10. Wandering Rocks

To see Joyce at work on the Wandering Rocks was to see an engineer at work with compass and side-rule. A surveyor with theodolite and measuring chain or, more Ulyssean perhaps, a ship’s officer taking the sun, reading the log and calculating current drift and leeway. … [He] wrote the Wandering Rocks with a map of Dublin before him […] He calculated to a minute the time necessary for his characters to cover a given distance of the city.

Frank Budgen: James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses (1934)

Data visualization of episode 10 of James Joyce’s Ulysses (“Wandering Rocks”) that highlights its multiple and clashing spatiotemporalities.

To find your way through the characters mentioned in this episode, you might want to look at the List of People provided by The Joyce Project.

As Ronan Crowley has pointed out, Frank Budgen, who “evidently witnessed the composition of ‘Wandering Rocks’ at first hand”, also mentions “the children’s game ‘Labyrinth’ ” in his James Joyce and The Making of Ulysses.

Joyce bought it “at Franz Carl Weber’s toyshop on the Bahnhofstrasse (Weber’s 1914 catalogue gives the name of the game as “Labyrinth-Spiel”) which Joyce played ‘every evening for a time with his daughter Lucia.’ The playing board for this game, on proud display at the Zürich James Joyce Foundation, is a honeycomb of interlocking but unclosed hexagons that form a multicursal route from one side of the board to the other. The object of the game was to traverse the field and then return to the starting point, the player being occasionally obliged to miss a go or two when his (or his daughter’s) token was moved into a hexagon marked with one or two dots. Budgen records that as a result of winning or losing at the game Joyce ‘was enabled to catalogue six main errors of judgement into which one might fall in choosing a right, left or centre way out of the maze.’”

Ronan Crowley: ‘The Hand that Wrote Ulysses’ and the Avant-Texte of ‘Wandering Rocks’. Genetic Joyce Studies – Issue 7 (Spring 2007)