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Ulysses on the Liffey ebook

by Richard Ellmann

Is this book of Richard Ellmann's, Ulysses on the Liffey, intended to be criticism? . Richard Ellmann could have written an engaging and provocative book about Ulysses. He chose to write Ulysses on the Liffey instead. Jun 09, 2019 Chris rated it really liked it.

Is this book of Richard Ellmann's, Ulysses on the Liffey, intended to be criticism? Is it to be a guide? Is it to be Ellmann's interpretation of the events portrayed in Ulysses? Any of these, or any combination of them, I'd find acceptable. Happily, now and again it engages in all three of these activities. Ellmann presents his arguments, then offers support and defense for them.

Ulysses on the Liffey. Ulysses on the Liffey. by. Ellmann, Richard, 1918-. Joyce, James, 1882-1941. New York, Oxford University Press. Books for People with Print Disabilities. Oliver Wendell Holmes Library.

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Richard David Ellmann (March 15, 1918 – May 13, 1987) was an American literary critic and biographer of the Irish writers James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and William Butler Yeats. National Book Award for Nonfiction for James Joyce (1959), which is one of the most acclaimed literary biographies of the 20th century.

Is this book of Richard Ellmann's, Ulysses on the Liffey, intended to be criticism? .

Ulysses on the Liffey" is not the first book on "Ulysses" I'd reach for. That would be "'Ulysses' Annotated. But, Ellmann's views on Joyce's masterpiece are extremely valuable to those who've read Joyce, and more than once. Like Lang in his "Music of Western Civilization," Ellmann says much in little space. I'd say a top 10 book on "Ulysses," all told.

oceedings{, title {Ulysses on the Liffey}, author {Richard Ellmann}, year {1972} . A new and illuminating critique of the narrative, ethical and aesthetic strands in Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.

oceedings{, title {Ulysses on the Liffey}, author {Richard Ellmann}, year {1972} }. Richard Ellmann.

Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than the silience. Although several biographers have thrown themselves into the breach since this magisterial book first appeared in 1959, none have come close to matching the late Richard Ellmann's achievement. To be fair, Ellmann does have some distinct advantages.

A new and illuminating critique of the narrative, ethical and aesthetic strands in Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses.

An interpretation of Joyce's masterpiece which illuminates its philosophical and literary significance
Hǻrley Quinn
When I read a book about Ulysses, I seek new and original insights that exist outside the text of the novel. Is this book of Richard Ellmann's, Ulysses on the Liffey, intended to be criticism? Is it to be a guide? Is it to be Ellmann's interpretation of the events portrayed in Ulysses? Any of these, or any combination of them, I'd find acceptable. Happily, now and again it engages in all three of these activities. Ellmann presents his arguments, then offers support and defense for them. He makes his case.

James Joyce's novel Ulyssess contains eighteen episodes. Ellmann's chief contention is that Ulysses is to be read as six independent triads of episodes. Each triad of episodes, he tells us, is presented in the formulation of a syllogism: the first episode presents the thesis, the second the antithesis, and the third a synthesis of the first two.

To a degree that is less comprehensive and insistent than Ellmann presents, variations on this claim are often made by others. There's no mistaking the parallelism of the first six episodes, taking place simultaneously in different locations: Telemachus and Calypso take place at 8:00 a.m., Nestor and Lotus-Eaters at 10:00 a.m., and Proteus and Hades at 11:00 a.m. Besides the temporal connections, abounding symbolism links these decidedly syllogistic episodes together. The same pattern of syllogism is evident in the last three episodes, constituting the Nostos section of the book. Thus we have two initial triads and one last triad of episodes that nearly everyone can agree upon.

