James Joyce: Commentary (9)

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General Index

Franco Moretti (1983) to Frances L. Restuccia (1988)
Franco Moretti
Seamus Deane
Richard Kearney
Sheldon Brivic
Zack Bowen
Grace Eckley
Donald Torchiana
Richard Brown
Bonnie Kime Scott
Daniel R. Schwartz
Michael Begnal
Terry Eagleton
Julia Kristeva
Stephen Heath
Hélène Cixous
Vicki Mahaffey
Frances Restuccia
D. Rose & J. O’Hanlon
Magda Tolentino

Longer extracts ...
Rose & O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook [VI.D.7] (Split Pea 1989)
Magda Tolentino, “Dubliners: The Journey Westward” (UFMG 1989)

Franco Moretti, ‘The Long Goodbye: Ulysses and the End of Liberal Capitalism’ [chap.], in Signs Taken for Wonders [rev. edn.] London 1983): ‘Joyce, an Irishman (this is the only legitimate domain of the “genetic” approach) has every reason and every means to probe deeply into the entrails of British society. But if Joyce were an Irish writer, comprehensible and containable without any loose threads within Irish culture, he would no longer be Joyce; if the city of Ulysses were the real Dublin of the turn of the century, it would not be the literary image par excellence of the modern metropolis. Cultural phenomena cannot be explained in the light of their genesis (what ever has emerged from the studies that interpreted Joyce on the basis of Ireland?); what counts is their objective function.’ (pp.189-90.) Further: ‘[Ulysses] belongs to a critical turning point of international bourgeois culture.’ (p.190; both quoted in Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Irish Nationalism, London: Routledge 1995, p.9.)

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Seamus Deane, Heroic Styles: The Tradition of an Idea [Field Day Pamphlets, No. 4] (Derry: Field Day 1984): [...] ‘The second variation in the development of the idea of vitality restored is embodied most perfectly in Joyce. His work is dominated by the idea of separation as a means to the revival of suppressed energies. The separation he envisages is as complete as one could wish. The English literary and political imperium, the Roman Catholic and Irish nationalist claims, the oppressions of conventional language and of conventional narrative - all of these are overthrown, but the freedom which results is haunted by his fearful obsession with treachery and betrayal. In him, as in many twentieth century writers, the natural ground of vitality is identified as the libidinal. The sexual forms of oppression are inscribed in all his works but, with that, there is also the ambition to see the connection between sexuality and history. His work is notoriously preoccupied with paralysis, inertia, the disabling effects of society upon the individual who, like Bloom, lives within its frame, or, like Stephen, attempts to live beyond it. In Portrait the separation of the aesthetic ambition of Stephen from the political, the sexual and the religious zones of experience is clear. It is, of course, a separation which includes them, but as oppressed forces which were themselves once oppressive. His comment on Wilde is pertinent: “Here we touch the pulse of Wilde’s art - sin. He deceived himself into believing that he was the bearer of good news of neo-paganism to an enslaved people ... But if some truth adheres ... to his restless thought ... at its very base is the truth inherent in the soul of Catholicism: that man cannot reach the divine heart except through that sense of separation and loss called sin.” / In Joyce himself the sin is treachery, sexual or political infidelity. (p.10.) [Cf. ‘disabling’ in Heaney on Joyce - supra.]

[Note: The sentence that Joyce used to appraise Wilde’s sensibility - and which Deane quotes here in contradistinction to Yeats - is one which Joyce garnered more or less verbatim from Yeats’s “Rosa Alchemica”, where it attaches to the narrator Aherne, arguably the Catholic “conscience” in the tale.)]

Seamus Deane (Heroic Styles, 1984 [cont.]): ‘The betrayed figure is the alien artist. The ‘divine heart’ is the maternal figure, mother, Mother Ireland, Mother Church or Mother Eve. But the betrayed are also the betrayers and the source of the treachery is in the Irish condition itself. In his Trieste lecture of 1907, “Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages”, he notes that Ireland was betrayed by her own people and by the Vatican on the crucial occasions of Henry II’s invasion and the Act of Union: “From my point of view, these two facts must be thoroughly explained before the country in which they occurred has the most rudimentary right to persuade one of her sons to change his position from that of an unprejudiced observer to that of a convicted nationalist.” [“Ireland, Island of Saints and Sages”]. / Finally, in his account of the Maamtrasna murders of 1882 in “Ireland at the Bar” (published in Il Piccolo della Sera, Trieste, 1907), Joyce, anticipating the use which he would make throughout Finnegans Wake of the figure of the Irish-speaking Myles Joyce, judicially murdered by the sentence of an English-speaking court, comments: “The figure of this dumbfounded old man, a remnant of a civilisation not ours, deaf and dumb before his judge, is a symbol of the Irish nation at the bar of public opinion.” This, along with the well-known passage from Portrait [viz., ‘my soul frets in the shadow of his language’, Chap. 5] in which Stephen feels the humiliation of being alien to the English language in the course of his conversation with the Newman Catholic Dean of Studies, identifies Joyce’s sense of separation from both Irish and English civilisation. Betrayed into alienation, he turns to art to enable him overcome the treacheries which have victimised him. / In one sense, Joyce’s writing is founded on the belief in the capacity of art to restore a lost vitality. So the figures we remember are embodiments of this “vitalism”, particularly Molly Bloom and Anna Livia Plurabelle. The fact that they were women is important too, since it clearly indicates some sort of resolution, on the level of femaleness, of what had remained implacably unresolvable on the male level, whether that be of Stephen and Bloom or of Shem and Shaun. This vitalism announces itself also in the protean language of these books, in their endless transactions between history and fiction, macro- and microcosm. But along with this, there is in Joyce a [11] recognition of a world which is “void” (a favourite word of his), woven though it is also full of correspondence, objects, people. ... His vitalism is insufficient to the task of overcoming this void.’ (Ibid., pp.11-12.)

Seamus Deane (Heroic Styles, 1984 [cont.]): ‘There is a profoundly insulting association in the secondary literature surround him that he is eccentric because of his Irishness but serious because of his ability to separate himself from it. In such judgements, we see the ghost of a rancid colonialism. But it is important to recognise that this ghost haunts the works themselves. The battle between style as the expression of communal history [...] and Joycean stylism, in which the atomisation of community is registered in a multitude of equivalent, competing styles, in short, a battle between Romantic and contemporary Ireland.’ [Deane goes on to apply these ideas to the crisis in Northern Ireland.] (Ibid., p.13.)

Seamus Deane (Heroic Styles, 1984 [cont.]): ‘‘Joyce, although he attempted to free himself from set political positions, did finally create in Finnegans Wake a characteristically modern way of dealing with heterogenous and intractable material and experience. The pluralism of his styles and languages, the absorbent nature of his controlling myths and systems, finally gives a certain harmony to varied experience. But, it could be argued, it is a harmony of indifference, one in which everything is a version of something else, where sameness rules over diversity, where contradiction is finally and disquietingly written out. In achieving this in literature, Joyce anticipated the capacity of modern society to integrate almost all antagonistic elements by transforming them into fashions, fads - styles, in short.’ (Ibid., p.16; For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Classics of Irish Criticism”, infra.)

[See also other employments of the word ‘indifference’ in Deane’s writings - as given under Deane, supra.]

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Seamus Deane, A Short History of Irish Literature (London: Hutchinson 1986): ‘[Joyce] shared with all his contemporaries, from Yeats and Synge to Moore and O’Casey, a preoccupation with the the idea of a culture for which a wholly articulate and authentic literature had yet to be found. Therefore, like them, he is deeply involved in the problem of language and of the various forms of censorship and disapproval that would deny its ultimate responsibility to truth.’ (p.141; quoted in Brendan Mitchell, MA PG Essay, UU 2009.) [Cont.]

Seamus Deane (A Short History of Irish Literature, 1986) - cont. [comparing Joyce and Moore]: ‘[both] made an artistic virtue out of his cosmopolitanism but [Joyce] discovered a richer way of exploiting the analogies between his own, his country’s past and the past of world history and world literature.’ (Idem.)

See Seamus Deane, Introduction to Finnegans Wake by James Joyce (Lilliput/Penguin 2015).

[...; see full text - as attached.]

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Seamus Deane, ‘Joyce the Irishman’, in The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge (Cambridge UP 1990), 31-54: ‘Joyce’s repudiation of Catholic Ireland and his countering declaration of artistic independence are well-known and integral features of his life-long dedication to writing. [Like] Yeats he was formed by the Ireland he repudiated and his quest for artistic freedom was itself shaped by the exemplary instances of early Irish writers who had, in his view, failed to achieve that independence which he sought for himself, an independence which was at once preconditioned and the goal of writing.’ (p.31.)

Further (Deane, ‘Joyce the Irishman’, 1990): ‘Wherever he looked, in Irish political or literary history, he found there the master-theme was betrayal. The great political crisis which dominated his early life - the fall of Parnell - probably governed this reading of his country’s past and helped to define for him the nature of the embattled future relationship between him and his Irish audience [...’; incls. ref. to Joyce’s remarks: “They did not throw him to the English wolves; they tore him to pieces themselves”, CW226; &c.]. (For longer extracts, see RICORSO Library, “Criticism / Major Authors” - James Joyce, infra.)

Seamus Deane, Celtic Revivals (London: Faber & Faber 1985): ‘[Joyce’s] very real disaffection with politics, Irish or international, enhanced his sense of isolation and was translated into his creed of artistic freedom. Since history could not yield a politics, it was compelled to yield an aesthetic. In this process, disaffection became disdain, political reality dissolved into fiction, fiction realised itself purely in terms of its own medium, language. As a consequence, the finite nature of historical fact was supplanted by the infinite, or near-infinite, possibilities of language. Language was cast into a form which would extend the range of possible signification to an ultimate degree of openness, thereby setting itself against the closed world of limited and limiting historical fact.’ (p.92; quoted in Thomas C. Hofheinz, Joyce and the Inventions of Irish History: Finnegans Wake in Context, Cambridge UP 1995, p.45.)

See also Deane, ‘Dead Ends: Joyce's Finest Moments’, in Semicolonial Joyce, ed. Derek Attridge & Marjorie Howes (Cambridge UP 2000) - arguing that Joyce finally succombed to the very disease he portrays so brilliantly at the end of “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” - the curse of ‘fine writing’. (Cited in ‘Ireland must be important ...&c.’, in Joyce Studies Annual, 2003, p.33.)

