Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses/Scylla and Charybdis/179

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Ulysses, 1922.djvu


Annotations[edit]

il se promène, lisant au livre de lui-même     (French) he strolls about, reading in the book of himself.[1] Mr Best is misquoting from a prose poem by Stéphane Mallarmé, Hamlet et Fortinbras, which first appeared as a letter in La Revue blanche on 15 July 1896:[2]

Hamlet and Fortinbras

Un impresario, dans une province mêlée à mon adolescence, épigraphiait HAMLET, qu’il représenta, du sous-titre ou le DISTRAIT : cet homme d’un goût français joliment, entendait, je suppose, préparer, par là, le public à la singularité qu’Hamlet seul compte et qu’à l’approcher, quiconque s’efface, succombe, disparaît. La pièce, un point culminant du Théâtre, est, dans l’œuvre de Shakespeare, transitoire entre la vieille action multiple et le Monologue ou drame avec Soi, futur. Le héros ; tous comparses : il se promène, pas plus, lisant au livre de lui-même, haut et vivant signe ; nie du regard les autres.

Il ne se contentera pas d’exprimer la solitude, parmi les gens, de qui pense ; il tue indifféremment ou, du moins, on meurt. La noire présence du douteur cause ce poison, que tous les personnages trépassent : sans même que lui prenne toujours la peine de les percer, dans la tapisserie. Alors, placé, certes, comme contraste à l’hésitant, Fortinbras, en tout qu’un général ; mais sans plus de valeur et si la mort, fiole, étang de nénuphars et fleuret, déchaîne tout son apparat varié, dont porte la sobre livrée ici quelqu’un d’exceptionnel, cela importe, comme finale et dernier mot, au moment où se reprend le spectateur, que cette somptueuse et stagnante exagération de meurtre, dont l’idée reste la leçon, autour de Qui se fait Seul — pour ainsi dire s’écoule vulgairement par un passage d’armée, vidant la scène avec un appareil de destruction actif, à la portée de tous et ordinaire, parmi le tambour et les trompettes.

An impresario in a province inextricably linked to my adolescence added as an epigraph to HAMLET, which he was staging, the subtitle “or THE ABSENT-MINDED MAN”. This man of French taste amusingly meant, I suppose, to prepare the public thereby for the peculiarity which is unique to Hamlet and to which one who effaces himself succumbs and disappears. The play, a pinnacle in the history of drama, is, in Shakespeare’s output, transitional between the old many-handed action and the monologue or drama of Self, which was yet to come. The hero; all the extras: he walks about, no more, reading in the book of himself a high and living sign; he denies others his regard [scorns to look at others].

He will not be content to express [embody] the solitude of the Thinker, while surrounded by others; he kills indifferently – or at least, people die. The dark presence of the doubter is the cause of this poison, so that all the main characters die, even without his having to take the trouble to stab them behind the arras. Then there is Fortinbras, introduced, no doubt, as a contrast to the procrastinator; every inch a general, but having no greater influence [on the action than Hamlet]. And if Death (phial, weeping brook and foil) unleashes all his varied pageantry, the sobre livery of which someone exceptional wears here, it is to signify, as finale and closing words, at the moment the spectator is returning to his senses, that this sumptuous and stagnant exaggeration of murder around Him who chooses the path of Solitude (which is the whole point of the play) is cast so to speak in vulgar form with the passing of an army, clearing the stage with an active instrument of destruction, commonplace and accessible to all, to the accompaniment of trumpets and drums.


Hamlet ou Le Distrait Pièce de Shakespeare     (French) Hamlet or the Absent-Minded Man A Play by Shakespeare. Mr Best's quotation from Mallarmé's prose poem is not perfect. See above for the full text.


Sumptuous and stagnant exaggeration of murder     Stephen recalls a phrase from Mallarmé's prose poem. See above for the full text.

References[edit]

  1. Gifford (1988) 200.
    Thornton (1968) 159.
  2. Stéphane Mallarmé, Hamlet et Fortinbras, La Revue blanche, 15 July 1896.


Annotations to James Joyce's Ulysses
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