Maria Tymoczko, The Irish Ulysses (Calif. UP 1994), 390pp.

Main headings [with subdivisions]: The Irish Architectonics of Ulysses; Irish Nationalism and Ulysses as Epic; Sovereignty Structures in Ulysses; Genres Echoes from Early Irish Literature; Ulysses and theIrish Otherworld; The Broken Ligts of Irish Myth: Early Irish Literature and Popular Culture; Monographs and Scholarly sources.

Cites letter of Stephen Joyce to NY Review of Books in 1989 defending decision to destroy certain letters by his aunt Lucia and asking for an end to snooping in his grandfather’s private life. [p.1]

Joyce thought Cathleen Ni Houlihan by Yeats and Gregory ‘political claptrap’ (My Brother’s Keeper, p.187)

Discusses distinction between Irish literature in Irish and in English: ‘Thus, of necessity, here I am using the term Irish as the linguistic referent for literature in the various stages of the Irish language, and Anglo-Irish is used to denote Irish )in the national sense) literary texts and traditions in the English language (p.19);

‘If Joyce is to be taken seriously as an Irishman, the possibility that his primal symbol systems may be Irish must be considered. In particular, we must examine native Irish literature for correlates to his work when realism breaks down, as it does in the case of the configuration of the main characters in Ulysses. [...] The interface of Stephen, Bloom, and Molly is Irish because Joyce’s constellation of characters in Ulysses – a Greek, an ersatz Jew, and a lady from Spain – is based on the mythic structures of Lebor Gabála Érenn ( The Book of the Taking of Ireland), generally known in English as The Book of Invasions. (p.24).

Quotes: ‘If the Irish programme did not insist on the Irish language I suppose I could call my self a nationalist’ (Letters, Vol. 2, p.187; here 51).

‘When Ulysses appeared, it was anomalous both as a modern novel and as a modern epic for many of the same reasons that the Irish hero tale is anomalous as epic: for its odd characters, its scatology and sexuality, for [94] its mixture of the heroic and the comic, for its anomalous form, its variations in styles, it mixture of porse and poetic structures, its gaps, its blurred margins. Ulysses is an Irish epic. The irony of Ulysses is that as a national epic this most Irish of modern narratives was no more acceptable to the Irish literary revival or to cultural nationalists than early Irish hero tales had been.’ (p.94-95).

Speaks again of the ‘architectonic structures of Ulysses’ being ‘taken from early Irish literary tradition’ [96]

‘Because Ireland was politically fragmented through most of its history, a tribal society rather than a national one, there is a proliferation of goddess figures in the early literature, each with similar functions and characteristics, rather than a single goddess who can serve as the mythological prototype for the image of the gooess in the Irish collective unconscious.’ (p.101.)

Compares Molly to Sovereignty goddesses.

Standish O’Grady, memoir of Ascendancy education: ‘At school and in Trinity College I was an industrious lad and worked through curriculums with abundant energy and some success; yet in the curriculums never read one word about Irish history and legend, nor even heard one word about these things from my pastors and masters. When I was twenty-three years of age, had anyone told me – as later on a professor of Dublin University actually did – that Brian Boromh was a mythical character, I would have believed him. I knew nothing about our past, not through my own fault, for I was willing enough to learn anything set before me, but owing to the stupid education system of the country. (Quoted in W. Thompson, Imagination of a Revolution, p.20; here p.223.)

Notes that William Francis Collier’s History of Ireland for Schools (1884) was included in Joyce’s library in 1920, and itself contains the sentence conveying briefly the argument of the Book of Invasions: ‘Clan Milly from Spain [were] descendants of Millya … or Milesius, King of Spain, who … had married Scota .. .daughter of the Pharoah, King of Egypt.’ (Collier, pp.10-11.)

PW Joyce: ‘the originals are in general simple in style; and I have done my best to render them into simple, plain, homely English.’ (Old Celtic Romances, p.vii; here 308.)

