Wednesday, June 16, 2010


                  cover of Poets and Writers. Photo by Eve Arnold 1954
           publisher: Abrams Books, Eve Arnold's photos of Marilyn: website link

Look closely at Marilyn's book, yes it is Ulysses **
. . . Looks like she's at the end, probably the monologue . .
I don't have the right to put Molly's entire monologue, as I didn't read the book (only parts here and there, actually), so I'll just put the very end. Molly's monologue has absolutely no punctuation, just one long sentence lasting several pages, and ends the book.

This year on Broadway, Molly is read by Fionnula Flanagan, famous since 1968 for her interpretations of Joyce roles:

. . . Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.

                            Fionnula now, still beautiful     photo: abc                                      
** A letter from Eve Arnold about the day she took the photo:

“We worked on a beach on Long Island…I asked her what she was reading when I went to pick her up (I was trying to get an idea of how she spent her time). She said she kept Ulysses in her car and had been reading it for a long time.

"She said she loved the sound of it and would read it aloud to herself to try to make sense of it–but she found it hard going. She couldn’t read it consecutively.

"When we stopped at a local playground to photograph she got out the book and started to read while I loaded the film. So, of course, I photographed her.”

I hear it from Joyce fanatics that surely this must be the way Joyce intended his work to be read- as Marilyn, and in fact as I, dip into it here and there, moment to moment, epiphany to epiphany; and to read aloud.

Richard Brown at the HRC (UT) said "You can pick it up and put it down, of course, as Joyce himself picked it up and put it down as he was writing the book over a period of fifteen to sixteen years."

There is not even a need to understand what you are reading: how many people understand their favorite poems?

Eve Arnold's letter from: R.B. Kershner, Joyce and Popular Culture.
Richard Brown interview:
Photo: first found on (thanks!):
For more about Eve Arnold:

Please comment, below


Jim Fossett said...

Never had the endurance to get through Ulysses (except for Molly Bloom)but maybe it's because I never got the hang of how to read it--Some parts of it don't seem to make any particular sense, but really sound nice if you read them aloud just from the rhythm and the sound--Eve, you're the one who makes the distinction between the language and the content--is this what you would call a literary work?

Eve Scherr said...

Absolutely! Did you see that I addressed your question by adding to the blog?

In some cases a person can actually "know literature when I see it." Ulysses is like that- just a glance tells you it's literature.

I think content is secondary to the creative ability to surprise with an image, a thought, etc. or even just to write beautifully.

But I also believe that something not well written can be literature because of terrific content.

Ex. for its historical/social value, such as works that portray the zeitgeist of their era (Sinclair Lewis), or that bring people face to face with themselves and create social change (Uncle Tom's Cabin). "Important books."

Anyway Joyce was up to something literary, that's what the professors say anyway. Like that the style is part of the content? Funny to think how many doctoral dissertations are about that book!

I do know a Joyce fanatic, his mind seems to key in somehow. Just like you put it, he "gets the hang of how to read it."

When he was younger his mind worked so fast and ran from subject to subject, that talking to him was a bit like reading Joyce.

Sorry for the long response. It's the way I think!

Jim Fossett said...

Ulysses sounds like a life's work rather than a book--There are a couple of others like that for me--In spite of trying at several different times with a variety of different translations, I've never been able to get through, or into, Homer; but there the gap is cultural rather than literary

Jim Fossett said...

I'd be interested in what you think of somebody like Faulkner, who's attracted as many dissertations as Joyce. The first part of the Sound and the Fury, for example, which is told by an autistic man, is as scrambled and hard to follow as Ulysses, but there's clearly a plot line there and a point, as hard to find as it may be. No surprise or epiphany there, but maybe something else of value.

Goldy said...

Oh so this is where the party is!

Eve Scherr said...

I will invite my resident Faulkner appreciator to speak to that for me, so stay tuned.

Yes Goldy we college teachers are absolutely raving. Glad to see you!

Jim Fossett said...

As Eve's resident Faulkner appreciator, I would argue that Faulkner is after bigger game than Joyce--what he called in several places "the old verities that touch the heart", whereas Joyce is mainly interested in showing off his technical skill--Impressive to be sure, but lacking somehow in things that matter