Sinbad the Sailor

As Bloom drifts off to sleep at the end of Ithaca, his mind reels woozily through a long series of alliterative names, and then some inchoate thoughts about a fabulous bird's egg, both inspired by a Christmas pantomime. In Surface and Symbol, Robert Martin Adams observes that along with "Sinbad the Sailor," "Tinbad" and "Whinbad" were characters in the Sinbad pantomime performed in Dublin in 1892 and 1893 (80). Various other kinds of significance can be inferred from these sentences: Bloom's identification with the fabulous voyager Odysseus, his love of nursery rhymes, the fascination with wealth embedded in stories of the "roc," and much, much more. But the reader should not lose sight of the main object of representation: a mind entering the mysterious passage from daytime consciousness to sleep, where thoughts begin to morph into dream. Any coherence that may inhere in these images smacks as much of the obscurities of Finnegans Wake as of the lucidities of Ulysses.

John Hunt 2018

"Having balanced my cargo exactly," colored drawing in The Arabian Nights Entertainments (1914) by illustrator Milo Winter. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

"The roc which fed its young on elephants" by Charles Maurice Detmold,  plate from The Arabian Nights, Second Voyage of Sinbad the Sailor (Hodder and Stoughton, 1924). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

A square and a circle whose areas are both equal to π. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

"Les marchands cassèrent l'œuf," illustration from Sinbad's 5th voyage in Les Mille et une nuits (Galland, 1865). Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Watercolor painting of seven kinds of auks by Archibald Thorburn (1860-1935), date unknown. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Black Circle, oil on canvas painting ca. 1923 by Kazimir Severinovich Malevich. Source: