Friday, January 20, 2012

Leopold Bloom sketch

Leopold Bloom sketch

Ulysses by James Joyce is one of my all-time favourite books. I've read it a few times, and struggled quite a bit in parts I freely admit. Its dense and foggy at times, but also hugely inventive, irreverent, comic, touching, beautiful and keenly observed. It is full of layers, illusions and conundrums. Joyce himself said that if Dublin (where the book is set, all on one day, 16 June 1904, and where I lived for 5 years) were wiped from the face of the earth the city could be re-built in intimate detail from Ulysses alone.

I have long wanted to illustrate the book, or create a series of prints based upon it. Perhaps this year, I shall!

This is a sketch of the novel's anti-hero Leopold Bloom from the 13th chapter, commonly known as Nausicaa (Ulysses is so-named because, although set upon one day in Edwardian Dublin, it mirrors Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, which tell of the decade-long travels of King Odysseus, or Ulysses in Latin, from the battlefield of Troy back to his home and family on the island of Ithaca. As a result the un-named chapters of Ulysses are usually known by the names of those in Homer). Bloom has just noticed that his fob-watch has stopped (actually at 4,30, not 4 as I've shown. Mea culpa!) and wonders if that was the moment when his unfaithful wife Molly and her lover Blazes Boylan climaxed sexually “Funny my watch stopped at half past four” he notes, then ponders “Was that just when he, she?"

Done in my sketchbook using a black biro. I love the smearing and ink-spatters, especially when blown up large, that a biro can give. I've a tendency to overwork (or over-egg as Nick puts it) images and to smooth out blemishes and imperfections. Good then to put the brakes on my OCD every now and again!


Scott Garrett said...

Good stuff Paul. I'm also guilty of too much clean-up!
Been playing around with leaving a bit more 'dirt' in. Every year i try, but never quite resolve it, maybe this year... and i'm trying pencil again instead of ink. It's a struggle isn't it!

in a drawing room said...

And you say you struggled. Imagine me, a poor native Spanish. It was worth the effort though, and I must also say it made me laugh (out loud) too. I'd love to see more of how you imagine Bloom's odyssey.

Speechless said...

I like your slightly surreal approach to this. Seems like it would fit Joyce well. -- I wonder if you might also consider illustrating in a similar manner the poems of the French poet Appollonaire? He wrote some lovely and some rather surreal but touching poems which would really suit this sort of style.

I'm enjoying looking through your past posts and plan to look in again soon. Thanks!