Paradise and the Periphery: the New Bloomusalem and Bloom Cottage

Kiron Ward*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Ulysses's "Messianic scene," in which Bloom hallucinates about his coronation and decrees to his "beloved subjects" the foundation of the "new Bloomusalem in the Nova Hibernia of the future," was a late and anomalously contiguous addition to the "Circe" episode. As Michael Groden outlines in "Ulysses" in Progress, and demonstrates in the materials in the James Joyce Archive, the scene was added during the summer of 1921, "several months after the typescript [for 'Circe'] was completed but before he submitted it to Darantiere." During that summer, as well as adding sentences and fragments to the placards and page proofs of other episodes, Joyce also completed the type-scripts for "Ithaca" and "Penelope." This essay takes as its opening gambit the implication that something about the writing of "Ithaca" and "Penelope" led Joyce to require Bloom's "Messianic scene."

By reading the parallels between the "new Bloomusalem," which is described as "a colossal edifice with crystal roof, built in the shape of a huge pork kidney," and "Bloom Cottage," a meritocratically earned dream home "containing the Encyclopaedia Britannica" imagined in "Ithaca," I consider the ways that each scene's vision of an "ideal" Leopold Bloom is built according to his imagined position within a totalized order of things—central, or paradisiacal, in the new Bloomusalem, and marginal, or peripheral, at Bloom Cottage. Drawing on the work of Walter D. Mignolo, I theorize Joyce's paradise-periphery dyad as two mutually complementary fantasies of occupation of and commensurability with the "locus of enunciation" and propose that, in the light of these two fantasies, Joyce uses "Penelope" to suggest a way of imagining the world without the pitfalls of totalizing thought. In this, we get both a clue as to the genesis of the "Messianic scene" and a refined sense of Joyce's fictional encyclopedism.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)115-133
Number of pages19
JournalJames Joyce Quarterly
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2018


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