Chapter 2: Bloom, the Dandy, the Nymph and the Old Hag: Tit-Bits and Photo Bits, Reflections of the Victorian Press in James Joyce’s Ulysses

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The two late Victorian penny weeklies, Tit-Bits and Photo Bits, play an important role in the narrative of James Joyce’s Ulysses. An analysis of their peculiarities and the use Joyce makes of them, especially of the “Prize Tit-Bit” competition and the Photo Bits ads column, illustrates this. With particular focus on Leopold Bloom and his interest in these periodicals, both as an advertising canvasser and as a casual reader, Tit-Bits can be appreciated for the various ways Joyce reworked it into Ulysses in, for example, his treatment of the figure of the prize-winning writer Philip Beaufoy. Photo Bits, on the other hand, a periodical heavily illustrated with photographs and advertisements and amounting to what, in today’s terms, may be described as a soft porn magazine, provided traits that resurface in the more erotically charged episodes like “Calypso”, “Nausicaa”, “Circe”, “Ithaca” and “Penelope”. We will see how, by opting for a style in which he assembled and recycled texts from the mass media like the periodicals, Joyce was able to transform advertising slogans into declarations of love, weather forecasts into acknowledgements of failure, prize stories into chances of social advancement, or penny weekly supplements into works of art.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

Newspapers, Advertising and Printing

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