“On the Hands Down”

Vike Martina Plock

in Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780813034232
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038803 | DOI:
“On the Hands Down”

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Eugen Sandow makes a particularly prominent appearance in the “Ithaca” episode where readers are told that his 1897 publication, Strength and How to Obtain It, adorns Leopold Bloom's bookshelf. “Ithaca” is James Joyce's most engaging reflection on contemporary science. Astronomy, eugenics, and experimental psychology are just a few examples of the great number of exact or empirical sciences that inform the content of Ulysses's most inquisitive section. The episode, with its formal reliance on the catechism, also adopts the style of a scientific discourse, presenting a good deal of loose textual material as though it were factual and precise observations of social reality. The episode's probing and questioning manner, demanding precise answers based on information and facts, also evokes a specifically scientific or diagnostic rhetoric — a matter of fact, rational discourse interested, above all, in a clinical and detached observation and representation of Bloom's social reality.

Keywords: Eugen Sandow; Ithaca; Leopold Bloom; James Joyce; contemporary science; Ulysses; catechism; social reality; astronomy; eugenics

Chapter.  7467 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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