Sort of trips off the tongue doesn't it and I'm feeling a bit skippy light-fantastic because I can see the end and I've loved doing this.
But dear Team Ulysses, where are we exactly?
Which side of the mountain are you all on?
On a week-long stint of night duty we used to call night four rather indelicately 'Over-the Hump' night, and Team Ulysses we're there, past midway, but this is perhaps a good moment to pause, rest and take a compass bearing and plot our course June-ward and make sure we're all on the same trajectory for that Bloomsday 2010 party.
I've stuck roughly to the 60-70 pages a month rule, which in my Oxford World's Classics edition has settled very conveniently into two chapters, so this month I'm up to Circe which, for those without notes or headings, is the chapter beginning in italicised stage directions
'The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled tramsiding set with skeleton tracks, read and green will-o'-the-wisps and danger signals...'
Once I surrendered all hope of sense and sensibility I was into Circe and will be going round in circles for some time. This the longest section of Ulysses, in my edition 160 pages, and I plan to eke this out through February and March too, leaving Emaeus to talk about in April, Ithaca in May and ending in a blaze of glory with Penelope on Bloomsday, June 16th 2010 and already I'm starting to feel a twinge of excitement about crossing the finishing line with you all.
I think we'd better plan to hold hands around the world and run through that tape and head for the party food together.
Perhaps this gives us time for a breather too, time for others to catch up if they want to and I also have a personal plan to take stock and reflect on what's gone before, perhaps revisit Oxen of the Sun which got rather short shrift from me in December.
I've stumbled through the haze of words this month and kept Erika's wonderful advice to the fore, remembering to laugh and see Joyce's humour and that hasn't been difficult, there seems to be a great deal of laugh aloud humour in Circe. Thanks are also due to Frank Delaney and his Guide to the Dublin of Ulysses for giving me some meaningful context and shedding some light on what I have been reading. Much as I have wanted to read with that naivete of the ordinary reader, there's a bit of me that can't cope without an element of understanding.
Plus how could I go through life a minute longer not knowing what a pig's crubeen was?
The setting is Nighttown, the red-light district of Dublin where, according to Frank Delaney, two thousand prostitutes plied there trade, Montgomery Street (Monto) considered to be the worst slum in Western Europe with a reputation for 'unlimited bawdry.'
One of Frank Delaney's anecdotes made me smile
' Julia Hooligan, engrossed in conversation with a friend in Grafton Street one day, was unwittingly barring the path of a well-known lawyer. "Out of my was woman," he throated. " And who do you think you are?" Julia nipped back. "Madam - I am the most famous Crown solicitor from here to Balbriggan." "That's nuthin'," chuckled the undaunted Julia."I'm the most famous half-crown solicitor from here to Belfast."
The pictures alone reveal two different Dublins I think and it's clear from Circe, as if wasn't clear enough already, which one James Joyce inhabits.
And thanks again to Frank Delaney for confirming what I thought I knew from reading, but then you can never quite be sure with James Joyce because nothing is as it seems, but Circe is indeed fantasy merging into fact, a heady brew of
'psychedelic hallucination and fantastic nightmare written as dramatic performance,characterisations and descriptions embodied in stage directions - reactions, imaginations and subconscious fears in the verbal exchanges.'
Echoes of Macbeth, Tennyson and The Charge of the Light Brigade and heaven knows what else, it's all in there and echoes of Ulysses itself with the return of Paddy Dignam from the grave and not looking his best it must be said.
The notes in my copy suggests the text is 'recirculating itself' with 'hundreds of displaced repetitions' and a multitude of minor characters reappearing, so I feel sure Circe will be a good test of how much I have taken note of what has gone before.
Frank Delaney suggests this is all a
'long, mad, luminous swirling saraband of images that fog and fill your mind and drag you along in a crazy punk rag-doll dervish dance.'
I have to say, and not that I'd know, but this must be like a drug-fuelled journey without the bother of the drugs.
James Joyce rewrote Circe nine times, and who can know what he was on each time, before declaring it 'the best thing he had ever done' and on that verdict I couldn't possibly comment, but I have laughed out loud and gone with the flow especially when treated to the The World's Twelve Worst Books.
Meanwhile I've been hunting around for more old pictures of Dublin because the city previously unknown to me is starting to shape up in my mind's eye, and I came across this site from whence I have 'borrowed' today's pictures.
Glories await there for anyone else interested in matching up that mind's eye picture to the reality and also a chance to eavesdrop on the ongoing and sparkling conversation between the Dublin expats as they debate the locations of the old photos, hundreds of them.
Talking of pig's crubeen as I was, here's Marco Pierre White deciding what to do with his.
...trotters to the rest of us and let's hope Joan, Lesley-Ann et al are there in comments with the soup as usual.