Wednesday, 12 December 2012

A Quiz!

Not long ago I finished reading Ulysses. Quite a book. Interesting, the things people have said about the book over the years. One myth that started early on, I suspect, is that the book is just the record of one man's thoughts, walking round Dublin. It's a lot more traditionally structured than that. I found myself reading a story about how someone who finds himself excluded devises ways of coping, of sustaining civil, even friendly relations with the people around him - even when they treat him differently to others in ways which range from almost noticeable to the downright hostile. This is reflected in his relationship with his wife who is repeatedly unfaithful to him. Bloom too, in his way, plays the field, as evidenced by his letter to one Martha Clifford. He seems to be unable to move beyond a world of (often masochistic) fantasy. One is left wondering if, in his case at least, the dysfunction has been brought on (or, at least, exacerbated) by the death of his infant son, Rudy.

I read the book once before, a few years ago. I must say I found reading it a second time much more rewarding. To amuse myself and with one eye on a blog post, I decided to compile a quiz as I read, one question per chapter. One can work out the answers either with the help of the book or a search engine. Either way, you don't have to read the book. In fact, doing so would be a pretty long-winded way of working them out. That being said, if Ulysses gains one new reader from this, it was worth doing.

1. What three things should an Irishman be wary of?
2. What did Mr Deasy think Stephen would find very handy?
3. What is the live dog called?
4. What did Milly buy her father for his birthday?
5. What did the soap smell of?
6. Who darns Mr Bloom's socks?
7. What opera is like a railway line?
8. What sort of cheese does Bloom have in his sandwich?
9. What did Stephen drink with Dan Deasy's ducats?
10. What was not on the slab?
11. "From the saloon a call came, long in dying." Who had forgotten what?
12. Who won the Gold Cup?
13. Who kissed Molly under the Moorish Wall beside the gardens?
14. Who is the "remarkablest progenitor barring none in this chaffering allincluding most farraginous chronicle"?
15. Bloom's real name is Higgins - according to whom?
16. What flashed "through his (Bloom's) busy brain"?
17. What is home without Plumtree's Potted Meat?
18. What year did the Blooms marry?

Anyone who has read the book will know I've left out one of the most intriguing questions: who is the man in the macintosh? Personally, I think gossip quoted about the man in Ulysses is as unreliable as gossip often is and I suspect the answer lies in Joyce's collection of stories, Dubliners.

I wrote the questions -along with the answers- on a tatty old envelope I used as a bookmark. I'll endeavor not to loose it and publish the answer later. Have a go!


Gwil W said...

Well done Dominic, and yes you've got me digging IT out . . .

"STATELY, plump Buck Milligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl . . .

What time is it? Only 933 pages left to go.

The Weaver of Grass said...

I have never got beyond Page 2, so I am afraid I shall decline.

Loren said...

I'll have to admit that the book left me with a lot more questions than it did answers, Dominic.

At least you were able to get a blog post of out it. I have it lying on the floor, still unable to come up with one good blog idea.

Titus said...

I am so impressed! A mega-dega literary quiz! Why did you put it up in December?! I've got three Christmas concerts, Joseph and Herod to rehearse, open night at school tomorrow and not a card written yet. Don't even ask about the presents. Or decorating.

Dominic Rivron said...

Thanks for these comments, everyone.

Gwil W: I think most people who have read Ulysses have read that chapter many times. Thing is, it's the sort of book you make a number of "false starts" to. The succeeding chapters become decreasingly familiar!

WG: One doesn't have to read the book to do this. In fact, one of the motivations for doing this was to create a way of exploring the book without reading it left to right. I like to think the questions are not trivial, but significant. In fact, it says a lot about how good it is that it's hard to mine the text for "trivia" questions. Nothing is trivial in there.

Loren: My former sister-in-law had read it 6 times last time we talked about it. I thought this excessive, but having read it twice now I see why one might just keep reading it. It seems to reveal more the more one reads it.

Titus: Why December? I always think of it as the month of quizzes - I immediately think of the "King Williams quiz" published around this time of year in The Guardian. And don't go overdoing it. Did you listen to Woman's Hour this week (10/12)? If not it'll still be on iPlayer. Essential listening. :)

Incidentally, we went to stay at a friends house on the Isle of Man a while ago. Nearby was a big old building, obviously a school. To my surprise it turned out to be the King Williams school of quiz fame.

The Solitary Walker said...

Oh dear, Dominic. I'm afraid I shall have to bow out here.