Increase and multiply

God's command to "Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it" (Genesis 1:28), which the Catholic church interprets in a remarkably literal and prescriptive way, echoes throughout Ulysses. Bloom has no use for the sexual totalitarianism. In Lestrygonians he observes that its enforcers do not have to live with the consequences: "That’s in their theology or the priest won’t give the poor woman the confession, the absolution. Increase and multiply. Did you ever hear such an idea? Eat you out of house and home. No families themselves to feed." Still, he feels the power of the call to reproduce, and in Oxen of the Sun Joyce harps on the theme, suggesting that his male protagonists have some work to do in the bedroom.

JH 2021

Poster for Be Fruitful & Multiply, a 2005 film by Shosh Shlam. Source: