Wednesday, January 30, 2008

ULYSSES by James Joyce (part I)

Surely someone among the tens of thousands of academics who have published on Ulysses has noticed that the book begins and ends orgasmically?
Buck Mulligan 'came' to the stairhead. It's an unusual first verb for a story, especially in a situation where 'climbed' or even 'stepped' would've been more descriptive choices. 'Came' is too vague, given that we have no idea as yet where Buck has come from. (Is he ascending the stair or preparing to descend?) I suspect Joyce uses the word solely for its punning sexual denotation and the circular symmetry created when this meaning is juxtaposed against the novel's final words. The first sentence depicts a man in the act of 'coming'; the last sentence is a linguistic representation of a female orgasm, "yes I said yes I will yes". And when I visualize the actual Martello Tower at Sandycove and consider that Buck 'comes' out of a dark opening on the top of a phallic symbol, emerging like semen from a penis, I conclude that the pun can only be intentional. This is all an example of how closely Ulysses can be read and how reading it very closely could conceivably take a lifetime--leaving Finnegans Wake, one presumes, for the afterlife, the waking after the wake.

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