Farce in Joyce’s Ulysses

I’ve been reading the complete works of Joyce in chronological order this year.  One thing I notice is that as Joyce’s career went on, he got funnier.  The early work is thoroughly sober to the point of dour torture–I never realized how unlikable Stephen Dedalus really is.

But by Ulysses, Joyce was in true comic master form.  Consider episode 12, which randomly cuts away from its main narrative dozens of times for short bits of tangential parody of various literary forms.  So, basically, it’s Family Guy.

I thought this farce of a story–especially the faux-medieval high romance in the second half–was funny:

The last farewell was affecting in the extreme. From the belfries far and near the funereal deathbell tolled unceasingly while all around the gloomy precincts rolled the ominous warning of a hundred muffled drums punctuated by the hollow booming of pieces of ordnance. The deafening claps of thunder and the dazzling flashes of lightning which lit up the ghastly scene testified that the artillery of heaven had lent its supernatural pomp to the already gruesome spectacle. A torrential rain poured down from the floodgates of the angry heavens upon the bared heads of the assembled multitude which numbered at the lowest computation five hundred thousand persons. Continue reading