Joyces essays, lectures, extant notebooks and reviews were edited by Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann as The Critical Writings in 1957. The poetry collections with sundry shorter writings including the 1904 Portrait Essay were collected by Ellmann as Poems and Shorter Writings in 1990, a further critical compilation being issued by Kevin Barry as Occasional, Critical and Political Writings in 2000. A volume of Joyces letters was edited by Stuart Gilbert in 1957 with two further volumes and a Selected Letters appearing under the hand of Richard Ellmann in respectively in 1966 and 1975. (Joyces so-called black letters to Nora of 1909 are printed in the latter only.) In 1984 the Garland Publishing Co. (NY) issued a controversial A Critical and Synoptic Edition of Ulysses, edited by Hans Walter Gabler on the basis of a hypothetical genetic text comprising every variant in working manuscripts, typescripts, complete editions and serial publications whether within the direct line of textual transmission or not. The validity of this method and the authenticity (or even accuracy) of the result has been widely disputed and conservative readers still adhere to the corrected Odyssey Edition and its successors as bearing the imprimatur of the author. Finnegans Wake was has never been reset though Joyces corrections (which Maria Jolas carried out of wartime France) were applied to the Viking Press and Faber editions in the 1950s. (In both instances the pagination and font are identical with those in the 1939 editions and each other.) In March 2000 a lost typescript of the Circe episode of Ulysses was purchased by the National Library of Ireland for $1.5m dollars at auction in New York. The papers rescued from the Joyces flat in Paris in Autumn of 1941 were lodged in the National Library of Ireland, as agreed, and became available for inspection by scholars fifty years later. A further body of papers in the possession of Paul Léon (including the lost Paris Notebook of 1904) was acquired by the Irish government in 2001. Since the beginning, Dublin has inevitably been the major place of pilgrimage for Joycean scholars and in 1967 the first Annual James Joyce International Symposium was there. A James Joyce Centre was established at 35 North Georges Street, Dublin, adjacent to Belvedere College, in the 1990s. Plaques set in the pavement mark the major points in Joyces Ulyssean heros itinerary on Bloomsday in the modern city and Joyce himself has featured on an Irish banknote in an image by Robert Ballagh.
James Joyces standing as a major writer in world literature was established in his lifetime, and following the Second World War his promise to keep the professors busy was widely realised in American and British universities. The guide to Ulysses that Joyce had himself provided through the books of Frank Budgen and Stuart Gilbert made that novel less off-putting than it might otherwise have been for many educated readers. Thus heralded, Ulysses could be treated either as a modernist and experimental text offering a new vision of society and a new method of literary representation, or as a classical affirmation of the humanist principles deemed to underlie all great literature. Hence, those among the first generation of Joyceans who devoted themselves to the arcana of the texts-symbol and motif, structure and significance, mythic parallels, and psychoanalytical hypotheses sat comfortably with those who exalted Leopold Bloom as the modern Ulysses, an all-round man and a keyless competent citizen.
Finnegans Wake was a more daunting challenge, but the work of early exegetes made it clear that, for all its complexity, it shared the same world of literary and popular consciousness as its readers. Archetypal readings dominated the early reception of the book yet, like Ulysses, it seems to require an immense amount of local knowledge also (albeit the stage was as wide in other respects as all of European culture and world history). To glean sufficient Irish background became a badge of honour for the rapidly-growing tribe of Joyceans. There was a distinct element of cultural tourism in all of this since the establishment which embraced Joyce was, predominantly, Protestant and Anglo-American. Joyces agnosticism was, of course, a help. That his mind was Irish, Catholic, and even medieval, thus seemed less important than the fact that he conceived of the world of culture as a huge jigsaw of interlocking pieces in which no one narrative, still less one national tradition or one religious dispensation, easily prevailed. In this way he came to represent a syncretic view of human culture that began to dominate the increasingly liberal and sceptical orthodoxy of Western democracies in the second half of the twentieth century (Ireland remaining, for most of this period, confessional state in its political constitution and social mores).
By the 1960s Joyces reputation stood at the apex of a pyramid of international renown with modernism, humanism and psychoanalysis at its intellectual foundations. With only the Soviet realists standing out against him, he was hailed as an intrinsically democratic writer and hence served as a propaganda asset in the climate of Cold War cultural politics even though the actual contents of his works (and, to a great extent their manner), were at odds with prevailing ethos of Western society at many material points. Thus Joyce posthumously managed to become both the epitome and the antithesis of cultural conformism though all the while a writer centrally respected for the magnitude of his talent and the scale of his achievement.
