11. Sirens

The emergence of Leopold Bloom

In the notebook that includes the second draft of Sirens (part of the Joyce manuscripts acquired by the National Library of Ireland in 2002)

Bloom is entirely absent! There is no trace of his approach to the Ormond Hotel or his entering the dining room. He is not mentioned by the other characters or the narrator, and, more importantly, he is absent as a point of view … .
The turning point is on page 10 of the draft, but it can probably be situated even more precisely. On the occasion of Simon, Dollard, and Cowley’s nostalgic evocation of the famous concert at which Dollard sang „Love and War“ with Professor Goodwin at the piano, there is mention neither of Bloom’s saving the situation nor of Molly’s used clothes business. Cowley inquires about another singer present at this concert, Marie Fallon, with the name „Fallon“ immediately struck out and replaced currente calamo with „Powell.“ Simon answers that she is alive and married, but an ellipsis indicates that his sentence is interrupted by Dollard’s singing, and the reader is never told whom she married. This kind of thinly disguised aposiopesis becomes significant if we remember that Major Powell was, according to Joyce himself, the original of Major Tweedy. This would be enough to suggest that Marie Powell is an early name for Marion Tweedy-Bloom or a figure who shares some of her characteristics, and such speculation is further corroborated by a later modification which strikes out the end of Simon’s sentence and replaces it with the phrase we know from the final text: „My Irish Molly, O“ and a still later marginal addition indicating that Marie/Molly actually comes from the rock of Gibraltar (see U 11.512-15)

Daniel Ferrer: What Song the Sirens Sang…Is No Longer Beyond All Conjecture: A Preliminary Description of the New „Proteus“ and „Sirens“ Manuscripts. In: James Joyce Quarterly , Fall 2012-Winter 2013, Vol. 50, No. 1/2, JJQ 50 YEARS


There are two songs sung entirely in “Sirens”:

“M’appari tutt’amor” from the opera Martha

  • Music: Friedrich von Flotow

The Croppy Boy



The Mystery of the Fuga per canonem

In the Gilbert-Gorman and Linati schemas the technic of the episode is stated as fuga per canonem. Joyce also uses this term in a letter to Harriet Weaver

Dear Miss Weaver: … Perhaps I ought not to say any more on the subject of the Sirens but the passages you allude to were not intended by me as recitative. There is in the episode only one example of recitative on page 12 in preface to the song. They are all the eight regular parts of a fuga per canonem: and I did not know in what other way to describe the seductions of music beyond which Ulysses travels.

JJ, Letters 1, 129

Also, the inside cover of the “Sirens” Copybook (see above) includes “FUGA PER CANONEM”.

Here are two articles including two different takes on the matter:

Susan Brown: The Mystery of the Fuga per Canonem Solved

Michelle Witen: The Mystery of the Fuga per Canonem Reopened?