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Richard Kearney, Myth and Motherland [Field Day pamphlets, No. 5] (Derry: Field Day Co. 1984), ‘In Ulysses, Joyce uses one kind of myth to demythologise another. Molly, for example, is the antithesis to the ‘Mothers of Memory’ which Stephen identifies with the paralysing ‘nightmare of history’. Her passionate affair with Blazes Boylan contrasts with the self-sacrificing Virgin of Mother-Church; she hasn’t a word of the Mother-Tongue; and she commemorates the sensual Andalusian maidens of Gibraltar rather than the Celtic Goddesses of the Mother-Land such as Róisin or Caithlín. Yet Molly is both mother and memory - as the final soliloquy testifies. And as such she does achieve the proportions of a mythic figure whose double commitment to the particularity of everyday experience and to the universality of European mythology (she is identified with Penelope in line with the Greek myth of Ulysses) enables her to demythologise the stereotypes of our tribal myths. As Joyce explained in a letter to Valery Larbaud: “Penelope has the last word”. By playing mythic archetypes off against mythic stereotypes in this way, Joyce was suggesting that we can be liberated from our preestablished narratives of identity without capitulating to the modernist cult of solitary individualism. What Joyce found attractive about the Greek mythology of Ulysses (Bloom) / Penelope (Molly) / Telemachus (Stephen) was its foreign-ness - its ability to offer us alternative models of universality whose very otherness to our native models would enable us to redefine our experience in a new way, in a way untrammelled by the restrictive pieties of the motherland. Accordingly Molly is for Joyce a distinctively Irish woman precisely because she has been freed from those clichés of Irish womanhood which would have prevented her expressing herself as she really is. And yet by identifying [18] her with the open-ended mythic model of Penelope, Joyce is allowing this Irishwoman to be Everywoman. In short, Joyce seems to be saying that myth is good when it opens the familiar to the foreign and is bad when it reduces the foreign to the familiar. / Of course, this in no way reflects a bias against Irish mythology per se in favour of Greek mythology. ([...] &c.’; pp.17-18.)

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Sheldon Brivic, Joyce the Creator (Wisconsin UP 1985): ‘The Dubliners in these stories are incomplete and unable to connect with each other because they do not possess their own existences. Only in the last story, “The Dead”, are the possibilities of freedom and being suggested. A Portrait of the Artist shows a young man growing aware of the controls of society and using his knowledge to develop an individual mind. At the end of the novel, however, that mind is in need of another mind to complete it.
 After Portrait, Joyce wrote Exiles, his first work to present a deep connection between people. In this play, Richard Rowan and his commonlaw wife, Bertha, find themselves bound to a system of reciprocal needs. Moreover, the two protagonists are attached to two secondary figures, Robert Hand and Beatrice justice, who embody their weaknesses. The presentation of active relationships is accompanied by the doubling of the characters - a pattern prefigured in “A Painful Case” and “The Dead”, where emotional connections cause internal conflicts. In Ulysses, two people, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, come into contact with a mind that unites them, an extraindividual or multipersonal mind. The life of the book is oriented toward their union, for Bloomsday is meaningful insofar as it alms at that union, and their world gains much of its depth by being seen from their two perspectives. This union, working psychologically under the surface, is the central enactment in Joyces work of the double-aspect theory, for it indicates that the physical (Bloom) and the mental (Stephen) can share the same substance. The dual mind of Ulysses adds a kind of Holy Ghost to its Father and Son when Molly Bloom reveals herself at the end as the spirit underlying and proceeding from their relationship.
 The mind that seems to come to include the characters in Ulysses may be said to incorporate them utterly in Finnegans Wake. As a dream, the Wake takes place within the mind, a mind which apparently includes the whole world and all of history. The shifting characters of the Wake world are mental impulses, and their recurring roles make them functions of a psychic organization. The Wake expands this organization From a trinity to a quaternity to a quincunx [ref. to Hart, Structure and Motif]. The five archetypal figures of the eternal family in the Wake embody the interacting parts of a universal mind, a mind that could not be as complete as it is without the interaction of five beings. In the course of Joyce7s career, the central configuration of mind in his work enlarges itself from a naturalistic nullity to a striving for unity to a compound mentality made up of two, three, four, and then five minds. This steady unfolding of mental faculties is accompanied by [5] a progressive increase in levels of reference and in narrative personae. As these sources of being multiply, they grow more firmly bounded to each other. Only occasion undertones suggest that the four figures in Exiles are not merely individuals caught in an emotional entanglement, but parts of a symbolic system. In Ulysses, however, such suggestions are parts of a massive emphasis on the breakdown of boundaries between individuals. In the Wake, these boundaries become so permeable that they are often hard to locate. Figures in the Wake generate each other, interchange, and merge in ways that reveal them as parts of a larger personality.’ (pp.5-6.) ‘His early study of theology allowed him to give a new dispensation to the novel through the image of the artist that he found most inspiring and useful. No artist has represented himself through images of godhood more systematically or intrusively.’ (p.8.)

Sheldon Brivic (Joyce the Creator, 1985) - cont.: ‘The use of polyphony in Joyce indicates a crucial difference between him and Aristotle, who emphasised a unity at the centre of things. The centre of consciousness that speaks in the mature works of Joyce is generally divided, expressing more than one mind at once.’ (p.53.). Note: Brivic here cites Margot Norris [Decentered Universe] and Colin MacCabe [Revolution of the Word], with others, as witnesses to the break-up of fixed meanings in the works. Further: ‘Joyce presents self-division as essential to love. One gives life to one’s beloved by being of two minds about her, thus allowing her to exceed any prior formulation. This pattern appears in the wound of doubt that Richard says he bears for Bertha at the end of Exiles.’ (p.11.) ‘The multimind that Joyce elaborated through his canon is his most essential creation: out of its self-involvement the fullness of his world springs. (p.82.) ‘[...] Joyce respected God sufficiently to suspect that the Deity might value his honest emulation more than his slavishness. The rapidity with which he change the rules on virtually every page of the Wake suggests that he was trying to surpass God in pace and virtuousity. [.../] Joyce’s failure in his competition with the Deity are less astonishing than his success. [...] The recent centennial of 1982 left the Joyce world more active than ever [...] The life of Joyce depends upon the inherence of its soul, the consubstantiality of Joyce in his world.’ (p.83.)

Sheldon Brivic (Joyce the Creator, 1985) - cont.: ‘The Wake is filled with recognition that the creatures who inhabit it are projections of a primal mind beyond their knowing. With every word he writes, the author is finished as a unity and wakes as a disinherited, partial being. Lost in the confusion of his dismemberment, the characters strive to reconstitute themselves. Their learning, for example [“Nightlessons”] is an epistemological effort devoted to “establishing the identities of the writer complexus [... &c.”; FW114.33]. / By defining the minds of their author, the author of the letter that is equated with the Wake, they hope to identify themselves. But his real existence, the unity behind the multiplicity of his manifestations, is in another world that they can reach only by leaving their lives behind. The unified identity behind the dream is associated with the gigantic forefather, Finn MacCool [...] perceived indirectly through HCE [...]’ (p.101.) Further, ‘To focus on what Joyce accomplished, we should recognise the ways in which earlier techniques externalised the sources of their voices. This separation of voices allowed the isolation of homogeneous personalities. [...; here makes extended comparison with Henry James.] As a modernist, Joyce explores division and undercurrents in his characters; but insofar as he is preoccupied with judging them, he is obliged to see them as unified. Joyce, on the other hand [sic], as we have seen, began to disassemle the personal monad as early as the 1904 “A Portrait of the Artist”. The interior monologue he developed enacted a discourse between one part of the mind and another, for any word articulated in the mind must follow the pattern of coming from someone and going to someone else. The social structure of speech is built into the mind, and this speech must be mutual at least insofar as all speech is shaped by the audience it aims at, so the turning of the mind must be a conversation. / Instead of James’s dramatic scenes, watchers, confidants, and ghosts, Joyce moved towards a system of interior drama. [...]’ (p.140.)

Sheldon R. Brivic, ‘Time, Sexuality and Identity in Joyce’s Ulysses’, James Joyce Quarterly (Fall 1969) [q.pp.], of Stephen: ‘He rejects the imperfection and mutability of the world and turns inward to concentrate his attention upon his own selfhood and the abstractions of his mind.’ (p.32.) Of Bloom: ‘Except for his reactions to his body, which abound, Bloom has very little sense of self. His personality tends to be composed of the sum of his social position, his possessions, his background, his home, his relations to those around him, his job, his scientism [...] and so forth.’ (Idem.)

Note: ‘[...] Sheldon Brivic has counted over 1000 coincidences integrating the banalities and confusions of 16 June 1904 into a patterned harmony that none of the characters consciously apprehend, al-though their thoughts and actions are creating or co-creating it in collaboration with each other and with the dead and absent. As Brivic says: “The unconscious Joyce represents is not merely an area within the brains of his creatures. It is a network of connections through time and space that extends beyond any awareness most absolute.”’ (The Crane Bag, VI, 1, 1979; quoted - with these remarks - in Robert Anton Wilson, ‘James Joyce's Ulysses’, Magical Blends, Iss. 15 1987 [submitted by RMJon23]; available at Rawlinsonfans.org - online; accessed 08.08.2021; still available at 02.10.2021.) Brivic is called ‘the Irish critic’ in this blog.

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Zack Bowen, ‘Ulysses’, in Bowen & James F.Carens, eds., A Companion to Joyce Studies (Greenwood Press 1984) - on “Circe”: ‘Much of this long episode is indeed recapitulatory, inasmuch as many of the day’s actions, scenes, thoughts, and language are repeated.’ (p.516). ‘Yet much of the action is realistically presented - for instance, the passages of stream-of-conscious thought - though the dividing lines between fantasy and realism are exceptionally blurred. We know that Bloom does follow Stephen and Lynch into the Mabbot Street area and to Bella Cohen’s; that Stephen plays the piano as Bloom talks to one of the whores, Zoe; that a chandelier is broken; that Bloom takes charge of Stephen’s money and makes a settlement; that back in the street, Stephen is knocked down by one of the soldiers; and that Bloom, with Corny Kelleher’s help, gets Stephen out of some possible legal difficulties over the altercation. To say how much realistic action there is beyond that is dangerous.” (Ibid., pp.517-18.)

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Grace Eckley, Children’s Lore in Finnegans Wake (Syracuse UP 1985): What Joyce is saying in Finnegans Wake, and why the children are concerned about the larger significances of their parents’ scandal, cannot be determined without recognition of both the [William] Stead sources and Sheridan LeFanu’s novel The House by the Church-yard. The novel functions at two levels that are applicable to the Wake. On the first one, it begins when the skull of one Sturk, who was murdered in the Phoenix Park, is unearthed. Sturk’s grave itself, with his skull unearthed as past of the process of making way for a new corpse, provides the generating circumstance. The grave is a midden; the record of the past is contained in it. LeFanu employs a hen as a term only metaphorically, however: a student of divinity is called “Cock-Loftus” because his head resembles a hen’s nest, and Sally Nutter, wife of the accused murderer of Sturk, fusses “like an old hen”. The second level of importance for The House by the Church-yard is the fact that Sturk was struck down in the Park at the same place where, in 1882, the year of Joyce’s birth, the Phoenix Park [199] murders occurred, and at the same place where Joyce’s father experienced an encounter with a tramp, whcih, Joyce said in a letter to Frank Budgen, was the “basis” of his book (9 Sept. 1937, Letters, I, p.396.) What happened to John Joyce in the Park, then, is part of a historical process: history repeating itself with a difference. / LeFanu’s two “maggies” are Miss Magnolia Macnamara, a bundle of energy, concern, mischief, and malice, which may have inspired the contradictions of the answer to the Wake’s eight questions, “And how war your maggies?” (142.30); and a servant, Miss Partlet, whom a jealous wife once wrongfully called a trollop. In her best mime role, Magnolia upstages Aunt Becky who misaddresses her unworthy opponent as “Miss Mac - Mag - madam”, and again “Mrs. - Mug - Mag - Macnamara.” Regarding another Wake detail, Charles Nutter, having found Sturk’s body [for skull?] but hastening on an errand of his own, gave money to two soldiers from the nearby military barracks to search for the body; but it was three soldiers who brought it home.’ (pp.199-200.)

Note: William T. Stead was the asst. ed. of The Pall Mall Gazette and author of “The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon”, articles afterwards printed as a pamphlet, in which child prostitution in London was exposed in 1885. Eckley holds Stead to be a chief model for the character of HCE in the Wake.

Donald T. Torchiana, Backgrounds for Joyce’s “Dubliners” (London: Allen & Unwin 1986): ‘The dead, when they have some reason to rejoice, renewed as Michael Furey is in the understanding though uncreative swooning soul of the living Gabriel. The grace of snow that binds both together has indeed about it something of the harbinger of the Easter lily. Moreover, a wise man from the East of Ireland has experienced an epiphany just as the feast, service, and ending of the book demand. And, though snow was not general over Ireland on 6 January 1904, Joyce makes sure that it is on this conclusive night, for snow at Christmas traditionally leads to a mild, early, and hopeful spring in Ireland. [...] “The Dead” in the long run is a story of growth and life and spring.’ (p.253; quoted in Magda Velloso Fernandes de Tolentino, ‘Dubliners: The Journey Westward’ (MA Thesis, Fed. University of Minas Gerais [UFMG, 1989, p,120.)

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Richard Brown, James Joyce and Sexuality (Cambridge UP 1985; reps. 1988, 1990): ‘The shift from traditional to modern conceptions of marriage seems now [...] largely to be complete [.../] For Joyce, brought up a Catholic at the end of the nineteenth century in Ireland, the issue was very much a live one and it is striking that Joyce, at those times in his life when he made the clearest declarations of personal and artistic self-definition, allied himself to contemporary rejections of marriage. The most obvious example was his departure from Ireland with Nora on 8 October 1904 to live together in a free-love-style unmarried union for the next 27 years. Joyce’s rejection of marital conventionality has been taken for granted [...] The immediate issue of sexual political was nevertheless an important one. / Before setting up the irregular union, Joyce’s sexual life was by no means conventional. Perhaps the ideal marriage, in terms of social and economic security as well as sexual conformity, would have been with one of the daughters of the Sheehy household [...] Joyce was, though, something of an outsider to that circle both for his outrageous views and, perhaps, for his less than secure economic expectations. Rather than enter a socially competitive marriage markert he [...] frequented Dublin prostitutes. The deromanticised, unmistakably sexual nature of [13] such encounters apparently answered more closely his youthful sexual desires and his growing understanding of sex.’ (pp.13-14.) [Cont.]

Introduction: ‘[...] the hurrid accumulation of detailed explicatory glosses and the attention to Joyce's developments in literary form that have characterised the critism, have reinforced the impression that Joyce was a recluse from contemporary historical and intellectual pressures. The broad issued have been left out of account, and it is ony recently that a study like Dominic Manganiello's Joyce’s Politics has begun to piece together the implication of Joyce’s fictions in the ideas of their time. Such attempts as have been made to discuss Joycean sexuality have been partial and inconclusive. Book-length studies, like Mark Schechner’s Joyce in Nighttown, have attempted pseudo-psychoanalytical investigations or, like Margaret Solomon’s Eternal Geomater: The Sexual Universe of “Finnegans Wake”, have identified the prominence of sexuality in Joyce's texts without relating the ideas to a contemporary context. / Feminists, who might have been expected to produce some critique of Joyce, have been, until quite recently, silent.’ (p.3.)

‘Joyce, like so many of the great European novelists of the nineteenth century, relies upon the affective power of adulterous situations form many of his most central scenes and msot powerful emotional effects, to an extent that was rarely recognised when so much criticism sought for deeper significances concealed in his language and when recent attention has focussed so strongly on his experimentations with narrative style and technique.’ (p.17.)

Brown discusses the theme of adultery in “The Dead”, Exiles and Ulysses, in which he finds ‘a close reworking’ of the situation in the others. ‘Once more the central character is the cuckolded husband and far from the adopting of a jealous or revengeful attitude Bloom’s achievement of tolerance and emotional equilibrium constitutes the climax of the book’s activities.’ Brown notes that it was George Moore - called the ‘lecturer on French letters to the youth of Ireland’ (U375-76) - ‘who made popular the explicit treatment of adultery that Victorian taste had found so exceptionable in the French novel.’ (p.23); cites influence of liberal discourses on marriage by Charles Albert (L’amour libre) and Havelock Ellis (The New Spirit). ‘Free love, in this sense of the recognition of the inadequacy of the matrimonial formulation of the sexual relationship and the presentation of individuals as fundamentally separate from each other, thought Joyce makes little attempt to argue directly for it, runs through the understanding of relationships in all his works [...].’ (p.35.)

In discussing the adultery trial in the “Honuphrius” episode in Finnegans Wake (Bk III.4; pp.564ff.), Brown notes: ‘Rather than by the representation of some new reality or the explication of some modern, radical critique, Joyce’s engagement with marital questions in this passages [...] consists in adverting our attention to the language of the law itself and investigating or disruptiing it through parodic and ironic means’, instancing Joyce’s use of the casuistical and reactionary work of M. M. Matharan (Casus de matrimonio fere quingenti, Paris 1893) which was among those in Joyce’s private library listed by Thomas Connolly (here p.47.)

‘As Joyce’s writing developed from a relatively conventional and explicit fictional treatment of marriage questions to a more complex and elaborate linguistic and stylistic response, it seems that he did not altogether abandon his modern attitude to marriage. Indeed we have seen that to some extent modern aspects of style like irony, allusiveness and parody arose in his work whilst he attempted to treat modern sexual attitudes. We might say his critique changed from a relatively direct one, or one couched in the affective appeal of his writings, to one which functions in relation to the language and detail of established laws and concepts, and whih, through devices of semantic play, sems both to bring before our attention and to ridicule and disrupt the forms of order that his youthful mind had rejected.’ (p.49.)

Brown later asks: ‘Indirection may be characteristic of Joyce’s literariness [... b]ut does not indirection necessarily detract from the ability of an author to make statements about such subjects or, indeed, about any subjects? Once the literary habit of inexplicitness has been adopted such apparently self-defeating devices as parody and punning self-contradiction may be the best ways of making a polemical point. [...] Another aspect of his literariness that Joyce turned to polemical advantage was his allusiveness.’ (p.157.)

On Joyce’s treatment of perversity: ‘The idea that sexual psychology consists in such a variety of erotic taste has most in common with the Freudian notion of the “polymorphous perversity” of the sexual instinct, explained in Freud’s Three Essays on Sexual Theory. Joyce’s knowledge of Freud has been much discussed. It is at any rate the case that Joyce’s library [in Trieste] contains such psychoanalytica work as Freud’s Psychopathology of Everyday Life, his essay on Leonard da Vinci’s childhood memory and Ernest Jones’s interpretation of Hamlet. [...] Freud discusses the meeting of Odysseus and Nausicaa in terms of exhibitionism [in Psychopathology], and this is the very word Joyce used in describing his of “Nausicaa” episode retrospectively in “Ithaca” (U865). Yet sustained used of psychoanalytic terminology is no more a sustained feature of Joyce’s writing than is the use of Krafft-Ebing.’ (p.83.)

Also discusses sundry parallels between the treatment of perversity in Ulysses and matters dealt with in Havelock Ellis’s Studies of the Psychology of Sex, although only Ellis’s literary-critical work was in Joyce’s library. (Idem.)

