Molly Bloom’s soliloquy, the remarkable climactic conclusion to Ulysses, remains, nearly a century after its first publication, one of the most remarkable chapters in world literature. It is night, the end of a long day (16 June 1904) for Leopold Bloom’s wife, Molly. She lies in bed, muses on the events of the day, her life with her husband, her affair with Blazes Boylan, and drifts towards sleep. Joyce tried to document a woman’s thoughts in an unexpurgated stream of consciousness: subjects, memories, fantasies interweave among the incomplete sentences.
Regarded as scandalous and brilliant in its intimacy, the soliloquy is captivating and engrossing, especially when read so convincingly by the Irish actress Marcella Riordan. For those who have found it difficult to get to the end of Ulysses, here, unabridged, is the soliloquy on its own - and curiously it works almost as an extended poem, with a rhythm and an intimate power that are unforgettable.
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The final chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses is a stream of consciousness soliloquy delivered by Leopold Bloom's wife Molly. Her thoughts are meandering, wistful, and at times explicit, containing a physicality that the novel's male characters often lack.
One challenge that a performer encounters with this material is Joyce's sparse punctuation - the entire soliloquy only contains eight sentences - but Irish actress Marcella Riordan punctuates Molly's words with natural pauses and sighs that enhance their meaning. Riordan clearly understands the author's intentions and helps listeners do the same. Her voice is at times sultry, ethereal, and yearning, not to mention melodic when she bursts into song. This performer is truly worthy of Joyce's final passage.
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Very poorly interpreted reading
I decided to give myself a year to tackle Ulysses properly and when I came to the last episode I bought this recording to help me.
After listening to it a couple of times I still found it somewhat confusing so I read along with it.
I found that a lot of the confusion was not with the writing but with the reading. To my annoyance, there are countless instances where the text was totally misinterpreted and misread. The reader clearly had no idea what certain parts of the book were about. I presume that the recording was proofed but whoever proofed it was also at fault.
This is one of the most iconic pieces of writing of all time and its lack of punctuation and writing style test the reader throughout. This recording does nothing to help and in fact adds to the difficulty.
I don’t recommend this recording and will continue reading from my paperback version.
Seductive performance; Perfect complement to novel