Introductions to Lestrygonians

Gifford, p. 156:
Episode 8: Lestrygonians, 8.1-1193 (151-183).
In Book 10 of The Odyssey, Odysseus recounts his disappointing adventures with Aeolus, the wind king (see headnote to Aeolus, p. 128); rebuffed by Aeolus, Odysseus and his men take to the sea once more. They reach the island of the Lestrygonians, where all the ships except Odysseus's anchor in a "curious bay" (10:87; Fitzgerald, p. 180) circled "with mountain walls of stone" (10:88; ibid.). Odysseus cannily anchors "on the sea side" (10:95-96; ibid.). A shore party from the ships anchored in the bay is lured by a "stalwart / young girl" (10:105-6; ibid.) to the lodge of her father, Antiphates, king of the Lestrygonians. The king turns out to be a giant and a cannibal, who promptly eats one of the shore party and then leads his tribe in the destruction of all the land-locked ships and the slaughter of their crews. Only Odysseus and his crew escape–to Circe's island.

Time: 1:00 P.M. Scene: the Lunch; Bloom moves south and across the Liffey to Davy Byrne's pub at 21 Duke Street and thence to the National Library, not far to the east. Organ: esophagus; Art: architecture; Color: none; Symbol: constables; Technique: peristaltic. Correspondences: Antiphates–hunger; The Decoy [Antiphates' daughter]–food; Lestrygonians–teeth.

The Linati schema lists as Persons: "Antiphates, The seductive daughter, Ulysses,' and remarks that the Sense (Meaning) of the episode is "Dejection."

Kiberd, pp. 1000-1001:
Having been spurned by Aeolus, Odysseus leads his followers back to sea. Eventually, they come to the island of the Lestrygonians and a bay encircled by stony hills. Sensing a sinister atmosphere, Odysseus lays anchor near the sea-route, unlike other ships' captains who lay anchor further in. Beguiled by a girl sent by the king of the Lestrygonians, the other crews attend a party at which the king turns cannibal and eats one of his guests. Then he leads the slaughter of all the crews ... all except Odysseus and his men who, by virtue of their astute anchorage-point, are able to make good their escape.

Joyce's pacifism comes to the fore in this chapter. The sight of constables reminds Bloom of an incident in which students protesting against the Boer War got caught up in a violent demonstration: 'Silly-billies. Mob of young cubs roaring their guts out'. The same quiescent streak leads to his recoil from the sight of meat-eaters in a restaurant, and so he prefers a modest cheese sandwich at Davy Byrne's 'moral pub'. To his wife's distaste for long words, Bloom adds a distaste for long meals. The restaurant guzzlers are no more refined than the gulls which swoop over the Liffey, evoking the habits of the Lestrygonians. Bloom, more kindly, helps a blind man to cross the street, a forecasting image of the moment when he will assist another young man with a cane, Stephen. Walking to the museum, he has his second, unwelcome sighting of Boylan.

Throughout this chapter, there is a progressive investigation of the family and of family life (whose code is soon to be violated by Molly and Boylan). Joyce said that the subject of Ulysses was not sexual but familial love; and he held that Jewish men were better fathers and husbands than their gentile counterparts. Bloom is terrified that, in losing Molly, he may lose the opportunity to father a son. Hence the recurrent obsession here with the quality of various family lives: Dedalus's, the late queen's, Mrs Purefoy's, Josie Breen's, Mrs Moisel's are all mentioned.

Carping critics might find Bloom's acts of kindness (to gulls, to Mrs Breen, to a blind man, to a horse) too programmatic to be fully convincing. If Glasheen is correct about Bloom's deep-seated need to think well of himself, this may indeed be his 'be-kind-to-others-hour'. Certainly, other-directed activities have the merit of distracting him from thoughts of Boylan's imminent assignation. Against that, however, it has to be said that Bloom's actions here are entirely consistent with his deeds elsewhere in the book and seem a natural expression of his considerate and thoughtful character. Like everyone else in Ulysses, he wishes to 'centre' and authorize his own life, to be recognized as person and as citizen, not merely as a subject. Here he is endowed with a certain prophetic status, whose 'Elijah is coming' motif anticipates events as disparate as the sighting of the mystic poet George Russell and a capacity to tip (unintentionally) the winner of the Gold Cup horse-race.

The time is 1-2 p.m.; the organ, the digestive tract; the symbol, bloody sacrifice and food; the technique, peristaltic prose (in which the same recurs, with minor modifying differences); and the Linati schema records the sense as 'dejection'.

Johnson, pp. 818-19:

Location: Both sides of the Liffey, not far from Trinity College (F4-5). In search of food, Bloom strolls south down Sackville Street (F4) past the end of Bachelor's Walk (on the north bank of the Liffey), crosses the Liffey on O'Connell Bridge (F4), continues south on Westmoreland Street past the gates of Trinity College, and on down Grafton Street. He then turns left into Duke Street (F4-5) and enters, first, the Burton Hotel (rejected), then Davy Byrne's pub (at 21 Duke Street). After eating, he walks east on Duke Street to Dawson Street, turns right then immediately left into Molesworth Street (F5), starts to turn Left into Kildare Street and the National Library when he sees Boylan approaching from the opposite direction so swerves back right and ducks into the National Museum (F5).

Time: 1 p.m.

Homer: Odysseus continues his tale. After leaving Aeolia, he and his men came to Telepylus, the town of the Lestrygonians. Two promontories formed the mouth of the harbour which was itself encircled by high stone cliffs. While the other ships had anchored well inside the harbour, wily Odysseus moored 'outside where the harbour ended' (115), and sent three men to discover who dwelt there. They encountered King Antiphates's daughter ('tall and powerful') who directed them to her father's house. Here they met, first, his wife (who stood 'mountain-high') and, then, the king himself (whose only thought was to kill and eat the men). He caught only one; the other two escaped. In fury, Antiphates sounded an alarm. In response, his subjects ran to the cliffs, threw huge rocks down upon the ships in the harbour, 'speared men like fish' (116), and carried them away to be eaten. Odysseus, whose ship lay safely outside the harbour, quickly severed the mooring line with a sword, and he and his crew escaped. (Book X)

Schemata: L lists as personae Antiphates, the Seductive Daughter, and Ulysses, but provides no correspondences. G aligns Antiphates with Hunger, The Decoy with Food, and the Lestrygonians with Teeth. L and G agree on Organ (Esophagus), Art (Architecture), and Technic (L: Peristaltic prose; G: Peristaltic), but disagree on Colour (L: blood red; G: none) and Symbol (L: Bloody sacrifice, Food, Shame; G: Constables). L's Sense is 'Despondency'.

One o'clock is lunchtime and Bloom is preoccupied with thoughts of food. The human body's need for nourishment registers on him as an awareness that everyone is eating, and that he too must eat. Everything is subject to the (at times subliminal, at times conscious if unstated) question, 'Can it be eaten?' His body is played over by the antithetical impulses of desire and disgust, hunger and despondency. 'Feel as if I had been eaten and spewed' (157.10). Also, he unconsciously enacts, in his movement about the streets, the rhythm of peristalsis as he walks past Davy Byrne's then back, into Kildare Street then back. And if Bloom doubles back so does time: contemplating coincidence (of thinking of Parnell's brother then seeing him, of AE then passing him) Bloom theorizes, 'Coming events cast their shadows before' (158.1-2). That's a narrative fact readers would be wise to attend to, one which reaches beyond Lestrygonians and reverberates throughout Ulysses.