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Bloom's Death in "Ithaca," or the End of Ulysses

C. David Bertolini
Journal of Modern Literature
Vol. 31, No. 2 (Winter, 2008), pp. 39-52
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/30053267
Page Count: 14
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Bloom's Death in "Ithaca," or the End of Ulysses
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Abstract

This essay explores the notion that Bloom dies in the "Ithaca" episode. It investigates unresolved aspects of Joyce scholarship, such as the structure of Ulysses and Joyce's narrative techniques, moving the reader toward a new understanding of "Penelope." Ultimately, readers will recognize that "Penelope" is not, in fact, the final episode of Ulysses but rather an event that is akin to the claim "it's the end of the world," or the end of Ulysses proper. Traditional criticisms of the last episodes are contingent upon the idea that Ulysses is a contiguous narrative about Stephen and Bloom's relationship. However, this is not the case. This essay demonstrates that with Bloom's death in "Ithaca," Joyce's final experimental episode "Penelope" becomes a fragmented text of simultaneity (metempsychosis) whereby the consciousness of the transfigured Bloom (transfigured through death) is fused with that of Molly. In other words, a single voice (before gender) comes to represent Bloom and Molly simultaneously, in the closest possible approximation of freedom-a fragmented self predicated upon the commonalities among anxiety, perversions and doubt.

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