Epic Geography

Epic Geography: James Joyce's Ulysses

MICHAEL A. SEIDEL
MAPS DRAWN BY THOMAS CRAWFORD
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 290
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztx6w
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  • Book Info
    Epic Geography
    Book Description:

    In proposing that places, movements, and directions are deeply implicated in the narrative structure of Ulysses, Michael Seidel contends that Joyce recreates in Dublin the significant epic geography of the Odyssey. The author demonstrates how Joyce adjusts the spaces of Ulysses to accommodate the three theaters of Homeric action as mapped by Victor Berard's Lex Pheniciens et I'Odyssee.

    Originally published in 1986.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5690-9
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. PREFACE
    (pp. ix-xvi)
  3. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xvii-xviii)
  4. Table of Contents
    (pp. xix-xx)
  5. LIST OF MAPS
    (pp. xxi-xxii)
  6. LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  7. PART ONE
    • INTRODUCTION
      (pp. 3-15)

      In hisJames Joyce’s Ulysses, the much maligned Stuart Gilbert provides considerable information from Victor Berard'sLes Pheniciens et I'Odyssee. Berard called himself a toponymist or, in his own coinage, a topologist , and Gilbert was willing enough to follow Joyce's lead on Berard's importance forUlysses.

      " Have you read Victor Berard'sLes Pheniciens et I'Odyssee?" Joyce asked me when I mentioned my reading of theOdyssey. (This interrogative method of suggestion was characteristic, as I soon came to learn.) I at once procured a copy of that bulky work, and found it fascinating reading. While immensely erudite, Berard...

    • ZOPHOS: TOWARD THE GLOOM MIGRATIONS, ORIENTATIONS, DIRECTIONS
      (pp. 16-38)

      IN theAeolusepisode ofUlysses, an Irish blowhard, Professor Mac-Hugh, comments on the passing of empires: “The sack of windy Troy. Kingdoms of this world. The masters of the Mediterranean are fellaheen today” (144). MacHugh's implosive turn is one of the day’s endless epitomes for Joyce’s Irish epic. The Greeks are “fellaheen” in that the Mediterranean is a Semitic sea, and “fellaheen” in that they are fallen— are parodically grounded in the meager domain of contemporary Dublin.

      Just after the professor’s remarks, Dedalus requests the floor: “I have a vision too” (144) : APisgah Sight of Palestine or...

    • GEOGRAPHICAL PROJECTIONS MACROANTHROPOS, HEAVENTREE, CIRCLE SQUARED
      (pp. 39-63)

      Epic geography for Joyce is more than the translation of a Mediterranean grid along a northwest axis to Ireland. It is also part of a natural and very basic verbal process. Joyce understands language as lending another dimension to imaged forms. As language becomes more complex, the dimension it lends becomes more encompassing. If one were to write that Joyce begins with images “immediately at hand,” he would be providing an example of the process I am describing. “At hand” is a metaphor defining a relationship by an extended image, a hand, which is part of the human body. “Immediately”...

    • INFLUENCE OF THE CLIMATE GEOGRAPHY AND NATIONAL TEMPERAMENT
      (pp. 64-83)

      One of the traditional tasks of the writer of epics is to mark the qualities of a land in the narrative events of a race. The epic is and always has been regionally and nationally determined. Theorists from Georg Lukacs to Northrop Frye insist that the epic is a bounded document before it is boundless, locally immanent before it is transcendent.¹ For Joyce this is as much a fact of history as a basis for narrative. He writes of his own land in his lecture,Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages.

      Nationality (if it really is not a convenient fiction...

    • THE EPIC’S NOVEL GEOGRAPHY HOMER, JOYCE, DEFOE
      (pp. 84-104)

      When an epic teaches a culture or people a version of its own history, it tests theethosof the forming events it records. But the epic imagination, partly because it so often extends its scope to the very borders of a nation's territory, finds itself ranging spaces where anethosis either severely challenged or broken down. Border and boundary narratives deal with the risk of territorial disorientation. One of the reasons that the HomericOdysseyis a "novelist's" epic above all others is that it not only defines its local nature by defining its extended hero, but also...

