James Joyce: Commentary (10)



File 1 File 2 File 3 File 4 File 5
File 6 File 7 File 8 File 9 File 10
File 11 File 12 File 13 File 14 File 15

General Index

John P. Harrington (1991) to Michael F. Hart (1998)
John Harrington
Andrew Sanders
David G. Wright
John Banville
Bruce Arnold
Edward Hirsch
Derek Attridge
Eamon Grennan
Jennifer Levine
Margot Norris
Edward Said
John McGahern
Vincent Sherry
Weldon Thornton
Suman Gupta
Jeri Johnson
Robert Spoo
Emer Nolan
Claus Melchior
Michael F. Hart

Richard Pearce, ed. Molly Blooms: A Polylogue on “Penelope” [... &c.] (1984)
Kathleen McCormick
Cheryl Temple Herr
Susan Bazargan
Carol Shloss
Brian W. Shaffer
Joseph Heininger
Jennifer Wicke
Garry Leonard

John P. Harrington, The Irish Beckett (Syracuse UP 1991), writes of Beckett’s critical appraisal of Joyce: ‘MacGreevy [...] is generally accredited with introducing Beckett to Joyce. MacGreevy later repatriated himself and became director of the National Gallery; he wrote a book about the national importance of Jack Yeats that Beckett found difficult to praise, but, out of obligation, tried to do so.’ (p.11.) Harrington quotes J. C. C. Mays’s reading of MacGreevy’s depreciation of Yeats and the Revival, together with O’Faolain’s derogation of the stay-at-home Irish writers, and adds: ‘By the 1980s, the centrality of that position for an Irish writer, that depreciation of Yeats and appreciation of Europeanisation, came around again in a general program of revisionism of local literary and cultural history.’ (p.13.) ‘Far from being solely transition’s offspring, Beckett’s earliest criticism, poetry, and obiter dicta are profoundly entangled in Irish literary issues, including both literary precedence and consequent literary agenda.’ (p.14.) Harrington reads ‘Dante .. Bruno ... Vico ... Joyce’ as a careful rescuing of Joyce from those contexts: “The danger is in the neatness of identifications ... The conception of Philosophy and Philology as a pair of nigger minstrels out of the Teatro dei Piccoli is soothing, like the contemplation of a carefully folded ham-sandwich ... This social and historical classification is clearly adapted by Mr. Joyce as a structural convenience - or inconvenience. His position is in no way a philosophical one.”’ (Beckett; here p.16.)

Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (OUP 1994): ‘If T. S. Eliot recognized any true literary kinship amongst his contemporaries it was not with the likes of the Sitwells but with the Irish novelist James Joyce (1882-1941). In 1918 he proclaimed Joyce “the best living prose writer” and a year later he described the “Scylla and Charybdis” section of Ulysses as “almost the finest I have read: I have lived on it ever since I read it”, though he felt obliged to add that he had found it “uphill and exasperating work trying to impose Joyce on such ‘intellectual’ people, or people whose opinion carries weight as I know, in London”. Joyce too had found the struggle to get his works accepted by publishers and public alike an uphill one. His confrontations with official and unofficial censors were especially frustrating. The manuscript of his collection of twelve stories, Dubliners, finished in 1905, was rejected by its prospective London publishers after a period of protracted uncertainty. In 1909 it was submitted to a Dublin firm; publication was postponed in 1910 and in 1912 the type was broken up by the printers due to a fear of libel action from local tradesmen mentioned in the text (Joyce got his own back in the rumbustious broadside “Gas from a Burner”). With the addition of three further stories the volume finally appeared in 1914. Ulysses, composed in three different cities, was published in Paris in 1922 in a limited edition; after the confiscation of subsequent editions, on pornographic grounds, by customs officers in Britain and America it was not made legally available in the United States until 1933 and was printed in an unlimited edition in London only in 1937. Joyce’s relationship with Eliot as his publisher proved infinitely easier. In 1931 Eliot contracted to publish Finnegans Wake through the firm of Faber and Faber of which he was a director (he had already issued a section of the “work in progress”). In order to introduce Joyce’s work to the elusive “general” reader, rather than simply to an intellectual coterie, Faber produced a short selection of his prose, edited by Eliot, in 1942.’

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on DUBLINERS]: ‘In September 1905 Joyce sent his brother Stanislas a list of questions from Trieste concerning details of Dublin life and customs which he needed for the stories on which he was working. In the same letter he explained that his collection would be based on a particular sequence. Three of the Dubliners stories would deal with childhood, three with adolescence, three with mature life, and three with public life. When he wrote in October to his prospective London publisher, he repeated the justification for his volume which he had previously articulated to Stanislas. No writer, he argued, had yet presented Dublin to the world; it had been a European capital for “thousands of years”; it was supposed to be the second city of the British Empire and was nearly three times as big as Venice (so often the focus of classic English texts). In a further letter of May 1906 he insisted that he was writing “a chapter of the moral history” of his country and that he had chosen Dublin not for its animation but because it seemed to him “the centre of paralysis”. This idea of cultural “paralysis” is stressed in the opening of the first story, “The Sisters”. There is a reference in the first line to the priest”s fatal stroke and later in the first paragraph the narrator repeats the word as he gazes up nightly at a window in the priest”s house. Throughout the collection Dublin seems trapped by the mundane, the quotidian, and the historic. Its citizens are observed as bound up in private concerns and incapable of properly judging or quantifying their experience. Some are disillusioned, others lose vocations and illusions, others are graceless (both figuratively and spiritually). Any perspective is provided by the detached artist-narrator, observing, shaping his narratives but not offering judgement. In the haunting tenth story, “Clay”, the ungainly, ageing Maria loses a slice of plum cake on a tram. It is only through the shape of the complete narrative that the seemingly inconsequential loss is given a contextual perspective. At the close of the story, Maria”s vulnerability is further exposed by her unconscious “mistake” of singing “in a tiny quavering voice” the Balfe song superstitiously held to foretell mortality, “I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls”. The various flat and conspicuously “ordinary” details of the story are forged into a new whole, the nuances shaped into initially unperceived meanings, and the neutral tones assume hues as readers deduce significances.’

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on "THE DEAD", in Dubliners]: ‘Only in the long last story, “The Dead”, does Joyce’s baldly undemonstrative prose style, one he described as possessing the quality of “scrupulous meanness’, assume a greater luxury. The dominant figure of the literate and articulate Gabriel Conroy in this the [539] last of the stories to be added to the collection shifts their general concern away from the uneducated and the narrow-minded. The quality of the family party he attends is established by snatches of conversation, exchanged politenesses, familiar memories, popular quotations and songs. By means of these fragments Joyce deftly draws together and re- echoes themes from earlier stories. He particularly allows for a sharp exchange between Gabriel and the insular Miss Ivors concerning the nationalist tensions of contemporary Ireland. Gabriel - who reviews English books and takes holidays in France and Belgium in preference to learning the Irish language in the western reaches of his own country - is accused of being a “West Briton” (an Irishman content not to undo the Union with Great Britain). “Irish’, Gabriel insists, in a significant pre-echo of Stephen Dedalus, “is not my language”. The issue, though seemingly forgotten amid the enforced accord of the party, re-emerges in its final paragraphs. Gabriel, temporarily alienated from his wife by her recall of memories of the song of a dead suitor from the Celtic West of Ireland, muses in his hotel room as snow falls in the city and unites it to the whole white island stretching westwards beyond it. The snow seems to join the living and the dead, the romantically lost and the practical present, but it does more than stir memory and desire; it offers a momentary vision of a release from time and from purely temporal and mundane preoccupations."

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on A PORTRAIT]: ‘With the exception of the converts Newman and Hopkins, Joyce is the first major writer in English since the Reformation to have been “supersaturated” in specifically Roman Catholic teaching. Although Stephen Dedalus’s admiration for Newman’s prose style becomes a contentious issue in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) it is the eucharistic theology of Thomas Aquinas that most determines the complex aesthetics that Stephen expounds. Although his faith is replaced by scrupulous doubt, Stephen retains an insistent Jesuit authoritarianism in his arguments about definitions of beauty. As the latter stages of the story affirm, Stephen assumes a new priesthood, that of the artist. In a crucial sense, he also fulfils the implications of his pointedly un-Irish name. He is Daedalus, the builder of Cretan [540] mazes and the ingenious feathered escaper from islands. It is to this symbolic artist, the “old father, old artificer”, that Stephen finally dedicates himself. But if the second half of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is taken up with debate and definition, its opening sections attempt to describe, in an extraordinarily original manner, the growth of an artist’s mind. There was obviously nothing new about the fictional autobiography, especially the kind that dealt with the emotional and intellectual development of a prospective writer. Its last conventional fling came in 1915 with W(illiam) Somerset Maugham’s hugely popular account of a lonely boy’s metamorphosis into responsive adulthood in Of Human Bondage. Where Maugham (1874-1965) ploddingly adapts formulas which would have been familiar enough to readers of David Copperfeld, Joyce challenges received ideas of literary decorum. He plays even in his opening sentences with fairy-tale phraseology, nursery-rhyme rhythms and baby-talk and he deftly suggests how an infant’s experience is shaped by sensual stimuli (Stephen hears a story; he smells his mother and the oil-sheet on his bed; he tastes lemon platt (a kind of children’s sweet); he feels warm and wet). The narrative moves him forward from being the passive feeler, hearer, and observer to being the doer, reader, writer, and maker. It later seeks to express the process of Stephen’s adolescent exploration of his personality and the flexibility of his mind. Above all, it describes him trying out the poses of the would-be priest, the lover, and the intellectual before finally breaking the narrative into a series of diary entries as the potential artist prepares himself for flight." (p.541.)

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on ULYSSES]: ‘In Ulysses, once conceived of as a story for Dubliners, a troubled Stephen Dedalus has returned to his birthplace, to his circle of intellectual friends, and to the dangerously outstretched tentacles of his family. Portrait was focused on a single personality; Ulysses, by contrast, has a multiple focus. Stephen’s refined perceptions are played against the earthier preoccupations of an homme moyen sensuel - the Dublin Jew, Leopold Bloom - and the consciousness of both is finally contrasted with that of Bloom’s wife, Molly. The thought and actions of all three are interwoven with the diverse life of Dublin on a single day, 16 June 1904. Characters cross and recross the city (though Molly remains seemingly marginalized in her bed; she sleeps, entertains a lover, and ultimately moves centre-stage as she muses on her life and loves in an extraordinarily unpunctuated monologue). When Stephen and Bloom finally encounter one another, and drunkenly discover a brief intimacy, they have taken separate voyages of exploration through the city. Underneath each of the eighteen extended episodes around which the novel is built lies a Homeric precedent. Bloom is a latter-day Odysseus/Ulysses; Stephen his lost son Telemachus; Molly his Penelope. Mr Deasy, the opinionated Protestant schoolmaster with whom Stephen has an uneasy morning interview, corresponds to Nestor; Bloom’s attendance at Paddy Dignam’s funeral has overtones of the Homeric descent to Hades; the fantasizing Gerty MacDowell, whose sighting on the beach sexually stimulates Bloom, is a Nausicaa; and the xenophobic “Citizen” in Barney [541] Kiernan’s is a type of the blinded giant, Cyclops. Beyond the explorations of the fluid consciousnesses of his major characters, and beyond the Homeric underpinning, Joyce ingeniously attempts to expand certain of the later episodes into experiments with form. In the “Wandering Rocks’ sequence, for example, the peregrinatory Father Conmee links together a series of brief scenes by crossing Dublin by a route meticulously plotted and timed by Joyce (with the aid of maps and of his Dublin-based brother) and by finally coinciding with a vice-regal cavalcade (representing a meeting of the Roman and the British domination of Ireland). In the “Sirens” episode an attempt is made to reflect the musical form of a fugue and in the “Oxen of the Sun’ (set in the Holles Street maternity hospital) an extended pastiche of English prose style, from its beginnings to the present, parallels the embryonic development of a child in the womb. Ulysses is, however, far more than the self referential series of echoes or the cryptogrammatic integration of puns, acrostics, and dense literary and historical allusion which its successor, Finnegans Wake, threatens to become. It rarely needs to be exactly untangled before it communicates. It is eminently readable rather than narrowly studiable. Reading Ulysses is a process of refamiliarization with a variety of adapted styles, modes, and techniques. In one sense, it stretches fictional realism almost to a point of absurdity, for example, in the “Ithaca’ section by subjecting Bloom, Stephen, and the objects in their immediate ambience to a process of forensic listing (Joyce himself called it a “mathematical catechism”). In another, it consistently attempts to observe more intimately and precisely than any earlier novel. It follows the extraordinary vagaries of Bloom’s mind as he shops, lusts, cooks, eats, relieves himself inthe privy, and goes about his business. Whereas Stephen is preoccupied both with guilt over his failure to pray at his mother’s death-bed and with intellectual speculation, Bloom’s far less organized mind regularly throws up snippets of phrases and memories from a private past and from an observed world. His mind unsystematically returns to half understood Hebrew and English words, to the smell of soap, to memories of his dead son, to an advertisement for Plumtree’s Potted Meat, and to the jingling brass bed quoits which signal his wife’s adultery. From these reiterations, repetitions, and variations Joyce gradually weaves a fabric which is at once startling and familiar, superbly comic and cerebral, rumbustious and refined. It mixes the music-hall with the opera house, the cliché with a disquisition on Hamlet, the “fine tang of faintly scented urine” from mutton kidneys with the progress of European civilization.’ (p.542.)

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on ULYSSES]: ‘If the contortedly encyclopaedic vision of Finnegans Wake determinedly shunts the modern literary experiment into a siding, Ulysses continues to realise narrative vitality as exuberant as the God-like “Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee’ in Mr Deasy’s school playground and as confident as Molly Bloom’s concluding “Yes”.’ (p.542.)

[ top ]

David G. Wright, Ironies of Ulysses (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1991): ‘The most substantial link between Ulysses and an[y] antecedent text is its relationship to the Odyssey. Joyce stressed to early would-be readers of his novel that they should assimilate Homer’s text before they embarked on Ulysses. [Quotes JJ’s letter to Aunt Josephine, 14 Oct. 1921; Letters, 1966, Vol. 1, p.174.] Joyce’s debt to the Odyssey have been extensively catalogued [by] Gilbert, Ellmann [...] and Michael Seidel. The question of the centrality and purposes of Joyce’s use of Homeric material in Ulysses nevertheless remains vexed; but this question may have been deliberately devised by Joyce as a problem which no reader of his novel could [106] solve. One reason why Joyce might have encouraged this doubt about his intentions is the degree of flexibility which it permits him in the use of irony. [.../] That Joyce’s deployment of Homeric material often becomes ironic in the sense developed in this study can hardly be questioned. The Homeric presence in Ulysses operates as an insistent focus for semantic disjunction, and constantly affects the implications of Joyce’s text. Like irony itself, the Homeric material works on a wide range of scales, from minute to all-embracing, superficial to profound. Stephen’s first spoken words in Ulysses - “Tell me, Mulligan” - recall a common opening phrase in epic but, in particular, precisely echo the opening of the Odyssey as rendered in the Butcher and Lang translation, which Joyce used: “Tell me, Muse”. At the other extreme, Joyce’s Homeric schema provides an underlying structure massive enough to support the considerable weight of Ulysses. / Certain episodes of Ulysses seem particularly saturated in Homeric details. [...]. (pp.106-07.)

[ top ]

John Banville, ‘Survivors of Joyce’, in , James Joyce: The Artist and the Labyrinth, ed. Augustine Martin (London: Ryan Publishing 1990): ‘The figure of Joyce towers behind us, a great looming Easter Island effigy of the Father. In the old days it was considered fitting that the children should honour the parent, and I could, indeed, spend the next fifteen or twenty minutes paying tribute to that stone [73] Nobodaddy at my shoulder. But when I think of Joyce I am split in two. To one side there falls the reader, kneeling speechless in filial admiration, and love; to the other side, however, the writer stands, gnawing his knuckles, not a son, but a survivor. [...] (pp.73-74.) ‘Do not mistake me; I am not criticising. I believe the trick earthly, is the true mark of his genius. As a reader, I can only applaud. As a writer, I feel, to paraphrase Simon Dedalus, that I have been left where Jesus left the Jews. Nor is this a criticism: it’s no business of Joyce to haul the rest of us on to the raft, nor even to give us a peek inside the pagoda. It’s just that it is cold out here, and, half the time, it feels like drowning.’ (pp.73-74, 80-81.) ‘In Finnegans Wake, is it the element of the crossword puzzle that attracts us? Much has been made of the mephistophelian [76] pact between Joyce’s work and academe, and it is true that without the attentions of the academics, much in Joyce would have gone unexplained. (The corollary of this is that without the surety of an academic posterity, Joyce might have done things differently; but that is another lecture). What the burners of midnight oil glean from the Wake, however are mere facts. They are interesting facts, they are sometimes beautiful facts, but still, they are only facts. Edmund Wilson shrewdly pointed out that, in the case of The Waste Land, the more widely we read in other works, the more references we spot, and the more references we spot, the more The Waste Land diminishes. Something the same is true of Finnegans Wake. The more of it we decipher, the more we “use it up”. Of course, it is not serious diminishment; but anyone who has ever completed a crossword knows that curious, ashen sense of futility, of nausea, almost, that comes along with the “solution”. / I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that understanding of a work of art makes one feel sick; I do believe, however, that what we come to know about a work is simply that: a knowing about, a peripheral knowledge. Knowing a thing, however intimately, however deeply, is not always the same as understanding it. We are back to the boy with the dismantled Swiss watch. / We are asking: what is it fascinates us about Ulysses and Finnegans Wake? - what quality is it in such works that prompts us to set them up as canonical? Wallace Stevens believed, or professed to believe, that in our post-religious age, poetry could be the supreme, sustaining fiction without which Man would perish. Works such as The Waste Land and Ulysses have taken on, or have been conferred with, a biblical quality: they have become the Psalms, they have become the Book. Why? What constitutes the quality of the numinous in them? What is it that speaks to our need for texts, for Holy Writ? / I believe it is a quality of closure.’ (pp.76-77; for further remarks on Joyce’s style, &c., see quotations under Banville, supra.)

