Everyone knows that Bloom was not circumcised (just ask Google).

  • But how do we know this?

Hugh Kenner claims it is (371/373). I have read these pages over and over, but don't see it?

Despite the ready repetition of the claim, I have not been able to find the actual quote from Ulysses that proves that Bloom was not circumcised.

  • Which book and/or edition does "(371/373)" refer to?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:31
  • 1
    @Christophe Strobbe I have just checked, the 371 is Penguin 1971 and the 373 is Random House 1961
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:40
  • This is why I failed to find it myself, I grabbed a Bodely Head. Someone stole my Penguin!! I'm not mentioning any names.
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:41

1 Answer 1


When I put ulysses bloom circumcised into Google, the top result was this Jstor page for the academic article Erwin R. Steinberg, "James Joyce and the Critics Notwithstanding, Leopold Bloom Is Not Jewish", Journal of Modern Literature 9(1) (1981), pp. 27-49. This article says:

At birth, Bloom was not circumcised, for, in the Nausicaa episode, after he masturbates, Joyce has him think, "Stuck. Well the foreskin is not back. Better detach" (373). In this connection we might note that Joyce was not unaware that male Jews are circumcised. He has Stephen discourse leamedly on Jesus' circumcision (703), and in Circe, he brings onstage a group of Jews who appear "in sackcloth and ashes, . . . by the wailing wall" and to whom he twice refers as "the Circumcised".

I checked the full text of Ulysses and confirmed that the quote from Chapter 13 "Nausicaa" is indeed as Steinberg has it:

As God made them he matched them. Sometimes children turn out well enough. Twice nought makes one. Or old rich chap of seventy and blushing bride. Marry in May and repent in December. This wet is very unpleasant. Stuck. Well the foreskin is not back. Better detach.


Other hand a sixfooter with a wifey up to his watchpocket. Long and the short of it. Big he and little she. Very strange about my watch. Wristwatches are always going wrong.

Foreskin, therefore no circumcision. No need to go into any more detail than that.

  • Thank you, I am only allowed "science" papers behind my pay wall. I note that Kenner was correct about page 373, but in my copy, 373 is Sirens, not Nausicaa. I got Bodley Head 1960.
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:01
  • It does seem one can register at JStor as a civilian.
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:04
  • 1
    In retrospect, we could've just Ctrl+F'ed the text for "foreskin".
    – Rand al'Thor
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:06
  • I did for "circum", ... clearly I lack imagination regarding this topic
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:08
  • "Stuck. Well the foreskin is not back. Better detach." Lol. You gotta love Joyce.
    – fundagain
    Commented Jan 11, 2019 at 16:18

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