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Ulysses: Episode 1 - Telemachus: Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy: 02/28/09
I had so much fun with Don Quixote de La Mancha that I've decided to continue working through my to be read pile of door stoppers in the same fashion. Next on the list is a book I started ten years ago and put aside when my husband and I made the long move from southern California to northern California. New jobs and then new kids further got in the way of my commitment to reading Ulysses by James Joyce. Now the jobs are old and the kids are getting older and I have no more excuses!
Ulysses was serialized in The Little Review from 1918 to 1920 in eighteen episodes. The book as the title implies draws heavily from The Odyssey. The book though is set in Dublin and was inspired from ideas he had while writing The Dubliners. In terms of length it's about as long and as complex as Don Quixote and both books share a love of puns, parodies and allusions.
There are tons of resources available to help one get a conventional and well rounded understanding of this long and controversial novel. I don't plan to add to that. Instead, I will see where the book takes me and draw comparisons as inspiration hits. I will make one post for each episode with a summery review at the end.
So the first episode opens at the morning at a converted Martello tower as Buck Mulligan, Stephen Dedalus (first seen in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) and Haines are getting ready for the day. They talk about their mothers and gossip about stuff and swear and have breakfast:
From the start of breakfast the men mostly discuss their breakfast in increasing gross out terms. The conversation is silly, immature and hard to follow for its apparent randomness. I couldn't help but think of three pre-teens who at first seem interchangeable but do in fact have very separate personalities: Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy. Although none of Joyce's characters say "Buttered toast!" it would have fit perfectly if one of them had.
Where the Eds have their cul du sac, these three blokes have their tower. The entire first chapter as random as it first appears all takes place in and around the tower. Just as the cartoon has a limited cast and a fixed location, the first episode has only four characters plus a few who are mentioned but don't actually appear. Both trios are troubled by their parents but they are never seen to give their side of the story. Of course in Ulysses Stephen's mother is dead and the Eds's parents are all alive but forever off screen. Finally there is the rivalry between the three.
Eddy is the self declared leader of the group but Edd but it's been implied a few times that Edd (Double D) could take charge if he wanted to. The first episode ends with Stephen storming off in a huff calling Buck an usurper (23). Stephen's stomp through town though will the be impetus for the novel to move to the hero, Harold Bloom at the end of the third episode.
Next Saturday I'll discuss Episode Two: Nestor. If you want to read along, Ulysses is available online at Read Print. For more information about the novel, check out these wikipedia articles: Ulysses (novel), Telemachus, Stephen Dedalus, and Ed, Edd n Eddy. Also check out the Eds' website.