Malory and Sir Leopold, King
U 14.167-86: This meanwhile this good sister stood by the door and begged [...] Woman's woe with wonder pondering.
According to Joyce’s 13 March 1920 “Oxen” letter to Budgen, the parodies following Mandeville are “Malory’s Morte d’Arthur (‘but that franklin Lenehan was prompt ever to pour them so that at the least way mirth should not lack’), then the Elizabethan chronicle style (‘about that present time young Stephen filled all cups’).” Between the end of the Mandeville parody (“Thanked be Almighty God”) and the beginning of the “Elizabethan chronicle” parody there are at least twenty-five phrases that Joyce copied from Malory. But there are also borrowings in these pages from, among others, Wyclif, Fisher, Holinshed, North, Elyot, More, and especially John Bourchier, Lord Berners. It is, in fact, Lord Berners who seems to be a primary source from “Now let us speak of that fellowship” (U 14.187), a typical Berners introduction, to the end of the section designated by Joyce as a Malory parody, including the passage in which appear the lines cited by Joyce as a sample of Malory. Joyce’s letter, of course, was written midway in the composition of the chapter, so that it is probable that he either altered his intention by the time his writing was complete or that he never intended the letter to be a complete and detailed listing.
The Malory phrases are concentrated in the passage beginning “This meanwhile this good sister” (U 14.167) and ending “Women’s woe with wonder pondering” (U 14.186). As with many of the parodies, Joyce turned to Saintsbury, Peacock, and beyond for his sources. The notesheets indicate that he began with the extract in Peacock (NS 7.11-42), moved to Saintsbury or Barnett and Dale’s An Anthology of English Prose (NS 7.45-56), and, finally, to a complete edition of Malory, and to another notesheet, for the remainder (NS 2.55-100 passim). The entries on notesheet 2 closely parallel the occurrence of the sources in the text. Those on notesheet 7, however, are out of sequence, possibly indicating that Joyce was copying at random or transcribing notes taken earlier and since jumbled.
The Malory paragraph begins with “This meanwhile”, the first words of book one, chapter twenty-six, in which Arthur, now rendered invincible by having just received Excalibur and its shield from the Lady of the Lake, is challenged by King Rience, lord of North Wales and Ireland. It ends, save for the alliterative Anglo-Saxon-style line, with the Lancelot dirge, Sir Ector’s eulogy for Lancelot, which marks the passing of the reign of Arthur and his followers, but here undercut by a recall of the Cyclops narrator’s comment about Bloom, “Gob, he’d have a soft hand under a hen” (U 12.845). In between are words taken from the Balin-Balan conflict, the Grail Quest, the Lancelot-Guinevere romance, and the death of Arthur himself. To some extent it may be said that this paragraph contains the essence of Le Morte d’Arthur.
The themes of the source passages often relate to those in Ulysses. A dominant motif in both is the struggle between two male antagonists. In the Morte d’Arthur the noble King Arthur is set up in opposition to the evil King Rience, who is, ironically, the King of Ireland. Both the Peacock and “Oxen” passages begin “This meanwhile”. A messenger from King Rience arrives in Malory, demanding the beard of Arthur. In “Oxen” “this good sister” comes to the door asking the merrymakers “to leave their wassailing” (U 14.167-8). In Malory, “a knight that hight Naram” warns Arthur that Rience is “a passing good man of his body” who will make war “with a mighty puissance”. In “Oxen” it is “a franklin that hight Lenehan” (U 14.172-3), “a passing good man of his lustiness” (U 14.181-2), who speaks with drunken irreverence.
Balin and Balan are brothers who kill each other by mistake as a result of enchantment. In “Oxen” Bloom and Lenehan are “knights virtuous in the one emprise” (U 14.174). Yet they are contrasted, the one meek and kind, doing “minion service to lady gentle” (U 14.185), the other more concerned with his drinking. When Balin realizes the fratricide, he reveals that he has been forced “to leave my own shield to our both’s destruction.” Lenehan, on the other hand, “quaffed as far as he might to their both’s health” (U 14.180-1).
The Arthur-Guinevere-Lancelot triangle in the final Peacock Malory excerpt suggests the Leopold-Molly-Boylan menage or the Leopold-Molly-Stephen, at least in Bloom’s and Molly’s fantasies later in Ulysses. From this section Joyce noted “that is truth, said Bloom” from Malory’s “That is truth, said King Arthur,” but then gave the line to Dixon, “That is truth, pardy, said Dixon” (U 14.259).
Bloom’s hearing “on the upfloor cry on high” (U 14.170) of birthing mothers echoes Sir Galahad’s hearing “in the leaves cry on high: Knight, keep thee from me” as he rescues Melias while on his Grail quest. The quest for the Grail may be seen in, among other things, the Gold Cup Race and the rift it has created between Lenehan and Bloom.