[ top ]

Bruce Arnold, The Scandal of Ulysses (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1991): ‘In 1977 a re-editing of Ulysses was begun. It appeared to conclude in 1984, when the results were published, together with a further copyright claim, reinforced in 1986 by the appearance of a commercial or trade edition of the work, now sold worldwide. Academically, this achievement can be debated, argued over, criticised. But as a legal claim to a new copyright it can only be challenged when the general James Joyce copyright runs out, next January.’ (p.xiv.) ‘It was absurd to imagine that he could deal objectively with the existing third typescript, in terms of making it identical with the earlier two copies, as it is to imagine that Turner could arrive at a varnishing day at the Royal Academy and not bring out his paints and brushes and do more work on his allegedly finished canvasses.’ (p.16.) ‘The fact is that James Joyce was faced with a fair and positive offer from Sylvia Beach in 1921, having seen that his book would not succeed elsewhere, and he had to address the unusual problem for a renowned writer - as he was then becoming - of having a publisher but of not having the book, at least in corrected form and complete.’ (p.17.) ‘[H]e expressed extreme irritation over the printer’s errors and wondered whether these would be perpetuated in future editions. But he never complained about the overall text of the book. [...] there is no sense in which he viewed what he was currently doing [...] as other than the finalised version of Ulysses which he wanted to see in print. [... a] view greatly reinforced by the changes which he made on the proofs.’ (p.23-24.) ‘In all his correspondence at this time, Joyce referred frequently to the errors in Ulysses and was clearly frustrated by their number. Yet there is never any question of there being deeper textual problems.’ (p.28.)

Bruce Arnold (The Scandal of Ulysses, 1991) - cont: ‘The 1934 copyright claim was therefore made for the unpublished balance of “Oxen of the Sun”, together with the final four episodes. The differences between the parts of Ulysses which were actually copyrighted and the version of Ulysses as printed in 1934 are more substantial than the differences between the accepted, pre-Gabler version of the book and his revised version.’ (p.84.) ‘Gabler claims that the 1922 text comes closest to what Joyce intended, but that it does not offer Ulysses “as he wrote it”, offering no analysis of this statement whatsoever.’ Further ‘“[quoting Gabler]: By common consent, an editor chooses as the copytext for a critical edition a document text of highest overall authority. This eliminates the first edition of 1922 as copytext for a critical edition of Ulysses’ [Gabler].” Arnold asks: ‘How would Gabler deal with Plato?’ (p.139.) Of ‘the word know to all men’ upon which Richard Ellmann touches in his 1986 Preface, Arnold writes: ‘It would be a major alteration indeed if the haunting subtlety of Stephen not knowing the word known to all men and searching for it, not as a word but as a reality in his life, were to be known and expressed by him long before he confronts his mother.’ (p.145.) Further, Ellmann’s preface appraises Gabler’s edition as the search for ‘an ideal text, such as Joyce would have constructed in ideal conditions’ and an attempt to ‘deduce from other versions what the lost documents would have contained.’ (here p.149.)

Note: Arnold cites ‘A Crux in the New Edition’, a paper given at the 1986 James Joyce conference in Monaco where Ellmann reports on Gabler’s inclusion of ‘the word known to all men’ in “Scylla & Charybdis” as follows: ‘he thought I would be pleased.’ Arnold remarks that Ellmann was far from pleased and put his doubts to Gabler, ‘but to no avail’. Further recommended him to ‘[p]ut it among the prominent variants at the back.’ [124]. John Kidd’s intervention is discussed at 103ff. Note: In his 1986 “Afterword”, Gebler speaks of a ‘continuous manuscript text’ (here p.136-39.)

[ top ]

Edward Hirsch, ‘The Imaginary Irish Peasant’, PMLA, 106, 5 (Oct. 1991), pp.1116-1133 [quotes Stephen on home, Christ, ale, master in colloquy with the Dean of Studies in A Portrait]: ‘One way to deal with the debilitiating sense of cultural lalientation was to turn a Joycean arrogance against Ireland’s native culture. Anoterh was was to engage in a permanent conflict with the culture. Dedalus’s diary entry on the penultimate page of Portrait summons up the old man that Mulrennan had interviewed in the west of Ireland [quotes: “I fear him [... No I mean him no harm”]. The old man in the mountain cabin is whom (and what) Dedaus is fleeing. / A more common “patriotic” path was the idealization of the native culture. Because urban Catholics were sensitive about belonging to an “inferior” culture, many of them were especially susceptible to pleas, like Douglad Hyde’s, to “cultivate what they have rejected, and to build up an Irish nation on Irish lines.” [“The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland.”; ...] ‘Lower-middle class and midde-class Catholics in Dublin shared a discomfort with peasant life as being all too Irish, but at the same time they idealised that life (the rise of the Gaelic League and the mass appeal of the Gaelic Athletic Associtation were in some ways manifestations of that idealization). They understood that the peasant could be turned into an emblem not only of Ireland’s victimization but also of its ignorance, vulgary, and shame. As George Watson notes, many middle-class Catholics, who had a basic evolutionary idea of their own progress, “did not like being reminded that Ireland was an overwhelmingly rural or peasant society”. Again, the structure of urban feelings associated with peasant life is made clear char in Portrait where Dedalus thinks of an emblematic peasant woman first as a “type of her race and his own” (thus associating himself with the woman) and then as “a batlike soul waking in consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness”. In Dedalus’s view, the woman is a figure of the Irish unconscious associated with something dark, lonely, beckoning, shameful. The engendering of the peasant is crucial here. Whereas the colonizer Is associated with invulnerable masculine strength, the colonized is associated with a guilty and dangerous female secrecy and vulnerability. “Worst of all”, as [Seamus] Deane says in summarizing the colonial stereotypes of the barbaric Irish peasant, “he is sometimes a she.” (Civilians and Barbarians, p.40.) Edna O’Brien summons up a host of conventional associations when she characterizes Ireland as “a women, a womb, a cave, a cow, a Rosaleen, a sow, a bride, a harlot and, of course, the Hag of Beare.” This engendering was part of Catholic Dublin’s painful ambivalence about “peasant” life.’ (pp.1124-25; - available at JSTOR Ireland - online.)

[ top ]

Derek Attridge, ed., The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (Cambridge UP 1990), Preface: ‘Joyce is the most international of writers in English. He shares with Shakespeare a global reputation, but unlike Shakespeare, he crossed many national boundaries in his working career, in his outlook, and in his writing - extending his reach further and further until in Finnegans Wake he attempted to embrace the languages and cultures of the entire human community.’ (p.ix; quoted in Daryl Clarke, UG Diss., UU 2006.) Introduction [on Dubliners]: ‘The content (which we are accustomed to thinking of as the raison d’etre of fiction) serves as a vehicle for the manner of telling, the slow release of information, the hints and presuppositions that we are incited to elaborate on, the rhythm of mental deliberation that propels the narrative forward, and our present concern - the controlled language that through its spareness possesses a hair-trigger suggestiveness. This is not to say that Joyce has reversed the relationship between content and form as it exists in every other story, but rather that he has revealed, by going to an extreme, how unstable that relationship is; and if many readers remain convinced that their pleasure comes from being presented with the actual events of the story, for which the particular mode of writing is merely a skillfully contrived channel, this is probably because our activities as readers are usually more complex than the terms in which we represent those activities to ourselves.’ (p.4-5.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, 1990, Preface - cont.: ‘Joyce is engaged in the double task which faces all realistic writers: on the one hand, he is working to produce the convincing effect of a certain kind of mind in a particular emotional state and, on the other, to contrive a narrative progression which gives the reader an active role in piecing together clues and wrestling with uncertainties and puzzles. The demands of naturalism are for a degree of coherence, a completely non-literary style, and a minimum of information (since the character [Eveline] has no need to verbalise to herself things she already knows); the demands of the narrative are for clarity, an original and forceful style, and the gradual provision of judiciously organised nuggets of information that will create an onward drive toward revelation and resolution [...] At the same time, however, Joyce heightens our awareness of the techniques he so skilfully deploys by raising questions about our strategies of interpretation. And to be aware of how much is going on in this apparently simple style - this is part of Joyce’s revolution - is not to puncture the illusion of reality but to enjoy the many-sidedness of language and story-telling, and to relish the readerly activity one is called upon to perform.’ (p.8.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, 1990, Preface [cont.]): ‘The Wake will never be mastered, never dominated or exhausted by interpretation, nor will it every offer itself up unproblematically as a single set of meanings; and if a sense of control and singleness of meaning is crucial to a reader’s enjoyment, frustration will be the only result. More than this, however, the Wake teaches us, in a most delightful way, that no text can be mastered, that meaning is not something solid and unchanging beneath the words, attainable once and for all. All reading, the Wake insists, is an endless interchange: the reader is affected by the text at the same time as the text is affected by the reader, and neither retains a secure identity upon which the other can depend. / Another Wakean lesson is that different readers find different things in a text, making it impossible to hypothesise a “typical” reader; and more probably more than any other book in existence Finnegans Wake responds superbly to group readings[...]’ (p.11.) ‘No subtle tone of voice, no imagined human situation, could make all these meanings valid at the same time: Finnegans Wake explodes the belief that language, to be meaningful, must be subservient to a singleness of intention and subjectivity.’ (p.13.)

[ top ]

Derek Attridge, Peculiar Language: Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce (London: Methuen 1988): ‘[...] Joyce, perhaps more than any other writer, exploits the uncertain play between the two contradictory guises in which language presents itself to its readers: as a system of forms, in completely arbitrary relation to the meanings that those forms carry, and as impulses of imitation and motivation, constantly moving toward (though never reaching) a solidification of the connections between the sounds or shapes of language and their significances. (The first pulls literature toward the pole of “art”, the second toward the pole of “nature”.) [.... F]or Saussure, apparent instances of motivation such as onomatopoeia are marginal phenomena, but for Jakobson they represent, in his phrase, “the essence of language”. Joyce’s texts contradict neither. It is the principle of arbitrariness, allowing infinite combinatory possibilities of form and content, which provides Joyce with his material and scope, while it is the principle of motivation, the never-fading desire on the part of the language-user to find or to make a system of signs in which form [11] and content indissolubly cohere, which produces the energy and pleasure by which Joyce’s texts, and their readings, are propelled.’ (pp.11-12.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988) - cont.: ‘ Joyce’s dexterity in handling the sounds and patterns of English is evident on every page of his published work, but one epside of Ulysses is explicitly concerned with music and imitative sound, the chapter known from the Odyssean scheme as “Sirens”. We can expect here not only Joyce’s customary linguistic agility and ingenuity but also some consideration - if only by example - of language’s capacity to imitate directly the world of the senses. [Gives the example of Leopold Bloom’s breaking wind: “Prrprr [...] / Must be the bur. / Fff Oo. Rrpr. / Nations of the earth.” (U, 11.1284)]; here p.136.) Notes by comparison that when Molly breaks wind [“Frseeeeeeefronnnng”, 18.595] ‘the context does not allow us to distinguish that trainwhistle from Molly’s own anal release.’ (p.144.) Further, remarks on the tendency in Ulysses (“Calypso”, “Sirens”) for bodily members and sexual organs (notably lips) to operate independently of the subjectivity of their owners at the sentence-level: ‘One way to account for the independence of speech organs in “Sirens” is to appeal to the figure of synecdoche. [..] This synecdochic tendency in colloquial speech is most striking when the entire individual is substituted for the genital organs in euphemistic reference to sexual activity: “You can apply your eye to the keyhole and play with yourself while I just go through her a few times” (U15.3788) and it is no feat of interpretative subtlety to translate “yourself”, “I”, and “her” into the appropriate sexual organs. [...] One way of regarding the variously busy lips of “Sirens”, therefore, is as a more literal rendering of human volcal activity than is normally [166] promulgated by the linguistic convention of representing all conscious human behaviour as if it were the produce of a single, coherent subjectivity and by the ideology that this convention serves and promotes.’ (pp.166-67.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): ‘A further effect of this organic liberation is erotic arousal [...]’ (pp.167-68.) Attridge speaks of a ‘traffic between vocal and sexual organs [which] occurs throughout the chapter (e.g,. “sure you’d near burst the tympanum of her ear, man” [U11.536]) [...] The substitution here is not only of one powerfully penetrative male organ for another, penis for voice, but of vagina for female ear [.; 169]; the vocal and the vaginal also become indistinguishable at times [...] One can almost conceive of the chapter as a version of Diderot’s Les bijoux indiscrets: a conclave of talkative (not to say musical) genitalia.’ (pp.169-70.) Further: ‘Throughout Ulysses there is a questioning of the straightforward blending of a mind and a body in a unity that can be called by a single proper name or pronoun; most obviously, “Circe” and “Ithaca” use deviant language to disturb and dissolve that unity, and the uncertain reference of many ) of Molly’s pronouns in “Penelope” is another well-known instance. “Eumaeus”, too, dethrones the controlling subject, whose language is seen to be a tissue of slightly soiled phrases, all too available to the first-comer. These episodes, by means of their play with organs and with words, and the desires that pass between them, insist that neither language nor the body can be seen as merely secondary and subservient to a nonmaterial, transcendent, systematic, controlling principle, whether we call that principle “meaning” or “the self.” More important, they demonstrate some of the pleasures, sexual and textual, that we owe to this fact.’ (pp.186-87.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): quotes Walton Litz on the ‘partial failure’ of Finnegans Wake, and remarks: ‘[O]ur own present task is to ask what about Joyce's last book is so resistant to the efforts of many well-disposed and well-qualified readres to find enjoyment in it. There can be no doubt that the major reason for this negative reaction is the work’s intensive use of the portmanteau word, which is what makes the style “outlandish”, demands “effort” from the reader, renders the work “laborious” and “unrewarding”, inhibits the communication of “felt life”. The portmanteau word is a monster, a word that is not a wod, that is not authorised by any dictionary, that holds out the worrying prospect of books which, instead of comfortingly recycling the words we know, possess the freedom endlessly to invent new ones. We have learnd to accept novesl without firm plots or consistent charracters, novels that blends historical periods or submerge [196] the authorial presence, even novesl that pun and rhyme; but sixty years after it first started appearing, the novel - if it can still be called a novel - that makes the portmanteau word a cornerstone of its method remains a troublesome presence in the institution of literature.

[Here Attridge quotes Tony Tanner: ‘puns and ambiguities are to common language what adultery and perversion are to “chaste” (i.e., sexually orthodox) sexual relations. They both bring together entities [...]= that have ”conventionally” been differentiated and kept apart [...] It is hardly an accident that Finnegans Wake, which arguably demonstrates the dissolution of bourgeois society, is almost one continuous pun (the connection with sexual perversion being quite clear to Joyce’: Tanner, Adultery and the Novel, p.53.)

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): ‘My argument so far suggests an explanation that goes beyond discomfort with the unusual and dislike of the difficult, understandable though these reactions are. The portmanteau word challenges two myths on which most assumptions about the efficacy of language rests. Like the pun, it denies that single words must have, on any occasion, single meanings; like the various devices of assonacne and rhyme, it denies that the manifold patterns of similarity which occur at the level of the signifier are innocent of meaning. It does so with the pun’s simultaneity of operation but more flagrantly and with less warning. There is no escape from its insistence that means is a effect of language, not a presence within or behind it, and that the effect is unstable and uncontrollable. [...] A language in which portmanteau formatioins were impossible would be a language in which every signified was matched with a unique and unanalysable signifier - that is, not a language at all.’ (pp.196-97.) (For longer extracts, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism”, infra.)

[ top ]

Eamon Grennan, [ Joyce’s Poetry], in The Artist and the Labyrinth, ed. Augustine Martin ([London:] Ryan Publishing 1990): What kept Joyce, in biographical, circumstantial, and aesthetic terms, so conservative as a poet? [122] In his need to express his loving and lustful fervour for Nora he stumbles on a style that will animate in language the brimmingly carious (and rootedly sexual) consciousness of Leopold and Molly Bloom. The rediscovery and validation of the poems lead to a new creative fluency [based on] the remarkable transitions observable in the letters from lyricism .. to pornography .. to the mundane ... [123] Joyce found a way to accomodate in language the whole self, an imaginative accomodation that would lead to the expansive wholeness and harmonies of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake [ 123] Chamber Music [was] the young Joyce’s act of self-dedication [126] an elaborate act of homage and self-dedication on the part of the young poet [132] this inner emigré who has gone stylistically into exile before ever he left with Nora from the North Wall in 1904. [133] In the poems, the realities of self, sex, and spirit receive an abstract, distilled expression. He wants a much closer approximation to the actual, and this the poems alone cannot deliver. [137] “multiple theft” [130] [On first poem in Chamber Music sequence:] ‘Here all is frozen gesture; language and syntax encase and make conventional the moment, giving it the generality of song. In his contemporary work in prose, however, the elements that verse distils out are left in, accentuated. And it is in his prose poems, in fact, in the epiphanies, that Joyce discovers a management of language that will allow him to pursue his own narrative urge.... Here facts are enacted, rather than souls evoked.’ [q.p.].

[ top ]

Jennifer Levine, ‘Ulysses’, in D. Attridge., ed., Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (1990): ‘The Homeric parallels are irresistible. Granted, we do not need the Odyssey to tell us that Stephen is a young man troubled by the fact that he is a son, and has a father nor that Bloom is haunted by memories of the son who never really was - his second child, Rudy died only days after his birth. But it sharpens our sense of his potential filial relationship between them and also to see them as Telemachus and Odysseus. (p.264.)

[ top ]

Margot Norris, The Decentred Universe of Finnegans Wake: A Structuralist Analysis (John Hopkins UP 1976): ‘The singularity of individual experience - its uniqueness - is undermined by the replication of events and the instability of characters. The causal relationship of events in novelistic narration is replaced in Finnegans Wake by contiguous associations on the order of psychoanalytical free associations.’ (p.11; quoted in Tim Conley, ‘Finnegans Wake: Some Assembly Needed’, in James Joyce, ed. Sean Latham [Visions & Revisions Ser.], James Joyce, Dublin: IAP 2010, p.135.)

Margot Norris, Joyces Web: The Social Unraveling of Modernism [Literary Modernism Ser.] ( Texas UP 1992): ‘The danger, for feminism, in politically valorising a writing like Finnegans Wake , is precisely that of producing feminism without women - a feminism of no benefit to historical or material women. / However much Finnegans Wake’s experimentalism may be coded in feminist typologies as “preoedipal”, “semiotic”, jouissance, and the like, the reference of its disruptive powers to family, language, or pleasure nonetheless fails to address its historical moment or demonstrate its social relevance.’ (p.11) Further: ‘One could argue that it was precisely the “feminine” curriculum of modern languages he studied in his Jesuit schools rather than the classical Greek he would have been taught in the more conventional English public schools from which his Irish Catholicism and poverty barred him, that gave Joyce early models of radical modernity - the Nietzschean revision of classical philology, for example, [13] that ultimately forms his use of Homer in Ulysses. His uniquely progressive Continental education dominated Joyce’s intellectual development, and spawned a remarkable cultural activism, during his late teens.’ (p.14.) ‘In Stephen Hero, Stephen argues for a Nietzschean historical use of art (“The poet is the intense centre of the life of his age vital”), and Joyce stresses throughout Ibsen’s status as a living author [...] Yet in this Irish cultural climate that refuses to read Ibsen or allow him to be read [...; 15] the most unlikely figure in the world - the harrassed mother ironing clothes while questioning the apostasy of her son - becomes one of the first readers of Ibsen. [...] Mrs Daedalus needs Ibsen because she does not know why her children die.’ (p.16.) ‘At the very least, Ibsen may help to prevent the hole of Irish woman’s self-understanding frm being glued with Victorian treacle. (p.17; the allusion is to Mrs Daedalus’s appeal to Stephen to tell her the meaning of the flux from “the hole we all have ... here’, in Stephen Hero.)

