Camille Flammarion’s Astronomy for Amateurs (1904) in Ulysses
U 4.84–6: Somewhere in the east: early morning: set off at dawn. Travel round in front of the sun, steal a day’s march on him. Keep it up for ever never grow a day older technically.
Bloom’s quick run “round the corner” (U 4.53) to Dlugacz’s pork butcher’s on the morning of 16 June prefigures in miniature his day’s wanderings around Dublin over the course of Bloomsday. As he walks down Eccles Street, the warmth of the morning sun puts him in mind of the Near East and he begins to daydream, constructing an Orientalist fantasy of moving through an Arabian-night cityscape.
He has overshot his mark. Readers of Ulysses know to place Bloom on the Aegean coastline and not in Arabia, but they have also been diligent in tracking the “Scheherazadean correspondences” of his reverie to some likely sources.1 For Vincent Cheng, Bloom’s mental journeying eastwards can be “discursively traced” to the portrayal of Harun al-Rashid’s caliphate in One Thousand and One Nights; Brad Bannon pinpoints a more recent remediation of the Nights, connecting Bloom’s “girl playing one of those instruments what do you call them: dulcimers” (U 4.97–98) to the “damsel with a dulcimer” in Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s “Kubla Khan”.2
Laura Pelaschiar has usefully linked Bloom’s “mental transnational mobility” in “Calypso” with the “interstellar extension” of “Ithaca”.8 Curiously enough, it was while Joyce was reading around for the astronomical questions and answers in the penultimate episode that he found the basis for Bloom’s age-defying scheme. One side of one of the “Ithaca” notesheets derives almost entirely from the English translation of Flammarion’s work; phrases and single words from Astronomy for Amateurs form a long central column of notes on notesheet “Ithaca” 9 (in Phillip F. Herring’s numbering).9 Figure 1 represents the layout of this notesheet but reproduces only the entries that derive from or take impetus from Flammarion’s text. Comparing it with Herring’s transcript or with the James Joyce Archive’s facsimile reproduction, one can see immediately how few of the notes on the sheet are unaccounted for. The unit highlighted in yellow, “travel round earth in front of sun, gain 1 / day, steal a march on him” (“Ithaca” 9:68–69), formed the basis for Bloom’s further musings in “Calypso”.
Figure 1. Flammarion-derived material on British Library Add. MS 49,975, f. [26r] (notesheet “Ithaca” 9)
Hereunder I reproduce an illustrative sample of Joyce’s gleanings, paired with their corresponding passages in Flammarion’s work. For fuller correlation with Astronomy for Amateurs, see the James Joyce Digital Archive “Ithaca” notesheet sector 27(b) onward. Material that Joyce lifted verbatim from Flammarion’s pages I have highlighted in yellow; material he reworked for the notesheet appears in blue. Superscript italicised letters denote the colour of Joyce’s crayon cancellation, either blue or red:
b Lake of Dreams / Sea of Fecundity / Swamp of Mists / Gulf of Dews / Sea of Rains
b Alps, Pyrennees [sic]
Nli 13, p. 4[r]: “craters named after ours by false analogy”. Subsequently: “the nomenclature employed in its selenographical charts as attributable to verifiable intuition as to fallacious analogy” (now U 17.1153–5). Note that the word “selenographical” may also derive from Flammarion. It appears on p. 244; the related “selenographic” is on p. 245.
fire into sky frighten eclipse dragon, hide in perfumed cellar. / beating cans
r operaglass reveals stars of 7th. mag.
Added to a now-missing typescript as “their magnitudes revealed up to and including the 7th” (U 17.1105–6).
Homer saw same stars
comet July 1903
r Aug. 10 – S Lawrence’ tears
Added to a now-missing typescript as “the annual recurrence of meteoric showers about the period of the feast of S. Lawrence”; the further specification “(martyr, 10 August)” was added on the first setting of Placard III-9 in late December 1921 (now U 17.1115–17).
r insects under stone, bacteria midge.
Added to a now-missing typescript as “the myriad minute entomological existences concealed in cavities of the earth, beneath removable stones, in hives and mounds, of microbes, germs, bacteria, bacilli, spermatozoa” (now U 17.1059–61).
Present in the Rosenbach Manuscript of “Ithaca” as “the parallax or parallactic drift of socalled fixed stars” (now U 17.1052–3).