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Bonnie Kime Scott, James Joyce [Feminist Readings] (Brighton: Harvester 1987): ‘Molly has boggled the minds of generations of scholars with her indefinite use of the male pronoun, generalising male actions rather than specifically representing them. [...] Reading Molly’s body, we see the importance of the omissions of the emissions of her monologue, which is accompanied by menstral flow. She, Martha and Blook are all subject to Joyce’s arrangement of language, but in this arrangement correctness of language loses its authority. / Woman’s language has some variants in Joyce. It may be as ancient as the cuneiform wedge or as common as Molly’s lingua franca. It makes do with available surfaces, an egg or a rock. It is an essential variant for the male writer, and allows him a measure of self-criticism. Female modernism, as constructed by Joyce, does not show off with densities and portmanteau words [...] Though he make raise a [128] “meandering male fist” of control, the action is sure to be mocked by his own female reader. Female language may flow in and from the body, or be woven or played as music. The aesthetic of women’s language is sufficiently broad to embrace both the goddess and Stephen Dedalus in the artistic life-sustaining process [i.e., “mother Dana”] [...] ALP [...] weaves like Penelope [... s]he also unweaves, flowing away into impersonality and recombination of gender, as she rejoins her sky mother and sea father. ALP is allowed lush sound, but no personal ambition. There is no culminating, final senntence. Her language is as interrupted, interruptable as the final half-sentence of Finnegans Wake. Yet her feminine language is what provides the umbilicus, the “vicus” of recirculation and offers a new politics of relationship and authorship. As she flows to the sea, Anna thinks of the writer of “work in progress” [...] and says with confidence, “It’s by this route he’ll come some tomorrow” (625.13-14.) / Anna’s route cannot fully satisfy satisfly the woman writer or gynocritic who has a shaping vision, a self-defining ambition and tradition, along with her physical female form, to equate with language. Still, the French feminists paradigms of writing the feminine enrich our reading of Joyce, taking us beyond Freud and beyond structuralism. A troubling possibility is that Joyce’s writing of woman still serves a male author’s ego, proving he can move into “other” forms. On the other hand, if the move is made, not in the spirit of epic conquest, but as a wanderer-gatherer and re-viewer of writing, we should wish for more male writers who will follow in Anna’s wake.’ (End; p.128-29.)

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Daniel R. Schwartz, Reading Joyce’s Ulysses (London: Macmillan 1987): ‘While Odysseus goes from place to place, Joyce goes from style to style. [...] For Joyce, no one perspective could represent or do justice to the diversity of plausible views on reality.’ (p.58.)

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Michael Begnal, Dreamscheme: Narrative and Voice in Finnegans Wake (Syracuse UP 1988): ‘Whether there is a single dreamer in Finnegans Wake, and I am fairly convinced that there is not, it is clear that there is an abundance of voices to be heard in this Wakean night. Their cadences and thematic concerns will sooner or later give them away, if the reader looks closely enough [...] in their staccato question-and-answer sessions, they almost tell us more than we want to know. And they are not so difficult to discover behind their narrational masks, since they always make their appearances in virtually the same combinations - brother warring against brother when Shem and Shaun are on stage, and the suitor looking for a wife when the turns come for Anna Livia and Humphrey Chimden Earwicker. Unfailingly, when Issy comes forward at all, she will adopt the role of the supporting actress.’ (p.xv.) [Cont.]

Michael Begnal, Dreamscheme: Narrative and Voice in Finnegans Wake (1988) - cont.: ‘The method in Finnegans Wake is not random, and by concentrating closely upon the structure and the language of the novel the reader can follow the signposts which lead to Joyce’s grand design. Joyce never promised that this would be easy, but the insights, the laughter, and the rewards will more than justify the midnight oil.’ [xvi.] ‘In Finnegans Wake, perhaps the most experimental fiction ever attempted, Joyce takes great pains to undercut the formal expectations of plot and to demonstrate that narrative must be adapted to the mental processes it attempts to represent.’ (p.15.) ‘Whereas a conventional novelist might be most concerned with the result of the plot, Joyce concentrates upon the potentiality of plot and characterisation as they unfold on many levels at once. The events or the narrative levels of Finnegans Wake are not connected causally, but they are controlled novelistically. They are not psychoanalytical free associations, but instead they are distorted mirrors of each other.’ (p.49.) [Cont.]

Michael Begnal, Dreamscheme: Narrative and Voice in Finnegans Wake (1988) - cont.: ‘Rather than unfolding in a logical progression of narrative, the text is basically composed of individual segments, each self-contained as to voice or voices. The voice shifts or changes according to the context, and, once a reader has ascertained the number of speaking parts, he or she can adjust to the at first seemingly chaotic nature of a tale whose point of view switches incessantly. Basically, we are in the hands of the children here, a tribe of polyglot manipulators who seem to enjoy very much what they do, who seem to enjoy the freedom which the Wake has given them. In their strivings with and against each other, they provide an alternative to the idea that the meek shall inherit the earth. We must keep an eye and an ear upon these mischievous miscreants, hoping along with Anna Livia that all will come clear in the end.’ (p.87.)

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Terry Eagleton, ‘Nationalism, Colonialism [..., &c.]’, (1990) [first edn. 1988]: ‘Joyce’s compliment to Ireland, in inscribing it on the cosmopolitan map, is in this sense distinctly back-handed. The novel deploy[s] the full battery of cosmopolitan techniques to recreate it while suggesting with its every breath just easily it could have done the same for Bradford or the Bronx.’ ( p.15; quoted in Emer Nolan, James Joyce and Irish Nationalism, London: Routledge 1995, p.9.)

Terry Eagleton, Exiles and Emigrés: Studies in Modern Literature (London: Chatto & Windus 1970): ‘What I am concerned with is not some crude reduction of imaginative literature to a kind of “class determinism”: that is to say, with the method often, [226] and wrongly, thought to be Marxist. I am concerned to see the ways in which the social attitudes adpoted by particular twentieth-century writers shape or limit their power to achieve that sense of interrelation between concrete living and the shape of a complete culture which the greatest of nineteenth-century authors displayed. (pp.11-12; quoted in Alan Roughley, James Joyce and Critical Theory, Harvester Wheatsheaf 1991,pp.226-27.) Further: ‘Joyce and other modernists [...] had immediate access to alternative cultures and traditions in broader frameworks against which in a highly creative tension the erosion of [the] contemporary order could be situated and understood. (Eagleton, p.15; here p.227.)

Terry Eagleton, Exiles and Emigrés (1970) - cont: ‘Joyce had rejected that native lineage upon which Yeats drew and moved to Europe; but he was able to use some of its tools to create an aesthetic and a mythology within which the determining contemporary experience could be grasped.’ (Eagleton, p.16; here p.127.) Roughley paraphrases: He ‘rejected’ the ‘specific contents’ of both Catholicism and Nationalism which he inherited, ‘yet he remained enduringly indebted to its totalising forms, within which art and religion, history and politics, could still be seen in organic interconnection.’ Further: Eagleton believes that Joyce maintained an ‘ambivalent stance towards his culture which is related to the ‘tension’ and the pattern of attraction and repulsion informing his work. Yeats and Joyce both ‘reveal a complex relation to their own societies which was not on the whole reproduced in England.’ (Idem.)

Terry Eagleton, ‘Form and Ideology in the Anglo-Irish Novel’, in Búllan, I (1994): ‘Joyce’s writing is the non-Irish speaking Irish writer’s way of being unintelligible to the British. By subverting the very forms of their language, he struck a blow for all his gagged and humiliated fellow country people.’ (p.24; quoted in Irish Literary Supplement [Boston], Fall 1994, p.26; see further under Eagleton, Quotations, supra.)

Terry Eagleton, The English Novel: An Introduction (Blackwell 2005) - James Joyce [Chap. 13}: ‘[...] Joyce, then, is that rare creature, an avant-garde artist who is also a genuine democrat. Hardly any other modernist writer is at once so esoteric and down to earth. There is a carnivalesque quality to his writing, a gusto, humour and sense of ease with the body, which exists cheek-by-jowl with the high- modernist difficulty of his writing. Ulysses has been described as an ‘epic of the body’, and is secretly structured around various bodily organs. On the other hand, if Joyce could create the extravagantly mediocre Leopold Bloom and his ribald wife Molly, he also produced what has a claim to be the most obscure novel ever written, Finnegans Wake. / Many of the great modernist writers loathed some social group or other, whether women, Jews, socialists or the common people. Joyce, by contrast, stands out among these dismally benighted ranks for his tolerance and generosity of spirit. He also lacks the mandarin tone of so many of his modernist colleagues. If he is outrageously experimental, he is also deeply egalitarian. This may have something to do with hailing from a small country without as defined a class system as England, in which a communal ethic survived and the sense of all being in the same boat was strong. Unlike the Americans, the Irish are on the whole suspicious of success, and tend either to satirize or begrudge it.’ [Cont.

Terry Eagleton, “James Joyce” (in The English Novel: An Introduction, Blackwell 2005) [Chap. 13]


Unlike many of the major modernist writers, for whom language is a slippery, untrustworthy medium, Joyce has a robust belief in the power of words to articulate more or less anything. This may be partly because there lies behind him a tradition of Irish rhetoric - of language as preaching, polemicizing or persuading. There had been a vigorous oral tradition in the country, of which there may be some late echoes in Molly Bloom’s great monologue. But this faith in language may also reflect the fact that in the world of modern capitalism, the sign is indeed becoming more and more powerful. It is no accident that Leopold Bloom, the modern Odysseus, is an advertising agent. As the capitalist economy develops, it comes to run more and more on words and images.

Joyce’s verbal universe is the new multilingual world of exile and migrations, newsprint and advertising, urban slang and specialized jargon. We are now in a print culture, and to remind us of the fact Joyce uses typographical devices in his work to draw attention to the fact that his books are books. They are material objects which somehow give the illusion of speech. Like his predecessor Laurence Sterne, he is fascinated by the way in which inanimate black marks on white sheets can somehow become living human meanings. Finnegans Wake can even be read as an act of colonial vengeance, in which, having been deprived by the English of your own native speech, you strike back by seizing their language, contaminating it with a babble of other dialects, and deploying it with such dazzling virtuosity that it falls apart in your hands. The master tongue is stripped of its privilege by a skilled verbal scavenger.

English itself is made foreign, as it had been to so many of Joyce’s Irish ancestors. The strange dialect of the Wake is a way of not speaking English for those of the Irish who cannot speak their native tongue either. It is also a way of speaking English even more abundantly and ebulliently than the English do. The English language is supposed to be intimately wedded to English culture, as its unique medium of expression; but Joyce impudently detaches the language from the culture and converts it into an international currency. The scandal is to see English used to express distinctly ‘non-English’ realities. The exile belongs to no particular language, and can therefore be at home, or not at home, in any of them. Joyce is the great parodist of other people’s literary forms, as a colonized nation is itself a kind of parody of an authentic nation-state. It is parasitic on the history and culture of others, inventing little by itself.

