Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Proteus/041

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Annotations[edit | edit source]

mahamanvantara     (Sanskrit) This is an esoteric term used in Hinduism to denote a very long period of time.[1] A manvantara is a period of time equal to the lifespan of a Manu: 306,720,000 years. A mahamanvantara or mahakalpa is a period of time equal to the lifespan of Brahma: 311,040,000,000,000 years.

1 mahayuga = 4,320,000 years
71 mahayugas = 1 manvantara = 306,720,000 years
2000 mahayugas = 1 day and night of Brahma = 8,640,000,000 years
720,000 mahayugas = 1 year of Brahma = 3,110,400,000,000 years
100 years of Brahma = 1 mahamanvantara = 311,040,000,000,000 years.

In the context of Ulysses, the meaning assigned to the term mahamanvantara in the theosophy of Helena Blavatsky is probably of greater relevance. In a glossary of theosophical terms, which Blavatsky appended to the 1890 edition of The Key to Theosophy, the entries for Mahamanvantara and Manvantara are as follows:[2]

Mahâmanvantara (Sans.) The great interludes between the Manus, the period of universal activity. Manvantara here implies simply a period of activity, as opposed to praylaya or rest, without reference to the length of the cycle.
Manvantara (Sans.) A period of manifestation, as opposed to pralaya, dissolution or rest; the term is applied to various cycles, especially to a Day of Brahmâ, 4,320,000,000 solar years, and to the reign of one Manu, 306,720,000. Lit., Manu-antara, between Manus. (See Secret Doctrine, ii., 68 et seq.[3])

— Qui vous a mis dans cette fichue position?
— C'est le pigeon, Joseph.
(French) This is a near quotation from La Vie de Jésus (The Life of Jesus), an anti-Catholic novel by Léo Taxil:[4]

— Who put you in this wretched condition?
— It was the pigeon, Joseph.

In the original, Joseph actually asks: Qui donc, si ce n'est un homme, vous a mis dans cette fichue position? (Who then, if it wasn't a man, put you in this wretched position?).

French grammar requires the feminine participle mise (put), as Joseph is asking Mary. But the error, which Stephen (Joyce?) replicates here, was already present in the edition of the book that would have been available to Joyce in Zürich.[5]

lait chaud     (French) hot milk, warm milk.[6]

lapin     (French) rabbit.[7]

gros lots     (French) top prizes, jackpots.[8] Stephen, it seems, misunderstands this French term. He is referring to the public lotteries, which had been permitted in France since 1844.[9] But lot means prize (in a lottery), so the actual meaning of gros lots is first prizes or jackpots.

La Vie de Jésus by M. Léo Taxil     Léo Taxil was the pseudonym of the anti-Catholic and anti-clerical French writer Marie Joseph Gabriel Antoine Jogand-Pagès (1854-1907).[10] La Vie de Jésus (The Life of Jesus, also known in English as The Amusing Gospel) is a humorous work, in which Taxil satirically holds up to ridicule inconsistencies, errors, and false beliefs to be found in the gospels.[11]

— C'est tordant, vous savez. Moi je suis socialiste. Je ne crois pas en l'existence de Dieu. Faut pas le dire a mon père.
— Il croit?
— Mon père, oui.
(French) This is a fragment of a conversation Stephen had in Paris with Patrice Egan about Taxil's La Vie de Jésus:[12]

— It's hilarious, you know. Me, I'm a socialist. I do not believe in the existence of God. You mustn't tell my father.
— He is a believer?
— My father, yes.

Schluss     (German) Period! Enough said![13] Schluss is German for end, conclusion, but here Stephen is using it colloquially as a mild exclamation, meaning Enough!

Paysayennn. P. C. N., you know : physiques, chimiques et naturelles     (French) physical, chemical and natural.[14] Paysayenn is a phonetic spelling of how a Frenchman would pronounce the letters P. C. N. The letters are an abbreviation for the French phrase Physique-Chimie-Sciences naturelles (Physics, Chemistry, Natural Science). In December 1902, Joyce was granted a provisional card of admission to the course for the certificate in physics, chemistry and biology at the École de Médecine in Paris. This certificate was required before he would be permitted to study medicine. As it happened, his medical ambitions only lasted a few more days.[15] Note that Stephen's translation of P. C. N. is not quite correct.

mou en civet     (French) lung stew.[16] A stew made from the lungs or lights of butchered animals would have been one of the cheapest dishes available in a Paris restaurant.

boul'Mich'     (French slang) Boulevard Saint-Michel.[17] In 1904 the Boulevard Saint-Michel, a street on the Left Bank of the Seine in Paris, was the café centre of the city's student and bohemian life.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gifford (1988) 51.
    Thornton (1968) 49.
  2. Helena Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy 299, 301.
  3. Helena Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Volume 2, pp. 68 ff.
  4. Gifford (1988) 52.
    Thornton (1968) 50-51.
    Taxil, Léo (1884). La Vie de Jésus. Paris: P. Fort. p. 15. 
  5. Jorn Barger, Joyce nodding?
  6. Gifford (1988) 52.
  7. Gifford (1988) 52.
  8. Gifford (1988) 52.
  9. Encyclopædi Britannica (Eleventh Edition), Lotteries.
  10. Gifford (1988) 53.
    Thornton (1968) 50-51.
  11. Taxil, Léo (1884). La Vie de Jésus. Paris: P. Fort. p. 15. 
  12. Gifford (1988) 53.
  13. Gifford (1988) 53.
  14. Gifford (1988) 53.
  15. Ellmann (1982) 112-113.
  16. Gifford (1988) 53.
  17. Gifford (1988) 53.
Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses
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