirens”, and Ulysses more generally. The same motifs were present from the start, though Joyce kept striving to refine their presentation. Here Bloom recalls that he and Molly were the last to find their seats in the parlour game. He thinks about how this seemingly trivial entertainment may have sealed their fates and then ponders the ways in which the past must necessarily determine the future. The further revised version also adds the significant nuance that the others (presumably men) who “[a]ll looked” at Molly had been “ousted” by Bloom’s successful efforts in the game and so in life, and he thinks how this must have been preordained.

33By the time Joyce rewrote the scene on the episode’s Rosenbach manuscript, he had changed the start of the paragraph from “First night at Mat Dillon’s I saw her” to “First night I met her at Mat Dillon’s in Roundtown” (f. 25). Joyce presumably noticed that this version of the couple’s “first night” in effect contradicts the other “first night” scene in “Calypso” that had by then already appeared in print. Rather than radically altering what he had already written, Joyce merely changed the location and phrasing on a (now missing) manuscript that was used to set up the episode for the August 1919 issue of the Little Review to read: “First night when first I saw her at Mat Dillon’s in Terenure” (see Buffalo TS 9, p [13r]; JJA 13: 70; Little Review, VI.4, p. 59; U 11.725). This shows how, as he often did, Joyce tried to redress a textual discrepancy caused by his evolving narrative by smoothing over it as simply as possible. Nonetheless, if these changes were supposed to be clarifications, they obviously do not diminish the confusion about when and where these several “first nights” take place. Still, that is how the various stories stand in Ulysses and in the manuscript versions that lead to the version in the published book. This is how Joyce created several textual, biographical, temporal, and topographical discrepancies at the narrative origin of Leopold Bloom and Molly Tweedy’s life together in Ulysses for readers to puzzle over.

The Dillons of Roundtown (Terenure)

34Much like Luke and Caroline Doyle, the character of Mathew Dillon in Ulysses has the same name as one of the Joyce family friends and neighbours in Dublin. Vivien Igoe has uncovered a good deal of historical information about the real Mathew Dillon at the turn of the twentieth century, particularly that he and his eight daughters lived in Brighton House, Brighton Road, Rathgar, from 1866 to 1894, close by 41 Brighton Square, where Joyce himself was born in 1882. She also suggests that the Joyce family attended a party in “its lovely garden” sometime between 1887 and 1891 (Igoe 2016, 83-84).

35Beyond the biographical connections, Joyce’s interest in locating the fictional Dillons in what was then a relatively rural setting is founded on the premise that the Blooms always associate their meetings at the Dillons with their lush pastoral — even Edenic — garden. Nonetheless, the connection between the fictional Dillons and Leopold and Molly is apparently more substantial and fundamental to the narrative history of Ulysses than the night (or nights) of charades at the Doyles. The gatherings at Mat Dillon’s home assumed greater significance as Joyce continued to expand the fictional biographical narrative of the soon-to-be Blooms.

  • 17 Generally, the Ulysses page proofs are a later setting of the text and they are also cited by the l (...)

36In “Nausicaa” Bloom recalls a particularly romantic encounter in the Dillon’s garden in May (in what must have been 1887), where he kissed Molly surrounded by its nightstock and other flowers (U 13.1090–1). There is no mention of the kiss in the garden on the episode’s draft. There he simply “wooed her” (Cornell MS 56B, p. 30; see JJA 13: 233), but on its subsequent manuscript the kiss has become an integral part of the story (Rosenbach “Nausicaa” MS, f. 51). Throughout Ulysses Bloom’s thoughts centre on a desire to capture (or else recapture) the past, and so evoke a time when he was happier than he is in 1904. For example, Joyce continued to add elements to this idyllic scene. Around 25 October 1921, when Joyce reread Bloom’s memory of Molly in the garden on the episode’s second setting in proof for Ulysses, he added the touching idea that after more than fifteen years of marriage Bloom regrets not having “had an oilpainting made of her [Molly] then” (Harvard Placard 41.ii; see JJA 19: 301). A month later, on the next setting of this same scene in proof, he amplified Bloom’s wish by having Bloom wish that it had been “a fulllength” portrait of his wife when they first met (Texas Page Proofs 23.3; see JJA 25: 279; see U 13.1091–2),17 thereby emphasizing her physical allure then to her suitor and still now to her husband.

