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Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 04:34 am Leave a comment Go to comments

An Emendation to the Joycean Canon: The Last Hurrah for “Politics and Cattle Disease”
By: Terence Matthews

In this article Matthews makes an argument that Joyce did not write an article title “Politics and Cattle Disease” in 1912. This article was unsigned, but has often been attributed to Joyce. Honestly, Matthews argument is of little use to me; my concern with the article stems from the biographical details it gives regarding Joyce’s involvement with the politics surrounding cattle. Especially following an episode like Circe, I feel that any biographical information I can get about Joyce in relation to animals could help in making sense of his complex use of animals throughout the novel.

Matthews’ article notes that Joyce was involved in helping the President of the Irish Cattle Traders in some capacity with the issue disease in cattle. Later the article mentions that Joyce had know sympathy for cattle….I just found another article that I want to talk about as well, so I’m going to quickly tie up my thoughts on this one: this gives concrete proof that Joyce had a genuine interest in the treatment of animals. This could indicate that Joyce’s comments in Ulysses about that subject function as a way for him to get his opinion across.

Horses Versus Cattle in Ulysses
In case you had difficulty deciphering the nature of this article from the title: Rathjen explores the relationship between bovine and equine references in Ulysses. Rathjen sees a connection between horses and history early on in the novel, and points out that Stephen views history as a “nightmare from which I am trying to awake” (2.377). Also, Rathjen thinks “nightmare” might be clever use of wordplay here (night-mare= dark horse). Rathjen also sees horses tied to sterility in the novel. This is interesting given the connection between Boylan and horses; despite Boylan’s sexual prowess, he does not produce any offspring. On the other hand, Rathjen sees bovine as connected with fertility and hospitality in Ulysses. Furthermore, Rathjen feels that Bloom is connected more to the bovine images than to the equine images. In fact, Rathjen shows that many of the times when Bloom is associated with horse, it’s a false connection (example: the misinterpretation of Throwaway).

While I believe a lot of what Rathjen argues, some of his points seem a little reaching for my taste. His arguments concerning Boylan’s association with horses, and Bloom connecting more with bovine, align with my thoughts towards the characters. However, Rathjen’s connection between cattle and hospitality is weak and confusing, and this raises questions to how Stephen fits into this equine/bovine dichotomy since the hospitality notion is used to link Stephen to the bovine.

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