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UD does Molly.

This Bloomsday started like all of them – on the metro.

Hours before I’d been at the beach, and the sky was clear blue and the water windy and gray. I didn’t want to leave, of course, and I thought about a quiet life always at the shore.


I walked north from Dupont Circle up Connecticut Avenue, then climbed the hilly street of fine houses and clever little urban landscapes to the Irish Embassy. It was warm, but not too warm, and UD was nervous, but not too nervous, because before she left home she glugged some Gdansk Gold-Wasser Zlota Woda.

UD seldom drinks, but when she does, she’s amazed at how well it works.


The ambassador greeted me at the door. “You’re one of our readers!” he said.

“Yes. I’m your Molly Bloom.”

I said I’d worried a bit about the soliloquy’s obscenity. “My husband said there might be clergy in the audience.”

“Oh yes! There will certainly be clergy… I must say, I was listening to some actors practicing the Molly Bloom section earlier today and I was rather… uh… ”

“Well, I’ve chosen a series of short passages and nothing too over the top.”


Four men preceded UD, reading a bit from various earlier chapters. It was a very full room, everyone standing and holding drinks. Some guests wore period costumes. UD spotted two priests.

The readers stood in front of a large fireplace; nearby windows gave out on a view of lawns and hydrangeas.

The ambassador stood just to UD‘s left — inches away. And as UD read Molly’s endless complaints about her husband (could have been a prima donna only I married him… O but then what am I going to do about him though…), she found herself using the ambassador as a stage prop, making him her Bloom. She cocked a finger in his direction with each complaint.

This certainly amused the crowd. I think it amused the ambassador, but I’m not sure.


I like performing Molly. After many years reading her thoughts, I think I am in love with her. Bloom and Stephen are Mr and Mr Gloomy Gus; Molly perks things up considerably with her unstoppable erotic drive.

The danger in reading Molly is melodrama. Overdoing it. The temptation is to be vulgar – either sexually or sentimentally. Molly is explicit, but she’s not out there.

I think what’s most striking about her – especially at the famous conclusion of the soliloquy – is her happy relationship to her own past. Her memories of her sexual power excite her, and indeed Molly gets the last word in the novel not only because she insists on living a full emotional, aesthetic, and erotic life, but also because she loves what she has been, cherishes her exotic past, and, in recalling it, delights and renews herself. At the end of Ulysses, Molly is ready for another day.

Margaret Soltan, June 17, 2012 9:02AM
Posted in: james joyce

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4 Responses to “UD does Molly.”

  1. Quid plura? | “In the summertime, when all the trees and leaves are green, and the redbird sings…” Says:

    […] University Diaries does Bloomsday. […]

  2. Sherman Dorn Says:

    And the next year is the Year of Ulysses.

  3. Margaret Soltan Says:

    Very cool, Sherman. I didn’t know about this. Thanks.

  4. University Diaries » Bloomsday at the Beach Says:

    […] exciting Bloomsday last year, where she sang and read from Molly Bloom’s soliloquy in front of a packed gathering at the Irish embassy, is followed by a quiet one now, […]

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