Also, Joyce’s early intent for Bloom, seen in "Sir Leopold, king" (NS 7.47) is not stated in “Oxen”, but Bloom’s role is kinglike, detached, alternately irritated by and compassionate toward the rest. The passage ends with the tribute to Bloom, “And sir Leopold that was the goodliest guest that ever sat in scholar's hall and that was the meekest man and the kindest that ever laid husbandly hand under hen and that was the very truest knight of the world one that ever did minion service to lady gentle pledged him courtly in the cup” (U 14.182-6), a close echo of the famous “Lancelot dirge”: “And thou were the curtest knyght that ever bare shelde; and thou were the truest frende to thy lover that ever bestrade hors; and thou were the truest lover of a synful man that ever loved woman; and thou were the kyndest man that ever strake with swerde; and thou were the godelyest persone that ever cam emonge prees of knyghtes; and thou was the mekest man and the gentyllest that ever ete in halle emonge ladyes; and thou were the sternest knyght to thy mortal foe that ever put spere in the breste.”
The following list gives the relevant Malory notesheet entries and sources.
U 14.167: This meanwhile
NS 7.12 this meanwhile
Malory/Peacock 8 This meanwhile
U 14.168: leave their wassailing
NS 7.51 Leave this weeping
Malory/Barnett 7 Leve thys mornynge and wepyng
U 14.169: whose time hied fast
NS 7.52 her time hied fast
Malory/Barnett 8 my tyme hyeth fast
U 14.169-70: Sir Leopold
NS 7.47 Sir Leopold, king
Malory/ Barnett 6 Syr Arthur, kynge
U 14.169-70; Sir Leopold heard on the upfloor cry on high
NS 2.55 Sir G. heard in the leaves cry on high
Malory 243 Sir Galahad heard in the leaves cry on high
U 14.171: I marvel
NS 2.98 I marvel what man (that) he is
Malory 228 Then she had marvel what knight it might be
NS 7.47 I marvel
Malory/Barnett 7 I merveylle
U 14.171-2: or now
NS 7.33 or now
Malory/Peacock 10 or now I found never no knight [identified by Philip Herring, Joyce’s Ulysses Notesheets in the British Museum (University Press of Virginia: 1972)]
U 14.172: dureth
NS 7.122 nigh a mile, dureth
Mandeville/ Barnett dureth nyghe a 4 myle [Herring]
U 14.172: he was ware
NS 7.38 he was ware
Malory 224 he was ware
U 14.172-3: a franklin that hight
NS 7.23 a knight that hight
Malory/Peacock 9 a knight that hight Naram [Herring]
U 14.173: on that side the
NS 7.39 on this side the
Malory/ Peacock 12 Also the scabbard of Balin's sword Merlin left it on this side the island
U 14.173: any of the tother
NS 7.142 any of the tother
Mandeville/Peacock 5 any of the tother [Herring]
U 14.174-5: by cause that
NS 7.27 by cause of … but by cause
Malory/Peacock 9 by cause of his two swords, but by cause [Herring]
U 14.175-6: But, said he, or it be long too
NS 7.20 but or it be long too, he'll...
Malory/Peacock 8 but, or it be long too, he shall [Herring]
U 14.178: Also
NS 7.39 Also
Walory/Peacock 12 Also the scabbard
U 14.179: tofore
NS 2.82 tofore
Mallory 320 tofore that Abel was slain
U 14.179: that stood tofore him
NS 7.37 that stood fore him
Malory/Peacock 11 a knight that stood afore him [Herring]
U 14.179-80: desiring of him to drink
NS 3.52 desired him to smthg
Berners/Barnett 14 ye have desyred us to a thynge
U 14.180: fully delectably
NS 7.102 fully richly
Mandeville/ Peacock 4 fully richly [Herring]
NS 7.140 sung full delectably
Mandeville/Peacock 4 sung full delectably [Herring]
U 14.180-1: as far as he might
NS 7.55 as far as he might
Malory/Saintsbury 86 he threw the sword as far into the water as he might (also Malory/Barnett 8)
U 14.181: to their both's health
NS 7.34 to their both's health
Malory /Peacock 10 to our both's destruction [Herring]
U 14.181-2: a passing good man of his lustiness
NS 7.24 a passing good man of his body
Malory/Peacock 9 a passing good man of his body [Herring]
NS 11.22 passing
Sidney/Murison 82 not so poor by the barrenness of the soil (though in itself not passing fertile) as by a civil war '
Murison 82 note: Passing fertile. In full, 'passing (what is) fertile', 'passing (a soil that is) fertile'. We should now say, in prose, 'surpassingly fertile'.
U 14.182-5: And sir Leopold that was the goodliest guest that ever sat in scholar's hall and that was the meekest man and the kindest that ever laid husbandly hand under hen and that was the very truest knight of the world one that ever did minion service to lady gentle pledged him courtly in the cup.
(no NS entry)
Malory/ Barnett 10 And thou were the curtest knyght that ever bare shelde; and thou were the truest frende to thy lover that ever bestrade hors; and thou were the truest lover of a synful man that ever loved woman; and thou were the kyndest man that ever strake with swerde; and thou were the godelyest persone that ever cam emonge prees of knyghtes; and thou was the mekest man and the gentyllest that ever ete in halle emonge ladyes; and thou were the sternest knyght to thy mortal foe that ever put spere in the breste.
U 14.259: That is truth, pardy, said Dixon
NS 7.40 that is truth, said Bloom
Malory/Peacock 13 That is truth, said King Arthur [Herring]
U 14.295: puissant
NS7.25 with a mighty puissance
Malory/Peacock 9 with a mighty puissance
Janusko, Robert. The Sources and Structures of James Joyce’s
“Oxen” (UMI Research Press, Ann Arbor, Michigan: 1983)
Joyce's Allusions >