James Joyce - Meet Stephen Dedalus

Ulysses has eighteen episodes - a significant number when we recall the time span James Joyce initially set out to cover:

"I am now writing a book," said Joyce [to his friend, Frank Budgen], "based on the wanderings of Ulysses.  The Odyssey, that is to say, serves me as a ground plan.  Only my time is recent time and all my hero's wanderings take no more than eighteen hours."

"Eighteen hours" is interesting in light of something else Joyce once said:

The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works.

Although that statement may have been tongue-in-cheek, Joyce scholars spend much of their careers pulling apart the strands of Joyce's genius.  Casual readers, meanwhile, often struggle just to get through Ulysses

In this scene - a clip from "Ten Great Writers of the Modern World - James Joyce's Ulysses" - we see Stephen Dedalus walking the beach after his Mum has died:

  • What goes through the mind of a young man, here a young poet, after such a loss? 
  • Does he mourn his Mother? 
  • Or - is he actually thinking about his work or course of study?  

Unless we are able to listen-in to Stephen's inner monologue, that part of his life remains completely private.  We may see him on the beach, but we have no idea what's going on in his mind.  How is it possible to ever know what he is really thinking?

In the clip - and in the book - we do learn what he is thinking.  What's more, we can observe what Joyce was like, at that age, since the character of Dedalus (originally created in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man) is an autobiographical rendering of Joyce himself.

See, also:

James Joyce - Intro to Ulysses

James Joyce - Meet Leopold Bloom

James Joyce - Obsessed with Dublin


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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5190stories and lessons created

Original Release: Mar 02, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Nov 04, 2016

Media Credits

From the British television series, "The Modern World: Ten Great Writers." 


This video clip is from the episode, "James Joyce's Ulysses," which originally aired 10 January 1988, on Channel Four.  Online, courtesy BFI National Library and YouTube.  Copyright, BBC, all rights reserved.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes and to acquaint new viewers with the series and episode.

Nigel Wattis

Nigel Wattis and Gillian Greenwood

Anthony Burgess
Clive Hart

James Joyce:
Bryan Murray

Leopold Bloom:
David Suchet

Stephen Dedalus:
John Lynch

Molly Bloom:
Sorcha Cusack

May Dedalus:
Patricia Mort

Nora Joyce:
Deirdra Morris

Frank Budgen:
James Aubrey

Tony Doyle


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"James Joyce - Meet Stephen Dedalus" AwesomeStories.com. Mar 02, 2014. Feb 21, 2020.
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