[ top ]

Galya Diment, ‘Impersonalising the Personal: Joyce’s Ulysses’, in The Autobiographical Novel of Co-consciousness: Goncharov, Woolf, and Joyce (Florida UP 1994): ‘[Joyce] decided to write the continuation of Stephen Dedalus’ quest in a very different way. Thus he abandoned the format of a bildungsroman - his new novel, was to concentrate on but one day in Stephen’s life. Within that one day, Stephen, the undisputed solo performer of Portrait, now had to share the stage with another character - Leopold Bloom, a Dublin Jew and a commercial traveller. While a significant part of the narration was still to be done through interior monologues, as it was in Portrait, Joyce decided against an almost totally suppressed authorial voice. Instead he chose a set of dramatised semiomniscient narrators and an aloof, Ariel-like presence that could ironically observe the humans, mimic their language, and parody their civilisation.’ (p.116.)

Edward Said, The World, the Text, the Critic (Cambridge UP 1983): ‘[Joyce’s work is] a recapitulation of those political and racial separations, exclusions, prohibitions instituted ethnocentrically by the ascendant European culture through the nineteenth century.’ (pp.48-49; quoted in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ‘James Joyce and the Tradition of Anti-Colonial Revolution’, [Working Papers Series], Washington State Univ., 1999, p.14.)

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Chatto & Windus 1993): ‘[ Joyce’s critique of imperialism] focused on rhetoric, ideas and language rather than upon history tout court, preferring to analyse the verbal symptoms of power rather than its brute exercise [...] to deconstruct rather than to destroy.’ ( p.307; quoted in Mary C. King, ‘Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Nativism, Nationalism and the Language Question in “Oxen of the Sun”’ [ typescript], 1998).

[ top ]

John McGahern, ‘Dubliners’ [essay], in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies (July 1991), p.31-37: ‘Dubliners has often been compared to The Untilled Field; Moore’s stories are seen to have foreshadowed Joyce’s, and they are linked in trying to establish a tradition for that dubious enterprise, The Irish Short Story. I do not use ‘dubious’ in the pejorative sense, other than the absurdity of trying to tout one race or literary form above any other. Remarkable work in the short story has come continually out of Ireland, but it is likely that its very strength is due to the absence of a strong central tradition. [...] Particularly in “The Boarding House,” “Grace,” and “The Dead”, pun, coincidence, and echo are used as a writer of verse would use the formality of rhyme, deepening the sense of the lives of these mortal-immortal Dubliners, drawing together the related instincts of the religious, the poetic, and the superstitious. / The prose never draws attention to itself except at the end of “The Dead,” and by then it has been earned: throughout, it enters our imaginations as stealthily as the evening invading the avenue in “Eveline.” Its classical balance allows no room for self-expression: all the seas of the world may be tumbling in Eveline’s heart, but her eyes give no sign of love or farewell or recognition. / Joyce does not judge. His characters live within the human constraints in space and time and within their own city. The quality of the language is more important than any system of ethics or aesthetics. Material and form are inseparable. So happy is the union of subject and object that they never become statements of any kind, but in their richness and truth are representations of particular lives - and all of life. / I do not see Dubliners as a book of separate stories. The whole work has more the unity and completeness of a novel. Only in the great passages of Ulysses was Joyce able to surpass the art of Dubliners. In many of these, like the Hades episode, his imagination returns again and again to his first characters, his original material.’ (For longer extract, see under McGahern, infra.)

[ top ]

Vincent Sherry, Joyce’s Ulysses (Cambridge UP 1994): ‘The social potency of the literary imagination is a force that Joyce ratifies in his first attempt at his autobiographical novel, his 1904 essay “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. [Quotes “To those multitudes, not as yet in the wombs of humanity but surely engenderable there, he would give the word [... &c.”]. Here the power he ascribes to the artist’s Word - to incarnate the millenial State and race - breathes through the mythopoeic, ritualistic diction of his own prose.’ (p.13.) On the Stephen-Bloom relationship: ‘This process of dis-closure [viz., ‘the private subject continues to conceal the forbideen truth he seems equally compelled to reveal to public view’: supra, p.50], an opening of private subject onto public ground, occurs centrally in the bonding of Bloom and Stephen in the roles of epic father and son. This process and its attendant values may be discerned especially at the end of the ninth episode, where Stephen first sights Bloom. The event emerges through an intricate and idiosyncratic art, one which reflects the developing interests of Stephen’s own near chapter-length disquisition on Shakespeare. / Centering Stephen’s attention is the paternal-filial imagination of Hamlet. That Shakespeare wrote the play just after his own father died, Stephen argues, makes fatherhood no less urgent a motif than sonship; Shakespeare creates Hamlet, Stephen goes on to maintain, as type and double for his own son, Hamnet, who died as a boy. Thus Stephen rises to his highest poetry in describing Shakespeare’s fashioning of a son out of words; his reconstitution of fatherhood, now that flesh is gone, as literary creation. “The corpse of John Shakespeare”, William’s father, “does not walk the night. From hour to hour it rots and rots. He rests, disarmed of fatherhood, having devised that mystical estate upon his son” (U9.833-836). “That mystical estate” appears as a quasi-divine privilege and power, in the celebratory language of the ensuing lines, when Stephen adapts the formulas of the Apostle’s Creed. Here he implies forcefully that the work of the verbal imagination, Hamlet as created character, is the word-made [sic] flesh; the literary artifact is the only-begotten son: “Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten” (U9.837-839). And the sense of mystery that Stephen attaches to this kind of imaginative procreation certainly attends his own brush with Bloom at the end of the chapter [quotes]: “About to pass through the doorway, feeling one behind, he stood aside. / Part. The moment is now. Where then? If Socrates leave his house [50] today, if Judas go forth tonight? Why? That lies in space which I in time must come to, ineluctably. / My will: his will that fronts me. Seas between. / A man passed out between them, bowing, greeting.” (u9.1197-1203) The older man, sensed at first from behind as an unseen presence, almost preternaturally, passes between Stephen and Mulligan as an intimation now realised, as a hint or wish shifting from potentiality into reality; he moves from imagination into presence, from private desire into public demonstration. And so Bloom’s appearance conforms to the rules of artistic creation, to the needs and laws of mystical kinship that Stephen has expostulated in the lecture - and to the direction of values in Joyce’s epic novel. / Bloom also assumes the role of Odysseus- père in this final vignette. “Seas between”: in this space the canvasser is not only sailing between the Scyllan rock and Charybdian whirlpool; he is returning as mythic father to reject the usurper or bogus son Mulligan, for whom Stephen’s growing disaffection has now hardened into a resolve to leave the tower. In this climactic scene, then, Bloom appears to move simultaneously as mystical father and epic hero; as the projection of Stephen’s subjective and artistic vision of paternity and as the public hero Odysseus, returning to cleanse a rotten house and society. Thus the Odyssean Bloom fits the private intensities of Stephen just well enough to pull the young artist in his wake, toward their narrative union in “Circe” and the social grounding Joyce will establish there for their relation. Such public valuation turns on the mythic father’s own social status, which he proceeds to reclaim, in terms all his (and Joyce’s) own, in this next tercet.’ (pp.50-51.)

Vincent Sherry ( Joyce’s Ulysses, Cambridge UP 1994) - cont. [on “Lestrygonians”: ‘“This is the very worst hour of the day” (U8.494), Bloom complains at lunch-time; his search for the right place to eat lengthens into a mood of anxious but blank fatigue. His bodily determination for food suspends his thoughts and distracts his mind, letting down his guard and opening him to ever more pressing intimations of the worst event of the day. Not that he addresses his nemesis squarely. When Boylan appears at the end of the chapter (U8.1168ff.), Bloom actually flees, darting into the covert of the National Museum. He is playing his now familiar game of resistance as recognition, and its psychology is acted out with suitable complexity and subtlety in the signal episode of the chapter. / The central scene of “Lestrygonians” represents a recasting of the original Homeric adventure, in Book X, where Odysseus’s men meet the cannibals. Bloom, turning into Burton’s restaurant, enters an equally savage prospect (U8.650ff.), where the forbidden practices of Homer’s tribe are centered in the eating of meat: “pungent meatjuice” is Bloom’s first and lasting impression. Carnivorism is hardly cannibalism, however, and the logic of the Bloomian substitution is given in the litany he chants over this prospect. “Men, men, men” (U8.653): if red-blooded men (used to) eat meat, the supplanting of Bloom’s own virility by Boylan causes him to bestialise this scene of flesh-eaters. The same logic informs his choice of an alternative lunch at Davy Byrne’s “moral pub” (732): “—A cheese sandwich, then. Gorgonzola, have you?” (764). If the mythological Gorgon turned her beholders to stone, Bloom’s naming of this food signals a need not only to substitute cheese for meat but to deflect his (verbal) gaze. Notice how the cadence and stress-pattern of Gor-gon-zo-la matches exactly with that of Blaz-es-Boy-lan (that unspeakable name discovers a small thesaurus of sound-alike phrases, to be heard in chapter 3); in fact, he has just been reminded of his rival as the barman asks “—Wife well?” (8.763). Responding to that question, he gives his lunch order: he puts Blazes Boylan’s name in his mouth, in substitute syllables, in his very attempt to substitute cheese for the flesh on which that savage feeds. In line with the underlying logic of repression as involuntary disclosure, then, [49] Bloom summons the awful but unignorable fact by alternate words. Thus the private subject continues to conceal the forbidden truth he seems equally compelled to reveal to public view. / This process of dis-closure, an opening of private subject onto public ground, occurs centrally in the bonding of Bloom and Stephen in the roles of epic father and son. This process and its attendant values may be discerned especially at the end of the ninth episode, when Stephen first sights Bloom. The event emerges thorugh an intricate and idiosyncratic art, one which reflects the developing interests of Stephen’s one near chapter-length disquisition on Shakespeare.’ (pp.49-50.) ‘The older man, sensed at first from behind as an unseen presence, almost preternaturally, passes between Stephen and Mulligan as an intimation now realised, as a hint or wish shifting from potential into reality; he moves from imagination into presence, from private desire into public demonstration. Ans so Bloom’s appearance conforms to the rules of artistic creation, to the needs and laws of mystical kinship that Stephen has expostulated in the lecture - and to the direction of values in Joyce’s epic novel.’ (p.51.) Sherry later examines the sentences, “To me! / Siopold! / Consumed” (11.751-53) and suggests that ‘a high note of imaginative possibility’ regarding Bloom’s substitution for Dedalus père as Stephen’s father‘is raised as the names of Simon Dedalus and Leopold Bloom are compounded (in response to the aria from the finale of Martha).’ (p.53.)

Vincent Sherry ( Joyce’s Ulysses, 1994) - [cont.]: ‘Joyce’s differences [from Dora Marsden, Wyndam Lewis and Ezra Pound] reach to social attitudes as well as aesthetic practices, which allow him to create the speaking character of the democratic average, Leopold Bloom, and to show that the individual remains irrespressible, ungeneralisable, an equal partner in transactiosn with generic words. [...] This engagement includes a debilitation of the radical individual through the working of words, and the first section of this chapter will follow this process through Joyce’s own experience of writing the novel and the crises of the verbal artist Stephen Dedalus, who serves at least in this respect as Joyce’s counterpart. Instead of straining words to the principles of a visual linguistic like Pound’s or Lewis’s, however, Joyce engages in a process of re-imagining the relation between Self and language. He renews his sense of individuality as a function of a new linguistic understanding, one which works out the reconciliation between private subject and social totality, as discussed in the preceding chapter, in terms special to his apprehension of language. Here Stephen’s romantic subjectivity and its attendant sense of Word will alter and merge into the more generic individuality of Leopold Bloom, whose operative sense of words accommodates a speaking personality at once common and private, historically and culturally conditioned but also’endowed with an individual, indeed idiosyncratic vocabulary. This development from Stephen to Bloom will be followed as a newly discovered line of unity and continuity in Ulysses, to be examined for its depth of linguistic intelligence in the middle section of this chapter. Bloom will then be seen to exercise this linguistic as a poetics of the common man in the third and final part. The starting point for this consideration is the remarkable and conspicuous phenomenon of Joyce’s stylistic carnival in the second half of the novel. Those exercises, no less than the implementation of the Homeric scheme [80; ...] take direction and meaning from the inner life of the protagonists, here from the deliberations on language (variously recondite, and unselfconsious) by Stephen and Bloom, whose experience with words will eventually centre consideration.’ (pp.80-81.) Sherry notes that Joyce wrote ‘End of first part of Ulysses, New Year’s Eve, 1918’, after “Scylla and Charybdis” in the Rosenbach MS, and infers a shift in method: ‘The sense of linguistic autonomy in Ulysses does coincide with feelings of authorial autonomy. The waxing powers of style measure the waning force of the self, and Joyce spells out his bitter ratio in his letters, in a vocabulary no less intense than oblique.’ [Quotes “burnt up field” (Letters, I, p.129) and “[...] task I set myself technically [...]” (Letters, I, 167). ‘The first image of self-decimation provides a basis in the second for a portrait of the stylising artist as gravitational vacuum, sucking in the disjecta membra of popular culture, or as a tabula rasa [...] that exists in his work as a function of his very absence as an articulate individual. / Hyperactive styles may serve, conversely, as compensation for the loss of authorial power, the voiding of the self may be avoided, the silence filled with the burgeoning noise of those mannered parodies.’ (p.83.)

[ top ]

Weldon Thornton, The Antimodernism of Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Syracuse UP 1994): ‘[...] The modernist idea of “discrete individualism” - i.e., the idea that the individual is self-contained and self-determining - is undoubtedly a central theme of that novel [Portrait of the Artist]. But in my view, Joyce’s purpose in the novel is not to celebrate such individualism; on the contrary, it is to show how superficial and insufficient this understanding of the individual psyche is. Demonstration of that claim about Joyce’s handling of individualism in the novel, however, would have deflected me from my discussion of sources and expressions of atomic individualism in Western intellectual history and would require a book to itself. This is that book. [2] / My argument here is that Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist is, in some meaningful senses of the term, antimodernist. In Stephen Dedalus, Joyce depicts an intelligent, sensitive young man who is strongly influenced by various ideas and assumptions of the Modernist Syndrome - ideas that Joyce himself weighed and found wanting. Though Joyce treats Stephen sympathetically, he reveals in a number of ways the insufficiencies of Stephen’s implicit view of reality and of the self. Furthermore, Portrait reflects this distance between Joyce and Stephen, not simply in its tone or in certain differences of aesthetic opinion between author and character, but in its very structure and verbal texture, because the structure itself embodies Stephen’s implicit view of reality, and the verbal presentation of his consciousness persistently involves a deeper individual and cultural psyche than Stephen himself can comprehend. / From early in his career, Joyce saw the need to dramatise within his work the conflicting perspectives the twentieth century inherited in the subject-object, mind-nature dichotomy - a dichotomy expressing itself in literary terms mainly in symbolism vs. naturalism. Joyce saw the essential falseness and pernicious effects of this dichotomisation and prepared himself to effect a synthesis of the two perspectives. In Portrait the need for this synthesis is fully dramatised through Stephen Dedalus, who is enamoured of such a dichotomy, while Joyce reveals the incompleteness of Stephen’s view. / Thus I see Joyce as “taking the measure” of Stephen, but I add two things to this long-established perspective on the novel. [Note]. First, I set my about Joyce’s “antimodernist” aims in Portrait within the context of certain deep-running currents of Western thought [...] Second, I show how profoundly Joyce takes the measure of Stephen’s individualism, even of his implicit view of the nature of reality and of the psyche. [...; 4] Moreover, my analysis differs from poststructuralist analyses by showing that although Portrait does involve a profound criticism of the modernist view of the self, Joyce does not claim the self is non-existent or merely a cultural construct (as the poststructuralists would have it) but rather shows the self’s coherence and entelechy are more deeply rooted in the psyche than any analysis can comprehend.’ (pp.2-4.) [For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism / Major Authors”, James Joyce, infra]

Suman Gupta, ‘What colour’s Jew Joyce ...: Race in the Context of Joyce’s Irishness and Bloom’s Jewishness’, in Bullán, 1, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp.59-82: ‘This is where the recent introductions for the Penguin edition of Ulysses written by Declan Kiberd (1992), and for the section on Joyce in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing written by Seamus Deane (1991), come in. These are both attempts at asserting the Irishness of James Joyce. Their reasons for doing so are substantially the same as the ones cited for Herbert Gorman’s and [Charles] Duff s effort. These reasons were and are, as we have seen, largely political. However, whereas Gorman and Duff asserted Joyce’s Irishness on national-racial grounds which were not ostensibly political, Deane’s and Kiberd’s assertion is clearly based on an understanding of Irishness as political consciousness. Their task is to demonstrate that though Joyce did not share the views of the Irish nationalist forums of his time and though his creative works were often critical of the Ireland he knew, his political attitudes were attuned to those of the Catholic Irish on the eve of the formation of the southern Irish republic and the civil war. This, in turn, means that they demonstrate that Joyce had his own nationalistic agenda which he followed in his creative writings, parallel to the more popular revivalistic nationalist movements of his time. Both Deane and Kiberd demonstrate that in his unorthodox use of language, in his practice of creating complex symbols, and in his general portrayal of the colonial Irish ethos, Joyce had in fact carefully questioned, subverted, and annihilated most aspects of the colonial discourse (particularly British, but to a certain extent also Irish) prevalent in his time. With these arguments Deane and Kiberd hope to settle the debate on Joyce’s Irishness - and they may well have done so.’ (p.65.)

Jeri Johnson, Introduction to Ulysses [World Classics] (OUP 1993): ‘[...] Now this was a novel with a difference. Larbaud might stress that “the plan, which cannot be detached from the book, because it is the very web of it” was actually subordinate to “man, the creature of flesh, living out his day” [Larbaud, trans. in Robert Deming, Critical Heritage, Vol. I, p.261], but the extraordinarily intricate and elaborate symbolic systems carry it away from the domain of more conventional ficiton and toward something which, for lack of a better name, we might call “hyperliterary”. For this literature which draws attention to itself as literature, as artefact constructed out of words and symbols and correspondences and systems which we take pleasure in precisely because of (rather than despite) their craftedness, precisely because they draw our attention to words as word, symbol as symbol, system as system, rather than simply urging us to see through this artifice toward some meaning residing within. [...] What possible “moral” can be drawn from the proliferation of flower names in the “Lotus Eaters” episode? or from the fact that “Calypso”’s colour is orange? or that “Ithaca”’s symbol is “Comets”? Ulysses in this mode will not play that game. [xvi] / It is probably time to attempt the formulation of a rule about Ulysses, a rule which emerges as the logical conclusion of Joyce’s having drawn Larbaud’s attention simultaneously to two different (both independently verifiable) aspects of the book. The rule: a salient, if not the quintessential, characteristic of Ulysses is that it is allotropic [vide n.: carbon exists within nature as graphite or diamond]. That is, it is capable of existing, and indeed does exist, in at least two distinct, and distinctively different, forms at one and the same time: it this case, “distilled essence of novel” and “extravagant, symbolically supersaturated anti-novel”. / The two strains had been alive in Joyce’s mind at least since 1912 when he delivered two lectures at the Universita Populare in Trieste under the series title “Verismo ed idealismo nella letterature inglese (Daniele De Foe-William Blake)”. To any reader of Ulysses, the combination of Defoe and Blake comes as no surprise. [...]. Verismo and idealismo became the two competing yet co-ordinated strains we have already identified.’ (xvi-vii.)

