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Funeral

In the carriage for Paddy Dignam’s funeral: Bloom was right all along

 


U 6.1-3: Martin Cunningham, first, poked his silkhatted head into the creaking carriage and, entering deftly, seated himself. Mr Power stepped in after him, curving his height with care.


It may not be Fermat’s Last Theorem, but the riddle Joyce created by not specifying precisely where each of the four mourners sat in the carriage taking them from Paddy Dignam’s house at 9 Newbridge Avenue, Sandymount to the Prospect Cemetery at Glasnevin is one that has from time to time intrigued commentators.

     The most extensive investigation of this issue was conducted by Carole Brown and Leo Knuth in Bloomsday, the eleventh hour, published in 1981.1 Brown and Knuth proposed that the most likely seating arrangement within the carriage saw Simon Dedalus and Martin Cunningham sitting next to each other on the rear-facing seats of the carriage, with Bloom and Power sitting in the forward-facing seats opposite them:

Image reproduced by kind permission
 of Clive Hart

      This configuration was promoted on the basis of numerous factors, including the location of the “street furniture” which the carriage passes and descriptive and conversational hints within the text. But it causes problems within Joyce’s narrative, which has to be interpreted heavily in places in order to explain them away. For example, Martin Cunningham is said to have “nudged” Power (U 6.250), which would normally indicate that they were sitting next to each other. It feels awkward when an explanation needs to extend to these lengths to satisfy the narrative trajectory:


We should like to add that in some parts of the British Isles a 'nudger' is what Americans call a submarine sandwich (besides being a slang word for penis), an additional reminder that nudging is by no means limited to elbow contact.2

A similar awkwardness relates to their description of Simon Dedalus stretching “over across” [Bloom, most easily, we assume] (U 6.44) to try to catch a glimpse of his son Stephen.

     The difficulty is resolved if we (a) remember that Joyce originally located Paddy Dignam’s house on the south side of Newbridge Road, at No 10 (whereas No 9 – the address given in Ulysses – lies on the north side) and (b), incorporate a conclusive textual hint that Joyce gives us during the journey to the Prospect Cemetery, and which Brown and Knuth omit to mention – presumably without realising its significance or uncertain whether the details could be verified.

     Joyce planned the micro-topography of his novel in minute detail. In another passage where the positioning of characters is important, we find Joyce making three sketches of the seating arrangement around the table in the Maternity Hospital's common room in one of his notebooks (II.ii.5.a. Notebook A) containing material for the “Oxen of the Sun” episode.


Paddy Dignam’s house on Newbridge Avenue

The “Hades” episode of Ulysses was first published in the Little Review in September 1918. The text there (and in the Rosenbach manuscript of Ulysses) shows that Joyce originally located Paddy Dignam’s house at No 10 Newbridge Avenue.3 This house (unlike No 9, Dignam’s house when Ulysses was published in 1922) is on the south side of Newbridge Avenue. Modern maps of the route of the funeral appear not to take account of the fact that Newbridge Avenue was numbered from the bottom (Herbert Road) end, with odd numbers on the north side and even numbers on the five houses towards the bottom end of the road on the south side. The location of the houses in the street is shown on this map:


Based on the Ordnance Survey of Dublin (revised 1907, published 1911): by kind permission of Ian Gunn.
The cortège moved from the bottom-left up Newbridge Avenue and turned north on to Tritonville Road
(note the tram tracks) at the top-right

     Assuming that Joyce intended to represent the topography accurately, then Dignam’s hearse will have drawn up in front of No 10 Newbridge Avenue (on the right-hand side of the road); the mourners’ carriages will therefore have parked behind it, outside (say) Nos 6 and 8; and Bloom and his friends will have entered their carriage from the pavement on the right-hand (off-)side of their vehicle. When Joyce relocated Dignam’s house to No 9, he did not alter the description of how the mourners entered the carriage carrying Bloom.

 

The tramway standards on Great Brunswick Street

The second issue relates to the position of the tramway standards in Great Brunwick, which the funeral procession passes. While the cortège is making its way west along Great Brunswick Street, we read that:
 

A pointsman’s back straightened itself upright suddenly against a tramway standard by Mr Bloom’s window. (U 6.175-6).