There is a sense in which Joyce, too, initiates very little, preferring to cobble together fragments of various cultures, recycling the same old elements in modified ways. He is no fan of Romantic innovation. For him, everything is manufactured out of something else. There is no original, only an endless chain of derivatives. Yet what is produced out of this non-innovation is one of the most original forms of art of modern times. The mimic becomes the modernizer - rather as Oscar Wilde created something quite new by imitating English high society drama with such ironic exactness. In a similar way, in the very year of publication of Ulysses, the Irish produced out of a history which had been so often a poor imitation of Britishness, an arrestingly original creation known as the Irish Free State. It was the first postcolonial nation-state of the twentieth century, and therefore, like the art of Joyce and Beckett, it had to improvise itself as it went along, lacking any well-established paradigm on which to model itself.

Joyce was never an enthusiast of Irish nationalism, though for a while he admired Sinn Fein for left-wing reasons. He was always, however, a sharp critic of British colonialism. Even towards the end of his life, when he had moved away from his early political radicalism, he agreed with an interviewer that the influence of British imperialism on his country had been ‘villainous’. If he opposed nationalism in his youth it was from a socialist perspective, not a pro-colonialist one; he thought it was simply not revolutionary enough. The nationalists, for example, opposed the British state but were mostly loyal to the Catholic church, which seemed to Joyce grotesquely inconsistent. Both forms of oppressions, political and religious, had to be challenged together. Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is an anti-nationalist on quasi-nationalist grounds: he accuses the nationalists of having betrayed his country to the British, and for all his disdain of such ethnic politics speaks of his art as forging ‘the uncreated conscience of [his] race’. This may not be the voice of Sinn Fein, but neither is it the voice of middle England.

Joyce also disliked what he saw as the nationalists’ chauvinism, sexism, and cultural purism. He rejected their violence, xenophobia and religious bigotry, from his own pluralist pacifist, cosmopolitan standpoint. One of the two leading characters of Ulysses is an Irish Hungarian Jew. As a disciple of Ibsen and European naturalism, he also scoffed at the Romantic dreams of Celtic visionaries like Yeats. He blamed the Irish bitterly for having colluded in their own colonization. As a pacifist, he detested the nationalists’ cult of heroism, which he also saw as underlying the carnage of the First World War. Leopold Bloom, an “unmanned” cuckold who abhors military aggression and has a pronounced feminine side to him, is a satirical deflation of that macho world. Or perhaps what is truly heroic is a tolerant acceptance of human difference and frailty, of the kind that Bloom practises.

In the end, Joyce was a rebel rather than a revolutionary. He was more Bohemian than Bolshevik. Yet despite his scorn for nationalism, he sprang from the social class in Ireland which provided the backbone of the nationalist movement: the urban lower middle class. And there is a sense in which his own ‘revolution of the word’, as it has been called, parallels that political revolution against the British state. If his writing satirizes nationalism, it is also part of the great explosion of creative energies which helped to give birth to it. Like many an eminent modernist, Joyce stood in contradictory relation to his own culture, nourished by it and spurning it at the same time. He was an exile - yet no experience is more typically Irish. If Joyce was not at home in the country, neither were the great majority of his compatriots, far more of whom lived abroad than in Ireland. He debunked his own people, but this is a familiar Irish practice. He savaged the Roman Catholic church, but substituted a priesthood of art for a religious one. As Cranley remarks to the atheistic Stephen Dedalus in the Portrait: ‘It is a curious thing... how your mind is supersaturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve’. There have been many ways of being religious in Ireland, and atheism is one of the most distinguished.

Joyce rejected religious doctrines, but retained some of the systematic bent of scholastic thought. He was, he wryly observed, a scholastic in everything but the premises. To oppose the repressive puritanism of Catholic Ireland, he drew on a carnivalesque celebration of the body which was, ironically, very much part of Irish popular culture. If the nationalist rebels of the 1916 Easter Rising put Ireland on the international map, Joyce’s work did so just as successfully at exactly the same moment. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in that year. In the grotesque figure of the Citizen in Ulysses, he lampooned the bigotry and belligerence of the narrower kinds of nationalism, while being aware that some of the Citizen’s criticisms of Britain were accurate and justified. He knew this because he had voiced some of those criticisms himself, in his non-fictional work. For all his ugly racism, the Citizen’s language is far closer to Joyce’s own scabrous wit, humour and satire than is the more pallid, polite language of Leopold Bloom. It is the meek Bloom who speaks up for capital punishment, and the ferocious Citizen who speaks against it.

Joyce, then, may not have been a revolutionary Irish nationalist, but neither was he a middle-class Anglo-Saxon liberal. Throughout his writings there is a good deal of anti-colonial polemic, which Anglo-Saxon critics generally play down. Some of them prefer to adopt him as a kind of honorary English liberal humanist with a mildly unfamiliar accent. If Joyce criticized Irish nationalism, however, it was not out of any love for British rule in Ireland, but because he thought that nationalism had failed to break deeply enough with it. Though his period as a self-declared socialist was fairly brief, he stands out among the politically unsavoury crew of European modernists, several of whom sailed close to fascism, as a democrat, populist and egalitarian. He is among the few leftist or liberal-leftist examples of such artists. Finnegans Wake was once praised by a French critic as a great antifascist novel - not because it has much to say about fascism, but because its Pentecostal mingling of tongues and mixing of national myths is the very opposite of ethnic purity. It is the novel’s form which is political, not its content.

Nationalism is a Janus-faced creed, which turns back to an idealized past in order to gather the mythological resources with which to leap forward into a politically independent future. In Joyce’s own day, W. B. Yeats is a prime example of this facing-both-ways. The Ireland of the time was itself a mixture of the new and the old, as the forces of modernization flourished alongside cultural forms which were often quite traditional. The place was both European and a colony, both advanced and underdeveloped. Modernism often thrives in this kind of time-warp, [...]’

‘Freedom for the Sinn Feiners meant freedom to affirm your national identity, whereas freedom for Joyce meant being able to shift identities, weave several of them into one, cross frontiers, bend meanings, mix genders, undercut fixed hierarchies and confound distinctions. The revolution, in short, has not been revolutionary enough. It had perpetuated the past as well as breaking with it. There is little advance in the Irish middle classes seizing the state from Britain and using it themselves to exploit the Irish poor. There was, in the words of Stephen Dedalus, a loveliness which had not yet come into the world. Joyce’s art pointed to what still remained to be done - to the cultural revolution which must accompany the anti-colonial one, as a kind of depth within it. Yet without the anti-colonial revolution, no such cultural transformation would be remotely possible. In this, at least, the nationalists were in the right of it. [...]’
(Q.pp.; copied from Kindle edition.)
See also Eagleton’s remarks on James Joyce’s “The Dead” in Dubliners (1916), in The English Novel: An Introduction (Blackwell 2005) - under Joyce > Notes - “The Dead” - infra.

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Julia Kristeva, ‘Word, Dialogue, and Novel’, in Desire in Language, ed. Leon S. Roudiez (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1980): ‘It seems that what is persistently being called “interior monologue” is the most indomitable way in which an entire civilization conceives itself as identity, as organized chaos, and finally, as transcendence. Yet, this “monologue” probably exists only in texts that pretend to reconstitute the so-called physical reality of “verbal flux”. Western man’s state of “interiority” is thus a limited literary effect (confessional form, continuous psychological speech, automatic writing). In a way, then, Freud’s “Copernican” revolution (the discovery of the split within the subject) put an end to the fiction of an internal voice by positing the fundamental principles governing the subject’s radical exteriority in relation to, and within, language.’ (p. 90; quoted in Derek Attridge & Daniel Ferrer, Poststructuralist Joyce, Cambridge UP 1984, p.13 [n.14]) Attridge and Ferrer remark: ‘It should by now be obvious that Joyce’s “monologue” is anything but monological, in the sense proposed by Bakhtin and developed by Kristeva.’

Hélène Cixous, The Exile of James Joyce, trans. by Sally Purcell [prev. in French, l’Exil de James Joyce, Paris: Bertrand Grasset 1972] (London: Calder 1976) [on the aethetics of Stephen Dedalus]: ‘[...] From Saint Thomas Joyce borrows the foundations of a large part of his aesthetic theory. His need for order and his need for freedom are reconciled in the pleasure he derives from obtaining for his art the benefits offered by an ethical vision of the world. His use of the Thomist order and rejection of the faith that inspired it guarantee sufficiently his freedom to form “a theory of art which was at once severe and liberal. His Aesthetic “was in the main applied Aquinas, and he set it forth plainly with a naif air of discovering novelities. This he did partly to satisfy his own taste for enigmatic roles and partly from a genuine predispostion in favour of all but the premisses of Scholasticism.” (SH, 81.) / Stephen does [not], however, make direct and exclusive use of Saint Thomas; his aesthetic is neither Thomist nor orthodox, but a combination of characteristics borrowed from theories of his own times and skillfully annotated quotations from Aquinas. It may be asked to what extent Joyce already determined the form of his conclusions, justifying them afterwards by an apparently honest chain of deductive reasoning. In the reasonably extensive field covered by his reflections, what seems to concern him most is a certain definition of the artist’s function and of his mediating situation between art and the world, followed by the elaboration - by way of his definition of beauty - of a new form of art whose essence is the theory of the epiphany (which was originally a rather artificial addition to the rest of his theories.)’ (p.624). [Cont.]

Hélène Cixous (The Exile of James Joyce, 1976) - cont.: Cixous reprints the “1904 Portrait” in its entirety under the devised title “A Flamboyant Autobiography” [pp.206-12; as attached], and remarks [inter al.], ‘His model is not Parnell but Ibsen; he had written to the latter on his seventy-fifth birthday, in March 1901 [...] praising him as one who walked “in the light of his own inner heroism”. A letter to Stannie from Pola ends “I am sure however tha the whole structure of heroism is, and always was, a damned lie and that there cannot be any susbstitute for the individual passion as the the motive [206] force of everything - art and philosophy included.” [Letters, II, p.81; 7 Feb. 1905]. / Joyce distinguished the military type of heroism which he deplores from the inner heroism which is the motive power of all art. / The fact of signing anything was so important to Joyce than in later life he refused to sign anything that was not of himself, as thogh he had decided once and for all not to give any foothold, any power over him, to that world whose creation seemed to him a source of nothing but unhappiness and error. His words, “It was not I, but God ro someone else, who made it all,” are in instinctive and passionately felt refusal to take on any responsibility; they are his relply as an accused person who refuses to accept his guilt. From January 1904 onwards, he begins to cultivate detachment; he sends to the editors of the review Dana a long, difficult and allusive peice, deeply strong and violent, summing up his adolescent experience; the very fact that he chose the autobiographical form shows that he felt himself to have reached the end of the time of idealism.’ (pp.205-06.) [Vide further remarks on the flight from idealism - infra.]

