Starting with Mulligan's proclamation in Telemachus that the sea is "Our mighty mother!" (a phrase confoundingly close to the "great sweet mother" which he has just borrowed from Swinburne), the novel glances often at the Irish intellectual George Russell, who was known by his pen (and brush) name "A.E." Russell was a painter, poet, playwright, journalist, esoteric spiritualist, and promoter of cooperative agricultural economics. As editor of the Irish Homestead he published several of Joyce's short stories but then soured on his fiction, and Joyce retaliated by presenting him as a faintly ridiculous figure. But the mystical spirituality signified by "AE" is a strong presence in Ulysses.

JH 2020

Photographic portrait of a young George Russell or "A.E.", date unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

1903 oil portrait of Russell by John Butler Yeats, held in the National Gallery of Ireland. Source: www.historyireland.com.

George Russell's 1903 self-portrait. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Bathers, an oil painting signed "Æ." Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The Enchanted, another of AE's many paintings. Source: www.invaluable.com.

AE's Luminous, a painting of a sidhe standing beside a Irish rural cottage. Source: hedgeconfessions.com.