By Caetano Waldrigues Galindo, one of the @11ysses Bloomsday 2011 contributors.
It’s the door to a house. A house that no longer exists, and that, in a very important way, has never existed. It’s the door to number 7, Eccles Street, taken from where it stood when the house was demolished.
That may be why the house no longer stands.
But as a matter of fact it may be said it is still there, because the reason so many of us have stood before it, photographed it and, even, written about it (QED), is the fact that we are not there to see the house, or the door, as in reality they may have existed. We are there to see, to touch, a little piece of the life of Leopold Bloom, who obviously never once touched that doorknob, who never held a candle that shone through its “semitransparent semicircular glass fanlight.”
We are there, by that door, to see if it opens for us (avid readers, intimate friends of Mr. Bloom’s) the ‘real’ reality of a made up world, where that fellow may still live.
For all of its importance as avant-garde, groundbreaking literature, I am sure (and the older I get, the surer I become) that what keeps us reading Ulysses is its sheer weight as a novel, a weight that can even be adequately measured by standards that were created for the classic novel. Amazing characters, solid psychological work, wisdom (as Harold “no-relation” Bloom would have it), beauty.
The opposite of hate, as our new “apostle to the gentiles” said at Barney Kiernan’s. That same man who in the beach, at dusk, summarized Dedalus’s concerns about the man and the world by thinking “longest way round is the shortest way home”, because he knew, as all of us know (and as Ulysses has been teaching us for almost a century), that we walk through ourselves always meeting ourselves.
That’s why I read Ulysses. That’s why I’ve spent the last nine years translating it. To meet me. To learn about love and about the world. To try to touch the reality of the invented lives of Dedalus and the Blooms.
And this, now, is all to say that the whole experience of ‘tweading’ Ulysses has been, for me, a huge boon, a wonderful lesson about the relevance of the novel to so many persons, all over the world. And, at the same time, has made me (readers and translators tend to feel quite alone) feel I’m part of a group.
A group that, this time, was the group of the great Stephen Cole (a round of applause, please). But a group that, fundamentally, exists only as the group of Joyce’s sons, as the group of Leopold Bloom’s brothers.
We all live right behind that door.
And in this, the rarest occasion in which we’ve all shouted together, we’ve known the house is still inhabited.
Caetano Waldrigues Galindo teaches linguistics and translation theory in the Federal University of Paraná (Brazil). He has translated authors such as David Foster Wallace, Saul Bellow, Thomas Pynchon, Tom Stoppard, Ali Smith and James Agee. His version of Ulysses will be published in March 2012.