Chapter 12 of James Joyce's Ulysses, Cyclops, consists mostly of a first-person comic narrative of men drinking in a pub. The conversation is frequently interrupted, however, by a number of deadpan pastiches of varied style and length.
Some of these I understood - there are passages mocking spiritualism and Irish nationalism, for example - some I failed to interpret.
What interested me, though, is that some of these pastiches contain long lists, usually of names. They are so long - a page or more - as to be awkward and rather pointless to read.
Here's an example, chosen at random - and one of the shorter ones, at that:
Thither the extremely large wains bring foison of the fields, flaskets of cauliflowers, floats of spinach, pineapple chunks, Rangoon beans, strikes of tomatoes, drums of figs, drills of Swedes, spherical potatoes and tallies of iridescent kale, York and Savoy, and trays of onions, pearls of the earth, and punnets of mushrooms and custard marrows and fat vetches and bere and rape and red green yellow brown russet sweet big bitter ripe pomellated apples and chips of strawberries and sieves of gooseberries, pulpy and pelurious, and strawberries fit for princes and raspberries from their canes
Here's another, added in since some readers might think the above example is just someone an author amusing themselves making a list. This one should hopefully make clear how apparently pointless most of the lists are:
Amongst the clergy present were the very rev. William Delany, S. J., L. L. D.; the rt rev. Gerald Molloy, D. D.; the rev. P. J. Kavanagh, C. S. Sp.; the rev. T. Waters, C. C.; the rev. John M. Ivers, P. P.; the rev. P. J. Cleary, O. S. F.; the rev. L. J. Hickey, O. P.; the very rev. Fr. Nicholas, O. S. F. C.; the very rev. B. Gorman. O. D. C.; the rev. T. Maher, S. J.; the very rev. James Murphy, S. J.; the rev. John Lavery, V. F.; the very rev. William Doherty, D. D.; the rev. Peter Fagan, O. M.; the rev. T. Brangan, O. S. A.; the rev. J. Flavin, C. C.; the rev. M. A. Hackett, C. C.; the rev. W. Hurley, C. C.; the rt rev. Mgr M'Manus, V. G.; the rev. B. R. Slattery, O. M. I.; the very rev. M. D. Scally, P. P.; the rev. F. T. Purcell, O. P.; the very rev. Timothy canon Gorman, P. P.; the rev. J. Flanagan, C. C. The laity included P. Fay, T. Quirke, etc., etc.
I can think of many reasons why a list or two might suit this chapter. The chosen names may be illuminating to more erudite readers than I. It may be a pastiche in and of itself of the list-motif in Irish myth, given that nationalism is a theme of the chapter. It may be mocking the portentous nature of those who like to write lists.
None of these, however, seem to explain the use of lists as a repeating motif. Almost a lists of lists, if you will. What does this motif signify?