[ top ]

Robert Spoo, James Joyce and the Language of History (OUP 1994): ‘History is more than just a theme in Ulysses; it is to an exceptional degree a condition of the novel’s aesthetic production.’ (p.4.) ‘In recent years the interdependence of history and language has become of vital concern to scholars of literature, just as the inseparability of the factual and the fictional dimensions of historical discourse is increasingly probed by historians. More and more as disciplines converge and overlap in the academy, critics are turnign to the category of history, variously and polemically defined, in order to redescribe aesthetic texts and contexts. Adherents of the New Historicism, cultural poetics, popular culture studies, materialist feminism, metahistorical theory, to name just a few formulations, have worked to rescue literature from deconstructive strategies of reading, which, for many scholars, have come to seem abstract and self-indulgent, totalizing in their epistemological claims, but curiously blind to the ways literary texts process nonliterary discourses and institutions and are in turn shaped by those forces. [...] I argue that Stephen’s “nightmare” and the text of Ulysses itself are distinct but related responses to what Nietzsche called “the malady of history”, the cultural obsession with the past and with the explanatory power of historiography, which, Nietszche believed, was destroying intellectual and moral health in the nineteenth century. For Stephen, as for Joyce, this malady takes many forms, from Hegelian notion of history as realization of Spirit to the sacrificial, teleological master narratives promoted by [6] Irish nationalism. In each case a totalized interpretation of the past threaten to overwhelm human freedom in the present moment, in particular the creative force of the artist. [...] Joyce’s whole career may be viewed as a crusade against the historical Devourer.’ (pp.6-7.) [Cont.]

Mission statement: - ‘My study rehabilitates Stephen as the novel’s hero by showing that the persistent historiographic concerns of Ulysses are ultimately his concerns, that his intellectual attitudes, though seemingly remote from the style of later episodes, continue to shape the text’s contestatory stance towards history long after he has receded as a character.’ (Spoo, op. cit., 1994, p.8.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994), cont. - quotes Joyce: ‘This spirit of our age is not to be confounded with its works; these are novel and progressive, mechanical bases of life: but the spirit wherever it is able to assert itself in this medley of machines is romantic and preterist’ (Workshop of Dedalus, p.69) - and remarks: ‘Beneath the obscure, youthful rhetoric is a startling proposition, one that runs counter to the prevailing view of “the spirit of the age” at the turn of the century. For in this passage Joyce evicts the time-spirit from its usual Victorian habitations - the progress of liberalism, the spread of empire, the growth of material benefits. He then relocates it in imaginative, iconoclastic aspects of culture: in socialist and anarchic politics and in the exertions of dedicated artists, those Symbolist priests of the eternal imagination like Yeats’s monk-aesthetes, Michael Robartes and Owen Aherne, who fascinated Stephen Daedalus with their “infrahuman or superhuman” morality and their determination to “inhabit a church apart[,] having chosen to fulfil the law of their own being.” [SH178, 1963 Edn] [...] As Joyce implied in his remarks about the spirit of the age, the process of achieving the “simplest liberation of rhythms” also liberated the artist, for better or worse, from the idols of the marketplace; the act of expressing the self freely and fully in supple, periodic prose was analogous to more active, political forms of resistance, such as the socialism and anarchism with which the young Joyce implicitly linked the artist’s work. This belief that genuine creativity drives out false gods, that honest, expressive fictions defy and subvert dominant discourses, is the basis of Joyce’s historiographic art.’ (p.5.) [Cont.]

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994), cont. - ‘Joyce’s writings - in particular Ulysses and Finnegans Wake - are exemplary of, though unique within, the larger phenomenon of modernist historiography, which might be defined as the attempt to extend practices of aesthetic innovation to the representation of the past.’ (p.8.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994) - cont. [Chap.: ‘Joyce’s Attitude Towards History: Rome, 1906-07’]: ‘[T]aken as a whole, Joyce’s letters from Rome reveal a far more complicated set of attitudes toward history and his Irish past than this excerpt [“Yesterday I went to see the Forum ... I went home sadly. Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother’s corpse” (25 Sept. 1906; Letters, Vol. II, 165) would suggest. The Eternal City catalysed Joyce’s thinking about the temporal process and its figural, representational possibilities at a time when he was poised uncertainly between the scrupulously mean realism of the Dubliners stories he had recently completed and the more complex, multi-vocal fictional textures he would begin to weave with “The Dead”, which he wrote after returning to Trieste in 1907. In his letters to his brother, Joyce’s biographical self and epistolary persona combine to generate a restless, insistent historical impressionism, a variety of postures and pronouncements that reflect the Victorian-Edwardian preoccupation with the problem of history and anticipate, in their complexity and ambivalence, the historical attitudes of another of Joyce’s personae, Stephen Dedalus. Joyce’s Rome sojourn unfolds as a resonant text that must be resituated and read with[in] the context of nineteenth-century discourses and counterdiscourses of history.’ (p.16.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994) - cont. [Chap.: ‘Joyce’s Attitude Towards History: Rome, 1906-07’]: ‘Joyce’s ambivalent, shifting attitudes toward history in this period, inextricably bound up with his feelings about Dublin, seem to have played a role in “the change in his attitude towards Ireland,“ which Richard Ellmann emphasizes (James Joyce, 243). Indeed, the letter containing Joyce’s most bilious remarks about Rome contains this also: “Sometimes thinking of Ireland it seems to me that I have been unnecessarily harsh. I have reproduced (in Dubliners at least) none of the attraction of the city for I have never felt at my ease in any city since I left it except in Paris. I have not reproduced its ingenuous insularity and its hospitality” (Letters, II, 166). Joyce seems almost willing here to blame the negativity of Dubliners on the effect that other, less hospitable cities had had on him. One reason, surely, why Dublin was beginning to seem more dear than dirty was that his bitter experiences on the Continent had shown him there were worse microcosms than Dublin to which a writer might consecrate his art. On December 7, 1906, he wrote Stanislaus: “I think the Irish are the most civilised people in Europe, be Jesus Christ I do: anyway they are the least burocratic [sic]”’ (Letters II, 202)’. (p.27.)

On Composition of Place

The key that opens the portals of history to Stephen is language; he communes with the phantoms of the past, as he is unable to do with the living Emma Clery, by conjuring with the words and images of a prior age, [53] mixing them with his own language and historical moment and reaching out to the past in an effort to meet it on its own terms, like Pound’s “ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.” In the Elizabethan passage in A Portrait, Stephen weaves a picture of sixteen-tcentury England from such verbal curiosities as “chambering,” “mantled,” “ambered wines,” “pavan,” “poxfouled,” and “clipped,” mingling these robust terms with a fin-de-sielce etiolation (as Joyce did in Chamber Music) that further situates his language along the historical continuum. Similarly, Stephen’s vision of Viking Dublin depends heavily on the final word of the passage, the strange word “thingmote.” This link between word and world, between the internal and the external, subject and objet, is the key to Stephen’s historiographical method. By pondering on unfamiliar word like “thingmote”, he gains access to the historical “other,” eventually weaving from such words his historical tapestries and, albeit provisionally and only for a moment, closing the hermeneutic circle.
 This is possible because language, as Stephen silently observes towards the end of Chapter IV, is “manycoloured and richly stories” (P167). “Storied” is a crucial word here, turning as it does on two senses: (1) having a history, celebrated in legend or history; and (23) decorated with designes representing scenes from story or history (as in Milton’s “storied windows richly dight!). Here are the coordinates - spatial and temporarl, pictorial and diachronic - that Stephen consistenly associates with history in A Portrait. Language is essentially both historical and imagistic, sotried and phanopoeic, so that STephen can privately mock the English dean of studies with the Anglo-Saxon word “tundish,” intimating that the dean’s rejection of his culture and his parts, of his personal “etymology,” is reflected in his ignorance of his own tongue. Ironically, however, the dean holds a linguistic advantage over Stephen, for whom words such as “home, Christ, ale, master” are “an acquired speech,” alien to him as a result of centuries of usage. (P188-89). These words are nightmarishly “storied”, rudely barring his way to personal contentment een as they grant him access to historical self-knowledge, a deeping understanding of his status as a colonized subject.
  The method by which Stephen assembles words into historical pictures is Saint Ignatius of [sic] Loyola’s “composition of place”, an exercises preparatory to meditation with which Stephen has been familiar since Clongows. In his Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatuius defines “composition of place” as

Seeing the place. Here it is to be observed that in the contemplation or meditation of a visible object, as in contemplating Christ our Lord, Who is visisble, the composition will be to see with the eye of the imagination the corporeal place where the object I wish to contemplate is found. I say the corporeal place, such as the Temple or the mountain where Jesus Christ is found, or our Lady, according to that which I desire to contemplate. (n.33).

Composition of place is the mental elaboration of a scene, not just any scene prompted by piety or caprise but one rooted in history and visible reality. [54] Saint Ignatius’ exercise, which is intended only for those whose imaginative powers are ken, has the two historical dimenssion that appeal deeply to Stphen: pictoriality and a textual (for Saint Ignatius a biblical) basis. It is as much a composition of time as of place. Words such as “thingmote” and “chambering” are for Stephen what the Cross and the Garden of Gethsemane are for the pious meditator: they compose (literally, put together, assemble) the place and the period. The historical pictures they build up appeal to the mind’s eye and the historical sense equally. (n.34)
  In his sermon on hell in chapter III, Father Arnall exhorts the boys to “imagine” graphic scenes of suffering in the infernal regions: “Imagine all this and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.” (P120.)

—Robert Spoo, James Joyce and the Language of History (OUP 1994), pp.53-55; available online; accessed 17.11.2017.

[ top ]

Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Nationalism (London: Routledge 1995): ‘The modernity to which Joyce responds, then, is not transnational or universal, and the major trends in Joyce Criticism have occluded the particularity of Irish historical experience as it determines and is reflected in his fiction. His commentators have instead insisted on both reading “Ireland” through Joyce and interpreting Joyce as “Irishman”. [xii] The former procedure grants the artist authority to comment on his native culture, while the latter constructs him as passively typical of it - ironically, a judgement itself based on evidence gathered from his own texts, and from what is presumed to be his own portrayal of national character. Each approach involves critics in stereotyping discourse about Ireland and the Irish [...]. The American liberal tradition in Joyce studies, which now dominates the international James Joyce industry, is founded on a belief in the writer’s pacifism and tolerant pluralism. Recent accounts of the texts influenced by post-structuralism and French feminist theory have argued that Joyce’s writing dismantles those traditional ideologies which render us sexed and civil subjects, among them nationalism. In all of these cases, the latter is considered chiefly in the context of European fascism: such accounts do not acknowledge that nationalisms vary, and are internally divided and disputatious. / Hence this book aims to offer a corrective to the pervasive and systematic misreading of Joyce [illustrating] how these interpretations symptomatise a crucial failure on his critics’ part to attend to the full complexity of nationalism in the political culture of modernity. (pp.xii-xiii.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: Nolan writes that ‘[a]n image of Joyce as an Irishman unswayed by patriotism, who not merely refused to participate in a popular nationalist movement in his own country but rebuked and challenged it at every opportunity, thus contributes significantly to our current approval of his ideological maturity. The high value accorded to his art is thus closely involved with orthodox perceptions of its “universalism”. [...] And if his texts include anything so parochial as a message specifically for his own people, it surely must be the recommendation that they too embrace this modern world, in all its complexity and potential.’ (p.2). [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘Art, for Joyce, should be autonomous, above the realm of propaganda and politics [but that it is] ‘misleading to consider Joyce’s relationship to Irish politics solely in these terms. As a novelist, Joyce worked in that literary mode most closely involved with the culture of the modern state: nationalism.’ (p.23; quoted in Brendan Mitchell, PG MA, UU 2009.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘The city of Dubliners should no longer be critically depicted as a provincial backwater [...] Rather, by attending to the lived ideology of nationalism, we can observe how Joyce preserves a linkage between modernisation and regeneration. This is obscured if we view the book solely in the context of European naturalism, and, alternative, symbolic readings of Dublin (as we shall see) merely gesture towards it.’ (p.31.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘The Ireland Joyce knew, it should be emphasised, lacked virtually any tradition of bourgeois, liberal or individualistic dissent. Such calls for a common, disinterested cultural programme as have been issued in [44] Ireland arise consistently from within the Protestant community, which historically has been viewed by the great majority of people as the ally and beneficiary of a repressive colonial administration. [...] Joyce’s apparent taking up of the cause of disinterestedness, along with that of the autonomy of the artist, from within the Catholic community, must be distinguished from both an Anglo-Irish and an English liberalism. It comes, that is to say, from a society in which such questions as whether Jesus was the only man with ever had pure auburn hair [&c.] are serious topics of discussion.’ (p.45.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘Although Joyce’s text does significantly register the advent of mechanical reproduction in the modern city, this is largely mediated through the consciousness of a figure (Bloom) who compulsively generalises his own specific condition to a pervasive mechanisation of social experience as such.’ (p.81.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘[T]raditonal accounts of “Cyclops” are in general rendered incoherent by their refusal to attach any positive qualities to the Citizen or the kind of language that he speaks, in spite of the fact that his voice is one of the most “interesting” in literary terms, and probably the funniest in the book.’ (p.96.) [Cont.]

[ See also Nolan’s remarks on Joyce's attitude to D. P. Moran - in Moran- as infra. ]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘[T]he shade of Parnellism - which haunts all of Joyce’s texts - is merely the measure of his inability to move with the political times, his commitment to a lost cause of history [...] Perhaps Parnell, who by 1912 functions for Joyce - however erroneously - as a symbol of the futility of constitutionalism, compromise and pragmatism, can alternatively be read as the image of a real past out of which a better future might have been built.’ (p.131.) [See longer extracts in Ricorso Library, “Criticism”, infra.]

Extract from James Joyce and Nationalism(1995)

[...] Chapter 12 [i.e., “Cyclops”] read as ‘a deliberate rejection of violence and especially the violence of nationalist Ireland’ also appeals strongly to a post-structuralist thematics of dialogue and flux, [page] represented here by Colin MacCabe.

It is within this perspective that we can read the whole joyous activity of the Cyclops sequence, an activity that generates in turns endlessly different ways of signifying the world but refuses to judge between them. [...] What is opposed to the violence of the Citizen (based as it is on a fixed representation of the world) and the verbal violence of the Nameless One (also founded in a fixity of meaning) is the joyful entering into various ways of signifying the world and self." (Revolution of the Word, pp.96, 101; here c.96.)

This dialogical principle is, according to this reaading, both embodied by Bloom and demonstrated in the parodic interpolations. Bloom, like the text, never ‘subordinates one discourse to another in a hierarchical of representaitonal forms’, as Patrick McGee puts it. Ironically, this opens the way for a positive reading of Bloom by critics who would not otherwise necessarily attach much importance to the substance of his remarks: he does, after all, express sentiments such as that love is the ‘meaning’ of life, which are headly strikingly Derridean in form. A critic such as Richard Ellmann is, however, quite happy to agree with Bloom, but he must therefore proceed to distinguish between the kind of parody to which the nationalists are subjected and the parody of Bloom himself. After all, Bloom’s interventions are taken up and sported with by the insistent parodic voice of the interpolations as much as those of anyone else; but for Ellmann the ‘positive’ side of “Cyclops” must be divorced from this kind of savage parody. This point is so crucial in Ellmann’s overall understanding of Joyce that he deals with it even in his short preface to Gabler’ s edition of the text: ‘It is the kind of aparody that protects seriousness by immediately going aware from intensity. Love cannot be discussed without peril, but Blook has nobly named it.’ (p.xiii.) The problem with ‘satire’ is that if it ‘always implies respect for some sort of reason and a positive and implicit order’, then the identification of the source of this order has involved critics of this episode in some embarrassing and contradictory manoeuvres. [...; ]

Quotes Hugh Kenner: ‘When the biscuit tin, by heroic amplification, renders North Central Dublin a mass of ruins we are to remember what patriotic idealism could claim to have accomplished by Easter 1916. Thanks to a knot of hotheads with no prospect whatever of accomplishing what they proposed, Dublin had been the first European capital to undergo the bombardment of modern warfare, and James Joyce had little use for the oratory that fuelled hotheadedness.’ (q. source; presum. Kenner’s chapter by chapter study of Ulysses, Allen & Unwin 1982.)

— and writes, ‘surely we must at least concede that James Joyce had indeed a great deal of use for such language.’

 

[The above is taken from the digitised edition available in part at Google Books - online; accessed 12.02.2015.]

[See longer extracts from Nolan, James Joyce and Nationalism(1995) in Ricorso Library, “Criticism” - infra.]

[ top ]

Claus Melchior: Joyce’s Feast of Languages ed. Franca Ruggieri (Rome: Bulzoni 1995): (p.2; quoted in Ilaria Natali, “Joyce’s “corpo straniero”: The European dimension of Irishness in four border crossings’ - available at Academia.edu [q.date; p.108].‘The whole of Joyce’s work is a constant infringement of conventional linguistic structures in order to accommodate not only the creativity of the writer who translates the common idioms, the language of the tribe, into an individual style belonging to him alone, but also to involve the creativity of each individual reader who is invited to translate what he is offered into his own private language.’ (p.2; quoted in Ilaria Natali, ‘Joyce’s “corpo straniero”: The European dimension of Irishness in four border crossings’ - available at Academia.edu [q.date; p.108].

Michael F. Hart, ‘The Sign of Contradiction: Joyce, Yeats and “The Tables of the Law”, in Colby Quarterly, 30, 4 (Dec. 1998): ‘[I]t was W. B. Yeats, and not Wilde or Pater, who provided Joyce with a model of how an Irish writer might come to terms with aestheticism in a culture, such as Ireland’s as the turn of the century, dominated by the language of morality and Catholicism. / It is easy to overlook the importance of Yeats in this matter simply because Joyce, in the Critical Writings at least, expressed such disdain for both Yeats and the aestheticism he represented.’ (p.1.) Further: ‘In Day of the Rabblement, Joyce singled out “The Adoration of the Magi” for praise as a story worthy of the Russian realists.’ (Idem.) [Recte: ‘one of the great Russians’ - sine ‘realist’.] Includes a discussion of Joyce's negotiation between romantic and classical tempers in “James Clarence Mangan” (1902) regarded as the Irish poet in whose figure ‘he [Joyce] sees a way of the dilemma he created when he divided Irish literature from the larger context of the European tradition.’ (p.2.) [Note: pagination refers to digital copy - online.]

