They Wrote what??? Bloomsday Edition--Part 1

Published by Wexter in the blog Wexter's blog. Views: 197

Let's find out why the greatest novel of the 20th century was banned in the U.S. for twelve years. In case you have no idea to what I'm referring, the novel Ulysses by James Joyce is considered a masterpiece of modernist literature. It follows the wanderings of Leopold Bloom over the course of June 16, 1904. The novel, written in 1922, would be banned in the United States on an obscenity charge until 1934 when a district court determined it not to be pornography.

So what was the fuss? Let's go all the way to the last section of the book. This section, referred to as "Penelope"*, features the stream-of-conscious thoughts of Molly Bloom, Leopold's wife, and the men in her life. These men include Leopold, a son who died in adolescence, her father, her extramarital lover, and Stephen Dedalus,** of whom she jokes about seducing.

I'll introduce the quotes with a point of reference. Keep in mind this is stream-of-conscious writing, which attempts to mimic the uninterrupted thoughts occurring in one's mind and therefore lacks punctuation and appears non-sequitur at times.

Her husband's behavior when she was nursing her daughter:
"[...] theres the mark of his teeth still where he tried to bite the nipple I had to scream out arent they fearful trying to hurt you [...] I had to get him to suck them they were so hard he said it was sweeter and thicker than cows then he wanted to milk me into the tea well hes beyond everything [...]"

On the possibility of Stephen Dedalus coming to live with her and her husband:
"[...] I often felt I wanted to kiss him all over his lovely young cock there so simply I wouldn't mind taking him in my mouth if nobody was looking as if it was asking you to suck it so clean and white he looked with his boyish face I would too in 1/2 a minute even if some of it went down what its only like gruel [...] besides hed be clean compared to those pigs of men I suppose never dream of washing it from 1 years end to the other the most of them only thats what gives the women the moustaches [...]"

*Like the film, Oh Brother, Where Art Thou? each section of the book parallels the adventures of Ulysses/Odysseus in the ancient classic, The Odyssey. Based on what edition you read, the "Penelope" section is over forty pages long and consists of only two or three sentences.

**The "hero" of A Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man who Leo asks to come live with he and his wife.
You need to be logged in to comment