A pointsman was a man employed to monitor and change the points on the tramway, allowing trams to move from one line to another.4 The crucial fact is that the tramway standard (the post holding the tramway cables) passes directly by Bloom’s window, clarifying the side of the carriage on which he sits. As any Dubliner would have known in 1904, the tramway standards in Great Brunswick Street were not situated on the pavement, as they were on smaller streets, but were ranged down the middle of the road:


Tramway standards on Great Brunswick Street (postcard c1904: showing No 21 upwards)
by kind permission of Aida Yared

     The positioning of the tramway standards in Great Brunswick Street is shown clearly in this map:

 

Based on the Ordnance Survey of Dublin (revised 1907, published 1911): by kind permission of Ian Gunn

The standards are marked by dots in the centre of Great Brunswick Street. The carriage has at this stage reached the cab-rank (“hazard”: U 6.171) at the corner of Westland Row and Great Brunswick Street at the bottom right of the map, and is at one of the next two standards and point-switches before the Antient Concert Rooms (perhaps mostly likely the one marked between then “B” and the “R” of “Brunswick” on the map). Whichever the case, as the carriage is travelling on the left-hand side of the road, Bloom must be sitting on the right of the carriage (relative to the direction of travel) for his “window” to pass next to the tramway standard.

     Commentators have been hesitant about placing Bloom on the right of the carriage, and have adduced arguments in favour of a left-side position from the very beginning of the journey. To see whether placing Bloom on the right-hand side of the carriage, and to determine what this may mean for the positions of the rest of the passengers in the carriage, we need to review Joyce’s description of the journey from Newbridge Avenue in south-east Dublin to Glasnevin in the northern suburbs of the city.

 

The mourners enter the carriage

One of the incontrovertible facts discernible from Joyce’s narrative is that the mourners entered (and exited) the carriage in this order: first, Martin Cunningham, then Mr Power, followed by Simon Dedalus, and then Bloom. The space was “cramped” (U 6.483, and see here for a photo of a typical Dublin carriage of the day).

     As noted earlier, the carriage taking Bloom and his friends to the funeral draws up (in the early versions of the narrative) by the pavement on the right-hand side of Newbridge Avenue, behind the hearse standing outside No 10. The mourners therefore enter the carriage from this side. The configuration of mourners inside the carriage, and their observations on this initial section of their journey, derive from Joyce’s original siting of Dignam’s house on the south side of the street. When Joyce changed the number of Dignam’s house from No 9 (presumably to use the address of a house vacant in 1904, according to Thom’s directory) he may not have realised that this house was on the opposite side of the road, and not adjacent, to No 10 (and perhaps he didn’t mind leaving us with this conundrum).

     On the basis of this, we will posit a seating configuration and watch how it survives the journey. That configuration is:

Martin Cunningham is the first to enter the carriage from the pavement, through the right-hand (off-side) door, and “deftly” takes his seat next to the door through which he has just entered, facing the rear of the carriage. The others enter through the same door, and fill the seats in anticlockwise order: Power next to Cunningham, then Dedalus opposite Power, and finally Bloom in the remaining vacant seat by the off-side door facing the direction of travel. Bloom sits down, slams the door too, and reaches to put on the arm-strap. The right-hand (off-side) door window is open, and Bloom looks through it at the houses on the south side of Newbridge Avenue. Bloom wants to shift the soap out of his hip pocket, but cannot (U 6.22-3).

 

Moving off from Newbridge Avenue and riding to the Grand Canal Bridge

We assume in general that observations on the route are part of Bloom’s interior monologue. He is well-placed facing forward to provide this. The hearse moves off, and Bloom looks out (to the right) through the open window of his door as the carriage moves level with No 10. He observes its “craped knocker” and the “door ajar” as they pass by “at walking pace” (U 6.27).

     As they move along Tritonville Road Mr Power asks which way they are being taken. Cunningham, next to him, knows the route and tells him. The two men regularly conduct conversations which suggest that they are not in a position to keep an eye on the route. Dedalus, opposite Power, nods to them, looking out of the left-hand door window (U 6.33-5).

     Bloom “at gaze” (= “in the distance”) sees Stephen Dedalus through his right-hand window somewhere on the Sandymount side, and tells Simon Dedalus, who stretches “over across” to the right to try to cast a glimpse of his son (U 6.45). As the carriage rounds a corner Simon Dedalus “fell back” (U 6.48), suggesting that he was sitting in a rear seat. He did not have a clear view across through the right-hand window, and asks whether “that Mulligan cad” was with Stephen (U 6. 49). Bloom is in a position to answer in the negative (U 6.50).

