Wabash Blogs Immersion 2008: Literature in Ireland

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Seeing the Sites Brings Literature to Live

Chad Simpson ’10 - Today was a little saddening since it was our last full day in Ireland, yet we made the best of it by exploring more of the city and having fun along the way.  We started off the day by meeting as a group at our hotel at 8:50am and taking the tram for about a 15-20 minute ride farther down the coast of Dublin Bay to Martello Tower. 

When the group got to the tower, the museum’s curator gave us a very great, informative talk about the history of the tower and how it relates to the novel.  For example, that the tower, along with many others, were built to look for Napoleon during Napoleon’s war in Europe just in case he tried to come across the English Channel. After many years, once they were positive he wasn’t obviously coming to invade, some of the towers went into disrepair and some towers were rented out so that the government could get some of their money back on the investment of building all of these watch towers around Ireland. This is when the Mulligan character in the book rented the tower and Joyce was a common guest over to the tower to listen and talk with the fellow writer about issues or him just ranting about different things (NOT as the novel suggests where Stephen was said to be the one paying the rent, not Mulligan). 

I find it interesting how much reality and everyday knowledge of his time that Joyce really uses in his novel to poke fun at his friends and/or enemies to help prove his points about society, religion, politics, et cetera.

Martello Tower is where the story Ulysses starts when the novel opens with Stephen on top of the tower and Buck Mulligan shaving. Seeing the tower in person really drives home the close proximity these three guys lived in, how small the tower really was, the cold atmosphere, and how much walking Stephen did around town to get to places, since Martello tower, Stephen’s symbolic home in the novel, was so far from Dublin city centre where most of the novel really occurs. 

Comically, after seeing the beautiful view from atop Martello Tower, I am not sure why Stephen was so troubled in the novel.  It was such a breathtaking view of the city and Dublin Bay that it would make anyone happy and relaxed.