  • 18 For Leopold’s foundational memory of this scene, see U 8.899–916, and for Molly’s recollection of t (...)

37Oddly, besides the momentous kiss on Howth the day she encouraged him to propose,18 the only other one of Leopold’s kisses that Molly remembers in Ulysses was actually at Luke Doyle’s, thereby further entangling the two families and what happened at their homes in the Blooms’ memories. In Molly’s corresponding memory of that kiss in “Penelope” she thinks: “I wrote the night he kissed my heart at Dolphins barn I couldnt describe it simply it makes you feel like nothing on earth” (U 18.330–1), most of which was already on the episode’s draft (see NLI MS 36,639/14, p. [4r]). In Bloom’s version of the kiss in “Nausicaa”, he (more precisely and somewhat awkwardly) remembers kissing Molly’s shoulder, whilst she (more romantically) thinks that he kissed her heart. While maintaining a basic consistency between the versions of the story, the nuanced differences between the couple’s shared loving memories serve to determine our understanding of the characters in Ulysses. Furthermore, once again, the events at the homes of the Dillons and the Doyles have presumably merged in Joyce’s descriptions. Could Joyce have meant to describe the same scene here and did he simply conflate the homes where such a memorable kiss took place yet again?

38If one accepts the view that Joyce’s characters are less significant to the narrative and the meaning of Ulysses than the stories being recalled, or else told by and about them, then in this case it is not so much that Joyce decided that the Dillons would occupy a relatively central space in the early life histories of the Blooms. Rather, as he continued to write the book, Joyce only progressively attributed greater significance to the Dillons, specifically to the pleasant times the young couple spent at their home and garden. Thereby, he only slowly concentrated the possibilities of coincidence that this creative nexus of scenes and constructed memories afford the narrative and the experience of reading the book. While some readers may believe that Joyce’s aim was to diversify his cast of characters and the scenes of the action in the book as he made his work a seemingly ever more all-encompassing canvas, the manuscripts demonstrate a different trajectory. They document the ways in which Joyce tried to hang as many divergent themes, events, and details around a relatively limited number of characters and incidents, and thereby he strove to construct the semblance of a unified totality that readers are encouraged to connect and complete in their imaginations. Although there are obvious exceptions, it is not so much that Joyce invested a pre-established significance in many of these people or places, events or incidents. Instead, more obviously, these elements continued to accrue meaning as the writer explored the narrative possibilities and established connections that readers are meant to recognize.

39It might be interesting to find one or more basic, structural (presumably autobiographical) reasons why Joyce attached particular importance to certain pivotal encounters in Leopold and Molly’s courtship happening at the Dillon’s home while others are supposed to happen at the Doyle’s. But based on what we know of Joyce’s writing strategies, it was not the Dillons or Doyles themselves (fictional or real) who are fundamental to the stories in Ulysses. Instead of being inherently relevant and essential, these fictionalized families and their homes accumulated thematic meaning and narratological significance as Joyce kept amalgamating and unifying his stories at the same as he was elaborating and complicating them.

Top of page

Bibliography

Adams, Robert M. 1962. Surface and Symbol. New York: Oxford University Press.

Costello, Peter. 1992. James Joyce: Years of Growth, 1882-1915: A Biography. New York: Pantheon Books.

Crispi, Luca. 2010. The UB James Joyce Catalog. Buffalo: The University at Buffalo, The Poetry Collection, <http://library.buffalo.edu/pl/collections/jamesjoyce/catalog/>. [Accessed 28 October 2014].

Crispi, Luca. 2011. “A First Foray into the National Library of Ireland’s Joyce Manuscripts: Bloomsday 2011”, Genetic Joyce Studies 11, <http://www.geneticjoycestudies.org/>. [Accessed 28 October 2014].

