April Essay

“Speaking the Unspeakable: Using the Techniques of the Theater to Express Unvoiced Thoughts in Ulysses” by Nicholas Frangipane

In his essay, Frangipane starts with the strange line of “the women’s heads coalesce” (15.4578) from the “Circe” episode as a launch into what constitute apparent stage directions and theatrical notes throughout Ulysses. Appropriately, he works from and coalesces some of the analysis of such critics as Martin Puchner (his discussion of the “antitheatrical”), Dorrit Cohn (narrative strategies), and Derek Attridge (phenomenon of autonomous organs) as a means of looking at how Joyce engages elements of the stage in presenting situations and the mind’s eye perspective of several characters.

Frangipane’s analyses of stage direction, direction/dialogue interplay, and monologues in the “Circe,” “Calypso,” and “Penelope” episodes, respectively, are in-depth and significant. However what furthers the paper and makes it of special consideration for HJS is the integration of images from Ulysses Seen, a serialized digital graphic novel, as well as two film adaptations of Ulysses, the 1967 version directed by Joseph Strick, and Bloom, from 2003 and directed by Sean Walsh. Frangipane navigates the choices one must make with regard to the stage directions Joyce lays out and the depth into which readers are able to inhabit the minds of the characters. While identifying the shortcomings of such adaptations, Frangipane ultimately shows the extent to which Joyce went beyond, integrating elements of the stage to extend the reach of the novel form into the depth of its characters.

Since this year’s Joyce symposium is dedicated to the “art” of James Joyce, it is of great use to consider the function of other arts on Joyce, namely stage as it affected Joyce in writing Ulysses, as well as what filmmakers have done with the great novel. Do enjoy this month’s essay, and have a look both at the films and Ulysses Seen for interesting and relevant adaptations.

“Speaking the Unspeakable: Using the Techniques of the Theater to Express Unvoiced Thoughts in Ulysses” by Nicholas Frangipane