Ellmann has more trouble justifying the structural relationships of the intervening nine episodes. He insists on distorted readings of them in order that they might be bludgeoned into conforming to his theory of triads. This is troubling to a reader of Ellmann's book, which becomes more more about rationalizing Ellman's flawed theory than a critique, guide, or interpretation of Joyce's novel. The traditional "novel" in Ulysses ends with the Scylla and Charybdis, the ninth episode. It's conceivable that Aeolus, Lestrygonians, and Scylla and Charybdis could comprise a triad, although viewing them in a relationship as thesis, antithesis and synthesis as Ellmann proposes seems tenuous at best, and his arguments for doing so are predictably weak. He makes the effort, of course, trying to prop up the idea instead of using this space in his book to more profitably interrogate the text of Ulysses.

But Ellmann's flailing about reaches the point of no return at the tenth episode. In Wandering Rocks, he claims, Joyce has warped the spacetime continuum, initiating the deconstruction of the Aristotelian framework of the first half of the novel. But far from being discontinuous and incapable of unification, the separate stories contained in Wandering Rocks are intricately linked and as fully functional and interlocked as are the tiny gears in a pocket watch: the episode is adroitly and stunningly unified, start to finish. No, Wandering Rocks functions as an independent hinge joining the first nine episodes to the last eight: Wandering Rocks simply can't be part of any triad of episodes. Beginning not with Wandering Rocks but with the eleventh episode, Sirens, and continuing all the way to Penelope at the end, Joyce is actively engaged in disassembling and distorting text, and his narrator is heavily engaged in acts of sabotage of one form or another. By ignoring this and trying to shoehorn Wandering Rocks into an imagined triad, Ellmann fills up his book with endless false comparisons and unnatural groupings. His book would be far more successful had he mentioned the three triads at the beginning, one triad at the end, the Wandering Rocks as a hinge, and the intervening five episodes as a block of increasing distortion culminating in Circe.

The flawed premise of the book leads to distorted inferences drawn, inappropriate emphases asserted, and misguided conclusions declared. Given the name of the book, it's noteworthy and peculiar just how little space Ellmann devotes to analyzing the content of Ulysses. Unfortunately, considerable space is taken up instead by tables summarizing his arguments. In fact, these are nothing more than the outline for Ellmann's book itself in disguise. Furthermore, the several illustrations included have only trivial bearing on his story. He includes numerous interstitial chapters which are trivial, irrelevant, and in some cases over-generalized well beyond the point of absurdity (see, for example, the incomprehensibly muddled section "Three Propositions" at the end of the book, pp 184-5).

Provided the reader can endure its frustrations, scattered original insights and perspectives may be dug up throughout Ellmann's text. He is occasionally perceptive, sometimes strikingly so, but the canvas on which he is painting is so small that often he compresses his ideas down into a kind of soupy Babel of metaphors that evade meaningful interpretation or even, often enough, comprehension. He has some thoughtful points to make about how Ulysses can be read with respect to Aristotle and David Hume. He points out how three views of history are presented in the first few episodes. History, Haines suggests, is a demonic force to be blamed for current events and conditions. History, Deasy believes, moves forward by divine grace toward some great goal. And Stephen of course views history as a blood-soaked nightmare. Unfortunately, Ellmann never really develops this seemingly fertile ground. He cleverly and wisely identifies the presence of two narrators in Cyclops, which is an important read of that episode: I haven't heard others speak of the Cyclops episode in quite those terms. But unfortunately these gems and several others are buried under all the talk about triads, an architectural theory that finally can't withstand the load it's intended to bear.

Richard Ellmann could have written an engaging and provocative book about Ulysses. He chose to write Ulysses on the Liffey instead.
A great condensed bio. Quite easy to read and explains a lot about Ulysses
Thank you
Nirvanic FINNEGANS WAKE: James Joyce's West/East RevelationJoyce was 40 yrs old when Ulysses was published, it is a day in the life of a husband and father of Joyce's age (at publication). Joyce loved Dublin and Ireland and though the book was written on the European continent - he wanted to memorialize his birth home (Ireland). The framework of Ulysses is Homer's Odyssey - The Roman Ulysses: 1 Telemachus, 2 Nestor, 3 Proteus, 4 Calypso, 5 Lotus Eaters, 6 Hades, 7 Aeolus, 8 Lestrygonians, 9 Scylla And Charybdis, 10 Wandering Rocks, 11 Sirens, 12 Cyclops, 13 Nausicca, 14 Oxen Of The Sun, 15 Circe, 16 Eumaeus, 17 Ithaca, and 18 Penelope.

