18 Nameless Episodes of ‘Ulysses’: A New Key

In Uncategorized on 29 January 2012 by 11ysses

One of the many unconventional features of Joyce’s entirely unconventional Ulysses is the lack of chapter numbers or titles. Aside from three Book divisions clearly marked with I, II, and III, Joyce’s pages do not give the reader any way of naming a particular episode. A title schema drawn from Homer’s Odyssey has long stood in for this deficiency, at least for those who have studied Ulysses. But these names do not appear in the novel itself and are, therefore, useless Greek to the average reader encountering the novel for the first time.

Wouldn’t discussion of Ulysses between all manner of readers be enhanced if everyone used a simpler, more intuitive naming scheme for the episodes, rather than one that requires specialized knowledge and memorization? The book has 18 episodes that can be detected on the printed page by page breaks and capitalization. Why not just refer to the episodes by number?

Does “Lotus Eaters” come early in the novel? Is it before or after “Wandering Rocks”? As an untutored Joyce reader, I have no idea. But I am pretty sure that “Ulysses 5” comes before “Ulysses 10” and that neither opens or closes the book.

Here is a proposed new naming convention for the 18 episodes of Ulysses. The new episode name is followed by the Homeric title and the first few words of the episode.

[ Book I – The Telemachiad – episodes 1-3 ]

1 – Telemachus – “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan”

2 – Nestor – “You, Cochrane”

3 – Proteus – “Ineluctable modality of the visible”

[ Book II – The Odyssey – episodes 4-15 ]

4 – Calypso – “Mr. Leopold Bloom ate”

5 – Lotus Eaters – “By lorries along Sir John Rogerson’s”

6 – Hades – “Martin Cunningham, first”


8 – Lestrygonians – “Pineapple rock. Lemon platt, butter scotch”

9 – Scylla and Charybdis – “Urbane, to comfort them”

10 – Wandering Rocks – “The Superior, the Very Reverend”

11 – Sirens – “Bronze by gold heard the hoofirons”

12 – Cyclops – “I was just passing the time of day”

13 – Nausicaa – “The summer evening had begun to fold”

14 – Oxen of the Sun – “Deshil Holles Eamus”

15 – Circe – “The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown”

[ Book III – The Nostos – episodes 16-18 ]

16 – Eumaeus – “Preparatory to anything else Mr Bloom brushed”

17 – Ithaca – “What parallel courses did Bloom and Stephen”

18 – Penelope – “Yes because he never did a thing like that before”


3 Responses to “18 Nameless Episodes of ‘Ulysses’: A New Key”

  1. Reblogged this on terra_vista_da_luna.

  2. The naming you’ve proposed is really good. Scholars can use Homeric titles, regular readers – the numbers. Both are just conventions. The problem begins when untutored reader tries to get some in-depth knowledge from the specialized sources. Then knowing the chapters’ names derived from “Odysey” is a must. I wouldn’t agree that it requires specialized knowledge: Homer’s poem is one of the most important texts for Western civilization and just should be known. That it requires memorization – yes. I read “Ulysses” for the first time some 18 years ago and still can’t tell which episode goes with whitch part of “Odysey”… I’m not proud of that. I still need to reinforce my memory with a cheat sheet.

    Exit Bloom

  3. Hey there,

    Just wanted to let you know about an art exhibition on the theme of Ulysses opening next week in London.
    Thursday 9th Feb 6-9pm there will be a chance to meet the artist Steve Williams who has produced a series of prints and found objects inspired by his readings of Ulysses.

    The exhibition hosted by the Free Space Gallery is open till April 2nd so plenty of time to pop along and have a peek.

    Free Space Gallery
    Kentish Town Health Centre
    2 Bartholomew Road
    NW5 2BX
    (Mon- Fri 9am – 7pm)

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