And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it.


New Member
India - Hindi

My questions are, i) what is the meaning of the following sentence (in bold type), and ii) is it, syntactically, a typical sentence, or can it sound complicated even to a native speaker?

And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it.

The paragraph containing the sentence in part reads:

Fabled by the daughters of memory. And yet it was in some way if not as memory fabled it. A phrase, then, of impatience, thud of Blake's wings of excess.

Source: James Joyce's novel Ulysses: Episode 2: Nestor (

Thank you!
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    Hi Bramall.
    (i) I haven't the faintest idea.
    (ii) No, not at all. I can't even begin to understand it.
    I'm sure you know that Ulysses is notoriously difficult, even for native speakers:(


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think it should be understood this way:

    "And yet it was, in some way, if not as memory fabled it."

    That means, more or less, "Somehow it existed, even if it wasn't the same was as it was remembered."

    I'm not entirely sure that this interpretation is correct. It is not a typical sentence in any way. Please see ewie's last line.


    New Member
    India - Hindi
    Dear ewie, Egmont,

    Thank you both for replying!

    The truth is, as I was constructing the starting post to this thread, I was aware of it being unfair to 'bring up' Joyce! To wish to learn an English so beautifully enriched but also wholly re-shaped, through a forum that aims, first and foremost, to discuss and clarify points about languages as they are normally spoken and written is hardly excusable.

    By way of an apology, I provide the following quote as the only piece of explanation I could get my hands on (about which, I must say, I still can’t quite feel settled in my mind). This is from “Ulysses and the metamorphosis of Stephen Dedalus” by Margaret McBride, to be found at the following web address: and ulysses fabled by the daughters of memory&f=false

    … [History] is “Fabled by the daughters of memory”. … [T]he activity of the historian and that of the poet are similar. But they also differ. Though history may be shaped by the writer’s “art”, it has at its core actual events. Stephen emphasizes the point: “And yet it (the battle at Asculum) was in some way if not as memory fabled it”.

    Egmont, I take your punctuation: "And yet it was, in some way, if not as memory fabled it." as producing the sense, “it was fabled alright, but not, as is usually expected, by memory.” (In other words, to me, this must be how Stephen Dedalus' thought train ought to have been worded: "And yet it was fabled in some way, if not in the way that memory would have fabled it.")

    But, of course, I’m not sure. You seem to agree more with how M. McBride reads the sentence.

    Thank you again!
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