Molly Bloom and Nora's Style

In Ulysses Molly Bloom, the wife of Leopold, comes to life mainly in her husband’s thoughts. Throughout the day he contemplates her affair with a man called Blazes Boylan. Much more than an object of desire and jealousy, however, Molly is also the character who gets the last word. In the book’s final episode, “Penelope,” Molly is not merely breathless but also eloquent, not merely sexually frank but also an engaging narrator and storyteller. Studying Molly’s soliloquy alongside a 1904 letter on view in the gallery from Nora Barnacle to Joyce, one notices a similar lack of punctuation, the sense of pure voice unmediated by irony or craft or literary artifice.

James Joyce (1882–1941)
Paris: Shakespeare and Company, 1922
The Morgan Library & Museum, bequest of Gordon N. Ray, 1987; PML 135610