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The James Joyce Scholars' Collection

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Budgen, Frank / James Joyce and the making of 'Ulysses', and other writings
(1972)

Chapter three,   pp. 39-59 PDF (991.9 KB)


Page 49

 JAMES JOYCE 49 
infinite pains, but he looks on his handiwork when he has done it and finds
it good. 
 "You catch the drift of the thing?" said Joyce. "It's the struggle with
Proteus. Change is the theme. Everything changes—sea, sky, man, animals.
The words change, too." 
 He began to read the episode from the beginning in a smooth, easy way, without
emphasis, which is his normal manner of reading the unspoken thoughts of
his personages. Emphasis and the normal speaking voice too much suggest the
normal spoken word. There is nothing from beginning to end of Proteus that
is not thought or sensation. Other characters who come into the picture do
so only as part of the content of Stephen's mind. Through his senses the
seashore comes to life. The natural abode of change is that area between
low water and high water mark. It is easier to believe that life began here
than that it began in a garden. Tides ebb and flow, cheating the clock every
day, lagging behind. The volume of water changes, spring to neap and neap
to spring again. Cold water flows over hot sand. Sea breeze and landwind
alternate. The colour of sea and sky changes like shot-silk. The sea makes
and unmakes the land. Steel-hard rocks are broken up, firm contours of land
are dissolved and remade. A sea-town drifts inland and the houses of an inland
town topple into the sea. Yellow sand, lying neatly round rocks, is taken
away by an overnight storm and a floor of black boulders appears. Then with
the smooth lapping of the next calm the yellow carpet is laid again. There
is a whole population of plants and animals here and of living things that
are neither plant nor animal. Carcasses of man, beast, bird, fish washed
ashore, decompose. Sea and sand bury them. Wreckage rots and rusts and is


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