Montage Techniques in Lestrygonians from Ulysses
Lestrygonians is the eighth episode in Ulysses written by James Joyce (1882-1941), which takes the point of view of Bloom, one of the main characters, to observe the ugly scene in Burton Restaurant he was about to visit. Techniques of stream of consciousness are applied by the writer to draw a realistic, vivid but unpleasant picture of the modern diner. The combination of time, consciousness and writing techniques is creatively practiced by Joyce in his novel (Li 111). This essay will focus on the use of montage that is made up of the shouted orders, images of food and customers as well as the smells.
Montage is “a writing that consists of many separate items put together, especially in an interesting or unusual combination.” (Oxford) In Lestrygonians, the most noticeable use of montage is the orders shouted by the customers, like “Roast beef and cabbage. One stew.” (Wang 1179) Three pairs of food orders are heard by Broom, who gives no comments on them but continues his words. However, the reader’s focus on Broom’s thoughts is interrupted by the images of these dishes. As voices from the exterior world, the shouted orders are independent from Broom’s consciousness, but also form a montage with his observations to emphasize the noisiness and busyness in the place.
The montage of combining the description on the food and the customer is also impressive. The eaters are portrayed as greedy and monstrous to be compared to the horrible Lestrygonians in the title, which includes their sloppy appearance (“hats shoved back”, “sauce-stained napkin”), voracious ordering and unsighted table manners (“shoveled gurgling soup”, “scoffing up stew gravy”). Between these descriptions, foods and dishes are frequently mentioned, which not only adds details to the images of the eaters, but also builds a montage that mixes food and customers into a barbarous scene that arouses Broom’s disgust against it.
The writer also develops an uncommon montage of smells through the description. It starts from the stink when Broom entered the door and ends with the “clearer air” out on the streets, and includes one of the most impressive parts in the sequence: “Spat-on sawdust, sweetish warmish cigarette smoke, reek of plug”. Description of food have the special feature that can bring the taste and smell to the readers from its color or shape, which is similar to synesthetic, and is well explored by the writer’s listing of those greasy and pungent dishes. This particular montage of abstract smells greatly contributes to Broom’s feeling of aversion to the restaurant.
Through analysis, we may notice that montage is the major technique used in the description to show the hideous surroundings from the point of view of Broom. With a relatively distinct way of organizing montage, the writer succeeded in depicting the terrible scene under the title of Lestrygonians and getting readers involved in that annoying part of the society.
“Montage.” Oxford Advanced Learner’s English-Chinese Bilingual Dictionary. 8st ed. 2014.