Narrative voice, Interpolation and Parallax in Joyce's "Cyclops" Episode

This podcast includes three members of the PSUlysses class. We met together and decided the topics we wanted to focus on related to the “Cyclops” episode. After coming together with our various ideas about the episode, we decided to focus on 1) Interpolations and how they function within the text, particularly related to structure; and 2) the figure of the narrator and his role in the story. The interpolations, we agreed, seemed to be the most important and pressing issue in this episode, so we decided to focus more so on these.


The podcast was created by first splitting up certain interpolations that we wanted to discuss and how those fit into the larger scheme of the text. We had several secondary sources, including The Cambridge Companion to Ulysses, The Iliad, The Odyssey, and a few, other, outside texts that we ended up not using. We spent some time outlining our respective portions of the podcast and looked for the different areas of focus we wanted to get into. Casper wanted to focus on the narrator as a figure and what his character means for the book in general and this episode in particular. Jamie focused on the parallels between Homeric battle scenes and the boxing match interpolation, and on examining the connections between them. Kevin looked at the Irish Revivalist interpolation on line 151 and how that contributed to the larger meaning of the novel’s structure and social commentary.

We rehearsed briefly, sound-checked a bit, and then began recording. We deliberately left room for commentary and response from all members, but on the whole we focused on creating a podcast that was bound together by the common theme of interpolations and their function in the text. We feel that this enabled us to have a much tighter and more focused approach to the project, and the added preparation and prearranged quotes we wished to use made it go by much more smoothly.

In this podcast, we discuss at length the Irish revivalist focus, the social purpose of the figure of the citizen, the odd fertility images in the form of fruits, produce, spherical potatoes, drills of Swedes, and iridescent kale. In the end, we landed on the subject of parallax, used several places in Joyce’s work, as one of the main focuses of the use of interpolation: that it is the idea of presenting simultaneously, from several angles at once, the fully-rendered image of something. We decided that this parallax is the main purpose of interpolation here: that it is the technique employed by Joyce throughout Ulysses as a whole, but that in this episode it becomes extremely important. It provides a lens through which to see the Irish revival; through which to examine class and the social fabric of Ireland; through which to explore consciousness and raise certain textual issues over who is speaking when, and what this means. It is, after all, the only episode that features a true first-person narrator. This person is never named, and is never seen again. His point of view is but one possibility in an infinite galaxy of possibilities that Joyce presents to us.