Note: Joyce later wrote that he offered an introductory chapter [of AP] to Mr. Magee (John Eglinton) and Mr. Ryan, editor of Dana. It was refused.’ (My marginal note [BS], quoting Herbert Gorman, The First Forty Years [1926]; in Cixous, op. cit., p.206.) [Cont.]

Hélène Cixous (The Exile of James Joyce, 1976) - cont.: ‘The language of this first essay [1904 “Portrait”] is particularly interesting, as nowhere else in the later works are we so struck by Joyce’s personal speech.’ (p.212.) ‘Stylistically it could pass for an obscure parody of the decadent late nineteenth-century art, but it is the form taken by the twenty-two-year-old Joyce’s metaphysical anguish, the object of his frustrations, his inexpressible aspirations, his apprehension of the choice that lay before him, the choice of following the beaten track or of making his own way.’ (p.212.) [Cont.]

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Hélène Cixous (The Exile of James Joyce, 1976) - cont.: ‘For if the essay is called Portrait of the Artist [1904], it is simply in order to mislead, for there is scarcely a trace of the actual artist in it. A portrait it may be, but it is a pre-Stephen portrait of a nameless artist, or of one who is not yet an artist. It is the portrait of an “imperson”, struggling impersonally to bring into the world that being within it that desires to come into fuller existence. While the theme of the Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is that of the search for and formulation of a personal aesthetic, that of this first Portrait is merely a preliminary: the artist is being sought for, which accounts for the extreme abstraction. There is no individual, no subject yet. The whole piece offers an elaboration and construction of a context in which the living artist might develop and emerge - a text, therefore, which is prior to the existence of the artist, which precedes the creator and is therefore in a state of chaos, yet which contains the promise of creation. At the end the artist will win his identity. In order to write he will have to multiply his contacts with the outside world, to knit a whole network of relationships into which as artist he will fit; and in the course of this exercise the artist begins to find himself, and to disengage himself from the actual writing. Throughout the exercise Joyce experiences more or less clearly the effects of time and space, of connection with others and of the relationship with oneself. Only as a footnote to this adventure of self-construction does the artist think about inventing his tools and formulating the rules of his rhetoric. / The original individual is seen as rhythm, as the relation of part to whole, as the curve of an emotion; he is not a person with a human appearance and characteristics that can be described, but a fluid movement, a consciousness in time. / There may be some influence of Bergson on this declaration of war on material things, this refusal to consider a living being as immobilised in a superficial, permanent form like a passport photograph, [...]’. (p.213.)

On JJ’s idealism: ‘His letters to Stanislaus during the years 1905-7 show that he was gradually disengaging himself from all idealism, including his youthful admiration for Ibsen or Giordano Bruno; he records, for example, the he had with complete indifference taken part in a procession in honour of the Nolan. [Letters, II, p.217; 1 march 1907.] Everyday life seemed now to require much more strength and patience than the rebellious life ever had. He had been obliged to discover the heroism of the banal.’ (p.228.)

[See also her chapter title “XI: Heroism is Ridiculous”, dealing largely with the question of sports as an ‘idealistic cure’ in the form of ‘hardy brutality’ of field-sports [SH, 39; Cixous, op. cit., pp.230-31] and focusing largely thereafter on the “Cyclops” episode in Ulysses.]

Hélène Cixous (The Exile of James Joyce, 1976) - cont. [Chap. XXIV - ‘Conclusion: Joyce’s Dream’]: ‘If Stephen recalls so insistently the magnificent “slaughter-houses” of history at the beginning of Ulysses, and if the Lamb is led to the slaughter in virtually every chapter, this is not solely because of Joyce’s very real and often-proclaimed pacificism; it is also because Joyce is concerned with his nightmare as with real life. In fact, if history really were a process of becoming, if dialectic existed, and if the nightmare could come to an end, then Joyce the artist would have no more reason to write; it is necessary for blood to flow, so that Joyce may be a man of peace. It is also necessary for all to be in all, for Catholicism to affirm the eternal existence of man, and for symbolism, following the path of Hermetic tradtion, to establish a network of correspondences such that possession of the minor terms will ensure by analogy knowledge of how to find the major terms and meanings. / If all is in all, as in a dream all may replace all, and the hierrachy of values may be reversed as one pleases. Events are neither amusing nor sad, since they do not have a place in any progression; they are merely echoes of a permanent situation. God may be used as a symbol for the act of defecation and excrement may have the same value as ink; a dog may bark in place of the Word, and God many enter a dog’s body. In this world, where Joyce acknowledges no priorities, the aritst is free within the nightmare. To Joyce, the fruitful paradox of history is this: by definition, a nightmare is an adventure in which one is involved, whose [726] contradictions one is absolutely powerless to resolve. Yet it is in constraint that the imagination is free. The tension between contradictions is the energy of art and the origin of language; helplessness in the face of destiny justifies the artist’s decision to exile himself.’ (pp.726-727.) [Cont.]

Hélène Cixous (The Exile of James Joyce, 1976) - cont. ‘In the last analysis, what Joyce says is what also overwhelms Stephen: the fact that freedom exists outside the culture in which one is irremediably imprisoned; that one sleeps out one’s life to the accompaniment of history as told by a God who speaks the same language as oneself; that only within this history does one have a place to occupy and a part to play. If God speaks the language of men, He does so because men have invented God speaking their language, and because they claim to justify themselves and to render themselves innocent by attributing to God the Word that gives the signal for the slaughter to begin.’ (p.736; end.) [For longer extracts incl. a discussion of the Portrait Aesthetic, see RICORSO Library, “Major Writers”, James Joyce - Cixous [1], infra.)

Hélène Cixous, ‘Joyce: The (r)use of writing’, in Post-structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French, ed. Derek Attridge & Daniel Ferrer (Cambridge UP 1984), pp.15-30: ‘[...] But there remains, lurking, that theological left-over instituted in the notion of the “spiritual” which holds the text in front of the mirror. Spiritual mirror, spiritual chapter. Is not the “spiritual liberation” in fact brought about via a liberation of signifiers, fraudulently crossing the “classical” realist border, and that of its solemn double, symbolism? Is not the scene of writing, when only just set, already slipping, turning, and always decentered? A flirt beckoning at the same time as pushing away. Choosing to suffer from a confusion afflicting the ego, the it, the id, the subject, the signified and the sacred. Interrupting the strangeness of here and now with even more strangeness from elsewhere. Producing that unheimlich [19] effect which sets up a play between the familiar, and the sudden breakdown of the familiar, between the home (Heim) and the hidden (heimlich), between my self and that which escapes me. Freud has demonstrated [in “The Uncanny”, Standard Edn., London: Hogarth Press, 1953-74, vol. 17, pp.217-56] that all this is aroused by doubt, by intellectual insecurity, acting as a screen for the fear of being blinded (a fear which is an indispensable axis crossing the Joycean space) which is itself a substitute for the fear of castration: fear which in its turn produces the other self, that kind of other which is kept handy in case the self should perish, which in literature becomes “the double”, a stranger to the self, or its indirect manifestations: doubling of the self, split self, and all those subversions of the subject, visibly at work in the excerpt quoted: where “I” (the narrator) weigh up my strength, my existence, my grasp on reality, and my abdicating by examining the power of words.’ (pp.19-20.)

Further: ‘[The text divides] into explosions and a crazy coalescence of the subject which undoes itself at the very moment when it constitutes itself in the new fragmentation of the word become word-tale or wordbook, become one-plural.’ (p.17; quoted in James Wurtz, ‘A Very Strange Agony: Modernism, Memory and Irish Gothic Fiction” , Ph.D. Diss., Notre Dame U., 2005 - available as PDF online; accessed 10.06.2012.)

Hélène Cixous, ‘Joyce: The (r)use of writing’, in Derek Attridge & Daniel Ferrer, eds., Post-structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French (Cambridge UP 1984) - cont.: ‘(R)used writing, writing governed by ruse: which is therefore luxury writing, because in order to play tricks and to sow seeds, you have to produce wild-goose chases, you have to modify the traditional mode of the narrative which claims to offer a coherent whole, utilizable down to the smallest detail, the author being tacitly bound to produce an account of his expenditure. This is writing which is prodigal and therefore disconcerting because of its economy, which refuses to regulate itself, to give itself laws: sometimes restrained, finely calculated, strategic, intending by the systematic use of networks of symbols and correspondences to impose a rigid grid on the reader, to produce an effect of mastery; sometimes, on the other hand, within the same textual web, surreptitiously, perversely, renouncing all demands, opening itself up without any resistance to the incongruous, introducing metaphors which never end, hypnotic and unanswerable riddles, a proliferation of false signs, of doors crafted without keys: in other words (spoken in jest), it is an extraordinarily free game, which should shatter any habits of reading, which should be continually shaking the reader up, and thus committing this reader to a double apprenticeship; the necessary one which is read-writing a text whose plurality explodes the painstakingly polished surface: and the one which is, in the very practice of a reading not condemned to linearity, an incessant questioning of codes which appear to function normally but which are sometimes suddely rendered invalid, and then the ent moment are revalidated, and, in the inexhaustible play of codes, there slips in, indecipherable and hallucinatory by definition, a delirious code, a lose code, a kind of reserve where untamed signifiers prowl, but [without] the space of that reserve being delimited. [...]’ (pp.18-20; for longer extracts, see RICORSO Library “Criticism / Major Authors” - James Joyce [infra].)

