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Saturday, February 8, 2014

The golden apple, in "Ulysses"

I've been re-reading Ulysses by James Joyce, as I've previously mentioned. I have yet to get to the halfway point. It's not a fast read, and I'm determined to have some idea of what's going on this time, so I'm trying to read it carefully.

But when I read ahead a little bit, by looking at a passage analyzed in my college English lit textbook, I discovered something that surprised me, in the sense that I would have thought a RAW fan would have mentioned to me before: The golden apple of discord of the goddess Eris is mentioned in passing. It's in the "Nausicaa" episode, the one that features Leopold Bloom ogling Gerty MacDowell:

But just then there was a slight altercation between Master Tommy and Master Jacky. Boys will be boys and our two twins were no exception to this golden rule. The apple of discord was a certain castle of sand which Master Jacky had built and Master Tommy would have it right go wrong that it was to be architecturally improved by a frontdoor like the Martello tower had. But if Master Tommy was headstrong Master Jacky was selfwilled too and, true to the maxim that every little Irishman's house is his castle, he fell upon his hated rival and to such purpose that the wouldbe assailant came to grief and (alas to relate!) the coveted castle too. Needless to say the cries of discomfited Master Tommy drew the attention of the girl friends.

Of course the "apple of discord" refers to the apple Eris, e.g. Discordia,  wielded to set off a series of events that led up to the Trojan War. Odysseus (e.g. Ulysses) brought the war to an end with his wooden horse scheme for getting inside the city.

When I searched for "apple" in an online version of Ulysses, I got 24 hits — the "apple of discord" and 23 others. Make of that what you will.

1 comment:

gacord said...

I giggle every time I read that section. It's probably overlooked because everyone wants to hurry up and get to the masturbation scene.
One no longer has to look for 23's. They appear of their own will.