Townsend Street

Townsend Street

In Brief

After a detailed account of Bloom's journey east on Rogerson's Quay and south on Lime Street, the narrative mentions nothing of his longer walk west on Hanover Street. The reader is brought back from Bloom's musings into the urban surroundings only after a couple of long city blocks have brought him close to the thoroughfare where he will remain for most of the chapter: "He crossed Townsend street, passed the frowning face of Bethel. El, yes: house of: Aleph, Beth. And past Nichols' the undertaker." Townsend Street is the westward continuation of Hanover Street. By crossing it, Bloom is turning south onto Lombard Street, which becomes Westland Row after it crosses Great Brunswick Street.

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This confusing series of turns and changing nomenclature—right, then right again along an unmentioned street, then left across the named continuation of that street onto an unnamed street that will become the prominent named street that is his destination—clearly speaks to Bloom's state of mind. It may indicate either Odyssean craft (an exceedingly cautious desire to evade detection as he proceeds most indirectly to the post office where Martha's incriminating letter is waiting for him) or lotus-like stupor (wandering aimlessly along a course that could be considerably shortened). The second explanation may be more persuasive, but both are consistent with the fact that, viewed from above, Bloom's feet are inscribing the first of two large question marks on the pavements of eastern Dublin. Later in the chapter he will trace another such shape on a course that Joyce's words chart quite unambiguously but do not make at all clear to a casual reader.

The Salvation Army hall called "Bethel," which was located between 19 and 20 Lombard Street East according to Thom's directory, puts Bloom in mind of the Hebrew alphabet and perhaps the Hebrew God. "Nichols' the undertaker," located at 26-31 Lombard Street East, makes him think of a rival undertaker's business on the North Strand Road that he correctly supposes may have handled the funeral arrangements for Paddy Dignam.

JH 2022
Ian Gunn and Stephen Patterson's map of Bloom's wanderings in Lotus Eaters. Source: Gunn and Hart, A Topographical Guide.
Newspaper advertisement for the Nichols' funeral business, date unknown. Source: /