[ top ]
[ next ]


James Joyce: Commentary (10)



File 1 File 2 File 3 File 4 File 5
File 6 File 7 File 8 File 9 File 10
File 11 File 12 File 13 File 14 File 15

General Index

John P. Harrington (1991) to Michael F. Hart (1998)
John Harrington
z
David G. Wright
John Banville
Bruce Arnold
Edward Hirsch
Derek Attridge
Eamon Grennan
Jennifer Levine
Margot Norris
Edward Said
John McGahern
Vincent Sherry
Weldon Thornton
Suman Gupta
Jeri Johnson
Robert Spoo
Emer Nolan
Claus Melchior
Michael F. Hart

Richard Pearce, ed. Molly Blooms: A Polylogue on “Penelope” [... &c.] (1984)
Kathleen McCormick
Cheryl Temple Herr
Susan Bazargan
Carol Shloss
Brian W. Shaffer
Joseph Heininger
Jennifer Wicke
Garry Leonard

John P. Harrington, The Irish Beckett (Syracuse UP 1991), writes of Beckett’s critical appraisal of Joyce: ‘MacGreevy [...] is generally accredited with introducing Beckett to Joyce. MacGreevy later repatriated himself and became director of the National Gallery; he wrote a book about the national importance of Jack Yeats that Beckett found difficult to praise, but, out of obligation, tried to do so.’ (p.11.) Harrington quotes J. C. C. Mays’s reading of MacGreevy’s depreciation of Yeats and the Revival, together with O’Faolain’s derogation of the stay-at-home Irish writers, and adds: ‘By the 1980s, the centrality of that position for an Irish writer, that depreciation of Yeats and appreciation of Europeanisation, came around again in a general program of revisionism of local literary and cultural history.’ (p.13.) ‘Far from being solely transition’s offspring, Beckett’s earliest criticism, poetry, and obiter dicta are profoundly entangled in Irish literary issues, including both literary precedence and consequent literary agenda.’ (p.14.) Harrington reads ‘Dante .. Bruno ... Vico ... Joyce’ as a careful rescuing of Joyce from those contexts: “The danger is in the neatness of identifications ... The conception of Philosophy and Philology as a pair of nigger minstrels out of the Teatro dei Piccoli is soothing, like the contemplation of a carefully folded ham-sandwich ... This social and historical classification is clearly adapted by Mr. Joyce as a structural convenience - or inconvenience. His position is in no way a philosophical one.”’ (Beckett; here p.16.)

Andrew Sanders, The Short Oxford History of English Literature (OUP 1994) - [on DUBLINERS]: ‘In September 1905 Joyce sent his brother Stanislas a list of questions from Trieste concerning details of Dublin life and customs which he needed for the stories on which he was working. In the same letter he explained that his collection would be based on a particular sequence. Three of the Dubliners stories would deal with childhood, three with adolescence, three with mature life, and three with public life. When he wrote in October to his prospective London publisher, he repeated the justification for his volume which he had previously articulated to Stanislas. No writer, he argued, had yet presented Dublin to the world; it had been a European capital for “thousands of years”; it was supposed to be the second city of the British Empire and was nearly three times as big as Venice (so often the focus of classic English texts). In a further letter of May 1906 he insisted that he was writing “a chapter of the moral history” of his country and that he had chosen Dublin not for its animation but because it seemed to him “the centre of paralysis”. This idea of cultural “paralysis” is stressed in the opening of the first story, “The Sisters”. There is a reference in the first line to the priest”s fatal stroke and later in the first paragraph the narrator repeats the word as he gazes up nightly at a window in the priest”s house. Throughout the collection Dublin seems trapped by the mundane, the quotidian, and the historic. Its citizens are observed as bound up in private concerns and incapable of properly judging or quantifying their experience. Some are disillusioned, others lose vocations and illusions, others are graceless (both figuratively and spiritually). Any perspective is provided by the detached artist-narrator, observing, shaping his narratives but not offering judgement. In the haunting tenth story, “Clay”, the ungainly, ageing Maria loses a slice of plum cake on a tram. It is only through the shape of the complete narrative that the seemingly inconsequential loss is given a contextual perspective. At the close of the story, Maria”s vulnerability is further exposed by her unconscious “mistake” of singing “in a tiny quavering voice” the Balfe song superstitiously held to foretell mortality, “I Dreamt that I Dwelt in Marble Halls”. The various flat and conspicuously “ordinary” details of the story are forged into a new whole, the nuances shaped into initially unperceived meanings, and the neutral tones assume hues as readers deduce significances.’ (p.539.)

on “The Dead” in Dubliners: ‘Only in the long last story, “The Dead”, does Joyce’s baldly undemonstrative prose style, one he described as possessing the quality of “scrupulous meanness’, assume a greater luxury. The dominant figure of the literate and articulate Gabriel Conroy in this the [539] last of the stories to be added to the collection shifts their general concern away from the uneducated and the narrow-minded. The quality of the family party he attends is established by snatches of conversation, exchanged politenesses, familiar memories, popular quotations and songs. By means of these fragments Joyce deftly draws together and re- echoes themes from earlier stories. He particularly allows for a sharp exchange between Gabriel and the insular Miss Ivors concerning the nationalist tensions of contemporary Ireland. Gabriel - who reviews English books and takes holidays in France and Belgium in preference to learning the Irish language in the western reaches of his own country - is accused of being a “West Briton” (an Irishman content not to undo the Union with Great Britain). “Irish’, Gabriel insists, in a significant pre-echo of Stephen Dedalus, “is not my language”. The issue, though seemingly forgotten amid the enforced accord of the party, re-emerges in its final paragraphs. Gabriel, temporarily alienated from his wife by her recall of memories of the song of a dead suitor from the Celtic West of Ireland, muses in his hotel room as snow falls in the city and unites it to the whole white island stretching westwards beyond it. The snow seems to join the living and the dead, the romantically lost and the practical present, but it does more than stir memory and desire; it offers a momentary vision of a release from time and from purely temporal and mundane preoccupations."

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on A PORTRAIT]: ‘With the exception of the converts Newman and Hopkins, Joyce is the first major writer in English since the Reformation to have been “supersaturated” in specifically Roman Catholic teaching. Although Stephen Dedalus’s admiration for Newman’s prose style becomes a contentious issue in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) it is the eucharistic theology of Thomas Aquinas that most determines the complex aesthetics that Stephen expounds. Although his faith is replaced by scrupulous doubt, Stephen retains an insistent Jesuit authoritarianism in his arguments about definitions of beauty. As the latter stages of the story affirm, Stephen assumes a new priesthood, that of the artist. In a crucial sense, he also fulfils the implications of his pointedly un-Irish name. He is Daedalus, the builder of Cretan [540] mazes and the ingenious feathered escaper from islands. It is to this symbolic artist, the “old father, old artificer”, that Stephen finally dedicates himself. But if the second half of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is taken up with debate and definition, its opening sections attempt to describe, in an extraordinarily original manner, the growth of an artist’s mind. There was obviously nothing new about the fictional autobiography, especially the kind that dealt with the emotional and intellectual development of a prospective writer. Its last conventional fling came in 1915 with W(illiam) Somerset Maugham’s hugely popular account of a lonely boy’s metamorphosis into responsive adulthood in Of Human Bondage. Where Maugham (1874-1965) ploddingly adapts formulas which would have been familiar enough to readers of David Copperfeld, Joyce challenges received ideas of literary decorum. He plays even in his opening sentences with fairy-tale phraseology, nursery-rhyme rhythms and baby-talk and he deftly suggests how an infant’s experience is shaped by sensual stimuli (Stephen hears a story; he smells his mother and the oil-sheet on his bed; he tastes lemon platt (a kind of children’s sweet); he feels warm and wet). The narrative moves him forward from being the passive feeler, hearer, and observer to being the doer, reader, writer, and maker. It later seeks to express the process of Stephen’s adolescent exploration of his personality and the flexibility of his mind. Above all, it describes him trying out the poses of the would-be priest, the lover, and the intellectual before finally breaking the narrative into a series of diary entries as the potential artist prepares himself for flight." (p.541.)

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on ULYSSES]: ‘In Ulysses, once conceived of as a story for Dubliners, a troubled Stephen Dedalus has returned to his birthplace, to his circle of intellectual friends, and to the dangerously outstretched tentacles of his family. Portrait was focused on a single personality; Ulysses, by contrast, has a multiple focus. Stephen’s refined perceptions are played against the earthier preoccupations of an homme moyen sensuel - the Dublin Jew, Leopold Bloom - and the consciousness of both is finally contrasted with that of Bloom’s wife, Molly. The thought and actions of all three are interwoven with the diverse life of Dublin on a single day, 16 June 1904. Characters cross and recross the city (though Molly remains seemingly marginalized in her bed; she sleeps, entertains a lover, and ultimately moves centre-stage as she muses on her life and loves in an extraordinarily unpunctuated monologue). When Stephen and Bloom finally encounter one another, and drunkenly discover a brief intimacy, they have taken separate voyages of exploration through the city. Underneath each of the eighteen extended episodes around which the novel is built lies a Homeric precedent. Bloom is a latter-day Odysseus/Ulysses; Stephen his lost son Telemachus; Molly his Penelope. Mr Deasy, the opinionated Protestant schoolmaster with whom Stephen has an uneasy morning interview, corresponds to Nestor; Bloom’s attendance at Paddy Dignam’s funeral has overtones of the Homeric descent to Hades; the fantasizing Gerty MacDowell, whose sighting on the beach sexually stimulates Bloom, is a Nausicaa; and the xenophobic “Citizen” in Barney [541] Kiernan’s is a type of the blinded giant, Cyclops. Beyond the explorations of the fluid consciousnesses of his major characters, and beyond the Homeric underpinning, Joyce ingeniously attempts to expand certain of the later episodes into experiments with form. In the “Wandering Rocks’ sequence, for example, the peregrinatory Father Conmee links together a series of brief scenes by crossing Dublin by a route meticulously plotted and timed by Joyce (with the aid of maps and of his Dublin-based brother) and by finally coinciding with a vice-regal cavalcade (representing a meeting of the Roman and the British domination of Ireland). In the “Sirens” episode an attempt is made to reflect the musical form of a fugue and in the “Oxen of the Sun’ (set in the Holles Street maternity hospital) an extended pastiche of English prose style, from its beginnings to the present, parallels the embryonic development of a child in the womb. Ulysses is, however, far more than the self referential series of echoes or the cryptogrammatic integration of puns, acrostics, and dense literary and historical allusion which its successor, Finnegans Wake, threatens to become. It rarely needs to be exactly untangled before it communicates. It is eminently readable rather than narrowly studiable. Reading Ulysses is a process of refamiliarization with a variety of adapted styles, modes, and techniques. In one sense, it stretches fictional realism almost to a point of absurdity, for example, in the “Ithaca’ section by subjecting Bloom, Stephen, and the objects in their immediate ambience to a process of forensic listing (Joyce himself called it a “mathematical catechism”). In another, it consistently attempts to observe more intimately and precisely than any earlier novel. It follows the extraordinary vagaries of Bloom’s mind as he shops, lusts, cooks, eats, relieves himself inthe privy, and goes about his business. Whereas Stephen is preoccupied both with guilt over his failure to pray at his mother’s death-bed and with intellectual speculation, Bloom’s far less organized mind regularly throws up snippets of phrases and memories from a private past and from an observed world. His mind unsystematically returns to half understood Hebrew and English words, to the smell of soap, to memories of his dead son, to an advertisement for Plumtree’s Potted Meat, and to the jingling brass bed quoits which signal his wife’s adultery. From these reiterations, repetitions, and variations Joyce gradually weaves a fabric which is at once startling and familiar, superbly comic and cerebral, rumbustious and refined. It mixes the music-hall with the opera house, the cliché with a disquisition on Hamlet, the “fine tang of faintly scented urine” from mutton kidneys with the progress of European civilization.’ (p.542.)

Andrew Sanders, Short Oxford History [... &c.] (1994) - cont. [on ULYSSES]: ‘If the contortedly encyclopaedic vision of Finnegans Wake determinedly shunts the modern literary experiment into a siding, Ulysses continues to realise narrative vitality as exuberant as the God-like “Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee’ in Mr Deasy’s school playground and as confident as Molly Bloom’s concluding “Yes”.’ (p.542.)

[ top ]

David G. Wright, Ironies of Ulysses (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1991): ‘The most substantial link between Ulysses and an antecedent text is its relationship to the Odyssey. Joyce stressed to early would-be readers of his novel that they should assimilate Homer’s text before they embarked on Ulysses. [Cites JJ’s letter to Aunt Josephine, 14 Oct. 1921; Letters, 1966, Vol. 1, p.174.] Joyce’s debt to the Odyssey have been extensively catalogued [by] Gilbert, Ellmann [...] and Michael Seidel. The question of the centrality and purposes of Joyce’s use of Homeric material in Ulysses nevertheless remains vexed; but this question may have been deliberately devised by Joyce as a problem which no reader of his novel could [106] solve. One reason why Joyce might have encouraged this doubt about his intentions is the degree of flexibility which it permits him in the use of irony. [.../] That Joyce’s deployment of Homeric material often becomes ironic in the sense developed in this study can hardly be questioned. The Homeric presence in Ulysses operates as an insistent focus for semantic disjunction, and constantly affects the implications of Joyce’s text. Like irony itself, the Homeric material works on a wide range of scales, from minute to all-embracing, superficial to profound. Stephen’s first spoken words in Ulysses - “Tell me, Mulligan” - recall a common opening phrase in epic but, in particular, precisely echo the opening of the Odyssey as rendered in the Butcher and Lang translation, which Joyce used: “Tell me, Muse”. At the other extreme, Joyce’s Homeric schema provides an underlying structure massive enough to support the considerable weight of Ulysses. / Certain episodes of Ulysses seem particularly saturated in Homeric details. [...]. (pp.106-07.)

[ top ]

John Banville, ‘Survivors of Joyce’, in , James Joyce: The Artist and the Labyrinth, ed. Augustine Martin (London: Ryan Publishing 1990): ‘The figure of Joyce towers behind us, a great looming Easter Island effigy of the Father. In the old days it was considered fitting that the children should honour the parent, and I could, indeed, spend the next fifteen or twenty minutes paying tribute to that stone [73] Nobodaddy at my shoulder. But when I think of Joyce I am split in two. To one side there falls the reader, kneeling speechless in filial admiration, and love; to the other side, however, the writer stands, gnawing his knuckles, not a son, but a survivor. [...] (pp.73-74.) ‘Do not mistake me; I am not criticising. I believe the trick earthly, is the true mark of his genius. As a reader, I can only applaud. As a writer, I feel, to paraphrase Simon Dedalus, that I have been left where Jesus left the Jews. Nor is this a criticism: it’s no business of Joyce to haul the rest of us on to the raft, nor even to give us a peek inside the pagoda. It’s just that it is cold out here, and, half the time, it feels like drowning.’ (pp.73-74, 80-81.) ‘In Finnegans Wake, is it the element of the crossword puzzle that attracts us? Much has been made of the mephistophelian [76] pact between Joyce’s work and academe, and it is true that without the attentions of the academics, much in Joyce would have gone unexplained. (The corollary of this is that without the surety of an academic posterity, Joyce might have done things differently; but that is another lecture). What the burners of midnight oil glean from the Wake, however are mere facts. They are interesting facts, they are sometimes beautiful facts, but still, they are only facts. Edmund Wilson shrewdly pointed out that, in the case of The Waste Land, the more widely we read in other works, the more references we spot, and the more references we spot, the more The Waste Land diminishes. Something the same is true of Finnegans Wake. The more of it we decipher, the more we “use it up”. Of course, it is not serious diminishment; but anyone who has ever completed a crossword knows that curious, ashen sense of futility, of nausea, almost, that comes along with the “solution”. / I hasten to add that I am not suggesting that understanding of a work of art makes one feel sick; I do believe, however, that what we come to know about a work is simply that: a knowing about, a peripheral knowledge. Knowing a thing, however intimately, however deeply, is not always the same as understanding it. We are back to the boy with the dismantled Swiss watch. / We are asking: what is it fascinates us about Ulysses and Finnegans Wake? - what quality is it in such works that prompts us to set them up as canonical? Wallace Stevens believed, or professed to believe, that in our post-religious age, poetry could be the supreme, sustaining fiction without which Man would perish. Works such as The Waste Land and Ulysses have taken on, or have been conferred with, a biblical quality: they have become the Psalms, they have become the Book. Why? What constitutes the quality of the numinous in them? What is it that speaks to our need for texts, for Holy Writ? / I believe it is a quality of closure.’ (pp.76-77; for further remarks on Joyce’s style, &c., see quotations under Banville, supra.)

[ top ]

Bruce Arnold, The Scandal of Ulysses (London: Sinclair-Stevenson 1991): ‘In 1977 a re-editing of Ulysses was begun. It appeared to conclude in 1984, when the results were published, together with a further copyright claim, reinforced in 1986 by the appearance of a commercial or trade edition of the work, now sold worldwide. Academically, this achievement can be debated, argued over, criticised. But as a legal claim to a new copyright it can only be challenged when the general James Joyce copyright runs out, next January.’ (p.xiv.) ‘It was absurd to imagine that he could deal objectively with the existing third typescript, in terms of making it identical with the earlier two copies, as it is to imagine that Turner could arrive at a varnishing day at the Royal Academy and not bring out his paints and brushes and do more work on his allegedly finished canvasses.’ (p.16.) ‘The fact is that James Joyce was faced with a fair and positive offer from Sylvia Beach in 1921, having seen that his book would not succeed elsewhere, and he had to address the unusual problem for a renowned writer - as he was then becoming - of having a publisher but of not having the book, at least in corrected form and complete.’ (p.17.) ‘[H]e expressed extreme irritation over the printer’s errors and wondered whether these would be perpetuated in future editions. But he never complained about the overall text of the book. [...] there is no sense in which he viewed what he was currently doing [...] as other than the finalised version of Ulysses which he wanted to see in print. [... a] view greatly reinforced by the changes which he made on the proofs.’ (p.23-24.) ‘In all his correspondence at this time, Joyce referred frequently to the errors in Ulysses and was clearly frustrated by their number. Yet there is never any question of there being deeper textual problems.’ (p.28.)

