Ulysses: Episode 10: The Wandering Rocks: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead: 05/02/09
The tenth episode of Ulysses called "Wandering Rocks" refers to rocks that Circe warns Odysseus about, allowing him and his crew to avoid them. Instead they opt for the narrow straight between Scylla and Charybdis (the title of the last episode). Episode 10 takes a breather from following any of the main characters to show the hustle and bustle of Dublin and does so in 19 short vignettes.
Tossed in the middle of this chaos is the procession of the Lord Lieutenant, William Humble, Earl of Dudley. It is talked about in fragments of overheard conversations but not directly shown. The missed big event reminds me of Tom Stoppard's retelling of Hamlet (appropriate for the many debates in Ulysses
on Hamlet and Shakespeare), Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.
While the drama and tragedy of Hamlet is happening in the background, most of play (and the equally fun film) focuses on Rosencrantz and Guildenstern trying to sort out their part in things. As their roles in Hamlet are poorly defined, they begin to pull apart the constructs of the diegesis in hopes of finding a greater meaning and purpose beyond their need to die at the end. As they learn though, important things happen and sometimes you're a part of it and sometimes you're not and you can't always control how you end up being a participant.
Episode 10 seems to be saying the same thing. Life goes on in Dublin. Sometimes paths cross and sometimes they don't. In this episode, they don't and in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter.
Next Saturday I'll post my thoughts on Episode Ten: The Wandering Rocks. If you want to read along, Ulysses is available online at Read Print
books | fiction | James Joyce | 1918