The last of the three (and its hundred-odd word answer) exists in the copybook draft in nascent form. Joyce’s employment of the conventional association of the moon with femininity is noteworthy because the French original of Astronomy for Amateurs, published the previous year, was a work entitled Astronomie des dames or “Astronomy for Women”.11 An unimpressed review of the translation in the Dial quipped that “had the American title been ‘Astronomy for French Women’, it would have described the book more accurately” as the reviewer found several passages that, while they might pass in a French novel, were inexcusable in a book on astronomy. The general tone of the work was held to be “sentimental, fanciful, rhetorically exuberant, at times inexact, and always readable by people who enjoy reading of that sort”. This imprecision the reviewer put down to the “average feminine intellect” of Flammarion’s target audience: “Educated American women will resent the estimate”.12 Whatever the claims of gender and nationality on intelligence level, the larger takeaway is that it was a work of popular science by an astronomer and psychicist – Flammarion devoted decades to investigating paranormal phenomena – and not, say, any especially keen awareness of the new physics that formed the basis for the astronomical and cosmological correspondences Joyce wove into “Ithaca”. To be sure, there may be grace notes in the episode that derive from the new physics, but the burden is borne by the more throwaway Astronomy for Amateurs.
This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 665501 with the Research Foundation–Flanders (FWO).
1 We owe that critical bromide “Homeric correspondence” to Edmund Wilson, seemingly. See its appearance (as “Homeric correspondences”) in “An Introduction to Joyce”, Wilson’s review of Herbert Gorman’s James Joyce: His First Forty Years for the Dial, LXXVII.5 (November 1924): 430–5, at 434.
2 Vincent Cheng, Joyce, Race, and Empire (Cambridge; New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 171; Brad Bannon, “Joyce, Coleridge, and the Eastern Aesthetic”, James Joyce Quarterly, 48.3 (Spring 2011): 495–510, at 498.
3 Weldon Thornton, “An Allusion List for James Joyce’s Ulysses: Part 4: ‘Calypso’”, James Joyce Quarterly, 1.4 (Summer 1964): 7–13, at 7–8. See Frederick Diodati Thompson, In the Track of the Sun; Readings from the Diary of a Globe Trotter (London: Heinemann, 1893).
4 JH [John Hunt], “Track of the Sun”, The Joyce Project (2017). joyceproject.com.
5 Joyce, “Ulysses, Episode IV”, Little Review, VI.2 [for V.2] (June 1918): 39–52, at 41. The serialized “Calypso” is identical to the typescript, save for having dropped some punctuation and a missing indefinite article on the word “spear”. See University at Buffalo TS V.B.3.a, f. 3 (for a reproduction, see JJA 12.263).
6 University at Buffalo MS V.C.2.A.1.4.a, p. 57 (for a reproduction, see JJA 22.175).
7 Camille Flammarion, Astronomy for Amateurs. Trans. Frances A. Welby (New York: D. Appleton, 1904), 223. Hereafter cited in the text. A digitised copy of this edition is available on the Internet Archive. It is not clear which edition or printing of Astronomy for Amateurs Joyce consulted. The New York edition was a success and frequently reprinted: I have seen reprints dated 1910, 1915, 1918, and 1921. Welby’s translation was also issued in the Nelson Library of Notable Books (London: Thomas Nelson & Sons, n.d. ), a series that we know Joyce drew on while living on the Continent. See items 17, 270, 274, 354, and 369 in Michael Patrick Gillespie with Erik Bradford Stocker, James Joyce’s Trieste Library: A Catalogue of Materials at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, the University of Texas at Austin (Austin: The Center, 1986).
8 Laura Pelaschiar, “‘In all habitable lands and islands explored and unexplored’: Politics and Poetics of Space in Joyce’s Ulysses”, in Transits: The Nomadic Geographies of Anglo-American Modernism, ed. Giovanni Cianci, Caroline Patey, and Sara Sullam (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2010), 123–41, at 138.
9 Joyce, Joyce’s “Ulysses” Notesheets in the British Museum, ed. Phillip F. Herring (Charlottesville: Published for the Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia by the University Press of Virginia 1972), 453–56. Herring’s designation of “Ithaca” 9 corresponds to the physical document catalogued as London, British Library Add. MS 49,975, f. [26r] (right portion). A facsimile of this notesheet appears on JJA 12.81. In Herring’s transcript, the notes “Ithaca” 9:20–79 are designated as “left column horizontal”. In the James Joyce Digital Archive, they are “Ithaca” sector 27(b)–(br). Sourcing indicates that several notes included on Herring’s “right column horizontal” also derive from Flammarion – for example, the uncrossed note “Homer saw same stars” at “Ithaca” 9:100.
10 The copybook draft of “Ithaca” is Dublin, National Library of Ireland, Joyce Papers 2002, MS 36,639/13, p. 4[r]. Hereafter cited in the text.
11 Flammarion, Astronomie des dames (Paris: Ernest Flammarion, Éditeur, 1903). The publishing house was founded by Flammarion’s younger brother.
12 “Briefs on New Books: Astronomy of the Sentimental Sort”, Dial, XXXVII (16 November 1904): 316.
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