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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

The Emerald Isle in the Emerald City: more about L. Frank Baum and Ulysses

This will be a (I believe) final followup to my previous two posts today about the connections between The Wizard of Oz and Ulysses. Here are THREE more connections of The Wizard of Oz to Ulysses:

ULYSSES CONNECTION #1: See the title of this post for starters! I am not the first to notice that Emerald CITY sounds suspiciously like the Emerald ISLE.

In that regard, it may be a coincidence that there are ELEVEN references to emeralds in Ulysses, including one to the Emerald Isle, almost all of which have an unmistakably patriotic resonance, but, given all the other allusions to The Wizard of Oz, I don't think it's a coincidence at all:

The viceregal houseparty which included many wellknown ladies was chaperoned by Their Excellencies to the most favourable positions on the grandstand while the picturesque foreign delegation known as the Friends of the EMERALD ISLE was accommodated on a tribune directly opposite.

We feel in England. Penitent thief. Gone. I smoked his baccy. Green twinkling stone. An EMERALD set in the ring of the sea.........

Every lady in the audience was presented with a tasteful souvenir of the occasion in the shape of a skull and crossbones brooch, a timely and generous act which evoked a fresh outburst of emotion: and when the gallant young Oxonian (the bearer, by the way, of one of the most timehonoured names in Albion's history) placed on the finger of his blushing fiancée an expensive engagement ring with EMERALDS SET IN THE FORM OF A FOURLEAVED SHAMROCK the excitement knew no bounds........

[Later in the same paragraph as "Mrs. Dorothy Canebrake"] The bride who was given away by her father, the M'Conifer of the Glands, looked exquisitely charming in a creation carried out in GREEN mercerised silk, moulded on an underslip of gloaming grey, sashed with a yoke of broad EMERALD and finished with a triple flounce of darkerhued fringe, the scheme being relieved by bretelles and hip insertions of acorn bronze...

I conceive you, says Mr Dixon. It is that same bull that was sent to our island by farmer Nicholas, the bravest cattlebreeder of them all, with an EMERALD ring in his nose. True for you, says Mr Vincent cross the table, and a bullseye into the bargain, says he, and a plumper and a portlier bull, says he, never shit on SHAMROCK.

How serene does she now arise, a queen among the Pleiades, in the penultimate antelucan hour, SHOD IN SANDALS OF BRIGHT GOLD, coifed with a veil of what do you call it gossamer. It floats, it flows about her starborn flesh and loose it streams, EMERALD, sapphire, mauve and heliotrope, sustained on currents of the cold interstellar WIND....

[Perhaps these are Joyce's version of Dorothy's magic Sliver Shoes?]

Bloom: (In housejacket of ripplecloth, flannel trousers, heelless slippers, unshaven, his hair rumpled: softly) I treated you white. I gave you mementos, smart EMERALD garters far above your station.....

The Citizen: (Choked with emotion, brushes aside a tear in his EMERALD muffler) May the good God bless him!....

Bello: (Gaily) Right. Let them all come. The scanty, daringly short skirt, riding up at the knee to show a peep of white pantalette, is a potent weapon and transparent stockings, EMERALDgartered, with the long straight seam trailing up beyond the knee, appeal to the better instincts of the blasé man about town.....

The Citizen: (With a huge EMERALD muffler and SHILLELAGH, calls)

May the God above
Send down a dove
With teeth as sharp as razors
To slit the throats
That hanged OUR IRISH LEADERS.....

A vertical piano (Cadby) with exposed keyboard, its closed coffin supporting a pair of long yellow ladies' gloves and an EMERALD ashtray containing four consumed matches.....

ULYSSES CONNECTION #2: It turns out that Baum's mother was of Scotch-Irish descent, and Baum himself has been described by several different sources on the Net (NONE of whom had any axe to grind regarding Ulysses or James Joyce, by the way) as having been something of a rabid Irish nationalist, perhaps because, among other reasons, there were a number of Irish immigrants living in the Black Hills of South Dakota when Baum was a newspaper editor out there.

Previously, in 1882, he wrote a hit musical, The Maid of Arran, based on William Black’s 1874 novel A Princess of Thule, which included one number entitled (I kid you not) "The Legend of Castle Arran" and "When O'Mara is King Once Again" sung by a character named Shiela; "A Rollicking Irish Boy" sung by Dennie; "Oona's Gift" ("A Tuft of the Old Irish Bog"/"A Turf from the Old Irish Sod"), sung by Oona, among others. And although it could just be a coincidence, but Ulysses just happens to contain several references to the "Arran quay" in Dublin.

In short, whatever the reason(s), Baum apparently (and very vociferously publicly) had Ireland on the brain for most of his life, and Joyce, who was obviously a keen observer of popular and trash culture, as well as high culture, could easily have known all about Baum, and could have taken a special interest in him because of the "Irish connection".

ULYSSES CONNECTION #3: Baum (who was a generation older than Joyce) was a theater nut as a young man, and after a brief acting career went south, including a performance of Hamlet that became unintentionally comic when he fell through the stage floor into the "cellarage" where the "Ghost" was standing. Later, he wrote a short story called "They Played a New Hamlet" which appeared in the 28 April 1895 edition of The Chicago Times-Herald.

Plus, it has been argued (again by scholars with NO axe to grind about Ulysses or Joyce), and, I think, persuasively, that The Wonderful Wizard of Oz owes some significant debt to A Midsummer Night's Dream and The Tempest.

So Baum apparently (and very publicly) had Hamlet, and Shakespeare generally, on the brain for a period of years during his life. And, similarly as with Connection #1, Joyce could readily have learned about Baum's interest in Hamlet, given that Hamlet was Joyce's special obsession.

So, is there anyone who has read along who has any doubt remaining about this allusion by Joyce to The Wizard of Oz? The $64,000 question is, "WHY?"

And I say, at the top of the list is the implication in the novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which is made explicit in the 1939 film, that Dorothy has been dreaming the whole time. By the way, does anyone have any idea whether Joyce might have seen The Wizard of Oz the film before he died?????

In any event, we can safely assume that Joyce understood that implication in Baum's famous novel, and so it makes you wonder if there is any connection to the sense that many, like Charles and myself, have that at least some parts of what appears to be realistic action in Ulysses is actually a dream????


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