-What is a ghost? Stephen said with tingling energy. One who has faded into impalpability through death, through absence, through change of manners.
Part 2, chapter 6 of Ulysses: Nabokov instructs his students thus:
The discussion in this chapter is one of those things that is more amusing for a writer to write than for a reader to read, and so its details need not be examined.
Here, I disagree with the late Professor Nabokov. Yes, it is a dense chapter of allusion and erudition. Much of it I fail to penetrate on this first reading. But to miss the wit and the satisfaction of unlocking at least some of Joyce’s allusion would be a loss, arguably acceptable for students but not for ardent readers.
During a debate about Shakespeare, Eglinton contends that Shakespeare’s marriage was a mistake:
-The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake, he said, and got out of it as quickly and as best as he could.
-Bosh! Stephen [Dedalus] said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.
Portals of discovery opened to let in the quaker librarian, softcreakfooted, bald, eared and assiduous.