Bruce Arnold (The Scandal of Ulysses, 1991) - cont: ‘The 1934 copyright claim was therefore made for the unpublished balance of “Oxen of the Sun”, together with the final four episodes. The differences between the parts of Ulysses which were actually copyrighted and the version of Ulysses as printed in 1934 are more substantial than the differences between the accepted, pre-Gabler version of the book and his revised version.’ (p.84.) ‘Gabler claims that the 1922 text comes closest to what Joyce intended, but that it does not offer Ulysses “as he wrote it”, offering no analysis of this statement whatsoever.’ Further ‘“[quoting Gabler]: By common consent, an editor chooses as the copytext for a critical edition a document text of highest overall authority. This eliminates the first edition of 1922 as copytext for a critical edition of Ulysses’ [Gabler].” Arnold asks: ‘How would Gabler deal with Plato?’ (p.139.) Of ‘the word know to all men’ upon which Richard Ellmann touches in his 1986 Preface, Arnold writes: ‘It would be a major alteration indeed if the haunting subtlety of Stephen not knowing the word known to all men and searching for it, not as a word but as a reality in his life, were to be known and expressed by him long before he confronts his mother.’ (p.145.) Further, Ellmann’s preface appraises Gabler’s edition as the search for ‘an ideal text, such as Joyce would have constructed in ideal conditions’ and an attempt to ‘deduce from other versions what the lost documents would have contained.’ (here p.149.)

Note: Arnold cites ‘A Crux in the New Edition’, a paper given at the 1986 James Joyce conference in Monaco where Ellmann reports on Gabler’s inclusion of ‘the word known to all men’ in “Scylla & Charybdis” as follows: ‘he thought I would be pleased.’ Arnold remarks that Ellmann was far from pleased and put his doubts to Gabler, ‘but to no avail’. Further recommended him to ‘[p]ut it among the prominent variants at the back.’ [124]. John Kidd’s intervention is discussed at 103ff. Note: In his 1986 “Afterword”, Gebler speaks of a ‘continuous manuscript text’ (here p.136-39.)

[ top ]

Edward Hirsch, ‘The Imaginary Irish Peasant’, PMLA, 106, 5 (Oct. 1991), pp.1116-1133 [quotes Stephen on home, Christ, ale, master in colloquy with the Dean of Studies in A Portrait]: ‘One way to deal with the debilitiating sense of cultural lalientation was to turn a Joycean arrogance against Ireland’s native culture. Anoterh was was to engage in a permanent conflict with the culture. Dedalus’s diary entry on the penultimate page of Portrait summons up the old man that Mulrennan had interviewed in the west of Ireland [quotes: “I fear him [... No I mean him no harm”]. The old man in the mountain cabin is whom (and what) Dedaus is fleeing. / A more common “patriotic” path was the idealization of the native culture. Because urban Catholics were sensitive about belonging to an “inferior” culture, many of them were especially susceptible to pleas, like Douglad Hyde’s, to “cultivate what they have rejected, and to build up an Irish nation on Irish lines.” [“The Necessity for De-Anglicising Ireland.”; ...] ‘Lower-middle class and midde-class Catholics in Dublin shared a discomfort with peasant life as being all too Irish, but at the same time they idealised that life (the rise of the Gaelic League and the mass appeal of the Gaelic Athletic Associtation were in some ways manifestations of that idealization). They understood that the peasant could be turned into an emblem not only of Ireland’s victimization but also of its ignorance, vulgary, and shame. As George Watson notes, many middle-class Catholics, who had a basic evolutionary idea of their own progress, “did not like being reminded that Ireland was an overwhelmingly rural or peasant society”. Again, the structure of urban feelings associated with peasant life is made clear char in Portrait where Dedalus thinks of an emblematic peasant woman first as a “type of her race and his own” (thus associating himself with the woman) and then as “a batlike soul waking in consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness”. In Dedalus’s view, the woman is a figure of the Irish unconscious associated with something dark, lonely, beckoning, shameful. The engendering of the peasant is crucial here. Whereas the colonizer Is associated with invulnerable masculine strength, the colonized is associated with a guilty and dangerous female secrecy and vulnerability. “Worst of all”, as [Seamus] Deane says in summarizing the colonial stereotypes of the barbaric Irish peasant, “he is sometimes a she.” (Civilians and Barbarians, p.40.) Edna O’Brien summons up a host of conventional associations when she characterizes Ireland as “a women, a womb, a cave, a cow, a Rosaleen, a sow, a bride, a harlot and, of course, the Hag of Beare.” This engendering was part of Catholic Dublin’s painful ambivalence about “peasant” life.’ (pp.1124-25; - available at JSTOR Ireland - online.)

[ top ]

Derek Attridge, ed., The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (Cambridge UP 1990), Preface: ‘Joyce is the most international of writers in English. He shares with Shakespeare a global reputation, but unlike Shakespeare, he crossed many national boundaries in his working career, in his outlook, and in his writing - extending his reach further and further until in Finnegans Wake he attempted to embrace the languages and cultures of the entire human community.’ (p.ix; quoted in Daryl Clarke, UG Diss., UU 2006.) Introduction [on Dubliners]: ‘The content (which we are accustomed to thinking of as the raison d’etre of fiction) serves as a vehicle for the manner of telling, the slow release of information, the hints and presuppositions that we are incited to elaborate on, the rhythm of mental deliberation that propels the narrative forward, and our present concern - the controlled language that through its spareness possesses a hair-trigger suggestiveness. This is not to say that Joyce has reversed the relationship between content and form as it exists in every other story, but rather that he has revealed, by going to an extreme, how unstable that relationship is; and if many readers remain convinced that their pleasure comes from being presented with the actual events of the story, for which the particular mode of writing is merely a skillfully contrived channel, this is probably because our activities as readers are usually more complex than the terms in which we represent those activities to ourselves.’ (p.4-5.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, 1990, Preface - cont.: ‘Joyce is engaged in the double task which faces all realistic writers: on the one hand, he is working to produce the convincing effect of a certain kind of mind in a particular emotional state and, on the other, to contrive a narrative progression which gives the reader an active role in piecing together clues and wrestling with uncertainties and puzzles. The demands of naturalism are for a degree of coherence, a completely non-literary style, and a minimum of information (since the character [Eveline] has no need to verbalise to herself things she already knows); the demands of the narrative are for clarity, an original and forceful style, and the gradual provision of judiciously organised nuggets of information that will create an onward drive toward revelation and resolution [...] At the same time, however, Joyce heightens our awareness of the techniques he so skilfully deploys by raising questions about our strategies of interpretation. And to be aware of how much is going on in this apparently simple style - this is part of Joyce’s revolution - is not to puncture the illusion of reality but to enjoy the many-sidedness of language and story-telling, and to relish the readerly activity one is called upon to perform.’ (p.8.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, 1990, Preface [cont.]): ‘The Wake will never be mastered, never dominated or exhausted by interpretation, nor will it every offer itself up unproblematically as a single set of meanings; and if a sense of control and singleness of meaning is crucial to a reader’s enjoyment, frustration will be the only result. More than this, however, the Wake teaches us, in a most delightful way, that no text can be mastered, that meaning is not something solid and unchanging beneath the words, attainable once and for all. All reading, the Wake insists, is an endless interchange: the reader is affected by the text at the same time as the text is affected by the reader, and neither retains a secure identity upon which the other can depend. / Another Wakean lesson is that different readers find different things in a text, making it impossible to hypothesise a “typical” reader; and more probably more than any other book in existence Finnegans Wake responds superbly to group readings[...]’ (p.11.) ‘No subtle tone of voice, no imagined human situation, could make all these meanings valid at the same time: Finnegans Wake explodes the belief that language, to be meaningful, must be subservient to a singleness of intention and subjectivity.’ (p.13.)

[ top ]

Derek Attridge, Peculiar Language: Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce (London: Methuen 1988): ‘[...] Joyce, perhaps more than any other writer, exploits the uncertain play between the two contradictory guises in which language presents itself to its readers: as a system of forms, in completely arbitrary relation to the meanings that those forms carry, and as impulses of imitation and motivation, constantly moving toward (though never reaching) a solidification of the connections between the sounds or shapes of language and their significances. (The first pulls literature toward the pole of “art”, the second toward the pole of “nature”.) [.... F]or Saussure, apparent instances of motivation such as onomatopoeia are marginal phenomena, but for Jakobson they represent, in his phrase, “the essence of language”. Joyce’s texts contradict neither. It is the principle of arbitrariness, allowing infinite combinatory possibilities of form and content, which provides Joyce with his material and scope, while it is the principle of motivation, the never-fading desire on the part of the language-user to find or to make a system of signs in which form [11] and content indissolubly cohere, which produces the energy and pleasure by which Joyce’s texts, and their readings, are propelled.’ (pp.11-12.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988) - cont.: ‘ Joyce’s dexterity in handling the sounds and patterns of English is evident on every page of his published work, but one epside of Ulysses is explicitly concerned with music and imitative sound, the chapter known from the Odyssean scheme as “Sirens”. We can expect here not only Joyce’s customary linguistic agility and ingenuity but also some consideration - if only by example - of language’s capacity to imitate directly the world of the senses. [Gives the example of Leopold Bloom’s breaking wind: “Prrprr [...] / Must be the bur. / Fff Oo. Rrpr. / Nations of the earth.” (U, 11.1284)]; here p.136.) Notes by comparison that when Molly breaks wind [“Frseeeeeeefronnnng”, 18.595] ‘the context does not allow us to distinguish that trainwhistle from Molly’s own anal release.’ (p.144.) Further, remarks on the tendency in Ulysses (“Calypso”, “Sirens”) for bodily members and sexual organs (notably lips) to operate independently of the subjectivity of their owners at the sentence-level: ‘One way to account for the independence of speech organs in “Sirens” is to appeal to the figure of synecdoche. [..] This synecdochic tendency in colloquial speech is most striking when the entire individual is substituted for the genital organs in euphemistic reference to sexual activity: “You can apply your eye to the keyhole and play with yourself while I just go through her a few times” (U15.3788) and it is no feat of interpretative subtlety to translate “yourself”, “I”, and “her” into the appropriate sexual organs. [...] One way of regarding the variously busy lips of “Sirens”, therefore, is as a more literal rendering of human volcal activity than is normally [166] promulgated by the linguistic convention of representing all conscious human behaviour as if it were the produce of a single, coherent subjectivity and by the ideology that this convention serves and promotes.’ (pp.166-67.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): ‘A further effect of this organic liberation is erotic arousal [...]’ (pp.167-68.) Attridge speaks of a ‘traffic between vocal and sexual organs [which] occurs throughout the chapter (e.g,. “sure you’d near burst the tympanum of her ear, man” [U11.536]) [...] The substitution here is not only of one powerfully penetrative male organ for another, penis for voice, but of vagina for female ear [.; 169]; the vocal and the vaginal also become indistinguishable at times [...] One can almost conceive of the chapter as a version of Diderot’s Les bijoux indiscrets: a conclave of talkative (not to say musical) genitalia.’ (pp.169-70.) Further: ‘Throughout Ulysses there is a questioning of the straightforward blending of a mind and a body in a unity that can be called by a single proper name or pronoun; most obviously, “Circe” and “Ithaca” use deviant language to disturb and dissolve that unity, and the uncertain reference of many ) of Molly’s pronouns in “Penelope” is another well-known instance. “Eumaeus”, too, dethrones the controlling subject, whose language is seen to be a tissue of slightly soiled phrases, all too available to the first-comer. These episodes, by means of their play with organs and with words, and the desires that pass between them, insist that neither language nor the body can be seen as merely secondary and subservient to a nonmaterial, transcendent, systematic, controlling principle, whether we call that principle “meaning” or “the self.” More important, they demonstrate some of the pleasures, sexual and textual, that we owe to this fact.’ (pp.186-87.) [Cont.]

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): quotes Walton Litz on the ‘partial failure’ of Finnegans Wake, and remarks: ‘[O]ur own present task is to ask what about Joyce's last book is so resistant to the efforts of many well-disposed and well-qualified readres to find enjoyment in it. There can be no doubt that the major reason for this negative reaction is the work’s intensive use of the portmanteau word, which is what makes the style “outlandish”, demands “effort” from the reader, renders the work “laborious” and “unrewarding”, inhibits the communication of “felt life”. The portmanteau word is a monster, a word that is not a wod, that is not authorised by any dictionary, that holds out the worrying prospect of books which, instead of comfortingly recycling the words we know, possess the freedom endlessly to invent new ones. We have learnd to accept novesl without firm plots or consistent charracters, novels that blends historical periods or submerge [196] the authorial presence, even novesl that pun and rhyme; but sixty years after it first started appearing, the novel - if it can still be called a novel - that makes the portmanteau word a cornerstone of its method remains a troublesome presence in the institution of literature.

[Here Attridge quotes Tony Tanner: ‘puns and ambiguities are to common language what adultery and perversion are to “chaste” (i.e., sexually orthodox) sexual relations. They both bring together entities [...]= that have ”conventionally” been differentiated and kept apart [...] It is hardly an accident that Finnegans Wake, which arguably demonstrates the dissolution of bourgeois society, is almost one continuous pun (the connection with sexual perversion being quite clear to Joyce’: Tanner, Adultery and the Novel, p.53.)

Derek Attridge (Peculiar Language, 1988 [cont.]): ‘My argument so far suggests an explanation that goes beyond discomfort with the unusual and dislike of the difficult, understandable though these reactions are. The portmanteau word challenges two myths on which most assumptions about the efficacy of language rests. Like the pun, it denies that single words must have, on any occasion, single meanings; like the various devices of assonacne and rhyme, it denies that the manifold patterns of similarity which occur at the level of the signifier are innocent of meaning. It does so with the pun’s simultaneity of operation but more flagrantly and with less warning. There is no escape from its insistence that means is a effect of language, not a presence within or behind it, and that the effect is unstable and uncontrollable. [...] A language in which portmanteau formatioins were impossible would be a language in which every signified was matched with a unique and unanalysable signifier - that is, not a language at all.’ (pp.196-97.) (For longer extracts, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism”, infra.)

[ top ]

Eamon Grennan, [ Joyce’s Poetry], in The Artist and the Labyrinth, ed. Augustine Martin ([London:] Ryan Publishing 1990): What kept Joyce, in biographical, circumstantial, and aesthetic terms, so conservative as a poet? [122] In his need to express his loving and lustful fervour for Nora he stumbles on a style that will animate in language the brimmingly carious (and rootedly sexual) consciousness of Leopold and Molly Bloom. The rediscovery and validation of the poems lead to a new creative fluency [based on] the remarkable transitions observable in the letters from lyricism .. to pornography .. to the mundane ... [123] Joyce found a way to accomodate in language the whole self, an imaginative accomodation that would lead to the expansive wholeness and harmonies of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake [ 123] Chamber Music [was] the young Joyce’s act of self-dedication [126] an elaborate act of homage and self-dedication on the part of the young poet [132] this inner emigré who has gone stylistically into exile before ever he left with Nora from the North Wall in 1904. [133] In the poems, the realities of self, sex, and spirit receive an abstract, distilled expression. He wants a much closer approximation to the actual, and this the poems alone cannot deliver. [137] “multiple theft” [130] [On first poem in Chamber Music sequence:] ‘Here all is frozen gesture; language and syntax encase and make conventional the moment, giving it the generality of song. In his contemporary work in prose, however, the elements that verse distils out are left in, accentuated. And it is in his prose poems, in fact, in the epiphanies, that Joyce discovers a management of language that will allow him to pursue his own narrative urge.... Here facts are enacted, rather than souls evoked.’ [q.p.].

[ top ]

Jennifer Levine, ‘Ulysses’, in D. Attridge., ed., Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (1990): ‘The Homeric parallels are irresistible. Granted, we do not need the Odyssey to tell us that Stephen is a young man troubled by the fact that he is a son, and has a father nor that Bloom is haunted by memories of the son who never really was - his second child, Rudy died only days after his birth. But it sharpens our sense of his potential filial relationship between them and also to see them as Telemachus and Odysseus. (p.264.)

[ top ]

Margot Norris, The Decentred Universe of Finnegans Wake: A Structuralist Analysis (John Hopkins UP 1976): ‘The singularity of individual experience - its uniqueness - is undermined by the replication of events and the instability of characters. The causal relationship of events in novelistic narration is replaced in Finnegans Wake by contiguous associations on the order of psychoanalytical free associations.’ (p.11; quoted in Tim Conley, ‘Finnegans Wake: Some Assembly Needed’, in James Joyce, ed. Sean Latham [Visions & Revisions Ser.], James Joyce, Dublin: IAP 2010, p.135.)

Margot Norris, Joyces Web: The Social Unraveling of Modernism [Literary Modernism Ser.] ( Texas UP 1992): ‘The danger, for feminism, in politically valorising a writing like Finnegans Wake , is precisely that of producing feminism without women - a feminism of no benefit to historical or material women. / However much Finnegans Wake’s experimentalism may be coded in feminist typologies as “preoedipal”, “semiotic”, jouissance, and the like, the reference of its disruptive powers to family, language, or pleasure nonetheless fails to address its historical moment or demonstrate its social relevance.’ (p.11) Further: ‘One could argue that it was precisely the “feminine” curriculum of modern languages he studied in his Jesuit schools rather than the classical Greek he would have been taught in the more conventional English public schools from which his Irish Catholicism and poverty barred him, that gave Joyce early models of radical modernity - the Nietzschean revision of classical philology, for example, [13] that ultimately forms his use of Homer in Ulysses. His uniquely progressive Continental education dominated Joyce’s intellectual development, and spawned a remarkable cultural activism, during his late teens.’ (p.14.) ‘In Stephen Hero, Stephen argues for a Nietzschean historical use of art (“The poet is the intense centre of the life of his age vital”), and Joyce stresses throughout Ibsen’s status as a living author [...] Yet in this Irish cultural climate that refuses to read Ibsen or allow him to be read [...; 15] the most unlikely figure in the world - the harrassed mother ironing clothes while questioning the apostasy of her son - becomes one of the first readers of Ibsen. [...] Mrs Daedalus needs Ibsen because she does not know why her children die.’ (p.16.) ‘At the very least, Ibsen may help to prevent the hole of Irish woman’s self-understanding frm being glued with Victorian treacle. (p.17; the allusion is to Mrs Daedalus’s appeal to Stephen to tell her the meaning of the flux from “the hole we all have ... here’, in Stephen Hero.)

[ top ]

Galya Diment, ‘Impersonalising the Personal: Joyce’s Ulysses’, in The Autobiographical Novel of Co-consciousness: Goncharov, Woolf, and Joyce (Florida UP 1994): ‘[Joyce] decided to write the continuation of Stephen Dedalus’ quest in a very different way. Thus he abandoned the format of a bildungsroman - his new novel, was to concentrate on but one day in Stephen’s life. Within that one day, Stephen, the undisputed solo performer of Portrait, now had to share the stage with another character - Leopold Bloom, a Dublin Jew and a commercial traveller. While a significant part of the narration was still to be done through interior monologues, as it was in Portrait, Joyce decided against an almost totally suppressed authorial voice. Instead he chose a set of dramatised semiomniscient narrators and an aloof, Ariel-like presence that could ironically observe the humans, mimic their language, and parody their civilisation.’ (p.116.)

