Jung’s Letter to James Joyce on ULYSSES

After reading chapter 15 of Joyce’s Ulysses for our pre-Bloomsday readalong, I noticed again some interesting sex and gender blending and switching in the text. It reminded me of Jung’s theory of anima/animus.

From Freud, Jung, and Joyce: conscious connections (via the Ulysses page on www.planetbookgroupie.com):

Although, Joyce vehemently denied being influenced by the ideas of Freud and Jung, referring to them derisively as Tweedledum and Tweedledee, his writings indicate that not only was he very familiar with the substance of their ideas and theories but that he could also apply them when exploring the minds of his characters.

I also found (in what Jung refers to below as one of the zillion ‘peregrinations’ that reading Ulysses prompts), found this on Open Culture about Jung’s review of the book, his letter to Joyce himself after the review was published, and a little about their ongoing relationship after that (Jung treated Joyce’s daughter Lucia for schizophrenia.

Ulysses proved to be an exceedingly hard nut and it has forced my mind not only to most unusual efforts, but also to rather extravagant peregrinations (speaking from the standpoint of a scientist). Your book as a whole has given me no end of trouble and I was brooding over it for about three years until I succeeded to put myself into it. But I must tell you that I’m profoundly grateful to yourself as well as to your gigantic opus, because I learned a great deal from it. I shall probably never be quite sure whether I did enjoy it, because it meant too much grinding of nerves and of grey matter.

Over the course of reading and reading about this challenging (the MOST challenging) novel, I empathize with Jung’s struggle. That Jung would find it difficult and boring, but ultimately not only worthwhile but also deserving of singular praise, bolsters my spirits, and makes me look forward even more to the final chapter, Molly’s, which Jung says is “a string of veritable psychological peaches.”

3 Responses to “Jung’s Letter to James Joyce on ULYSSES”

  1. crystal Says:

    I thought this page: https://books.google.com/books?id=qGTfBQAAQBAJ&pg=PT218&lpg=PT218&dq=zarathustra+ash+plant&source=bl&ots=itIaNCSEJN&sig=KwxDapcNEQH9ngaf_8YdvQ3I928&hl=en&sa=X&ei=DDFZVeHDIMWXygTth4DABw&ved=0CCUQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=zarathustra%20ash%20plant&f=false I found while googling Zarathustra + ash plant fitting for this post and revealing. Really digging the tributaries that one can travel in this episode!

  2. Heidi Says:

    Concluding thoughts on this episode. All the surrealism seems in accord w/ Stephen and Poldy, hammered by absinthe/poisoned by foodstuffs, finding themselves in Nighttown. Also, Circe, potions, men transformed into animals, etc, etc.

    As mentioned previously, really enjoyed the sentient objects/concepts (fan, button, gasket, yews, waterfalls, Halcyon Days, etc.). Going to make a list of all of these.

    THE YEWS: “Deciduously!” [ML 1946, p.540]

  3. girldetective Says:

    I think we can absolutely say that the absinthe is part of Stephen’s cussed-up-ed-ness. Yet, should we believe Poldy with his frequent doubts about the food? On the one hand, I can’t speak to the health standards of 1904 Dublin, though they could likely have been improved. On the other hand, blaming intestinal and other physical megrims on food is a common thing to do. My father is a retired allergist, and he noted that when people come in with whatever complaints they have, they always want to blame it on food. And it’s rarely the food.