Ulysses is the tale of a Modern-day Odysseus, Leopold Bloom in his personal existential/sexual quest. The conclusion of this quest is the quintessential affirmation of humanity, the fundamental family unit - the father, mother, son, and daughter. Like Odysseus, absent from Penelope, traveling the world, for many long years, Leopold Bloom is also absent from his Penelope (in Dublin). Like a traveler (Odysseus), Bloom is sexually absent (abstinent) from Molly “10 years, 5 months and 18 days” (736). Unlike Odysseus, the obstacles Bloom faces are psychological (modern) - internal travails instead of Odysseus' external travails. Bloom's only son’s death has become a psychological barrier; as Molly reflects: “we were never the same since” (778). Yet Bloom is optimistic throughout the work - in regard to the possibility of another child, again Molly: ”Ill give him one more chance” (780). Affirmatively (as we grow to know Molly) we find she has given and is willing to continue to give Bloom “one more chance”. Through the course of the (Dublin) day, Bloom experiences “deep frustration, humiliation, fear, punishment and catharsis” (Herring, p.74). Bloom needs to lead himself back, out of self-deception, fantasy, and frustration to Molly’s (and his marriage) bed.

Bloom’s travails come in the Circe chapter and it is imperative (for Joyce) that as readers, we recognize Joyce’s change from Homer's Odyssey - this is Joyce's major rework, deviating from his Greek predecessor. For Odysseus: insight, understanding, enlightenment, and all importantly direction come to Odysseus in his journey to the (ancient Greek) Underworld. For Bloom, the Hades chapter or “the other world” represents an “emptiness of mind”; Joyce was a man grounded (and devoted) to the present world of man's consciousness and unconsciousness. In Ulysses enlightenment comes in the Circe chapter: described though the Joycean technique of hallucination or the discoveries of the "unconscious mind”. Joyce's Circe chapter (a surrealistic one-act Ibsen-like play) is where Bloom finds self-possession - (Joyce makes) Bloom encounter his own psycho-sexual existential questions, rather than finding life's answers in the dead ghosts of his life (the ancient Greek Hades chapter of the dead past).

In the Circe chapter, Bloom confronts and overcomes every major obstacle in his existential/sexual quest: the Molly he serves in Calypso reappears as Bello the whoremistress, Molly’s letter from Boylan and his from Martha are reworked into a series of seductive letters ending in a trial, his sexual infidelities beginning with Lotty Clarke and ending with Gerty McDowell are relived (importantly balanced by Molly’s infidelities) and reconciled, and lastly, Bloom triumphs over whore, Virgin-Goddess, and most importantly himself. Joyce equanimously gives both Molly and Bloom extramarital sexual infidelities - infidelities known by each of the other (as early as the Calypso chapter) Bloom was conscious of what was to come. Of course there will be resolution in marriage, for Molly only needs to feel that Bloom is willing. As we read, Bloom has undergone the travails of his own mind and has emerged Victorious. He has succeeded in his psycho-sexual existential quest. He has arrived at Molly’s bed. Self-possessed. Victorious. Eager.

Molly "I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him...then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down in to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. (END)".

After publishing Ulysses, Joyce began FINNEGANS WAKE (FW) - Joyce largely stepped out of one work into his next (and last work). The change Joyce made in FW was instead of using Homer's Ulysses as a framework - FW's framework is Giambattista Vico's "La Scienza Nuova's" 4 cyclic stages of history.

