ULYSSES readalong week 5: book 8


Welcome back to the Ulysses readalong! You’re still here, right, reading along? Because that’s why I’m here, because I told a bunch of people I was going to do this and blog about it, and even though it’s really hard and sometimes boring, I know it’s really good for me, and I’d feel lame if I quit.

You can comment here, or on Twitter with the hashtag #TCUlysses.

So, here we are, book 8, subtitled in Joyce’s notes as The Laestrygonians, which is a really fun name to say. For those of you who read The Odyssey with me (and aren’t you glad you did? Me too.), the Laestrygonians were the giant cannibals that Odysseus and his men encountered. Appetite is echoed throughout this chapter in the theme of hunger, but was particularly explicit when Bloom goes in the first diner, The Burton, and is repulsed by all the eating.

Before that was one of my favorite passages, though:

A warm human plumpness settled down on his brain. His brain yielded. Perfume of embraces all him assailed. With hungered flesh obscurely, he mutely craved to adore. (168)

*whew* *fans self*

This section is mostly Bloom’s stream of consciousness, wandering around hungry, but then switches to the conversation of others as he leaves the pub towards the end. In this chapter we see again that Bloom has an enormous capacity for empathy. Given how earthy and randy his thoughts are, I was shocked and saddened to learn that he and Molly haven’t had sex since poor little Rudy died ten years ago.

Finally, I liked this insight about the chapter from the site Schmoop:

As Bloom wanders around town, his thoughts are constantly linked to his surroundings. Different storefronts in Dublin make his mind race from one thing to the next. When we read the scene where Bloom leads the blind stripling (young man) across the street by his elbow, we might think of this as what Joyce is doing for us. After all, most of us are not in Dublin. We can’t see what the words are referring to and have only the language to guide us: we’re blind. And Joyce, as he leads us on this grand tour of Dublin, is a great deal like Bloom, gently leading us — the blind stripling — through a city that we cannot see.

What did everyone else think?

Join us next week for Book 9: Scylla and Charybdis, the proverbial rock and a hard place. The schedule for the rest:

3/23/15 discuss and tweet section 9
3/30/15 discuss and tweet section 10
4/6/15 discuss and tweet section 11
4/13/15 discuss and tweet section 12
4/20/15 discuss and tweet section 13
4/27/15 discuss and tweet section 14
(3 weeks to read the very long section 15 which we’ll spit into three chunks)
5/18/15 read, then discuss and tweet section 15
5/25/15 discuss and tweet section 16
(extra week to read the longer section 17)
6/8/15 read then discuss and tweet section 17
6/15/15 discuss and tweet section 18
6/16/15 Bloomsday!

For reference, here are the past posts:

Ulysses readalong week 1, books 1 and 2
Ulysses readalong week 2, books 3 and 4
Ulysses readalong week 3, books 5 and 6
Ulysses readalong week 4: book 7

6 Responses to “ULYSSES readalong week 5: book 8”

  1. Amy Says:

    Glad you pulled that quote from Schmoop, as I was too lazy to look it up. But it makes a lot of sense. I rather enjoyed this chapter, even if I didn’t fully understand it. How can you not love all the food?

  2. crystal Says:

    Episode 8 for me what stuck:

    Bloom throwing cake to the birds. (Are we the birds?)


    tall white hats … Following Y. (Why?)

    “No-one is anything.

    This is the worst hour of the day.  Vitality.  Dull, gloomy: hate this hour.  Feel as if I had been eaten and chewed. 

    …Nature abhors a vacuum.”


    …”parallax?” (and again)


    “Can’t bring back time.  Like holding water in your hand.”


    “Glowing wine in his palate lingered swallowed.”


    “want to try in the dark to see.”

    (Blind inexperience then consuming experience/life and how time digests it all.)

  3. Beth Says:

    Isn’t this the best way to force yourself to read a huge tome that you feel like you should read? :)

    Here are my favorite two food-related sentiments from this weeks section:
    “Vats of porter, wonderful.” (152) — Yes, please.
    “Coming from the vegetarian. Only weggebobbles and fruit. Don’t eat a beefsteak.” (165) — I won’t eat beefsteak! Also, I like the word weggebobbles.

    Aside from the food-iness, I also enjoyed this very existential pondering:
    “I was happier then. Or was that I? Or am I now I?” (168)

  4. David Says:

    I like the vats of porter as well, but didn’t they have giant rats floating in them?

  5. Heidi Says:

    Hi all, sorry to be so tardy to discussion this week. Back to back conferences = little time for reading + brain takes a heavy info hit.

    Galoptious* episode! Yet, so very melancholy. I feel for Poldy, remembering past pleasures w/ his Molly “Remember her laughing at the wind, her blizzard collar up.” (ML 1946 p.154) and wowchickabowwow! Poldy and Molly sexxy time on p.173 ☺️! (fans self indeed!)

    Some Faves:
    - pigeons plotting who’ll they’ll shit on p. 160: “…a flock of pigeons flew. Their little frolic after meals. Who will we do it on? I pick the fellow in black. Here goes. Here’s good luck.”
    - the perils of eating beefsteak p. 163: “Don’t eat a beefsteak. If you do the eyes of that cow will pursue you for all eternity.”
    - the mysteries of oysters p. 172: “Yes but what about oysters. Unsightly like a clot of phlegm. Filthy shells. Devil to open them too. Who found them out? … No. June has no ar no oysters.”
    - Poldy’s art appreciation p. 174: “Beauty: it curves: curves are beauty. Shapely goddesses, Venus, Juno: curves the world admires. Can see them library museum standing in the round hall, naked goddesses.”


    Posted a few links to fun web things via Twitter #TCUlysses. Also keeping track of these via Pocket (heh, appropriate; Poldy sure likes pockets too).

    *var. of galluptious: wonderful, delightful, delicious

  6. Janet Says:

    I’m catching up this weekend, for sure. Of course, I said that last weekend! Beginning to wonder at the wisdom of trying to read such a challenging book right now, with family “stuff” and then I was running the book fair at school this last week. My brain! Oh well, will stop whining and start reading, promise.