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Joyce, Heidegger, and the material world of Ulysses: “Ithaca” as inventory

Scholar, J. ORCID: (2017) Joyce, Heidegger, and the material world of Ulysses: “Ithaca” as inventory. James Joyce Quarterly, 54 (1-2). pp. 119-147. ISSN 1938-6036

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1353/jjq.2016.0033


The objects of “Ithaca,” the penultimate episode of Ulysses, contribute much to the episode’s uncanny mingling of domesticity and strangeness. Engaging with Heidegger’s evolving theories of objects and things, and with Barthes’ “reality effect,” this essay tries to show how and why “Ithaca’s” objects behave in this way. “Ithaca”’s narrator’s scientific scrutiny transforms the familiar objects of Bloom’s home into bizarre devices. At first, this technical account of Bloom’s material world seems to do no justice to the familiarity with which he inhabits it, a charge Heidegger levelled at post-Cartesian science and philosophy. On closer reading, however, the narrator’s alienation of the material world mimics Bloom’s alienation from a home containing the material evidence of Molly’s adultery. But “Ithaca” goes on to suggest that science itself may ultimately reintegrate humans into their physical and human environment. Heidegger’s phenomenology helps us see that Bloom’s famous provisional acceptance of Molly’s infidelity in this episode seems to be significantly indebted to “Ithaca’s” materialist vision, rather than simply to Bloom’s humanity.

Item Type:Article
Divisions:Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Literature and Languages > English Literature
ID Code:81091
Publisher:University of Tulsa

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