    • THE MYTH OF PROTEUS MASTERPLOTS AND MASTERBILKERS
      (pp. 105-120)

      After a brief indication in the beginning that the gods are about to free Odysseus from his space-bound trial on Calypso's western isle, the HomericOdysseymoves east. TheTelemachiadtransfers its younger hero to the Peloponnese, first to Pylos and then to Mene-Iaus’ Sparta, where Telemachus is told an original tale, one of the oldest Egyptian tales, a tale of the Ancient of the Salt Sea, Proteus. The structure of Menelaus’ adventure is a miniatureOdyssey. He had wandered for seven years along Levantine coasts and in Levantine ports. Odysseus had wandered for ten years mainly incouchantwaters....

  8. PART TWO
    • PRELIMINARY MAPPINGS: ORIENTATIONS, WANDERINGS, NOSTOS
      (pp. 123-137)

      Joyce may well have boasted to Frank Budgen that inUlysseshe wanted to present “a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book,”¹ but his narrative strategy inUlyssestouches on more than city planning or civil defense. As Richard Ellmann puts it, Joyce reefs Homer's sails. He reconstructs an epic map as much as he charts the spaces of his native city. It is not only the general pattern of exile and homecoming that Joyce borrows from the HomericOdyssey, but the...

    • TELEMACHIAD
      (pp. 138-149)

      Joyce's schema tells us thatTelemachusdoes not yet bear a body, but in the opening episode ofUlysses, the stately plump epic displays itsomphalos. The novel begins in one of the many Martello towers dotting the Irish coast as a defense barrier against French invasion set up in the early nineteenth century: “But ours is theomphalos” (17), says Mulligan. Stuart Gilbert includes a section on theomphalosas the mystical seat of the astral soul (Gilbert, pp. 51-56); if theomphaloscenters the body, it is also geographically orienting. InUlyssesthe Martello Tower is poised at...

    • THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: I
      (pp. 150-181)

      Bloom at 8:00 A.M. is ensconced in the kitchen of his home at 7 Eccles street.Calypso’s interior, cramped and below street-level, contrasts with the expanse of the first episode’s opening on the parapet overlooking Dublin Bay. Victor Bérard points out that pirates in the Mediterranean often kept prisoners roped or chained in remote island caverns, allowing them some, but not much, leeway to wander [Bérard, 1, 159]. After thinking about protecting (and preserving) his daughter’s virginity, Bloom says: “Useless: can’t move” (67). He is in much the same position with his wife’s planned alliance with Boylan. He has a...

    • THE WANDERINGS OF ODYSSEUS: II
      (pp. 182-227)

      According to Victor Bérard, Odysseus’Wanderingsrender, anthropomorphicaliy, several of the major navigational hazards of the seas known to the Greeks. The Wandering Rocks orplanktaiare mentioned very briefly in the epic as one of the possible obstacles facing Odysseus on his passage to the island of Helios after his visit to Hades. In Circe’s preview of adventures, she describes the Wandering Rocks as impassable, adding that only Jason and his Argonauts, with the aid of Hera, managed to slip between the crashing obstacles. The hazard is such that no living creature escapes it—even the doves of the...

    • NOSTOS
      (pp. 228-252)

      IN theOdysseythe geography of theNostossurveys the home island.Bérard states simply: “C’est un périple sémitique, en effect, qu’il faut supposer comme source originelle du Nostos” (It is a Semiticperiplousin effect, that one necessarily supposes as the original source of theNostos) [Bérard, u, 557]. Odysseus is dropped off at the cave of Phorcys, proceeds on foot to Eumaeus’ hut after his meeting with Athena, and later walks the longer footpath down the rocky countryside to his palace up-island. Bérard places the cave in the inlet off Port Vathi, approximately mid-island [Bérard, 11, 462]. Eumaeus’ hut...

    • THE MOTION IS ENDED
      (pp. 253-254)

      Midway through the second volume ofLes Pheniciens et I'Odyssee, Victor Bérard tells the story of a misadventure in the Straits of Boniface off the northern coast of Sardinia. Having set sail in his own yacht, Bérard had traced Odysseus to the supposed Corsican-Sardinian haunts of the man-eating giants of Lamos, first cousins to the equally brutal Cyclopes. Preparing to round Cape Maddelena toward the harbor of the Odyssean Lestrygonians, Bérard and his small crew were surprised by a sudden and violent squall. His yacht was hailed by the warning blasts of a small fleet of Sardinian coast guardvaporetti....

  9. INDEX
    (pp. 255-265)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 266-266)