Bloom's father reads to him as a child

He stayed in his walk to watch a typesetter neatly distributing type. Reads it backwards first. Quickly he does it. Must require some practice that. mangiD kcirtaP. Poor papa with his hagadah book, reading backwards with his finger to me. Pessach. Next year in Jerusalem. Dear, O dear! All that long business about that brought us out of the land of Egypt and into the house of bondage alleluia. Shema Israel Adonai Elohenu. No, that’s the other. Then the twelve brothers, Jacob’s sons. And then the lamb and the cat and the dog and the stick and the water and the butcher. And then the angel of death kills the butcher and he kills the ox and the dog kills the cat. Sounds a bit silly till you come to look into it well. Justice it means but it’s everybody eating everyone else. That’s what life is after all. How quickly he does that job. Practice makes perfect. Seems to see with his fingers.

Mr Bloom passed on out of the clanking noises through the gallery on to the landing. Now am I going to tram it out all the way and then catch him out perhaps. Better phone him up first. Number? Yes. Same as Citron’s house. Twentyeight. Twentyeight double four.


Typesetting must be done in reverse and thus when Bloom looks at the type that Monks is working on it reads right to left like Hebrew. In thinking of this he quotes part of the Shemah “Sh’ma Yisra’eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad.” or translated, Hear, Israel, the Lord is our God, the Lord is One. ( source ) I found an intersting passage about this part of the text which explains about Bloom realizing that the Shemah wouldn’t be in the Hagadah, the book he was remembering his father reading. In the book Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce: Early Poetry through Ulysses, Zack R. Bowen claims that this is making the point that Bloom has disassociated from his father’s faith. ( source ) When initially reading it I imediately think of young Bloom sitting and listening to his father, all the while learning how to be an adult from an obviously unstable source. I don’t know exactly why but it made me think of the Goya painting Saturn Devouring His Sons. I put it on the wall in the background though I imagine that would have been an odd thing to hang in one’s family home at the time.