Crispi, Luca. 2013. “Joyce at Work on Ulysses: 1917–1922”, Genetic Joyce Studies 13, <http://www.geneticjoycestudies.org/>. [Accessed 28 October 2014].

Crispi, Luca. 2015. James Joyce’s Creative Process and the Construction of Characters in Ulysses: Becoming the Blooms. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Ellmann, Richard. 1982. James Joyce. Rev. ed. New York: Oxford University Press.

Gunn, Ian and Clive Hart. 2004. James Joyce’s Dublin. London: Thames and Hudson.

Hayman, David. 1982. “Ulysses”: The Mechanics of Meaning. Rev. ed. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press.

Igoe, Vivien. 2016. The Characters in James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Biographical Dictionary. Dublin: University College Dublin Press.

Joyce, James. March 1918-December 1920. “Ulysses” [23-part serial], The Little Review, V.11–VII.3.

Joyce, James. 1922. Ulysses. Paris: Shakespeare and Company.

Joyce, James. 1966. Vol. 1 of Letters of James Joyce. Ed. Stuart Gilbert. New. ed. New York: Viking Press.

Joyce, James. 1974. Ulysses: A Facsimile of the Manuscript. Ed. Harry Levin and Clive Driver. London: Faber and Faber; Philadelphia: Philip H. & A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation.

Joyce, James. 1977–78. The James Joyce Archive. Eds. Michael Groden et al. New York: Garland.

Joyce, James. 1986. Ulysses. Ed. Hans Walter Gabler et al. New York: Garland.

Kenny, Peter. 2002. The Joyce Papers 2002: Collection List No. 68. Dublin: The National Library of Ireland.

Niemeyer, Carl. 1976. “A Ulysses Calendar”. James Joyce Quarterly, 13, pp. 163–93.

Scholes, Robert E. [1961]. The Cornell Joyce Collection: A Catalogue. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.

Thom’s Official Directory of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. 1882, 1904, and 1905. Dublin: Thom’s.

Tierney, Andrew. 2013. “‘One of Britain’s fighting men’: Major Malachi Powell and Ulysses”, James Joyce Online Notes, <http://www.jjon.org/jioyce-s-people/powell>. [Accessed 28 October 2014].

Top of page

Notes

1 Carl Niemeyer notes this discrepancy, but as far as I know it has not been discussed elsewhere (Niemeyer 1976, 178).

2 Adding to the topographical fluidity, Joyce names the suburb just outside Dublin city centre where the Dillons are supposed to live as Roundtown in the “Hades”, “Aeolus”, “Oxen of the Sun” and “Ithaca” episodes, but calls it Terenure in “Aeolus” and “Sirens”. It is now called Terenure.

3 This notebook is one of almost two-dozen Joyce manuscripts acquired by the National Library of Ireland (NLI MSS 36,639/01–19) that are catalogued as the “Joyce Papers 2002” (see Kenny 2002 and http://catalogue.nli.ie/Record/vtls000194606). Unless indicated by square brackets as here, all manuscript citations follow Joyce’s pagination of the document. For further information about these manuscripts, see Crispi 2011 and 2013.

4 Although Joyce abbreviates Mathew Dillon’s first name as both Mat and Matt in his notes and manuscripts, he is Mat Dillon in Ulysses.

5 This mixed fair copy manuscript has been reproduced in colour as Ulysses: A Facsimile of the Manuscript (Joyce 1974). The Rosenbach manuscript is cited throughout by episode and folio number, except for the “Ithaca” and “Penelope” episodes, which are cited by Joyce’s pagination.

6 References to Ulysses are abbreviated as U and cited in the standard format by the episode and line number(s) of the Gabler edition (Joyce 1986). Joyce further revised these sentences twice on the same (now missing) typescript page; first, from February to May 1918, for its appearance in the Little Review (issue V.2: June 1918), and then again at the start of 1921 for Ulysses (Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922).