Edward Said, The World, the Text, the Critic (Cambridge UP 1983): ‘[Joyce’s work is] a recapitulation of those political and racial separations, exclusions, prohibitions instituted ethnocentrically by the ascendant European culture through the nineteenth century.’ (pp.48-49; quoted in Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz ‘James Joyce and the Tradition of Anti-Colonial Revolution’, [Working Papers Series], Washington State Univ., 1999, p.14.)

Edward Said, Culture and Imperialism (London: Chatto & Windus 1993): ‘[ Joyce’s critique of imperialism] focused on rhetoric, ideas and language rather than upon history tout court, preferring to analyse the verbal symptoms of power rather than its brute exercise [...] to deconstruct rather than to destroy.’ ( p.307; quoted in Mary C. King, ‘Hermeneutics of Suspicion: Nativism, Nationalism and the Language Question in “Oxen of the Sun”’ [ typescript], 1998).

[ top ]

John McGahern, ‘Dubliners’ [essay], in Canadian Journal of Irish Studies (July 1991), p.31-37: ‘Dubliners has often been compared to The Untilled Field; Moore’s stories are seen to have foreshadowed Joyce’s, and they are linked in trying to establish a tradition for that dubious enterprise, The Irish Short Story. I do not use ‘dubious’ in the pejorative sense, other than the absurdity of trying to tout one race or literary form above any other. Remarkable work in the short story has come continually out of Ireland, but it is likely that its very strength is due to the absence of a strong central tradition. [...] Particularly in “The Boarding House,” “Grace,” and “The Dead”, pun, coincidence, and echo are used as a writer of verse would use the formality of rhyme, deepening the sense of the lives of these mortal-immortal Dubliners, drawing together the related instincts of the religious, the poetic, and the superstitious. / The prose never draws attention to itself except at the end of “The Dead,” and by then it has been earned: throughout, it enters our imaginations as stealthily as the evening invading the avenue in “Eveline.” Its classical balance allows no room for self-expression: all the seas of the world may be tumbling in Eveline’s heart, but her eyes give no sign of love or farewell or recognition. / Joyce does not judge. His characters live within the human constraints in space and time and within their own city. The quality of the language is more important than any system of ethics or aesthetics. Material and form are inseparable. So happy is the union of subject and object that they never become statements of any kind, but in their richness and truth are representations of particular lives - and all of life. / I do not see Dubliners as a book of separate stories. The whole work has more the unity and completeness of a novel. Only in the great passages of Ulysses was Joyce able to surpass the art of Dubliners. In many of these, like the Hades episode, his imagination returns again and again to his first characters, his original material.’ (For longer extract, see under McGahern, infra.)

[ top ]

Vincent Sherry, Joyce’s Ulysses (Cambridge UP 1994): ‘The social potency of the literary imagination is a force that Joyce ratifies in his first attempt at his autobiographical novel, his 1904 essay “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”. [Quotes “To those multitudes, not as yet in the wombs of humanity but surely engenderable there, he would give the word [... &c.”]. Here the power he ascribes to the artist’s Word - to incarnate the millenial State and race - breathes through the mythopoeic, ritualistic diction of his own prose.’ (p.13.) On the Stephen-Bloom relationship: ‘This process of dis-closure [viz., ‘the private subject continues to conceal the forbideen truth he seems equally compelled to reveal to public view’: supra, p.50], an opening of private subject onto public ground, occurs centrally in the bonding of Bloom and Stephen in the roles of epic father and son. This process and its attendant values may be discerned especially at the end of the ninth episode, where Stephen first sights Bloom. The event emerges through an intricate and idiosyncratic art, one which reflects the developing interests of Stephen’s own near chapter-length disquisition on Shakespeare. / Centering Stephen’s attention is the paternal-filial imagination of Hamlet. That Shakespeare wrote the play just after his own father died, Stephen argues, makes fatherhood no less urgent a motif than sonship; Shakespeare creates Hamlet, Stephen goes on to maintain, as type and double for his own son, Hamnet, who died as a boy. Thus Stephen rises to his highest poetry in describing Shakespeare’s fashioning of a son out of words; his reconstitution of fatherhood, now that flesh is gone, as literary creation. “The corpse of John Shakespeare”, William’s father, “does not walk the night. From hour to hour it rots and rots. He rests, disarmed of fatherhood, having devised that mystical estate upon his son” (U9.833-836). “That mystical estate” appears as a quasi-divine privilege and power, in the celebratory language of the ensuing lines, when Stephen adapts the formulas of the Apostle’s Creed. Here he implies forcefully that the work of the verbal imagination, Hamlet as created character, is the word-made [sic] flesh; the literary artifact is the only-begotten son: “Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten” (U9.837-839). And the sense of mystery that Stephen attaches to this kind of imaginative procreation certainly attends his own brush with Bloom at the end of the chapter [quotes]: “About to pass through the doorway, feeling one behind, he stood aside. / Part. The moment is now. Where then? If Socrates leave his house [50] today, if Judas go forth tonight? Why? That lies in space which I in time must come to, ineluctably. / My will: his will that fronts me. Seas between. / A man passed out between them, bowing, greeting.” (u9.1197-1203) The older man, sensed at first from behind as an unseen presence, almost preternaturally, passes between Stephen and Mulligan as an intimation now realised, as a hint or wish shifting from potentiality into reality; he moves from imagination into presence, from private desire into public demonstration. And so Bloom’s appearance conforms to the rules of artistic creation, to the needs and laws of mystical kinship that Stephen has expostulated in the lecture - and to the direction of values in Joyce’s epic novel. / Bloom also assumes the role of Odysseus- père in this final vignette. “Seas between”: in this space the canvasser is not only sailing between the Scyllan rock and Charybdian whirlpool; he is returning as mythic father to reject the usurper or bogus son Mulligan, for whom Stephen’s growing disaffection has now hardened into a resolve to leave the tower. In this climactic scene, then, Bloom appears to move simultaneously as mystical father and epic hero; as the projection of Stephen’s subjective and artistic vision of paternity and as the public hero Odysseus, returning to cleanse a rotten house and society. Thus the Odyssean Bloom fits the private intensities of Stephen just well enough to pull the young artist in his wake, toward their narrative union in “Circe” and the social grounding Joyce will establish there for their relation. Such public valuation turns on the mythic father’s own social status, which he proceeds to reclaim, in terms all his (and Joyce’s) own, in this next tercet.’ (pp.50-51.)

Vincent Sherry ( Joyce’s Ulysses, Cambridge UP 1994) - cont. [on “Lestrygonians”: ‘“This is the very worst hour of the day” (U8.494), Bloom complains at lunch-time; his search for the right place to eat lengthens into a mood of anxious but blank fatigue. His bodily determination for food suspends his thoughts and distracts his mind, letting down his guard and opening him to ever more pressing intimations of the worst event of the day. Not that he addresses his nemesis squarely. When Boylan appears at the end of the chapter (U8.1168ff.), Bloom actually flees, darting into the covert of the National Museum. He is playing his now familiar game of resistance as recognition, and its psychology is acted out with suitable complexity and subtlety in the signal episode of the chapter. / The central scene of “Lestrygonians” represents a recasting of the original Homeric adventure, in Book X, where Odysseus’s men meet the cannibals. Bloom, turning into Burton’s restaurant, enters an equally savage prospect (U8.650ff.), where the forbidden practices of Homer’s tribe are centered in the eating of meat: “pungent meatjuice” is Bloom’s first and lasting impression. Carnivorism is hardly cannibalism, however, and the logic of the Bloomian substitution is given in the litany he chants over this prospect. “Men, men, men” (U8.653): if red-blooded men (used to) eat meat, the supplanting of Bloom’s own virility by Boylan causes him to bestialise this scene of flesh-eaters. The same logic informs his choice of an alternative lunch at Davy Byrne’s “moral pub” (732): “—A cheese sandwich, then. Gorgonzola, have you?” (764). If the mythological Gorgon turned her beholders to stone, Bloom’s naming of this food signals a need not only to substitute cheese for meat but to deflect his (verbal) gaze. Notice how the cadence and stress-pattern of Gor-gon-zo-la matches exactly with that of Blaz-es-Boy-lan (that unspeakable name discovers a small thesaurus of sound-alike phrases, to be heard in chapter 3); in fact, he has just been reminded of his rival as the barman asks “—Wife well?” (8.763). Responding to that question, he gives his lunch order: he puts Blazes Boylan’s name in his mouth, in substitute syllables, in his very attempt to substitute cheese for the flesh on which that savage feeds. In line with the underlying logic of repression as involuntary disclosure, then, [49] Bloom summons the awful but unignorable fact by alternate words. Thus the private subject continues to conceal the forbidden truth he seems equally compelled to reveal to public view. / This process of dis-closure, an opening of private subject onto public ground, occurs centrally in the bonding of Bloom and Stephen in the roles of epic father and son. This process and its attendant values may be discerned especially at the end of the ninth episode, when Stephen first sights Bloom. The event emerges thorugh an intricate and idiosyncratic art, one which reflects the developing interests of Stephen’s one near chapter-length disquisition on Shakespeare.’ (pp.49-50.) ‘The older man, sensed at first from behind as an unseen presence, almost preternaturally, passes between Stephen and Mulligan as an intimation now realised, as a hint or wish shifting from potential into reality; he moves from imagination into presence, from private desire into public demonstration. Ans so Bloom’s appearance conforms to the rules of artistic creation, to the needs and laws of mystical kinship that Stephen has expostulated in the lecture - and to the direction of values in Joyce’s epic novel.’ (p.51.) Sherry later examines the sentences, “To me! / Siopold! / Consumed” (11.751-53) and suggests that ‘a high note of imaginative possibility’ regarding Bloom’s substitution for Dedalus père as Stephen’s father‘is raised as the names of Simon Dedalus and Leopold Bloom are compounded (in response to the aria from the finale of Martha).’ (p.53.)

Vincent Sherry ( Joyce’s Ulysses, 1994) - [cont.]: ‘Joyce’s differences [from Dora Marsden, Wyndam Lewis and Ezra Pound] reach to social attitudes as well as aesthetic practices, which allow him to create the speaking character of the democratic average, Leopold Bloom, and to show that the individual remains irrespressible, ungeneralisable, an equal partner in transactiosn with generic words. [...] This engagement includes a debilitation of the radical individual through the working of words, and the first section of this chapter will follow this process through Joyce’s own experience of writing the novel and the crises of the verbal artist Stephen Dedalus, who serves at least in this respect as Joyce’s counterpart. Instead of straining words to the principles of a visual linguistic like Pound’s or Lewis’s, however, Joyce engages in a process of re-imagining the relation between Self and language. He renews his sense of individuality as a function of a new linguistic understanding, one which works out the reconciliation between private subject and social totality, as discussed in the preceding chapter, in terms special to his apprehension of language. Here Stephen’s romantic subjectivity and its attendant sense of Word will alter and merge into the more generic individuality of Leopold Bloom, whose operative sense of words accommodates a speaking personality at once common and private, historically and culturally conditioned but also’endowed with an individual, indeed idiosyncratic vocabulary. This development from Stephen to Bloom will be followed as a newly discovered line of unity and continuity in Ulysses, to be examined for its depth of linguistic intelligence in the middle section of this chapter. Bloom will then be seen to exercise this linguistic as a poetics of the common man in the third and final part. The starting point for this consideration is the remarkable and conspicuous phenomenon of Joyce’s stylistic carnival in the second half of the novel. Those exercises, no less than the implementation of the Homeric scheme [80; ...] take direction and meaning from the inner life of the protagonists, here from the deliberations on language (variously recondite, and unselfconsious) by Stephen and Bloom, whose experience with words will eventually centre consideration.’ (pp.80-81.) Sherry notes that Joyce wrote ‘End of first part of Ulysses, New Year’s Eve, 1918’, after “Scylla and Charybdis” in the Rosenbach MS, and infers a shift in method: ‘The sense of linguistic autonomy in Ulysses does coincide with feelings of authorial autonomy. The waxing powers of style measure the waning force of the self, and Joyce spells out his bitter ratio in his letters, in a vocabulary no less intense than oblique.’ [Quotes “burnt up field” (Letters, I, p.129) and “[...] task I set myself technically [...]” (Letters, I, 167). ‘The first image of self-decimation provides a basis in the second for a portrait of the stylising artist as gravitational vacuum, sucking in the disjecta membra of popular culture, or as a tabula rasa [...] that exists in his work as a function of his very absence as an articulate individual. / Hyperactive styles may serve, conversely, as compensation for the loss of authorial power, the voiding of the self may be avoided, the silence filled with the burgeoning noise of those mannered parodies.’ (p.83.)

[ top ]

Weldon Thornton, The Antimodernism of Joyce’s “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Syracuse UP 1994): ‘[...] The modernist idea of “discrete individualism” - i.e., the idea that the individual is self-contained and self-determining - is undoubtedly a central theme of that novel [Portrait of the Artist]. But in my view, Joyce’s purpose in the novel is not to celebrate such individualism; on the contrary, it is to show how superficial and insufficient this understanding of the individual psyche is. Demonstration of that claim about Joyce’s handling of individualism in the novel, however, would have deflected me from my discussion of sources and expressions of atomic individualism in Western intellectual history and would require a book to itself. This is that book. [2] / My argument here is that Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist is, in some meaningful senses of the term, antimodernist. In Stephen Dedalus, Joyce depicts an intelligent, sensitive young man who is strongly influenced by various ideas and assumptions of the Modernist Syndrome - ideas that Joyce himself weighed and found wanting. Though Joyce treats Stephen sympathetically, he reveals in a number of ways the insufficiencies of Stephen’s implicit view of reality and of the self. Furthermore, Portrait reflects this distance between Joyce and Stephen, not simply in its tone or in certain differences of aesthetic opinion between author and character, but in its very structure and verbal texture, because the structure itself embodies Stephen’s implicit view of reality, and the verbal presentation of his consciousness persistently involves a deeper individual and cultural psyche than Stephen himself can comprehend. / From early in his career, Joyce saw the need to dramatise within his work the conflicting perspectives the twentieth century inherited in the subject-object, mind-nature dichotomy - a dichotomy expressing itself in literary terms mainly in symbolism vs. naturalism. Joyce saw the essential falseness and pernicious effects of this dichotomisation and prepared himself to effect a synthesis of the two perspectives. In Portrait the need for this synthesis is fully dramatised through Stephen Dedalus, who is enamoured of such a dichotomy, while Joyce reveals the incompleteness of Stephen’s view. / Thus I see Joyce as “taking the measure” of Stephen, but I add two things to this long-established perspective on the novel. [Note]. First, I set my about Joyce’s “antimodernist” aims in Portrait within the context of certain deep-running currents of Western thought [...] Second, I show how profoundly Joyce takes the measure of Stephen’s individualism, even of his implicit view of the nature of reality and of the psyche. [...; 4] Moreover, my analysis differs from poststructuralist analyses by showing that although Portrait does involve a profound criticism of the modernist view of the self, Joyce does not claim the self is non-existent or merely a cultural construct (as the poststructuralists would have it) but rather shows the self’s coherence and entelechy are more deeply rooted in the psyche than any analysis can comprehend.’ (pp.2-4.) [For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism / Major Authors”, James Joyce, infra]

Suman Gupta, ‘What colour’s Jew Joyce ...: Race in the Context of Joyce’s Irishness and Bloom’s Jewishness’, in Bullán, 1, 2 (Autumn 1994), pp.59-82: ‘This is where the recent introductions for the Penguin edition of Ulysses written by Declan Kiberd (1992), and for the section on Joyce in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing written by Seamus Deane (1991), come in. These are both attempts at asserting the Irishness of James Joyce. Their reasons for doing so are substantially the same as the ones cited for Herbert Gorman’s and [Charles] Duff s effort. These reasons were and are, as we have seen, largely political. However, whereas Gorman and Duff asserted Joyce’s Irishness on national-racial grounds which were not ostensibly political, Deane’s and Kiberd’s assertion is clearly based on an understanding of Irishness as political consciousness. Their task is to demonstrate that though Joyce did not share the views of the Irish nationalist forums of his time and though his creative works were often critical of the Ireland he knew, his political attitudes were attuned to those of the Catholic Irish on the eve of the formation of the southern Irish republic and the civil war. This, in turn, means that they demonstrate that Joyce had his own nationalistic agenda which he followed in his creative writings, parallel to the more popular revivalistic nationalist movements of his time. Both Deane and Kiberd demonstrate that in his unorthodox use of language, in his practice of creating complex symbols, and in his general portrayal of the colonial Irish ethos, Joyce had in fact carefully questioned, subverted, and annihilated most aspects of the colonial discourse (particularly British, but to a certain extent also Irish) prevalent in his time. With these arguments Deane and Kiberd hope to settle the debate on Joyce’s Irishness - and they may well have done so.’ (p.65.)

Jeri Johnson, Introduction to Ulysses [World Classics] (OUP 1993): ‘[...] Now this was a novel with a difference. Larbaud might stress that “the plan, which cannot be detached from the book, because it is the very web of it” was actually subordinate to “man, the creature of flesh, living out his day” [Larbaud, trans. in Robert Deming, Critical Heritage, Vol. I, p.261], but the extraordinarily intricate and elaborate symbolic systems carry it away from the domain of more conventional ficiton and toward something which, for lack of a better name, we might call “hyperliterary”. For this literature which draws attention to itself as literature, as artefact constructed out of words and symbols and correspondences and systems which we take pleasure in precisely because of (rather than despite) their craftedness, precisely because they draw our attention to words as word, symbol as symbol, system as system, rather than simply urging us to see through this artifice toward some meaning residing within. [...] What possible “moral” can be drawn from the proliferation of flower names in the “Lotus Eaters” episode? or from the fact that “Calypso”’s colour is orange? or that “Ithaca”’s symbol is “Comets”? Ulysses in this mode will not play that game. [xvi] / It is probably time to attempt the formulation of a rule about Ulysses, a rule which emerges as the logical conclusion of Joyce’s having drawn Larbaud’s attention simultaneously to two different (both independently verifiable) aspects of the book. The rule: a salient, if not the quintessential, characteristic of Ulysses is that it is allotropic [vide n.: carbon exists within nature as graphite or diamond]. That is, it is capable of existing, and indeed does exist, in at least two distinct, and distinctively different, forms at one and the same time: it this case, “distilled essence of novel” and “extravagant, symbolically supersaturated anti-novel”. / The two strains had been alive in Joyce’s mind at least since 1912 when he delivered two lectures at the Universita Populare in Trieste under the series title “Verismo ed idealismo nella letterature inglese (Daniele De Foe-William Blake)”. To any reader of Ulysses, the combination of Defoe and Blake comes as no surprise. [...]. Verismo and idealismo became the two competing yet co-ordinated strains we have already identified.’ (xvi-vii.)