Joyce realized that he ended Ulysses wrongly (not in accordance with the Universe) in Molly's bed - Joyce corrects his mistake in FINNEGANS WAKE by incorporating Vico's revelation of restart / recirculation."HCE day" similar to Bloomsday (roughly 24 hrs): Chronologically FW starts with memories "book I:3" of HCE arrested in front of his gated refuge (from MaMaLuJo) unable to enter, unlike Bloom HCE does not enter through the back door, instead HCE is arrested in hours before dawn. Then memories "book I:4" HCE's psychological musings of past travails/guilts (living death, underworld excursion Ulysses ch Hades) while incarcerated in early hours of morning. Followed by memories "book I:2" HCE walks home through Phoenix Park accosted for the time of day (12 noon) which threatens (real/unreal memories, Ulysses ch Nausicaa) his innocent well-being. These 3 chapters in FW are Joyce's major rework to incorporate Vico's revelation of restart/recirculation into FW, Joyce rewrites 3 chapters of Ulysses: When He is denied Her front door, He is in Hell (on earth), when released (from Hell) His odyssey to Her begins again (with His ever-present accompanying internal travails) for She always knows when He is worthy of Her acceptance (their Paradise).

Then "book I:1" Finnegan's afternoon wake at HCE's tavern and retelling memories (books I:2-4). Inside HCE's tavern (his ship) his patrons talk about his family (Norwegian Captain and the Tailor's Daughter), truthful letters (ALP) and fabricated stories (books I:5-8 & II:3); while the children (Shaun, Shem and Iseult) are in and out of the family tavern/home all day taking their lessons (book II:2) and playing about with their friends (Shem's closing dream, book II:1); HCE, as proprietor, defends himself with a self-deprecating apologia before his intoxicated collapse late night (book II:3). HCE dreams on his tavern floor (book II:4); then dreams in his bed (books III:1-3); before intercourse with his wife ALP (book III:4). HCE & ALP's lovemaking dissolution dream (book IV) to awaken to a new day, Joycean Nirvana is attained by ALP's (& HCE's) awaiting Joyce's God "thunderclap" at the beginning of FW's "book I".

FW is aural (oral) history like Homer's Odessey and Celtic folktales - when one pronounces (phonology) FW's words (aloud) there are more languages than just English; also, when one reads (morphology) FW's words almost all the words are "portmanteaus / neologisms" which gives each of FW's "poly-syncretic" words many meanings (universal impermanence, Heisenberg uncertainty/obscurity), each FW syncretic sentence dozens of possible messages, each FW syncretic paragraph hundreds of possible readings, Joyce's rendering of a more expansive English language and multiplicating universal book with coalescing syncretic themes/stories (that responds/opens to each reader's inquiries). Joyce schooled in Christian Jesuit metaphysics (pushed down into the mindfulness of human consciousness) breathes in the spirit of expansive Celtic (Irish) democratic community tavern life where man's stories of life are told. Tavern life teaches the evolution of Joyce's ten "thunderclaps" (one hundred lettered words) pushing man's (technologic) evolution forward from cave man's tales to modern tv media tales: Indra's thunder upheavals: 1) Emergent human technologies (wheel, cloth, etc.), 2) Women's social/stratifying clothing (i.e. civilization's divisions), 3) Effeminate clerical social control (Buddha, Lao-Tze, Christ, Toltec seers, etc.), 4) Feudal degradation (cities/urban plight), 5) Writings disseminated (Gutenberg's press), 6) Renaissance (blooming informed culture), 7) Radio (instantaneous information), 8) Film (disseminated culture), 9) Reciprocating Engine (democratized travel), 10) TV (instantaneous global media culture). Inside the tavern man learns of the purely human (animal) fall, taken down by another human(s) - like animal taken down on the African savanna. A granular reading of FW can render FW as an updated John Milton's Paradise Lost (regurgitated knowledge from the tree, to affirm man's damnation); however, Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published in 1859 and Joyce in FW book II clearly walks Shaun, Shem and Iseult through their earthly evolutionary lifetime travails, our mortality is a consequence of Life's evolution. Every page of FW speaks to man's (unconscious biological survival, conscious "racing competitive" social, contemplative aspirational personal) evolution and to Life recirculating (West meets Dzogchen East a "meeting of metaphysical minds") that binds humanity together into the future. Dzogchen (beyond all dualistic polarities) the heart of human consciousness - Joyce's underlying (subcutaneous) arguments refute the "Western curse of metaphysical/mythological damnation", the curse does not exist in the Eastern mind. Like "counting the number of angels on the head of a pin" (Aquinas 1270) Joyce provides a granular/expansive reading of FW as a "defense against all Western adversity" for our conscious and unconscious Western travails. HCE's angst is caused by his community that imposes a Western curse (damnation) upon him that man is not guilty experience Joycean Nirvana, a defense against this man-made guilt is required - for as Zoroaster revealed cosmogonic dualism, evil is mixed with good in man's everyday universal travails (even the Dalai Lama must defend Nirvana rigorously from the most populous authoritarian state in human history).

