Ulysses: Episode 10: The Wandering Rocks: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead Episode 11: Sirens: Our Man in Havana Episode 12: The Cyclops: Pick-a-Little Episode 13: Nausicaä: Petting in the Park Episode 14: Oxen in the Sun: The Critic in the Cabernet
Comments for Ulysses: Episode 12: The Cyclops: Pick-a-Little
Ulysses: Episode 12: The Cyclops: Pick-a-Little: 05/16/09
The twelfth episode of Ulysses called "The Cyclops." In The Odyssey the Polyphemus (which means famous in Greek) was one of the big bads of the epic. In Ulysses though, the cyclops is more a stand in for narrow minded thinking and bigotry.
The entire episode focuses on gossip, often loaded down with stereotypes and. At one point Joyce compares the noisy talking to the sound of chickens. Chickens and gossip? Where else have I seen that? The Music Man of course.
The Music Man (book, music and lyrics by Meredith Wilson) hinges on con man "Harold Hill" being able to convince the local music teacher that his "think system" actually works before she will sign off on his sales pitch and get the parents to buy all his instruments and band uniforms. Unfortunately for Harold Hill he's in a town with a music teacher who's also the local (and well read) librarian. Worst of all, she's wrapped up in some old scandal ("He left River City the Library building.
But he left all the books to her"). I always imagine Marian "the Librarian" Paroo as a gold digger and a little black book even though she plays innocent all the way through the play.
In the case of The Music Man there are two Cyclops, a married pair in fact in the form of Mayor Shinn and Eulalie Mackecknie Shinn. While the Mayor usually sends the school board to his dirty work, Mrs. Shinn does her own dirty work. Being played by Hermione Gingold she's the perfect blend of a famous gossip, thus bringing together The Odyssey and Ulysses. She even has a toga for the occasion.
Next Saturday I'll post my thoughts on Episode Thirteen: Nausicaä. If you want to read along, Ulysses is available online at Read Print.
"Pick-a-Little" / "Good Night Ladies" from The Music Man
I love the comparison with The Music Man. Thanks for letting me re-read Ulysses along with you. It's been many years since I read it, but it made a huge impression on me. One of the most influential books of my life.
Comment #4: Saturday, May 23, 2009 at 15:48:53
Thank you for the nice comment. I'm glad you're enjoying "re-reading" it with me.