[ top ]

Robert Spoo, James Joyce and the Language of History (OUP 1994): ‘History is more than just a theme in Ulysses; it is to an exceptional degree a condition of the novel’s aesthetic production.’ (p.4.) ‘In recent years the interdependence of history and language has become of vital concern to scholars of literature, just as the inseparability of the factual and the fictional dimensions of historical discourse is increasingly probed by historians. More and more as disciplines converge and overlap in the academy, critics are turnign to the category of history, variously and polemically defined, in order to redescribe aesthetic texts and contexts. Adherents of the New Historicism, cultural poetics, popular culture studies, materialist feminism, metahistorical theory, to name just a few formulations, have worked to rescue literature from deconstructive strategies of reading, which, for many scholars, have come to seem abstract and self-indulgent, totalizing in their epistemological claims, but curiously blind to the ways literary texts process nonliterary discourses and institutions and are in turn shaped by those forces. [...] I argue that Stephen’s “nightmare” and the text of Ulysses itself are distinct but related responses to what Nietzsche called “the malady of history”, the cultural obsession with the past and with the explanatory power of historiography, which, Nietszche believed, was destroying intellectual and moral health in the nineteenth century. For Stephen, as for Joyce, this malady takes many forms, from Hegelian notion of history as realization of Spirit to the sacrificial, teleological master narratives promoted by [6] Irish nationalism. In each case a totalized interpretation of the past threaten to overwhelm human freedom in the present moment, in particular the creative force of the artist. [...] Joyce’s whole career may be viewed as a crusade against the historical Devourer.’ (pp.6-7.) [Cont.]

Mission statement: - ‘My study rehabilitates Stephen as the novel’s hero by showing that the persistent historiographic concerns of Ulysses are ultimately his concerns, that his intellectual attitudes, though seemingly remote from the style of later episodes, continue to shape the text’s contestatory stance towards history long after he has receded as a character.’ (Spoo, op. cit., 1994, p.8.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994), cont. - quotes Joyce: ‘This spirit of our age is not to be confounded with its works; these are novel and progressive, mechanical bases of life: but the spirit wherever it is able to assert itself in this medley of machines is romantic and preterist’ (Workshop of Dedalus, p.69) - and remarks: ‘Beneath the obscure, youthful rhetoric is a startling proposition, one that runs counter to the prevailing view of “the spirit of the age” at the turn of the century. For in this passage Joyce evicts the time-spirit from its usual Victorian habitations - the progress of liberalism, the spread of empire, the growth of material benefits. He then relocates it in imaginative, iconoclastic aspects of culture: in socialist and anarchic politics and in the exertions of dedicated artists, those Symbolist priests of the eternal imagination like Yeats’s monk-aesthetes, Michael Robartes and Owen Aherne, who fascinated Stephen Daedalus with their “infrahuman or superhuman” morality and their determination to “inhabit a church apart[,] having chosen to fulfil the law of their own being.” [SH178, 1963 Edn] [...] As Joyce implied in his remarks about the spirit of the age, the process of achieving the “simplest liberation of rhythms” also liberated the artist, for better or worse, from the idols of the marketplace; the act of expressing the self freely and fully in supple, periodic prose was analogous to more active, political forms of resistance, such as the socialism and anarchism with which the young Joyce implicitly linked the artist’s work. This belief that genuine creativity drives out false gods, that honest, expressive fictions defy and subvert dominant discourses, is the basis of Joyce’s historiographic art.’ (p.5.) [Cont.]

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994), cont. - ‘Joyce’s writings - in particular Ulysses and Finnegans Wake - are exemplary of, though unique within, the larger phenomenon of modernist historiography, which might be defined as the attempt to extend practices of aesthetic innovation to the representation of the past.’ (p.8.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994) - cont. [Chap.: ‘Joyce’s Attitude Towards History: Rome, 1906-07’]: ‘[T]aken as a whole, Joyce’s letters from Rome reveal a far more complicated set of attitudes toward history and his Irish past than this excerpt [“Yesterday I went to see the Forum ... I went home sadly. Rome reminds me of a man who lives by exhibiting to travellers his grandmother’s corpse” (25 Sept. 1906; Letters, Vol. II, 165) would suggest. The Eternal City catalysed Joyce’s thinking about the temporal process and its figural, representational possibilities at a time when he was poised uncertainly between the scrupulously mean realism of the Dubliners stories he had recently completed and the more complex, multi-vocal fictional textures he would begin to weave with “The Dead”, which he wrote after returning to Trieste in 1907. In his letters to his brother, Joyce’s biographical self and epistolary persona combine to generate a restless, insistent historical impressionism, a variety of postures and pronouncements that reflect the Victorian-Edwardian preoccupation with the problem of history and anticipate, in their complexity and ambivalence, the historical attitudes of another of Joyce’s personae, Stephen Dedalus. Joyce’s Rome sojourn unfolds as a resonant text that must be resituated and read with[in] the context of nineteenth-century discourses and counterdiscourses of history.’ (p.16.)

Robert Spoo (James Joyce and the Language of History, 1994) - cont. [Chap.: ‘Joyce’s Attitude Towards History: Rome, 1906-07’]: ‘Joyce’s ambivalent, shifting attitudes toward history in this period, inextricably bound up with his feelings about Dublin, seem to have played a role in “the change in his attitude towards Ireland,“ which Richard Ellmann emphasizes (James Joyce, 243). Indeed, the letter containing Joyce’s most bilious remarks about Rome contains this also: “Sometimes thinking of Ireland it seems to me that I have been unnecessarily harsh. I have reproduced (in Dubliners at least) none of the attraction of the city for I have never felt at my ease in any city since I left it except in Paris. I have not reproduced its ingenuous insularity and its hospitality” (Letters, II, 166). Joyce seems almost willing here to blame the negativity of Dubliners on the effect that other, less hospitable cities had had on him. One reason, surely, why Dublin was beginning to seem more dear than dirty was that his bitter experiences on the Continent had shown him there were worse microcosms than Dublin to which a writer might consecrate his art. On December 7, 1906, he wrote Stanislaus: “I think the Irish are the most civilised people in Europe, be Jesus Christ I do: anyway they are the least burocratic [sic]”’ (Letters II, 202)’. (p.27.)

On Composition of Place

The key that opens the portals of history to Stephen is language; he communes with the phantoms of the past, as he is unable to do with the living Emma Clery, by conjuring with the words and images of a prior age, [53] mixing them with his own language and historical moment and reaching out to the past in an effort to meet it on its own terms, like Pound’s “ripples and spirals eddying out from us and from our own time.” In the Elizabethan passage in A Portrait, Stephen weaves a picture of sixteen-tcentury England from such verbal curiosities as “chambering,” “mantled,” “ambered wines,” “pavan,” “poxfouled,” and “clipped,” mingling these robust terms with a fin-de-sielce etiolation (as Joyce did in Chamber Music) that further situates his language along the historical continuum. Similarly, Stephen’s vision of Viking Dublin depends heavily on the final word of the passage, the strange word “thingmote.” This link between word and world, between the internal and the external, subject and objet, is the key to Stephen’s historiographical method. By pondering on unfamiliar word like “thingmote”, he gains access to the historical “other,” eventually weaving from such words his historical tapestries and, albeit provisionally and only for a moment, closing the hermeneutic circle.
 This is possible because language, as Stephen silently observes towards the end of Chapter IV, is “manycoloured and richly stories” (P167). “Storied” is a crucial word here, turning as it does on two senses: (1) having a history, celebrated in legend or history; and (23) decorated with designes representing scenes from story or history (as in Milton’s “storied windows richly dight!). Here are the coordinates - spatial and temporarl, pictorial and diachronic - that Stephen consistenly associates with history in A Portrait. Language is essentially both historical and imagistic, sotried and phanopoeic, so that STephen can privately mock the English dean of studies with the Anglo-Saxon word “tundish,” intimating that the dean’s rejection of his culture and his parts, of his personal “etymology,” is reflected in his ignorance of his own tongue. Ironically, however, the dean holds a linguistic advantage over Stephen, for whom words such as “home, Christ, ale, master” are “an acquired speech,” alien to him as a result of centuries of usage. (P188-89). These words are nightmarishly “storied”, rudely barring his way to personal contentment een as they grant him access to historical self-knowledge, a deeping understanding of his status as a colonized subject.
  The method by which Stephen assembles words into historical pictures is Saint Ignatius of [sic] Loyola’s “composition of place”, an exercises preparatory to meditation with which Stephen has been familiar since Clongows. In his Spiritual Exercises Saint Ignatuius defines “composition of place” as

Seeing the place. Here it is to be observed that in the contemplation or meditation of a visible object, as in contemplating Christ our Lord, Who is visisble, the composition will be to see with the eye of the imagination the corporeal place where the object I wish to contemplate is found. I say the corporeal place, such as the Temple or the mountain where Jesus Christ is found, or our Lady, according to that which I desire to contemplate. (n.33).

Composition of place is the mental elaboration of a scene, not just any scene prompted by piety or caprise but one rooted in history and visible reality. [54] Saint Ignatius’ exercise, which is intended only for those whose imaginative powers are ken, has the two historical dimenssion that appeal deeply to Stphen: pictoriality and a textual (for Saint Ignatius a biblical) basis. It is as much a composition of time as of place. Words such as “thingmote” and “chambering” are for Stephen what the Cross and the Garden of Gethsemane are for the pious meditator: they compose (literally, put together, assemble) the place and the period. The historical pictures they build up appeal to the mind’s eye and the historical sense equally. (n.34)
  In his sermon on hell in chapter III, Father Arnall exhorts the boys to “imagine” graphic scenes of suffering in the infernal regions: “Imagine all this and you will have some idea of the horror of the stench of hell.” (P120.)

—Robert Spoo, James Joyce and the Language of History (OUP 1994), pp.53-55; available online; accessed 17.11.2017.

[ top ]

Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Nationalism (London: Routledge 1995): ‘The modernity to which Joyce responds, then, is not transnational or universal, and the major trends in Joyce Criticism have occluded the particularity of Irish historical experience as it determines and is reflected in his fiction. His commentators have instead insisted on both reading “Ireland” through Joyce and interpreting Joyce as “Irishman”. [xii] The former procedure grants the artist authority to comment on his native culture, while the latter constructs him as passively typical of it - ironically, a judgement itself based on evidence gathered from his own texts, and from what is presumed to be his own portrayal of national character. Each approach involves critics in stereotyping discourse about Ireland and the Irish [...]. The American liberal tradition in Joyce studies, which now dominates the international James Joyce industry, is founded on a belief in the writer’s pacifism and tolerant pluralism. Recent accounts of the texts influenced by post-structuralism and French feminist theory have argued that Joyce’s writing dismantles those traditional ideologies which render us sexed and civil subjects, among them nationalism. In all of these cases, the latter is considered chiefly in the context of European fascism: such accounts do not acknowledge that nationalisms vary, and are internally divided and disputatious. / Hence this book aims to offer a corrective to the pervasive and systematic misreading of Joyce [illustrating] how these interpretations symptomatise a crucial failure on his critics’ part to attend to the full complexity of nationalism in the political culture of modernity. (pp.xii-xiii.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: Nolan writes that ‘[a]n image of Joyce as an Irishman unswayed by patriotism, who not merely refused to participate in a popular nationalist movement in his own country but rebuked and challenged it at every opportunity, thus contributes significantly to our current approval of his ideological maturity. The high value accorded to his art is thus closely involved with orthodox perceptions of its “universalism”. [...] And if his texts include anything so parochial as a message specifically for his own people, it surely must be the recommendation that they too embrace this modern world, in all its complexity and potential.’ (p.2). [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘Art, for Joyce, should be autonomous, above the realm of propaganda and politics [but that it is] ‘misleading to consider Joyce’s relationship to Irish politics solely in these terms. As a novelist, Joyce worked in that literary mode most closely involved with the culture of the modern state: nationalism.’ (p.23; quoted in Brendan Mitchell, PG MA, UU 2009.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘The city of Dubliners should no longer be critically depicted as a provincial backwater [...] Rather, by attending to the lived ideology of nationalism, we can observe how Joyce preserves a linkage between modernisation and regeneration. This is obscured if we view the book solely in the context of European naturalism, and, alternative, symbolic readings of Dublin (as we shall see) merely gesture towards it.’ (p.31.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘The Ireland Joyce knew, it should be emphasised, lacked virtually any tradition of bourgeois, liberal or individualistic dissent. Such calls for a common, disinterested cultural programme as have been issued in [44] Ireland arise consistently from within the Protestant community, which historically has been viewed by the great majority of people as the ally and beneficiary of a repressive colonial administration. [...] Joyce’s apparent taking up of the cause of disinterestedness, along with that of the autonomy of the artist, from within the Catholic community, must be distinguished from both an Anglo-Irish and an English liberalism. It comes, that is to say, from a society in which such questions as whether Jesus was the only man with ever had pure auburn hair [&c.] are serious topics of discussion.’ (p.45.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘Although Joyce’s text does significantly register the advent of mechanical reproduction in the modern city, this is largely mediated through the consciousness of a figure (Bloom) who compulsively generalises his own specific condition to a pervasive mechanisation of social experience as such.’ (p.81.) [Cont.]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘[T]raditonal accounts of “Cyclops” are in general rendered incoherent by their refusal to attach any positive qualities to the Citizen or the kind of language that he speaks, in spite of the fact that his voice is one of the most “interesting” in literary terms, and probably the funniest in the book.’ (p.96.) [Cont.]

[ See also Nolan’s remarks on Joyce's attitude to D. P. Moran - in Moran- as infra. ]

Emer Nolan (James Joyce and Nationalism, 1995) - cont.: ‘[T]he shade of Parnellism - which haunts all of Joyce’s texts - is merely the measure of his inability to move with the political times, his commitment to a lost cause of history [...] Perhaps Parnell, who by 1912 functions for Joyce - however erroneously - as a symbol of the futility of constitutionalism, compromise and pragmatism, can alternatively be read as the image of a real past out of which a better future might have been built.’ (p.131.) [See longer extracts in Ricorso Library, “Criticism”, infra.]

Extract from James Joyce and Nationalism (1995)

[...] Chapter 12 [i.e., “Cyclops”] read as ‘a deliberate rejection of violence and especially the violence of nationalist Ireland’ also appeals strongly to a post-structuralist thematics of dialogue and flux, [page] represented here by Colin MacCabe.

It is within this perspective that we can read the whole joyous activity of the Cyclops sequence, an activity that generates in turns endlessly different ways of signifying the world but refuses to judge between them. [...] What is opposed to the violence of the Citizen (based as it is on a fixed representation of the world) and the verbal violence of the Nameless One (also founded in a fixity of meaning) is the joyful entering into various ways of signifying the world and self." (Revolution of the Word, pp.96, 101; here c.96.)

This dialogical principle is, according to this reaading, both embodied by Bloom and demonstrated in the parodic interpolations. Bloom, like the text, never ‘subordinates one discourse to another in a hierarchical of representaitonal forms’, as Patrick McGee puts it. Ironically, this opens the way for a positive reading of Bloom by critics who would not otherwise necessarily attach much importance to the substance of his remarks: he does, after all, express sentiments such as that love is the ‘meaning’ of life, which are headly strikingly Derridean in form. A critic such as Richard Ellmann is, however, quite happy to agree with Bloom, but he must therefore proceed to distinguish between the kind of parody to which the nationalists are subjected and the parody of Bloom himself. After all, Bloom’s interventions are taken up and sported with by the insistent parodic voice of the interpolations as much as those of anyone else; but for Ellmann the ‘positive’ side of “Cyclops” must be divorced from this kind of savage parody. This point is so crucial in Ellmann’s overall understanding of Joyce that he deals with it even in his short preface to Gabler’ s edition of the text: ‘It is the kind of aparody that protects seriousness by immediately going aware from intensity. Love cannot be discussed without peril, but Blook has nobly named it.’ (p.xiii.) The problem with ‘satire’ is that if it ‘always implies respect for some sort of reason and a positive and implicit order’, then the identification of the source of this order has involved critics of this episode in some embarrassing and contradictory manoeuvres. [...; ]

Quotes Hugh Kenner: ‘When the biscuit tin, by heroic amplification, renders North Central Dublin a mass of ruins we are to remember what patriotic idealism could claim to have accomplished by Easter 1916. Thanks to a knot of hotheads with no prospect whatever of accomplishing what they proposed, Dublin had been the first European capital to undergo the bombardment of modern warfare, and James Joyce had little use for the oratory that fuelled hotheadedness.’ (q. source; presum. Kenner’s chapter by chapter study of Ulysses, Allen & Unwin 1982.)

— and writes, ‘surely we must at least concede that James Joyce had indeed a great deal of use for such language.’

 

[The above is taken from the digitised edition available in part at Google Books - online; accessed 12.02.2015.]

[See longer extracts from Nolan, James Joyce and Nationalism(1995) in Ricorso Library, “Criticism” - infra.]

[ top ]

Claus Melchior: Joyce’s Feast of Languages ed. Franca Ruggieri (Rome: Bulzoni 1995): ‘The whole of Joyce’s work is a constant infringement of conventional linguistic structures in order to accommodate not only the creativity of the writer who translates the common idioms, the language of the tribe, into an individual style belonging to him alone, but also to involve the creativity of each individual reader who is invited to translate what he is offered into his own private language.’ (p.2; quoted in Ilaria Natali, “Joyce’s “corpo straniero”: The European dimension of Irishness in four border crossings’ - available at Academia.edu [q.date; p.108].

Michael F. Hart, ‘The Sign of Contradiction: Joyce, Yeats and “The Tables of the Law”, in Colby Quarterly, 30, 4 (Dec. 1998): ‘[I]t was W. B. Yeats, and not Wilde or Pater, who provided Joyce with a model of how an Irish writer might come to terms with aestheticism in a culture, such as Ireland’s as the turn of the century, dominated by the language of morality and Catholicism. / It is easy to overlook the importance of Yeats in this matter simply because Joyce, in the Critical Writings at least, expressed such disdain for both Yeats and the aestheticism he represented.’ (p.1.) Further: ‘In Day of the Rabblement, Joyce singled out “The Adoration of the Magi” for praise as a story worthy of the Russian realists.’ (Idem.) [Recte: ‘one of the great Russians’ - sine ‘realist’.] Includes a discussion of Joyce's negotiation between romantic and classical tempers in “James Clarence Mangan” (1902) regarded as the Irish poet in whose figure ‘he [Joyce] sees a way of the dilemma he created when he divided Irish literature from the larger context of the European tradition.’ (p.2.) [Note: pagination refers to digital copy - online.]

[ top ]
[ next ]