ULYSSES Readalong Bk 11: Sirens


Welcome back the Ulysses readalong. You can join in by commenting here, or by tweeting with the hashtag #TCUlysses. This week we tackled Chapter 11: Sirens. The first time through was somewhat bewildering for me, as is often the case. I was helped immensely by the note in Gifford that this is a musical chapter, and the opening is like a rehearsal, or perhaps an entr’acte?, that glides over the major points to follow, and concludes with “Done!” and the action begins with “Begin!”

As in music, several motifs are repeated throughout. The sirens of the title are most obviously the two barmaids who flirt and are flirted with. Less obvious, though, I suspect it’s the siren call of the past and the lotus-like inertia brought on by nostalgia.

Bloom sees Boylan for the third time that day, and dares to follow him into the Ormond hotel. I’m not sure I have this right, but it seemed like Bloom feared Boylan’s assignation with Molly would take place at the Ormond, but Boylan leaves before Bloom does. Is he off to see Molly? Is Bloom imagining the affair?

In any case, Bloom eats lunch, listens to the music, then feels lonely, writes back to Martha, then breaks the spell by leaving before the end of the song The Croppy Boy that the other men are so moved by. And ends the chapter by avoiding a homely prostitute he’s been with before, and farting intermittently then loudly when loud street sounds will cover it.

What did everyone else think this week?

Join us next week on 4/13/15 for Book 12: Cyclops. The schedule for the rest:

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!

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
Ulysses readalong week 5: book 8

Ulysses readalong week 6: book 9
Ulysses readalong week 7: book 10

5 Responses to “ULYSSES Readalong Bk 11: Sirens”

  1. Beth Says:

    I rather liked the Sirens we were introduced to in this section! Especially this line by (I think—it was hard to determine) Miss Kennedy: “Aren’t men frightful idiots?” (258)

    Like, one Mr. Dedalus said a very rape culture-esque line to Ms. Douce: “That was exceedingly naughty of you… Tempting your simple males.” (260)

    No, sir!

    Of course, right away in the chapter, for a brief moment before I remembered Ulysses was written first, I thought it referenced Lord of the Rings and dwarves: “Low in dark middle earth. Embedded ore.” (257)

    And then, of course, being Ulysses, the strange turn of phrase: “Poop of a lovely.” (271)

  2. Heidi Says:

    Popping in to say I believe Molly & Boylan’s assignation is hinted at / foreshadowed in Episode 4: Calypso. “Two letters and a card lay on the hallfloor. He stooped and gathered them. Mrs. Marion Bloom. His quick heart slowed at once. Bold hand. Mrs. Marion ” [ML 1946, p. 61]. Later (p. 63) Bloom asks Molly abt the letter. It’s from Boylan. “He’s bringing the programme.” (supposedly for their next musical gig).

    Also, totally loved the music of language in this episode. Can see there’d be great joy in reading it aloud, as folks do on Bloomsday.

  3. George Says:

    I think Bloom follows him in because he (Bloom) knows that the assigned time for the affair is 4pm, and he is wondering if (hoping) Boylan is going to skip it.
    Boylan, I think, goes to see Lenehan, then realizes the time and dashes off. Miss Douce wonders if she did something to drive him away, but really he just has a sure thing to get to.

    I don’t understand how Bloom knows so much about Molly/Boylan’s plans.

  4. crystal Says:

    To epitimize this episode I would steal a favorite line in an earlier episode and one from this episode:

    “People do not know how dangerous lovesongs can be” (p. 186)


    Too poetical that about the sad. Music did that. Music hath charms. Shakespeare said. Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait.(p.280)

    Was reminded of my favorite Tennyson poem while reading this week. Really loved the poetic stanza-like aspect to the writing style of part of the episode.

    Favorite line:

    In drowsy silence gold bent on her page.(p. 264)

  5. Heidi Says:

    Favorite passage this week, Bloom’s observations re: our sirens and other bar revelers listening to a shell - “The sea they think they hear. Singing. A roar. The blood is it. Souse* in the ear sometimes. Well, it’s a sea. Corpuscle islands.” [ML 1946, p. 277]

    *Souse /sous/ noun 1. liquid, typically salted, used for pickling; 2. (informal) a drunkard