Mundane complexities

Personally, I did not find the narrative shift to be too jarring. Since an entirely different character is now telling the story, I expected the narrative to be quite different. If anything, departing from Stephen’s guilt-ridden, overly analytical, obscurely philosophical thought process was a relief. As Jack mentioned in his post, readers of “Calypso” get to experience everyday life in all its mundane glory. Instead of Stephen’s highbrow philosophy, readers get the simpler things: an annoying cat, the frustration of burning one’s breakfast, and a relieving trip to the toilet.

Though it possesses more mundane subject matter than the first three episodes, “Calypso” is packed with symbolism, allusions, references, and other complexities. In some ways, I actually found it harder to figure out what Joyce is trying to convey because of Leopold Bloom’s muted narration style. With Stephen, every other paragraph contained Greek or Latin text, or some blatant reference to a historical figure. Though I rarely knew what Joyce was trying to get at from my initial reading, I could at least do a quick Google search. Then, I could often piece some of the picture together. With Leopold, it is a different story. Leopold talks about the mundane parts of life, making it a bit more difficult to decide what is significant/symbolic/etc. For example, I feel as though there must be something significant about the cat at the beginning of the episode, or Joyce would not have wasted so many words on it. Have I figured out what it’s supposed to represent? Nope.


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