Starting July 1, Opening Ulysses’ second RPG thread, based on the second episode of Ulysses, sometimes refered to as “Nestor,” will open. What follows is a brief summary of the episode for those of you who are new to Ulysses or who need a refresher.
This episode begins with Stephen in a position Joyce knew well: that of a teacher. He asks his students about the battle that gave us the term “Pyrrhic victory” and asks one to recite Milton’s “Lycidas.” The question of Stephen’s authority as a teacher is complex. On the one hand, he should be able to wield the power of his place in a hierarchical school. On the other, his students’ families have greater socio-economic status than he does. In practice, his teaching is, if not always effective, at least compassionate. He resists any temptation to humiliate his students when they fail to have a poem memorized. After the lesson, when Sargent approaches him for assistance in redoing his sums, Stephen feels empathy for the boy’s difficulties.
With the boys gone to play hockey, Stephen sees Mr Deasy, the head of the school and a Nestor-like figure, for his pay. Stephen and Deasy spar over issues of economy, identity, history, and Irishness. Deasy asks him to see about getting a letter on foot and mouth disease published in a newspaper. As Stephen is leaving, Deasy runs after him to tell him a joke about Jews.
This episode can be read online at The Literature Network, or you can read a digital facsimile of the 1922 edition at The Modernist Versions Project.