Derek Attridge, ed., Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (Cambridge UP 1990).

Derek Attridge, ‘Reading Joyce’
[On Dubliners:] 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.)

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 wil 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.)

Seamus Deane, ‘Joyce the Irishman’
The most important of Joyce’s Irish predecessors was the poet James Clarence Mangan (1803-49), whose tragic and miserable existence was represented by Joyce as an emblem of the characteristic alienation of the true artist. More significantly, Joyce exaggerated the extent to which Mangan had been ignored by his countrymen after his death. For, as Joyce saw it, Mangan also represented the artist who was spurned by his countrymen in a typically treacherous fashion, largely because he had identified his own multifarious woes with those of his suffering country. […] The most appealing and dangerously seductive form of solidarity in Irish conditions was that offered by Irish nationalism, in all its variant forms, from the United irishmen of 1798 to the Young Ireland movement of the 1840s and the more recent Fenian and Home Rule movements. It was Mangan’s downfall as an artist that he could not free himself form the tragic [32] history of his nation. [Quotes ‘The history of his country encloses him so straitly .’] Mangan’s art is, therefore, caught in the toils of a political crisis from which he can never be freed until that crisis is resolved. […] this paradox leads to Joyce’s declaration that if Mangan is to achieve the posthumous recognition he deserves, it will be without the help of his countrymen […] a carefully construed cautionary tale for the Irish artist who wished to elude the fickle acclaim of his treacherous countrymen. The portrait of Mangan is one of Joyce’s early fictions. It is his portrait fo the artist as a Young Ireland man. (pp.32-33; for full text, see infra.)

Klaus Reichart, ‘The European Background of Joyce’s Writing’
Quotes: [movement] out in Europe’ [SH75] and speaks of the ‘comparatively large number of intellectual figures and movements he had absorbed’ (p.55.)

David Freidrich Strauss, Leben Jesu (1836); Ernest Renan, Vie de Jésus (1863); Dante.

[…] it may not have been unimportant for the shaping of Joyce’s mind that Dante was an exile . It was in keeping with the rediscovery of Dante by such Romantic poets as Byron and Shelley, and with the re-assessment of the poet by the highly influential Victorian critic Thomas Caryle in his lectures series on Heroes, Hero-Worship and the Heroic in History (1841).

Giordano Bruno, Spaccio della Bestia Trionphante .

Sigmund Freud; no influence on young Joyce, though he was very importatn later in Joyce’s life. (p.59.)

How is it that Joyce could develop something analogous to Freud’s discoveries within a totally different frame of reference? Parti of the answer certainly is that an approach valorising a focus on the minutest details was “in the air” in various fields at the turn of the century. […] There are also abundant examples in literature - precursors or parallels - of the concerns of Joyce and of Freud: the questionaing of bourgeois morality, the discovery of the force of sexuality, of hidden motivations, of the functioning of the unconscious. [Goes on to list Flaubert, Tolstoy, Zola, D’Annunzio, Schnitzler - author of the first full-length interior monologue novel - Henrik Ibsen.] (pp.60-61.)

As Joyce had learned Danish in order to read Ibsen in the original, althoguh his work was available in the translation of William Archer [66] (with whom Joyce corresponded and who became a valuable advisor his early career), so he learned German apparently for the sole reason of reading [Gerhart] Hauptmann, who was not available in translation. Hauptmann was, together with Hermann Sudermann, the German representative of the so-called naturalist movement initiated by Ibsen. But where these had presented middle- or upper-class characters - characters who belonged to the same class of society as Freud’s patients did Hauptmann had turned to the lower class, had peopled his stage with labourers, servants, petty craftsmen, peasants, outcasts of society, and had painted the reverse side of the prosperous German “Gründerjahre” after the foundation of the “Reich”: its sordidness, misery and despair, and the poverty and ugliness of a segment of society that had never before been deemed worthy to serve as the subject of literature. Where Ibsen had employed the everyday language of educated people who could express themselves in complete sentences, Hauptmann had used the speech of common people who could express themselves only “by fits and starts” in broken phrases and exclamations. Hauptmann was careful to have his characters reveal themselves by the language they used, usually by resorting to his native Silesian dialect, or, if that seemed inexpedient, by inventing special kinds of colloquialism; each had his or her own “speech mask”as a mark of identity (”We recognize that it is that thing which it is”, as Stephen’s definition of the epiphany runs.) From there it is not difficult to understand how Joyce could see Hauptmann as a successor of Ibsen, and where he would find the potential to go even further. That he clearly placed himself in this line of descent can be seen from the concluding statement of his essay “The Day of the Rabblement” (1901): “Elsewhere there are men who are worthy to carry on the tradition of the old master who is dying in Christiania. He has already found his successor in the writer of Michael Kramer, and the third minister will not be wanting when his hour comes. Even now that hour may be standing by the door” (CW72). / In the summer of 1901 Joyce translated two of Hauptmann’s plays Vor Sonnenaufgang ( Before Sunrise ; 1889) and Michael Kramer (1900) hoping that the Abbey Theatre would perform them. (It did not.) Whereas the first of these is a pure naturalistic drama in the strict sense of the term - it presents the moral corruption in a village community suddenly grown rich after the discovery of a coal mine - the other play, Michael Kramer , is multilayered and full of symbolic overtones. It is the tragedy of a father and a son who are both artists. […] (pp.66-67.) [There follows a lengthy discussion of Michael Kramer and its relevance to Joyce’s treatment of the theme and character of the artist in Stephen Hero, &c.]

Neitszche (p.69ff.) ‘The metaphysical comfort - with which, I am suggesting even now, every true tragedy leaves us - that life is at the bottom of things, despite all the changes of appearances, indestructibly powerful and pleasurable - this comfort appears in incarnate clarity in the chorus of the satyrs, a chorus of natural beings who live ineradicably, as it were, behind all civilisation and remain eternally the same, despite the changes of generations and of history of nations. ( The Birth of Tragedy, ed. Walter Kaufmann, NY: Vintage Books 1967, p.59; here p.71.)

Edgar Quinet’s dictum about the everlasting presence of a life-force in contrast to the eternal flux of man-made things. (p.42.)

Discusses Joyce and Wagner in the context of allusions in “Day of the Rabblement”: ‘Every race has made its own myths and it is in these that early drama often finds an outlet. The author of Parsifal has recognised this and hence his work is solid as a rock.’ (CW, 43; here p.74.)

Wagnerian Gesamtkunstwerk (a total artwork involving all the levels of art and creation). (p.76.)

[Extracts from other chapter/articles prev. copied to Ricorso James Joyce “Commentary” pages.]


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