The castle was opened

New Style. "And whiles they spake the door of the castle was opened...Thanked be Almighty God": in these three paragraphs things get simpler and more fun for Oxen of the Sun's beleaguered readers. The  blur of obscure, shifting voices in the chapter's opening pages here gives way to a consistent style indebted to a single medieval text, the purported Travels of a man called Sir John Mandeville who aped Marco Polo's Travels by recounting the strange sights he encountered in Turkey, Persia, Mesopotamia, India, China, Armenia, Georgia, Ethiopia, Egypt, and the Levant. After first appearing in the middle of the 14th century, these fantastic and compelling tales were translated into various languages, and their popularity endured for a long time: Columbus was avidly reading them a century later, as were Frobisher and other Elizabethans a century after that, and Samuel Johnson recommended them to an explorer two centuries later still. In Joyce's hands, their style transforms a roomful of young men sitting around a table with beers and some poor eats into a gallery of exotic wonders. 

JH 2021

 Full-page portrait of Sir John Mandeville ca. 1459, held in the Digital Collections of the New York Public Library. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 Knights meeting a traveler in the sole illustration of the 1492 Bologna edition of Mandeville's book. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Illustration of Mandeville's "flying dragons" in a French text, date and artist unknown. Source: fineartamerica.com

Illustration of the discovery of Aristotle's tomb in a 15th century manuscript of Mandeville's Travels. Source: sexycodicology.tumblr.com.

 Woodblock illustration of Mandeville's account of a magical cotton plant in India that grows lambs instead of bolls. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 Woodblock illustration of a headless man in a 1582 English edition of Mandeville's Travels. Source: volodymyrbilyk.medium.com.

 Headless men in South America, shown on engraver Jodocus Hondius' inset map in the 1599 edition of Sir Walter Ralegh's Guiana. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

 Digitally altered version of Andrea Bianco's 1436 map showing the headless men living in India. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Hartmann Schedel's woodblock image of the people with "great ears" in the 1493 Nuremberg Chronicle. Source: Wikimedia Commons.