     Bloom smiles “joylessly on Ringsend road”, which they are now passing along, through his right-hand window. They pass “Wallace Bros: the bottleworks”, both on Bloom’s side, and reach the Dodder bridge (U 6.54-5).

     Simon Dedalus, at Bloom’s left, inveighs against Mulligan: “His name stinks all over Dublin”. As he ceases, we find Bloom surveying the occupants of the cab from angry Dedalus to his left, past Power diagonally opposite, to Cunningham in front of him:


Mr Bloom glanced from his angry moustache to Mr Power’s mild face and Martin Cunningham’s eyes and beard, gravely shaking. (U 6.72-4).

     Brown and Knuth are right on form here, as they explain that when Bloom refers to someone’s “face” he sees the person in profile or “side-face”, and when he refers to a person’s “eyes” he regards them from directly opposite.5 This interpretation applies here to Bloom’s view of Power and Cunningham. (Bloom can see the grey hair over Power’s ear)

     Power speaks to Cunningham next to him, asking “Are we late?” Cunningham replies that they are ten minutes late. The conversation characteristically does not relate to the journey, which – from their rear-facing seats - they are not watching closely (U 6.85-6). Dedalus can easily demonstrate Corny Kelleher’s “squint” to his opposite number Power (U 6.93). After some desultory conversation about whether the previous occupants of the carriage have had a picnic in it, they stop at the Grand Canal Bridge. Bloom sees the gasworks on his side, just beyond the bridge, and then the “Dog’s home over there”, across out of the other window (U 6.121 and 125). Bloom has his head out of his open window, to answer the question “Where are we?” The conversation then passes in sequence from him, to Cunningham, to Power, and round to Dedalus, before they are “off again” (U 6.132-9). Dedalus peers at the “veiled sun” to the south-east through his (left-hand, near-side) window (the carriage is heading due west at this point) (U. 136-7).

 

From the Grand Canal to the Liffey

As they set off again along Great Brunswick Street Cunningham and Power engage in conversation again unrelated to the route, eventually bringing in Dedalus and Bloom opposite (U 6.142-156). On the larger streets Bloom’s attention drifts towards the near-side, where he spots the National school and Meade’s yard and “the hazard” outside Westland Row railway station that he had passed earlier in the day (U 6.171).

     Then the pointsman suddenly stands up straight against the tramway standard in the middle of the road, by Bloom’s window, and his attention moves back to the other side of the road, where he notes the Antient Concert Rooms (“nothing on there”) and on the same side the “bleak pulpit of saint Mark’s”. They go under the railway bridge and Bloom’s eye is caught by the colourful hoardings of the Queen’s Theatre on the left (U 6.180-8).

     While Bloom thinks of Molly’s and Boylan’s tryst they pass Plasto’s (on Bloom’s side) and the Crampton memorial in the middle of the road. At that moment Cunningham spots Boylan through his right-hand (off-side) window coming out of the Red Bank at 19-20 D’Olier Street, and salutes him. Then Power sees him too, from the other side of the carriage. Dedalus also “bent across” (the carriage from left to right) to salute him. Bloom is acutely embarrassed as attention turns his way, realising that Boylan would have seen him through his window. He stares at his nails and thinks about his rival (“Worst man in Dublin”) and then conducts an embarrassed conversation about his wife’s concert tour organised by Boylan with Power and Cunningham opposite, till they pass the Smith O’Brien statue just before the river (U 6.200-28).

 

Up Sackville Street to the Rotunda


Over the bridge, they pass the statue of Daniel O’Connell (“the hugecloaked Liberator”) and Cunningham nudges Power sitting next to him, as they spot Reuben J. Dodd “stumping round the corner of Elvery’s elephant house” over on Power’s side. Dedalus, on that side too, casts a look at his back and comments sarcastically as he walks around the corner down Middle Abbey Street. The carriage passes Gray’s statue on the pavement island between Middle and Lower Abbey street, and Power shields his face from his (left-hand) window, so that the passers-by on the pavement don’t see him laughing on the way to the funeral (U 6.249-58).