7 For example, Joyce revealed the complex connections between the various characters in his work and the real life Powell family in a 21 December 1922 letter to his aunt Josephine Murray: “Major Powell ― in my book Major Tweedy, Mrs Bloom’s father” (Joyce 1957, 198). For further information on Sergeant-Major Powell, see Ellmann 1982, 46 and 519, as well as Tierney 2013.

8 The placard proofs of Ulysses are also known as the book’s earlier galley proofs. They are reproduced in black and white, high contrast photofacsimile in the James Joyce Archive (Joyce 1977‒78), which hereafter is abbreviated as JJA + volume and page number). Throughout this essay, Joyce’s additions are signalled with matched sets of nested caret marks as follows: “text ^added text^ text”. Placards are cited by the location of the original, the number and setting of text, as well as by the volume and page number in Joyce 1977‒78.

9 Joyce had already written a version of this scene on the episode’s earliest extant draft when he returned to Trieste at the end of 1919 (Cornell MS 56B, pp. 30–1; see JJA 13: 233 and 235). For a description of this manuscript, see Scholes 1961, 25.

10 Joyce added this line to introduce this particular memory on the episode’s typescript just before Ulysses was published (Buffalo MS 11.a.i, p. [18r]; see JJA 13: 290). For further information about the Buffalo Joyce manuscripts, see Crispi 2010.

11 I elaborate these ideas more fully in Crispi 2015.

12 For further information about this “Penelope” manuscript, see JJA 16: xi.

13 David Hayman writes: “I use the term ‘arranger’ to designate a figure or a presence that can be identified neither with the author nor with his narrators, but exercises an increasing degree of overt control over increasingly challenging material” (Hayman 1982, 84).

14 Joyce sketched a rudimentary telling of this scene at dawn on the proto-draft of “Ithaca” (NLI MS 36,639/13, p. [3v]), but by the episode’s next extant version (written less than a month later) the special daybreak event had taken place after a particular evening of charades at Luke Doyle’s home, wherever he may live in the world of Ulysses (Rosenbach “Ithaca” Blue MS, p. 17).

15 This means that Joyce wrote the scene in “Circe” after all the descriptions of the one or more nights of charades at Luke Doyle’s house, except the one in “Ithaca” I discussed above.

16 Furthermore, as he did in “Nausicaa”, Joyce conflates “Rip Van Winkle” with Washington Irving’s other well-known story “Sleepy Hollow”.

17 Generally, the Ulysses page proofs are a later setting of the text and they are also cited by the location of the original, the number and setting of text, and the volume and page number in the James Joyce Archive (Joyce 1977-78).

18 For Leopold’s foundational memory of this scene, see U 8.899–916, and for Molly’s recollection of the same scene, see U 18.1571–83.

Top of page

References

Bibliographical reference

Luca Crispi, « Some Textual and Factual Discrepancies in James Joyce's Ulysses: The Blooms’ Several “First Nights” », Variants, 12-13 | 2016, 104-124.

Electronic reference

Luca Crispi, « Some Textual and Factual Discrepancies in James Joyce's Ulysses: The Blooms’ Several “First Nights” », Variants [Online], 12-13 | 2016, Online since 01 May 2017, connection on 17 August 2017. URL : http://variants.revues.org/330

Top of page

About the author

Luca Crispi

Luca Crispi is Lecturer in James Joyce Studies and Modernism in the UCD James Joyce Research Centre, School of English, Drama and Film. His monograph – Joyce’s Creative Process and the Construction of Characters in ‘Ulysses’: Becoming the Blooms – was published by Oxford University Press in 2015. He is a founding co-editor with Anne Fogarty of the Dublin James Joyce Journal and was the co-editor with Sam Slote of How Joyce Wrote ‘Finnegans Wake’: A Chapter-by-Chapter Genetic Guide (Wisconsin UP, 2007). His recent articles have appeared in the Journal of Modern Literature, James Joyce Quarterly, Joyce Studies Annual and Genetic Joyce Studies. He is currently working on a monograph entitled Revising the Modernist Aesthetic of ‘Ulysses’.

Top of page

Copyright

The authors

Top of page
  • Revues.org