Joyce's FW celebrates the Joys of Christian/Buddhist diversity of humanity (expansive human consciousness: Gnostic Norwegian Captain, Shem, Archdruid), Brahma (Finnegan, HCE, Shaun), Divine Women (ALP, Iseult, Nuvoletta), his family - and the Sufferings of the inescapable "evil" of Shiva (Buckley), the debilitating harmful sterile intrusive authoritarian institutionalizing damnation (MaMaLuJo, St. Patrick) by Augustine, the manufactured clerical corruptions identified by Luther et al. (since 367 AD) and the burdens of "survival of the fittest" anxiety (modern commerce) met with a Dzogchen Buddhist stance. The (innocent infant) Norwegian Captain (Krishna, HCE), occasionally defensive (Shiva, HCE), though concretized (Brahma, HCE) by community family life (MaMaLuJo) - through spirits (drink) HCE accesses his spirituality (dreams) and through spiritual (cutting through) love-making with ALP (direct approach) they access (their Krishnas), unification with the Unmanifest. Joyce was a Prophet who consumed Man's conscious and spiritual "thoughts and dreams, history and gossip, efforts and failings" - to reveal the joys (Nirvana) and sufferings (Samsara) of Mankind.

Joyce's FW message: Christian/Buddhist omniscient compassion (Christ/Krishna) is eternally joyful and recirculating. Affirmative family (HCE/Brahma, ALP/Divine woman & children) existentiality: life's biological evolution (sex), modern survival (money), constraining community (Dharma, social evolution) are constantly assaulted by inescapable "aggressive insidious vile" corrupt soul(less/sucking) ossified demonic antipathetic attacks. Joycean Nirvana is attained via the Christian/Buddhist affirmative middle way, "beyond polar opposites" the path of Christ/Buddha.

Certainly ULYSSES ON THE LIFFEY is a very close scrutiny of some of the lesser discussed aspects of Joyce's mammoth comic book. You can always depend on Richard Ellmann to give us the way-beneath-the-surface innuendoes and meanings of Joyce's writings. But because Ellmann is also so close to the life of the writer (he'd written the best biography of James Joyce) he, quite rightfully I believe, draws references from Joyce's experiences that went into the thinking and writing of ULYSSES.

By no means is this intended to be an introduction to ULYSSES. This is meant for the serious student of arguably Ireland's greatest 20th century writer, and the 20th century's most influential novel.
Contains detail on how Joyce developed Ulysses' structure based on Homer's Odyssey. It includes the types of revisions he made to his structure as he wrote, while undergoing his own "odyssey" through Italy. I didn't learn as much from this as from Ellmann's other books. I did find it parts of it intriguing: his connection with J.M. Synge; admiration for "Riders to the Sea" and relief that Synge wasn't interested in Aristotle's philosophy, leaving Joyce free to develop Aristotle's ideas in his own way. Joyce comes through this book as working consciously to define himself as unique, staking out terrain in "Ulysses" unclaimed by his Irish contemporaries.
Ulysses on the Liffey ebook
Richard Ellmann
History & Criticism
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Oxford University Press (December 25, 1986)
256 pages
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