     Cunningham comments, and “His eyes met Mr. Bloom’s eyes” sitting opposite him (U 6.260), and the mourners converse together till they pass “Nelson’s pillar” (U 6.293) and pass up the “Dead side of the street” on the left of the main thoroughfare, passing the land agents (several in Thom’s), “the temperance hotel, Falconer’s railway guide, civil service college, Gill’s, catholic club, the industrious blind” [= the Richmond National Institution for the Industrious Blind], all up the west side of Sackville Street. Cunningham sees a “tiny coffin” flash by their carriage just past the Rotunda corner, from his vantage point for spotting oncoming traffic at the right-hand (off-side) window (U 6.321-3).

Caption: Henry Shaw's Dublin Pictorial Guide & Directory of 1850: Dodd disappears along Middle Abbey Street; Elvery the Waterproofer's "elephant house" is at No 46 Lower Sackville Street, Bolger's public house at 45.


The final stretch to Finglas Road, Glasnevin

Cunningham and Power chat together about suicide as the carriage passes up “the hill of Rutland square” (U 6.332-342). Dedalus joins in at the end, but Bloom sees Cunningham’s “large eyes” directly opposite and quails (U 6.343-4). Cunningham and Power resume their conversation as they travel up Blessington Street and into Berkeley Road. Dedalus manages to break in just at the end, but Bloom’s attention and his monologue is deflected by the sight of the Mater hospital on his side, and the chance to sneak a view down Eccles Street next to it (U 6.375-7).

     They proceed towards Dunphy’s corner, stopping for a drove of cattle, which stimulates more desultory chat on the problems of transporting animals around Dublin. They turn up Phibsborough Road. Bloom sees an empty hearse trotting back from the cemetery on his side (U 6.436-7), and they pass the Royal Canal, watching a man on his barge, driving past Brian Boroimhe’s house on the left (U 6.453).

     From Bloom’s position in the forward-facing seats the carriage steers “left” on to Finglas Road (U 6.458).

 

To the cemetery and out of the carriage

We continue past the stonecutter’s yard (outside Dennany’s) “on the right”, again viewing from Bloom’s perspective. He is on the side of the “crowded spit of land” (to the right) where the sculptured memorials are set (U 6.459-62). They pass the gloomy houses at Bengal Terrace on Bloom’s side and Power (erroneously) points out the last one from his side of the carriage: “That is where Childs was murdered” (U 6.467-70). Bloom is on the correct side to see the rippling railings of the Prospect cemetery, and the carriage moves over to his side to come to a halt against the kerbstone on the right-hand side of the road (there was no kerbstone on the left, and the mourners and undertakers needed the kerb to descend) (U 6.486-90).

     Cunningham leans forward from his rear-facing seat to put his hand “out” of the right-hand (off-side) window to turn the handle and then helps the door open (rear-hinged) with his knee. He exits first (maybe rightly, as Dignam’s funeral is an image of his own), followed again in anticlockwise order by Power, Dedalus, and finally Bloom, who dithers in order to transfer the soap to his “inner handkerchief pocket”.

 

Conclusion

It would seem that the new configuration of mourners allows easily for each of the actions described by Joyce in the journey from Paddy Dignam’s house (first version) to his final resting-place in the Prospect Cemetery at Glasnevin. Cunningham and Power chat about a number of things unrelated to their journey, facing towards the back of the carriage; Bloom and Dedalus sit next to each other and opposite them, with Bloom maintaining a commentary on sights that pass into his view as they are driven along. If we expect a realistic journey, with the action fitting in easily with the “street furniture” and the other accidents of the narrative, then the present configuration gives us that.



Harald Beck and John Simpson



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The authors would like to thank Eamonn Finn for extensive and valuable discussions on this topic in years past.

1 Carole Brown and Leo Knuth, Bloomsday, the eleventh hour: the Quest for the vacant place (Colchester: A Wake Newslitter Press, 1981).
2 Carole Brown and Leo Knuth, p. 6.
3 See particularly Danis Rose, “Mr. Dignam’s Change of Address, in James Joyce Quarterly, Vol. 25, No. 1, Twenty-Fifth Anniversary Issue (Fall, 1987), pp. 126-8.
4 The other sense of the word available in Dublin at the time was “a police officer stationed on point duty” (OED). In the unlikely event that this is Joyce’s meaning, the same point holds.
5 Carole Brown and Leo Knuth, p. 7.