In 1926 Mary Colum had told Joyce that Anna Livia Plurabelle was outside of literature, to which he had replied, it may be outside literature now, but its future is inside literature. That he proved right illustrates the coincidence between his idiosyncratic form of innovation and an anti-conventional impulse at the heart of much critical thought in the late-twentieth century culture. From the 1960s onwards the deconstruction of bourgeois certainties in ethics and belief increasingly characterised intellectual life first in Europe and then in America. Joyces affinity with the Revolution of the Word made him an ideal literary talisman and it was as the battering-ram of post-structuralism that he first figures in the writings of Jacques Derrida and others who discovered in la jouissance de Joyce an image of their own rebellion against the fixity of language and meaning which allows the bourgeois world its claim to epistemological authority, and underwrites its self-image as a historical society at the apogee of human progress.
For anti-authoritarian movements with more explicitly political agendas such as feminist and gay studies, the connection between the wish-list and the texts themselves was intrinsically unstable. If écriture feminine was the very definition of Joyces way of writing from Penelope onwards, Molly Bloom was nevertheless the creation of a writer who did not seem to accord intellectual dignity to women, whatever grandeur he attached to their sensual vitality and however highly he prize their amenity to mythopoeic elevation in the quasi-divine capacity of domestic Gea-Tellus. Certainly Joyce believed that womens liberation was the central revolution of the twentieth-century (as he told Arthur Power), but if he valued their subjectivity and regarded union with them as a necessary measure for the creative imagination, it did not mean that he endowed them with a plenitude of artistic power in their own persons. While gay studies finds in Joyces exploration of gender-difference and altereity an effective argument, there are no homosexuals in Joyces writings other than the perverted figure at the centre of the early story An Encounter. In certain obvious ways, the love-affair between Joycean criticism and liberationist schools of thought was always destined to be short-term.
The rise of post-colonial studies in the 1990s provided a more rewarding means of analysing Joyces subversive attitude towards the dominant form of Anglophonic culture - an attitude readily ascribed to him by Anglo-Saxon contemporaries whether inside or beyond the avant-garde movement. The point was epitomised by H. G. Wells when he wrote to Joyce: While you were brought up under the delusion of political suppression I was brought up under the delusion of political responsibility. The difference indicated here is, of course, a national one. Turning to the question of style, Wells admitted his desire to keep language and statement as simple and clear as possible, hence implying that Joyce to the contrary was inspired by Fenian malice towards the well of English undefiled. Joyce offers some support for this by means of a counter-reformational thrust in Finnegans Wake where he appears to describe the linguistic outcome of the book as [o]ne sovereign punned to petery pence. In fact the differences instanced by Wells are very real. Where his ideal is a big unifying and concentrating process resulting in a kind of progress not inevitable but interesting and possible, Joyce dismisses progress as the self-aggrandising fantasy of Shaun-types who exercise power through the abuse of language. It is clear today that Wellss talk of increase of power and range by economy and concentration of effort is the stuff of textbook imperialism (as his History of the World, for all its liberality, reveals on every page). From this standpoint, the difference in their outlooks is actually that between the coloniser and the colonised no less than that between between enlightenment and modernist epistemologies, or that between Protestant and Catholic, as Wells openly concedes.
Joycean criticism began - like Joycean biography - in the hands of American scholars whose arrival in Ireland to investigate his formative conditions had something of the character of an anthropological expedition. Richard Ellmanns biography treated the actualities of Irish literary life within the larger body of western literary values as can be seen in the way that he glosses Joyces great discovery in Ulysses in terms of the word love in all its human ramifications. It is a view which sets Leopold Bloom - sceptical, kindly, ordinary, imaginative, human against the nationalist citizen of the Cyclops chapter - an embodiment of prejudice, bitterness, and hatred of the Anglo-Saxon. Ellmann goes so far as to cites the Irish nationalists who fought for independence as examplars of those traits in the Irish national character least like the liberal secularism that Bloom (and, by implication, Ellmann himself) embodies.
In this way teams are formed with Joyce and Anglo-America on one side and Irish separatists on the other. Not surprisingly, recent Irish criticism has been much concerned with repudiating Joyces Bloomian pacificism (if it is such) while emphasizing the the fenian sympathies of the novelist in his incidental writings. This allies them with post-colonial critics everywhere who argue that colonial peoples can attain authentic self-representation only when they shed the chains of imperial hegemony and, if possible, the language which sustains it; it does not, unfortunately, consolidate their bond with James Joyce, the chief writer to emerge from Catholic-nationalist Ireland at any time in its history. While the idea of Joyce as an eccentric Irishman or, at least, a writer of genius at a tangent to the main line of national development (if not actually the colonial remainder) has obvious attractions, it is also possible to accord him a great measure of ethical sense and political precedence in the context of the European union. In any case, some further thinking about the underlying issues of colonial, anti-colonial and post-colonial thinking is in order before the convincing repatriation of James Joyce can be completed.
