Sunday, 16 June 2013

Bloomsday: Ulysses by James Joyce

published 1922  section 13





Gerty was dressed simply but with the instinctive taste of a votary of Dame Fashion for she felt that there was just a might that he might be out. A neat blouse of electric blue selftinted by dolly dyes (because it was expected in the Lady's Pictorial that electric blue would be worn) with a smart vee opening down to the division and kerchief pocket (in which she always kept a piece of cottonwool scented with her favourite perfume because the handkerchief spoiled the sit) and a navy threequarter skirt cut to the stride showed off her slim graceful figure to perfection. She wore a coquettish little love of a hat of wideleaved nigger straw contrast trimmed with an underbrim of eggblue chenille and at the side a butterfly bow of silk to tone. All Tuesday week afternoon she was hunting to match that chenille but at last she found what she wanted at Clery's summer sales, the very it, slightly shopsoiled but you would never notice, seven fingers two and a penny. She did it up all by herself and what joy was hers when she tried it on then, smiling at the lovely reflection which the mirror gave back to her! And when she put it on the waterjug to keep the shape she knew that that would take the shine out of some people she knew.




observations: It's 
BLOOMSDAY - June 16th, the day of James Joyce’s first date with Nora Barnacle, immortalized in the action of Ulysses. See last year’s entry

Gerty is something of a diversion along the way, taking the role of Nausicca in Homer’s Odyssey – as explained in this blog entry (which follows straight on from this one). The word for the dark brown colour of her hat is offensive now, but we're not really feeling we can edit James Joyce.

Although it is famously reputed to be a book that people buy but never open, it is a great read – demanding but rewarding. And funny – Molly Bloom goes to confession and tells the priest:

he touched me father and what harm if he did where and I said on the canal bank like a fool but whereabouts on your person my child…
One of the many unexpected byways of Ulysses is towser – in a line of the utmost poetry, Joyce says:
And with that he took the bloody old towser by the scruff of the neck and, by Jesus, he near throttled him.
This has its similarities with a line from Kingsley Amis’s Lucky Jim:
The bloody old towser-faced boot-faced totem-pole on a crap reservation, Dixon thought.
If you look it up at Merriam-Webster online, you find towser defined as a large dog or a large rough person -- and one happy reader adds to the Ulysses citation by saying ‘in 101 Dalmatians (the cartoon version), the old gentleman wonders why no one names their dogs Towser anymore.’ (Obviously, the threat of violence.)The internet is a wonderful thing.

Links on the blog: For more Ulysses click on the label below, and Joyce’s The Dead is here.

The picture is by photography pioneer Alfred Stieglitz.


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