The Movement from Lyrical to Epical and Dramatic Form: the Opening of Ulysses

  • Daniel R. Schwarz


As soon as we enter into the imagined world of Ulysses, we realize that Stephen is a man in trouble. He is living with a man he dislikes and who patronizes him, in a Martello tower which was intended to be a British fortress against a French invasion during the Napoleonic era. Although it is early morning in late spring, a time of hope and promise, the artistic expectations aroused by the ending of Portrait are unfulfilled. By providing a traditional omniscient narrator whose voice is separate and distinct from Stephen’s, Joyce uses the opening of Ulysses to provide a critique of the lyricism and subjectivity of Portrait: “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed” (U.2–3; I.1–2).


Secret Sharer Diary Entry Bodily Shame Lyrical Figure Creative Imagination 
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  1. 1.
    George Eliot, Middlemarch: a Study of Provincial Life, ed. Quentin Anderson (New York: Collier Books, 1962) p. 569.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    H. Montgomery Hyde, The Trials of Oscar Wilde (New York: Dover Publications, 1962) p. 201.Google Scholar
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    Darcy O’Brien, The Conscience of James Joyce (Princeton University Press, 1968) p. 11.Google Scholar
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    For this view, see Daniel Mark Fogel, “Symbol and Context in Ulysses: Joyce’s ‘Bowl of Bitter Waters’ and Passover”, ELH 46 (1979) 710–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See George DeF. Lord, “The Heroes of Ulysses and Their Homeric Prototypes”, Yale Review, 62:1 (October 1972) 43–58.Google Scholar
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    See Frank Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1980).Google Scholar
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    See Father William Noon, S.J., Joyce and Aquinas (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1957); my discussion takes issue with Father Noon’s argument that Stephen rejects the Arian position.Google Scholar
  10. 24.
    I am accepting Richard Ellmann’s translation; see his “The Big Word in ‘Ulysses’”, The New York Review of Books 31:16 (25 Oct. 1984) 31–2. However, it should be noted that Ellmann has made an incomplete sentence into a complete one.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Daniel R. Schwarz 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Schwarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityUSA

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