ULYSSES readalong Ch 16: Eumaeus


Welcome back, Ulysses friends; we’re in the home stretch! And we’re rewarded this week with a relatively straightforward chapter mostly about Bloom and Stephen hanging out in the wake of the bizarre events, real and imagined, of chapter 15, Circe.

Any thoughts on what this chapter’s song should be?

Bloom picks up Stephen, who says he’s thirsty, and they go to a cabman’s shelter since the bars are closed; it’s 1 a.m.

In the Odyssey, Eumaeus is the faithful swineherd of Odysseus’, and Odysseus and Telemachus meet up in this tent. Their loose analogs are Bloom and Stephen and there is no direct analog to the swineherd.

The style of the writing is loose and loopy–think of a student staying up too late to write a paper. It’s not the crisp intellectual prose of chapter 1.

Bloom, on how the stories are always about the husband coming home, never the wife on a journey:

Never about the runaway wife coming back, however much devoted to the absentee. The face at the window! (Vintageg 624)

Stephen, in a rare moment of empathy, and in one of his several points of departure from Bloom, who is nagging him about prostitutes:

Fear not them that sell the body but have not power to buy the soul. She is a bad merchant. She buys dear and sells cheap.

The Irish hero Parnell is mentioned throughout. His political career was wrecked after his affair with a married woman was made public. The questions of who is a hero and cuckoldry continue.

I enjoyed many of the sentences in this chapter, like this one about bad coffee:

Over his untasteable apology for a cup of coffee…

followed by:

Stephen…shoved aside his mug of coffee, or whatever you like to call it.

The chapter ends with Bloom inviting Stephen to his home. He’s thought variously of exploiting Stephen, first for his writing, and at the end for his good tenor singing voice. This is one of their points of disagreement. Bloom is thinking like an agent, Stephen like an artist. Still, though, they have more in common than not, and walk off looking like a married couple, sharing stories.

What did everyone else think of Eumaeus?

We only have two chapters, but 3 weeks to go! I propose we take next Monday off, and “meet” up again in two weeks to discuss 17, Ithaca, in full. That will give those who are behind time to catch up.

Schedule and past posts:

6/1/15 week off to catch up and read section 17
6/8/15 read then discuss and tweet section 17
6/15/15 discuss and tweet section 18 and the whole thing!
6/16/15 Bloomsday!

Past posts:

Week 1: books 1 and 2
Week 2: books 3 and 4
Week 3: books 5, 6
Week 4: book 7
Week 5: book 8
Week 6: book 9
Week 7: book 10
Week 8: book 11
Week 9: book 12
Week 10: book 13
Week 11: book 14
Week 12: book 15 part 1/3
Week 13: book 15 part 2/3
Week 14: book 15 part 3/3

8 Responses to “ULYSSES readalong Ch 16: Eumaeus”

  1. Amy Says:

    Song: Closing Time.

  2. girldetective Says:

    Ooh, nice one, Amy. Last song of the night at my bar in college was American Pie. I flinch when I hear it.

  3. crystal Says:

    It was “a rainy night with a blind moon(p. 624)”…

    Felt I needed to solve a mystery here.  Not quite there yet… my guess:

    It was Colonel Stephen under the cabman’s shelter with his ash plant.  ;D

    A little sobering up with coffee and words.  My faves:

    And when all was said and done the lies a fellow told about himself couldn’t probably hold a proverbial candle to the wholesale whoppers other fellows coined about him. (p. 636)

    It’s all very fine to boast of mutual superiority but what about mutual equality. I resent violence and intolerance in any shape or form. It never reaches anything or stops anything. A revolution must come on the due instalments plan. It’s a patent absurdity on the face of it to hate people because they live round the corner and speak another vernacular, in the next house so to speak. (p. 643)

    All those wretched quarrels, in his humble opinion, stirring up bad blood, from some bump of combativeness or gland of some kind, erroneously supposed to be about a punctilio of honour and a flag, were very largely a question of the money question which was at the back of everything greed and jealousy, people never knowing when to stop. (p. 643)

    We can’t change the country. Let us change the subject. (p. 645)

    And an endnote:
    Our lives are in peril tonight. Beware of the steamroller. (p. 647)

  4. V Says:

    Caught up again. A few tales within the tales here, and they were enough for my head to spin. You don’t think the old sailor was the swineherd?

  5. Heidi Says:

    You don’t have to go home but you can’t stay here? ;)

    Very much appreciated the straightforward, if a bit muddled, prose of this episode. It fits stylistically; they’re sobering up after the wicked bender of Circe. “His [Stephen's] mind was not exactly what you would call wandering but a bit unsteady…” [ML 1046, p.597]

    We do see Poldy’s paternal instincts turn a bit mercenary towards his charge at episode end; thinking more in terms of capitalizing on his talents vs shepherding him safely home. Still, his intentions seem honest. He’s genuinely upset by Stephen’s coal-eating layabout lifestyle.

    Many delightful euphemisms and turns of phrase this episode. A few I jotted down:
    cordially disliked
    swear a hole through a 10 gallon pot
    flusterfied but outwardly calm
    Sherlockholmesing him up
    unfurl a reef (euph. for taking a pee)

    Think my favorite passage this week was Bloom’s observation, “People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep.” [ML p.642]

  6. Heidi Says:

    Oh, and w/ this episode I found Schmoop to be rather helpful w/ the analysis.
    Still a Bloomite here. 🙋🏼

  7. girldetective Says:

    Also, a potential song is Tubthumping by Chumbawumba:

    I get knocked down
    But I get up again
    You’re never gonna keep me down
    Pissing the night away…

  8. Beth Says:

    This chapter was a nice, much easier read after the swirling saga of Circe. I enjoyed the bonding (and disagreements) of Poldy and Stephen, although I found myself missing the silliness of wordplay of the hallucinatory expositions.

    As always, there were several lines that caught my eye—of course, I loved the turn of phrase that Heidi mentioned: “Sherlockholmesing” (636). It felt very modern, very slang-like and common-place.

    I also was a fan of, previously mentioned by Crystal: “We can’t change the country. Let us change the subject.’ (645). I may employ that myself…

    A few other favorites:

    “Everyone according to his needs and everyone according to his deeds.” (619)

    “He could spin those yarns for hours on end all night long and lie like old boots.” (635)