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Stephen Heath, ‘Ambiviolences: Notes for reading Joyce’, in Derek Attridge & Daniel Ferrer, eds., Post-structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French (Cambridge UP 1984): ‘[...] Where criticism explicates, opening out the folds of the writing in orderto arrive at the meaning, Finnegans Wake is offered as a permanent interplication, a work of folding and unfolding in which every element becomes always the fold of another in a series that knows no point of rest. The fourth section of the book gives a whole range of discursive expliations of the Letter but the latter exhausts them all (and not vice versa), running through them and encompassing them in the materiality of the letters of the text itself, holding them in that derisive hesitation referred to earlier.’ (p.32.) ‘Joyce declared himself ‘quite content to go down to posterity as a scissors and paste man for that seems to me a harsh but not unjust description.’ (Letter to George Antheil, 3 Jan. 1931; Letters, I, p.297.) The reference is to the literal activity of assemblage that characterises, in part and in differing ways, the writing of Ulysses and of Finnegans Wake. [...] The value is to be found in the heterogeneity, in the very distance between these diverse elements that the writing will cross in a ceaseless play of relations and correspondences in which every element becomes the fiction of another. The unity of these elements is not, then, as is generally supposed, one of content and meaning, but one grasped at the level of their reality as forms, as fictions. What is constructed in the play of their interrelations in the writing is a discontinuity in progress, a constant displacement from ficiton to fiction. It is this discontinuity that realises the negativity of Joyce’s writing. [...] The irony of Ulysses is that of this perpetual displacement, that, briefly noted by Kristeva, of the capture of ‘a meaning always already old, always already exceeded, as funny as it is ephemeral.’ [Kristeva, ‘Comment parler à la littérature’, in Tel Quel, 47, Autumn, 1971, p.40.] It is in these terms that Joyce’s irony is not, as in the case of the classic tradition of irony, contextual, but, exactly, intertextual, a strategy of hesitation opening onto a ‘“finally real text ... the current letter of meaning finally formulated and played.”’ [Philippe Sollers, Logiques, Paris: Seuil 1968, p.110.] (p.40.)

Stephen Heath (‘Ambiviolences: Notes for reading Joyce’, 1984) - cont.: ‘[...] Beckett, describing the writing of Finnegans Wake, comments: ‘This writing that you find so obscure is a quintessential abstraction of language and painting and gesture, with all the inevitable clarity of the old inarticulation. Here is the savage economy of hierogyphics.’ [Dante ... Bruno .. Vico .. Joyce, p.15.] The explicit reference is to Vico’s theory of the development of language, but other references are also present in such a desccription of Joyce’s writing and, as an appendix to this section, it is worth briefly mentioning two of them - Fenollosa and, particularly, Marcel Jousse. [Gives account of Joyce’s attendance of lecture by Jousse, reported in Mary Colum, Our Friend James Joyce.] For Jousse gesture was the foundation of language, the very basis of the possibility of any human communication, and the instance of gesture can be traced in the development of language. Like Vico, Jousse postulates three [55] stages in this development which he calls style manuel, style oral and style écrit . [...] The loss of this clarity in alphabetic writing, and increasingly in speech, can be resolved only by an attempt to refind the basic gestuality (what Stephen calls in Ulysses the ‘structural rhythm’): this history is given for Jousse, as, again, for Vico, in etymology, in the return back through words to origins in gesture [.; 56] The emphasis on gesture (which opens a possible perspective against the valorisation of the voice and the presence of the speaking subject, the ‘logocentricism’ described by Derrida) serves to think language as productivity, as production of sense and its subject, and to put in question thereby the repression of language as instrument of experssion and fixed identity. Gesture, production of traces, returns language to writing as inscription of traces, institution of différance that gives the horizon of all expression and identity. This return is the activity of Joyce’s writing, a constant theatralisation of language in its productivity. [...] (p.57.) For longer extracts, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism / Major Authors” - James Joyce [infra].

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Vicki Mahaffey, Reauthorising Joyce (Pennsylvania UP 1988): ‘Unlike some of his more doctrinaire descendants in the twin worlds of theory and practical criticism, Joyce is constantly alert to the potential as well as to the limitations and humorous possibilities of several different kinds of “logic”, or ways of organising and authorising perception, including what we now call logocentric or patriarchal logic. In the deeply divided world of literary studies as it is now constituted, that makes him almost unique. Instead of proposing to abandon the monological model of authority, he instigates a dialogue between “traditional” or logocentric methods of interpretation and those that have been excluded; between rational, scholastic logic and the unschooled apprehension of complex interconnection; between an ethos of individualism and an ethos of community; between the world defined as “male” and its “female” [3] complement; between the referentiality of language and its materiality; between conscious and unconscious desire.’ (pp.3-4.) ‘Of the three kinds of authority that structure Ulysses, the first is the patriarchal (Stephen might call it patristic), transcendent authority which Stephen recognizes. The second kind of authority is binary and paradoxical, an authority embodied by Bloom. The two authorities that authorize Bloom are represented by Stephen and Molly; most of what we know about Bloom we know through these two characters. The third mode of authority is collective, [7] immanent, and largely unconscious, and it is associated most fully with Molly. The three kinds of authority seem to differ primarily in number: single, double, and multiple. However, each version of authority is defined not only by one of Joyce’s characters, but by a figure or image from the Odyssey, and this doubling of the text and context makes it clear that although the three kinds of authority form a spectrum of values bounded by individuality and plurality, all are defined by analogous contradictions.’ (pp.7-8.)

Further: ‘Explicitly in Finnegans Wake - the extent that anything can be explicit in Finnegans Wake – and implicitly in the works that precede it, Joyce attributes the phenomenon of oppression to the denial of human doubleness, a denial licensed by partiality towards any half of a human whole. [...; 49] Joyce parodies Kierkegaard’s celebration of choosing between extremes (either/or), suggesting that a more wholesome course is to choose both (“And!”) and neither (“Nay, rather!”).’ (p.49.) Note: Mahaffey reproduces the diagram at FW293, with comments on it. For longer extracts, see Ricorso Library, “Criticism / Major Authors” - James Joyce [infra].

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Frances L. Restuccia, Joyce and the Law of the Father (New Haven/London: Yale UP 1988), ‘The Parturition of the Word’ [chap.: being a discussion of Joyce and Thomistic theology of the relations between persons of Trinity]: ‘ Joyce establishes an intimate bond between himself and his book through the conspicuous self-referentiality of its language. The linguistic solipsism of Ulysses, which has been taken as evidence of its alienation from a single originating consciousness (also) advertises the permeating presence of the artist-god Joyce. Rather than pointing to the notion that “writing seems to be divorced from the writer”, it signals the imposition of the masterful artist-god himself - the artist-god who secured his pen through a trade-in of the pandybat. [...; 108] In so far as Ulysses is a verbal artifact [...] the case can be made that Joyce had as an initial goal - a hereditary compulsion - the generation, speaking Thomistically, of a book that would be consubstantial with himself. There is a sense in which Joyce’s words exist as the “inner word”, a sense in which Joyce and his writing achieve a kind of self-sufficiency in their self-communication similar to the Augustinian conception of the unique consubstantiality of poetry and poet’s inner word or image. The Trinitarian artistic paradigm may then support both Joyce’s realism and anti-realism, which is not so startling if we remember that Aquinas uses realism as a metaphor of the idea proportion of Creator and Word. / The language of Ulysses seeks to establish its consubstantialitiy with the mind of its begetter - longs for perfect concord, a perfect filial union, with its paternal original - in diverse ways. Readers of Ulysses are now well aware that frequently a character thinks or utters something that, if Joyce had produced a psychologically conventional novel, could belong only to another character’s consciousess. The “Fetter Lane passage” does not need to be rehearsed. But it might bear mentioning that such unrealistic consubstantiality of thought is not the rarity that critical attention to this one passage may once have implied, as this intermingling abounds. [....] Stephen alone shares phrases with (for example) Bloom, the Reverend Hugh C. Love, even Gerty MacDowell.’ (&c.; p.109.) Further,‘ Joyce shifts the law [of the Father] over to the mother from the fathers/Fathers so that she can assist him in a finely tuned, precisely controlled subversion [...] not so that her desire rather than his may be expressed. It is not her but his pleasure that is at stake, a bliss or revery he can enjoy because she is helping him to be in control. Joyce is a fetischist, not a feminist.’ (p.175; quoted in Susan Stanford Friedman, ‘Reading Joyce: Icon of Modernity? Champion of Alterity? Ventriloquist of Otherness?’, in Vincent J. Cheng, et al., eds., Joycean Cultures/Culturing Joyces, AUP 1998, pp.118-19.)

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Danis Rose & John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook: New Evidence on the Genesis of Ulysses, [with a] foreword by Hans Walter Gabler (Sussex: Split Pea Press 1989): ‘Much critical attention has been brought to focus on the manifest change which affected the nature of Ulysses quite late in the course of its development: a change whereby Joyce phased out the so-called “initial style’ (whose best-known feature is the famous interior monologue of both Stephen and Bloom) and introduced in its stead the exploitation of “style” itself as an integral part of the narrative strategy: in other words, when the information was carried not in the content alone, but also in the form. Groden (1977), building on the pioneering work of Litz (1961), has qualified this bifurcation by introducing the notion of a transitional middle period (which, purely by chance, coincided with the writing of the middle episodes of the book: “Wandering Rocks” through “Oxen of the Sun”) intermediating the extremes of the “initial” and “final” styles. In this sense, Ulysses can be regarded as a mosaic bearing the visible imprint of its change in direction and intention in the years 1914 to 1922.’ [Cont.]

Danis Rose & John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook (1989) - cont.: ‘The three phases as defined by Groom can be approximately dated as 1914 to the end of 1918,1919 to mid-1920, and mid-1920 to 1922. Little emphasis, on the other hand, has been put on an earlier, equally significant turning point in the genesis of Ulysses, which, like Groden’s transitions, is readily discernible in the published text: namely, at a certain point in the seven years of composing his epic Joyce ceased {xi} concentrating on fashioning a sequel to A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (that the sequel was to be called “Ulysses” is neither here nor there) and began to write an essentially new and radically different book describing experiences and emotions, circumstances and reflections quite unknowable to the egocentric aesthete, Stephen Dedalus: a book no longer centred on this character’s reactions to his environment, but on those of a much more credible, commonsensical, down-to-earth man-in-the-street going by the name of Leopold Bloom. The change, furthermore, was not so much a change in style as a radical transformation of worldview from intense, expectant and serious (almost neurotic) to resigned, comic and even affectionate. This transformation, we submit, took place in Zürich in 1917.’ [Quotes letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver of Oct. 1916; Letters, II, p.387: “I thank you also for your kind enquiry about the book I am writing. [...] It is called Ulysses and the action takes place in Dublin in 1904. I have almost finished the first part and have written out part of the middle and end.”]’ (Cont.)

