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3 - Party Joyce: From the ‘Dead’ to When We ‘Wake’

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 April 2014

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Summary

What is a ‘party’? (1) a partitioning, isolating one group from another, (2) an orgy, or partouze, as we say in French, wherein the participants are linked erotically, and (3) a hand, or partie, the regulated moment in a game, a collective diversion. In Sade, in Fourier, the party, the highest form of societary or Sadian happiness, has this threefold character: it is a worldly ceremony, an erotic practice, a social act. (Roland Barthes, Sade, Fourier, Loyola)

In the Hades episode of Ulysses (1922), Bloom and a group of acquaintances are sitting in a horse-drawn carriage that will take them to Prospect cemetery in Glasnevin. They are travelling together to bring their friend Dignam to his final rest. After a short while, they notice disquieting details. Martin Cunningham brushes some crumbs from under his thighs, and Mr Power avers: ‘Someone seems to have been making a picnic party here lately.’ What follows provides one of the numerous narrative ellipses of this section:

All raised their thighs and eyed with disfavour the mildewed buttonless leather of the seats. Mr Dedalus, twisting his nose, frowned downward and said:

—Unless I am greatly mistaken … What do you think, Martin?

—It struck me too, Martin Cunningham said.[…]

Mr Dedalus sighed resignedly.

—After all, he said, it's the most natural thing in the world. (U, p. 74)

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Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2013

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