Meyer’s lectures on Irish literature, in answer to charges levelled by Atkinson, was reprinted in the Irish Catholic for 5 April 1902: ‘The stream of Irish literature ran deep and broad, and iif in its course it carried along with it some earthy matter, such slight admixture did not affect the general purity of the waters, from which none need hesitate to drink deeply. The literature of no nation was free from occasional grossness, and considering the great antiquity of Irish literature and the primitive lifne which it reflected, what would strike an impartial observer is not its licence or coarseness, but rather the noble, lofty, and tender spirit which pervaded it.’ (Cited by Tymoczko, p.309.)

P. W. Joyce: ‘As to the general moral tone of the ancient Irish tales, it is to be observed that in all early literatures, Irish among the rest, there is much plain speaking of a character that would now be considered coarse, and would not be tolerated in our present social and domestic life. But on the score of morality and purity the Irish tales can be compared favourably with the corresponding literature of other coutries, and they are much freer from objectionable matter than the workds of many of those early English and continental authors which are now regarded as classic. (Smaller Social History, p.237; here 309-10.)

Eleanor Hull: ‘We see the cahpmions as we can actually conceive them to have lived in an early pre-Christian age. Their barbarities are described without a shade of disgust; their chivalries are the outcome of a natural fairness and fineness of mind, and are not the product of a courtly attention to an exterior code of morals.’ (Text Book, 1906-08, Vol. 1, p.90; here p.310.)

Hull, on women: ‘They irish women belong to an heroic type. They are often thecounsellors of their husbands and the champions of their cause; occasionally, as in Maeve’s case, their masters. They are frequently fierce and vindictive, but they are also strong, forceful, and intelligent. In youth they possess often a charming gaiety; they are full of clever repartee and waywardness and have a delightful and careless self-confidence.’ (Ibid., p.78; here p.312.)

Alice Stopford Green, ‘We are often told that the civilisation of a people is marked by the place of its women: a rule by which the Irish stand high.’ (The Old Irish World, MH Gill 1912, p.100; here p.312.)

AE, Avatars: ‘the powers which were present to the ancestors are establishing tagain their dominion over the spirit’ (Candle of Vision, 1918, p.151); ‘The Avatars has not the spiritual gaiety I desires for it. The friends with whom I once spoke of such things are dead or gone from me. If they were with me, out of dream, vision and intuition shared between us, I might have have the narrative to glow. As it is, I have only been able to light my own way with my own flickering lantern’. (The Avatars: A Futuristic Fantasy, Preface, p.vii; here p.314.)

Conclusion: ‘Compared with his contemporaries in Ireland, Joyce emerges as a person with substantial interests in the history and literature of Ireland. His interests in Irish as a language went beyond the rather pallid Gaelic League program, and it is clear from his acquisition of Irish dictionaries later in life that this interest in Irish persisted. … analysis of the books he collected before 1920 – his so-called Trieste Library – indicates that only 4 pc … were related to Irish culture and history. Togetherwith the slim evidence for the use of specific books on Irish hitory and literature, these data support the suggestion that Joyce’s architectonics and poetics result from his general knowledge gained in Ireland, from popular sources read in Ireland and abroad, and from library resources that he had at his disposal in Zurich and Paris. [… &c.] (p.325). Further believes that his contact with Synge in Paris and with German philology in Zurich constituted ‘alternative perspectives’ that ‘broke the stranglehold of parochial and proprietary Irish nationalism on Irish literature. (p.326); believes that ‘Joyce used Irish literature and myth for many of the same artistic reasons as his contemporaries used African or prehistoric art forms.’ (p.335.); ‘[…]Joyce’s use of ltierary tradition is a paradox, for it is true that he repudiates – or perhaps rewrites is a more accurate term – the orthodox refraction of Irish literature. He does so, however, in order to revive a more penetrating version of the past than the one that [337] cultural nationalism had promulgated.’ (p.337-38; ref. To Kiberd, ‘Bloom the Liberator’, TLS, 3 Jan. 1992, pp.3-6.)

Ellmann, ‘Whenever confronted by a choice between two possible things to include, Joyce chose both’ (Ulysses on the Liffey, p.34; here p.339.)

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