It is clear that, in spite of the desires of Irish separatists at any period, post-colonial cultures are generally forced to acknowledge their own hybridity thereby ending up more like Bloom than Michael Cusack. Equally, in modern Irish society, Bloom stands nearer to the consensual view than the fenians of Ulysses. Joyce undoubtedly offered a difficult thistle for Irish nationalists to grasp in urging that the half-Jewish and half-Irish advertising agent with a foothold in at least three religious camps is the best kind of modern Irishman. More than that: he clearly meant to antagonise those whom he had accused of circulating the pap of racial hatred. In this sense, Ulysses bears the stamp of his own subtly rebarbative personality and his own inveterate resistance to the encroachments of religion, nationality and language - and also, in a germane sense, of family. (Here we must bear in mind that Joyces personal resistance to the dictation of Irish familism so so intense that his biographer Richard Ellmann - writing his introduction to James Joyce in 1959 - inadvertantly substituted family for language in the list of those three nets that Stephen Dedalus promises to elude in A Portrait of the Artist.)
Post-colonialism, properly conceived, suggests an open approach to Joyce that allows for the best response to the facts of text and context. Yet -isms are only limited guides to works as complex as this author and the worlds that he inhabited in structure and significance. There is much in Joyce that both eludes liberal humanist and post-structuralist ways of thinking while supplying much to one or the other kind of reading. Joyces medievalism, which critics have often put aside as an unfortunate relic of his Irish Catholic (and, more specifically, Jesuit) education, is a case in point. This consisted in the incessant effort to make the intensely relative facts of reality and consciousness correspond in some large symbolic way to a unified image of reality. In view of an evident lack of engagement with this impulse, it is arguable that truly Joycean criticism has never yet been attempted, though that may seem trivial in comparison with what has been achieved. Certainly, if truly Joycean criticism is to be written, it must be primarily grounded in the context of Irish literary history and the Irish cultural experience.
It has often said that the Joyces experimentalism placed him in the vanguard of anti-bourgeois thinking yet, if so, it also placed him in an anomalous yet fertile relation to contemporary Irish nationalism. Ironically, in the light of the divergent courses of James Joyce and the modern Irish nation, his art carries forward the cultural project of the revivalists vis-à-vis the English canon and the values that it supposedly embodies in a far more radical way than any of his Irish contemporaries in literature or in arms. Joyce effectively overcame that canon by ignoring it. He professed that he had nothing to learn from the English novelists and made Flaubert and Ibsen his primary models. This did not signify an allegiance to one or other continental tradition so much as a commitment to what he called in 1904 a process of mind as yet untabulated, that is, an imaginative activity which disintegrates norms and standards in its attention to the sheer whatness of experience and language.
The post-colonial concept of hybridity is the most accurate response to this as reflecting the essentially provisional methods of the writer, in this respect specially adapted to an intrinsically unstable reality in this respect perfectly adapted to a reality which is radically unstable which affords no easy foothold to the consensual style of the liberal conscience - hence Stephen Dedaluss insistence on the incertitude of the void. Positioned on the periphery of a powerful cultural formation such as English national literature, Joyce was well placed to discover the endless fissuring of experience in its received versions and conventional forms. At the same time he disdained the concrete alternative of an essentially reactive national ideal which preoccupied his Irish coevals as well as those who came after.
It was thus that Joyce differed from those Irish contemporaries who wrote the orthodoxy of the revival and especially its Irish-Ireland wing comprising the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin. Hence the double-aspect of his literary character: on the one hand he stands as a conservative exponent of the idea of literary value in the face of national chauvinism; on the other, he is more radical than any nationalist in dismembering the cultural hegemony upon which the colonial state is founded. That Joyce saw so deeply into the social, psychological and linguistic nexus that constituted the worlds (greater and lesser) into which he had been born was the measure of his intellect. That he constructed a literary universe which admits of trespass and benefaction, abasement and transcendence, individuality and comity, is the measure of his humane art. That he conceived and executed an entirely new form of writing in which waking and dreaming minds throw up an integral vision of the world as word is the measure of his genius.
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