Danis Rose & John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook (1989) - cont.: ‘To understand what Joyce is referring to in this letter (“the book”) we must go back to the very beginnings of Ulysses. While living in Rome in 1906, Joyce had entertained the notion of penning a short story to be called “Ulysses” (since a child he had greatly admired Homer’s wily seafarer) to be based on an incident which befell him two years earlier, when a putative Dublin Jew (Alfred H. Hunter) had picked him up inebriated out of a gutter somewhere in the metropolis and in orthodox Samaritan fashion had taken him home with him and generally bucked him up somewhat with a restorative cup of cocoa or whatever. A striking feature of this seemingly unremarkable incident is that it exhibits on the surface only the very flimsiest connection with any theme in Homer’s Odyssey. Similarly, when in 1914 he began to write Ulysses as a “sequel’ to Portrait, he appears to have intended only a vague, symbolic connection with the Odyssey, In “Telemachus”, for example, we can view Stephen acting out an intellectual Telemachus, though with a few waxed feathers still adhering to him, while his mother May Dedalus (or is it the Muse?) plays a not very convincing Penelope, with Mulligan and Haines constituting the baleful suitors. Ithaka, of course, would in this scenario be represented by the Martello Tower at Sandycove. It should seem, then, that in the beginning Joyce was experimenting with a very different and lukewarm sort of correspondence with the Homeric prototype than that one which eventually came to dominate and shape the book.’ [Cites a letter from Weaver’s solicitors putting him in possession of a grant of £200.]

Danis Rose & John O’Hanlon, eds., The Lost Notebook (1989) - cont.: ‘Much of what we have come to know and love about Ulysses, we contend, has its source in that happy event. In changed circumstnces, then, and encourgaged by his realisation through his studies that the Homeric myths could be viewed as concnering real men in real times, Joyce began to prepare himself to reconstruct the real Dublin on a real day - Thursday, 16th June, 1904 - and for this purpose he began to assemple specific material relating to that day and to the everyday language spoken on the streets at that time. What he wished to create was a world for Leopold Bloom live in, a world quite unlike that melancholy limbo inhabited by Stephen. In this task, Ulysses notebook VI.D.7 played a pivotal role.’ (xi-xiii). [See longer extracts in RICORSO Library > “Criticism > Major Authors” > James Joyce, via index or direct.]

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Magda Velloso Fernandes de Tolentino, “Dubliners: The Journey Westward” (MA Thesis, Fed. University of Minas Gerais [UFMG, 1989)

[...] Gabriel, in “The Dead”, repeats the movement eastward. [96]

He looks up to the Continent for sophisticated habits, he goes on cycling tours to France or Belgium or Germany, he remembers an east wind of the year before “blowing in after [they] passed Merrion” (D180), he writes for an English newspaper. His inclination is eastward during most of the story. But something happens to him at the end, his movement changes. Throughout the festive evening Gabriel’s past and present cluster round him and he recapitulates the important moments and events of his life. After the scene in the hotel room, in which Gretta’s past also reaches out to him, he reaches his epiphany and the future also becomes part of the overall intermingling of time. And here Gabriel is struck by the illumination that “the time had come to start out out on his journey westward” (D223). Escape is at an end. He does an about-face and heads west.

One can better understand Gabriel’s vo1te-face if we know the circumstances under which he was created as a character. The collection of stories had been on the point of publication for a considerable length of time when “The Dead” was written. Joyce had gone far in his writings. He had depicted Dubliners, in the preceding stories, in a negative aspect, though not with contempt. The stories show expectant boys meeting disappointment, frustrated women, arrogant or vagrant young men, isolated grown people; unsatisfactory bits of public life; a petit-bourgeois, lower middle-class environment; people dreaming of escape being held back by unescapable bonds. Paralysis pervades all. There came a point in which Joyce might have felt that he had been too harsh on the Irish. He writes in a letter to his brother Stanislaus in 1906: “Sometimes thinking of Ireland it seems to me that that I have been unnecessarily harsh [...] I have not reproduced its ingenuous insularity and hospítality ...” (L109). As he had [97] matured, so had his writing. When he wrote “The Dead”, in the Spring of 1907, after a nearly two-month stay in the city hospital at Trieste with a bout of rheumatic fever, he probably had learned “in his own life and away from home and friends what the heart is and what it feels” (P252). He and Nora were having a very difficult time. In the same city hospital, Nora had given birth to their daughter Lucia Anna, on 26 July, in the pauper’s ward. At the same time he was writing “The Dead”, Joyce re-conceived Stephen Hero as a five-chapter novel to be called A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

”The Dead”, as I see it, is a tale of redemption and hope for the Dubliners. It is a requiem for the dead and dying in the whole collection, but at the same time a tale of awakening. That is what is meant when Gabriel realizes “The time had come for him to start on his journey westward” (D223) — towards self-recognition, his origins, passion. As Florence L. Walzl puts it, ‘”The Dead” is a story of maturation, tracing the spiritual development of a man from insularity and egotism to humanitarianism and love.” (Walzl, “Gabriel and Michael: The Conclusion of “The Dead”, in Dubliners: Text, Criticism, and Notes, ed. Robert Scholes & A Walton Litz, London: Penguin 1986. p.77-78; here p.97.)


Gabriel’s final decision to start on his journey westv^iard does not come suddenly to him. The east and west axis has been a by-word in the collection of stories, and in “The Dead” one can look for further implications in the choice of direction. The east has been a representation of escape, either to exotic J.ands or to more civilized ones. East of Ireland is where educated men make for, where success is at hand, careers bloom. Gabriel himself turns his back to the west and looks east for ijitel] octuaJ. orientation and his civilized habits. Ellmann remarks that “the west of Ireland is connected in Gabriel’s mind with a dark and rather painful primitivism” (JJ248). His refusal to accept the west is manifested in various instances: he remembers grudgingly his mother calling Gretta “country cute”, and thinks “that was not true of Gretta at all” (D187). His fencing with Miss Ivors highlights the opposition east/west: she Invites him for an excursion to the Aran Isles, he refuses; she remarks [that’ Gretta is from Connacht, he denies it, only admitting that “her people are”; she teases him about keeping in touch with his own language — Irish — and he denies it as his language; when pressed, he exclaims that he is sick of his country. At Gretta’s enthusiasm over the prospective journey west, Gabriel becomes cold and gives her a sharp answer.

The Continent to the east is for him a representative of civilized people who wear goloshes to protect their feet from damp and the place he goes on cycling tours, partly for a change, or an escape, “party to keep in touch with the languages.” (D189). The opposition, although not explicit, is clear: the civilized east of educated people versus the wildness of the west. Halfway through the story, however, one starts to find a deeper analogy to the west — that of sanguine people, primitive feelings, passion.

As early as in “An Encounter” one can find clues to this analogy. The boy-narrator has a hint as to where adventures, passion, and wild sensations lie — in the Wild West. Where others only dreamt, he wanted to try; he wanted, he says “real adventures to happen to myseld, But real adventures, l reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home. They must be sought abroad. (D, 21). He shares with other characters the desire to escape the drabness of life and the belief that away from Dublin is where opportunities are. But, different from the others, he perceives that the west is warm and passionate, and that there is where he should go. [103]


The song that Gretta listens to “standing on the stairs in the shadow” (D210), is a song of passion, a ballad which tells of a young lass who is seduced and abandoned; it is a song of the West, and it triggers in Gretta the awakening of a dormant passionate tale. Passion is present in Gretta’s words when she tells Gabriel about Michael Furey, as well as in the episode itself. The young man had died for her, out of love. “He. said he did not not want to live,” when she was going away. And Gretta and Michael, both capable of passion, he in his dying for her, she in the recounting of the affair, are from the west of Ireland. Here is the wild west representing for Gabriel origin and nature, in opposition to culture. The west of the Aron [sic for Aran] Isles and the Bog of Allen and the Shannon Waves. As Anthony Burgess says, “The west is where passion takes place and boys die of love; the graveyard where Michael Furey lies buried is, in a sense, a place of life” (quoted in Warren Beck, BECK, Joyce’ Dubliners: Substance, Vision and Art, Duke UP 1969, p.357.)

So when Gabriel decides on his journey westward, he is not only communicating the choice of a place for a different holiday: the journey is symbolically toward the primary, the essential, and a search for passion. Essentially he has already started on his journey westward in his slow but steady growing awareness of things. In Ellmann’s words, he “recognizes in the west of Ireland, in Michael Furey, a passion he has himself always lacked” (JJ249).

Donald Torchiana sums up the east-west axis and Gabriel’s change of direction, while linking “The Dead” to the former stories: [104]

Curious[ly] enough, the movement of [“The Dead”] runs counter to the first three [stories]. The movement eastward is no translated into one toward the west of Ireland, the sacred Ireland of the peasantry thought by both Joyce and Yeats to be Asiatic. In other words, Gabriel’s eyes are directed to the real locus of the literary and moral imagination, the most Irish part of Ireland, Connacht beyond the Shannon, not without its oriental mysteries, and not without its dead singer still alive in Gretta’s heart. (Torchiana, Backgrounds for Joyce’a Dubliners, London: Allen & Unwin 1986, pp.31-32.) And goes on to say:

Like the descent of grace that hovers over the final pages, Gabriel’s proposed trip westward is prepared for from the very start. The answer to the paralysis in the story and the book lies in the West of Ireland survives its destruction, finds its example at Mount Melleray, not in the anglicized Ireland of the eastern seaboard but in the Joyce country itself. (Ibid., p.226.)

This is how “the silent cock shall crow at last”. The Dubliners upon whom silence and paralysis have pervaded [sic], have finally arrived at a full realization of the possibilities of life through Gabriel’s apprehension of a wider universe. The west has shaken the east awake. [END]

Thesis pages
—Available as PDF online; accessed 22.03.2021.
Note: The writer goes on to remarks on a similarity in the language of the first story in Dubliners and the last paragraph of “The Dead” - viz., faintly, softly, dead, window, dark[ened] and argues: ‘If we see Gabriel, as I am prepared to see him, as the central male character in Dubliners, a summing up of the other male characters, or rather a representative of the possibilities in all of them, we have come to the point where he redeems them all. All the stories deal with paralysis, disappointment, disillusion, loneliness, incapacity; and we meet all these elements In “The Dead”, but not as the ultimate point. They are there in the story as stages of development for the character to reach his last epiphany and from there start again with a renewed insight into life.’ (Pt. VI [opening chapter], pp.107.)

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