Irish Ambassador and exchange participant, Daniel Mulhall returns to Kansas City after 45 years
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Duluth, Minnesota (OpEdNews) March 16, 2022: Daniel Mulhall (born in 1955 in Waterford, Ireland) is currently Ireland's ambassador to the United States. He was the first member of his family to go to university (p. 4). According to the Wikipedia entry about him, he received a B.A. degree from University College Cork in 1975, a Higher Diploma in Education in 1978, and a M.A. degree in 1979. Subsequently, Mulhall served in the Irish diplomatic service for more than 40 years.
Mulhall's new 2022 book Ulysses: A Reader's Odyssey (Dublin: New Island Books) commemorates the centenary of the publication of James Augustine Aloysius Joyce's famous experimental novel Ulysses in 1922, the year in which he turned 40. In it, Joyce (1882-1941) commemorates one day in Dublin, June 16, 1904, the year in which he turned 22.
The three main characters are young Stephen Dedalus (based, in part, on young James Joyce, the middle-aged Jew Leopold Bloom, and his middle-aged unfaithful wife Molly Bloom.
In Mulhall's "An Introductory Tour of James Joyce's Ulysses" (pp. 17-38), he says that turn-of-the-century Dublin "had fewer than 2,200 Jews in its population of 450,000 in 1901" (p. 24).
In Mulhall's Episode 5: "'Lotus Eaters': Walking into Eternity via Windmill Lane" (pp. 95-107), he says, "Bloom's character is based in part on a Dubliner, Alfred Hunter, who in 1904 came to Joyce's aid following and altercation during which Joyce was knocked to the ground [thereby making Hunter kind of heroic, albeit on a modest scale]. Joyce never forgot this momentary kindness, and planned to write a short story about Hunter, an idea that developed into the mammoth that is Ulysses" (p. 106).
Molly Bloom is based, in part, on Joyce's wife Nora Barnacle Joyce (1884-1951). For a biography of her, see Brenda Maddox's book Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988). For a historical novel about her, see Nuala O'Connor's Nora: A Love Story of Nora and James Joyce (Dublin: New Island Books, 2021).
The 18 episodes in the lengthy novel are loosely based on the episodes in the Homeric epic the Odyssey. The Homeric epics the Iliad and the Odyssey represent what is known in literary studies as heroic poetry. But Joyce's Ulysses represents anti-heroic literature.
In Mulhall's Episode 3: 'Proteus': Stephen's Beach Walk" (pp. 67-79), he says, "I bought my first copy of Ulysses in a bookshop at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC). It was the summer of 1974, and I was in America on a J-a visa. During what was my first significant absence from Ireland, I lived at Rockhurst College (now Rockhurst University), a Jesuit institution located near UMKC" (p. 69).
Disclosure: I first heard of Joyce's famous novel Ulysses in my first year at Rockhurst College in 1962-1963, and I read it slowly over the summer of 1963, with the help of William York Tindall's Reader's Guide to James Joyce (New York: Noonday Press, 1959).
Now, in Mulhall's "Introductory Tour of James Joyce's Ulysses," he also notes that Joyce himself was educated by Jesuits in Ireland. Mulhall says, "Joyce attended two Jesuit schools in the Dublin area, Clongowes Wood and Belvedere College, before studying English, French, and Italian at University College Dublin" (p. 22; also see pp. 31 and 165). The Jesuits in Ireland were part of the renewed interest in the Roman Catholic Church worldwide in Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy and Aristotelian-Thomistic theology.
The medieval Italian Greek-less philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) had baptized, figuratively speaking the ancient Greek pagan philosopher Aristotle and appropriated his philosophy for honorable use in the Roman Catholic tradition of thought. Pope Leo XIII had inspired the worldwide renewal of interest in Aristotelian-Thomistic thought with his 1879 encyclical letter Aeterni Patris (Latin for Eternal Father). However, the Second Vatical Council (1962-1965) in the Roman Catholic Church demoted the status of Aristotelian-Thomistic thought a wee bit from its most favored status in the pre-Vatican II church worldwide.
The American Jesuit literary scholar William T. Noon (1912-1975) published the book Joyce and Aquinas (Yale University Press, 1957). The Irish philosopher Fran O'Rourke (born in 1951) of University College Dublin has a book forthcoming titled Joyce, Aristotle, and Aquinas (University Press of Florida, 2022).
Now, in Mulhall's Episode 3: 'Proteus': Stephen's Beach Walk" (pp. 67-79), he also says, "An that time, I had finished my first two years of study at University College Cork, where the literature courses I had taken included the study of Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , but not Ulysses. It may be that Ulysses was judged to be too daunting for Irish undergraduate students in the early 1970! I had of course heard of Joyce's most famous novel and, when I saw a copy at the UMKC bookshop, I picked it up. That evening I sat down to read it with a mixture of excitement at the prospect of delving into an acknowledged modernist masterpiece. And apprehension on account of the book's forbidding reputation" (pp. 69-70).
Mulhall continues: "I galloped through the first two chapters, which I enjoyed, even if it was difficult to understand what the book's notoriety was all about. But my first stab at reading Ulysses began to go off the rails when I encountered the first sentence of Episode 3 [the interior monologue of the Joyce-based young character Stephen Dedalus, who was living at the time in the Martello tower at Sandycove beach; see p. 30]: 'Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes: Signatures of all things I am here to read, seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot.'
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