Card behind the headband

The nameless "White slip of paper" that Bloom checks in Calypso, to make sure that it is "Quite safe" inside the leather sweatband of his hat, figures more prominently in Lotus Eaters. There, it turns out to be not really a slip of paper but rather a "card"—what Victorians and Edwardians called a "calling card" or "visiting card," the equivalent of our "business cards" today. Bloom presents it at the post office to collect poste restante mail from his erotic pen pal Martha Clifford, under a pseudonym. Before entering the post office, in a performance calculated to remove any suspicion about his clandestine correspondence he moves the card from his hat to a pocket of his vest. It is one of several moments in the book when Bloom sees himself as others might and takes ingenious and probably excessive precautions to hide his intentions from them.

JH 2017

A simple Victorian calling card, listing both name(s) and address as on Martha's envelope. Source:

The simple calling card that Oscar Wilde used, under an assumed name, after his release from prison in 1897. Source: