Working regularly in Dublin over the next few months seemed like the perfect opportunity to read Ulysses. The book describes travels around Dublin on June 16th 1904, and I thought I would visit a new chapter’s location on each visit. I’d run out of project before I ran out of chapters, but I could come back and do the last sections on a holiday.
I read the first chapter on the flight over. I know Ulysses is a great book – during my MA I read a lot of essays about it – but I’ve not made it through the text. I’ve enjoyed the bits I have read, although that was with the heavily annotated Oxford World’s Classics 1922 text. The footnotes and forewords explain some of the jokes and allusions. Reading the first episode without these hints is less exciting. The references are hard to parse and it’s mostly a stilted conversation.
After the day’s work we took the DART to Sandycove station and walked along the shore. The weather was pretty good and we regretted not bringing swimming costumes to take advantage of the sea-swimming lagoons (the Forty Foot appears in the book). The water was cold, but would still have been perfect after a day’s walk. We settled for paddling instead.
It was easy to find the martello tower where Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. Since we’d come after work, the museum was closed, but I enjoyed the strangeness of being in a place I’d read about on the flight over.
We had a meal then decided to continue walking around the coast, to pick up a train from Dún Laoghaire station. We found ourselves near a jetty and Tara suggested we stroll along that. Lots of people were out promenading. The gentle breeze and setting sun, the boats rocking in the water. It was perfect.
I’m not sure an impromptu stroll along a jetty counts as a hike as such, but it was a lovely way to unwind. And, being a mile out to see, it was just the right length for a post-dinner walk.
Even then, although it was getting dark, we didn’t quite make it to the station. There was a bar on one of the hotel lawns with tables laid out in front of the view. It was the perfect end to a good day’s work.
The irony is that my future trips to Ireland are not going to be to Dublin, ruining my plan of exploring Ulysses. Instead I’ll be working from another office, in Kilkenny, some distance away. According to Atlas Obscura, this is near to the grave of Santa Claus – although this is in the grounds of a stately home, which will be long closed by the time I’ve finished work. This is the problem with business travel – you visit amazing locations and don’t get to enjoy them fully.
PS – Ulysses also has a link to Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven, one of the people profiled in John Higgs’ book, Stranger than we can Imagine. According to wikipedia:
The 1920 prosecution in the US [of Ulysses] was brought after The Little Review serialised a passage of the book dealing with the main character masturbating. Legal historian Edward de Grazia has argued that few readers would have been fully aware of the orgasmic experience in the text, given the metaphoric language. Irene Gammel extends this argument to suggest that the obscenity allegations brought against The Little Review were influenced by the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven’s more explicit poetry, which had appeared alongside the serialization of Ulysses.