Gregory Castle, ‘“A Renegade from the Ranks”: Joyce’s Critique of Revivalism in the Early Fiction’, in Modernism and the Celtic Revival (Cambridge UP 2001).

“The English Language
belongs to us. You are raking at dead fires,
rehearsing the old whinges at your age.
That subject people stuff is a cod’s game,
infantile, like this peasant pilgrimage.”
                                     -Seamus Heaney

As we have seen in the previous chapters, Yeats and Synge were instrumental in the development of an Irish modernist movement that sought to redefine the relationship between tradition and modernity. It is worth noting again Terry Eagleton’s argument: “Modernism springs from the estranging impact of modernizing forces on a still deeply traditionalist order, in a politically unstable context which opens up social hope as well as spiritual anxiety. Traditional culture provides modernism with an adversary, but also lends it some of the terms in which to inflect itself.” (Heathcliff, p.297.) One of the ways that traditional Irish culture lent itself to the modernism of the Celtic Revival was to provide Revivalists with the objects of a wide-ranging project of ethnographic redemption. Key elements of ethnographic practice - the reliance on a primitivist discourse, the predominance of fieldwork, and the objectivity of participant observation - emerge in the work of Revivalists like Yeats and Synge as hallmarks of an autoethnographic expressiveness capable of transforming these elements into a new mode of indigenous artistic production. In view of land legislation that from the 1880s at least benefited an emergent Catholic middle-class of “strong farmers” and the inevitable institution of some form of Home Rule, it is not difficult to imagine the anthropological modernism of the Celtic Revival as a cultural embodiment of Anglo-Irish marginalization and deracination and to interpret this social estrangement as a considerable barrier to the development of a national consciousness [172] that would be something more than what Fanon describes as a “transfer into native hands of those unfair advantages which are a legacy of the colonial period. It would seem, if the responses to Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World are any indication, that the attempt by Anglo-Irish Revivalists to conduct the “political education” of the Irish fails to achieve a truly revolutionary national consciousness. Fanon writes, “political education means opening [the peoples’] minds, awakening them, and allowing the birth of their intelligence; as [Aimé] C6saire said, it is “to invent souls.” (Wretched of the Earth, p.197.) Though I have argued in the preceding chapters that the Celtic Revival was capable of a limited form of autoethnographic resistance to an array of social authorities, Revivalism as a cultural practice conceived as “a borrowed aestheticism” (as Fanon puts it) that seeks to redeem primitive societies threatened by modernity proved inadequate for the articulation of an “authentic” Irish identity. And, while it is clear that Yeats and Synge succeeded in awakening the Irish people to a deeper sense of their national aspirations and national identities - and their right to represent these things - it is not clear that this awakening has led to the invention of a “soul.” Perhaps the most that we can say is that the Revival succeeded primarily, and not insignificantly, in awakening the Irish to the need for such an invention.

Some influential critics of Joyce assume that his antipathy toward nationalism paralleled a similar antipathy toward the Revival. To be sure, Joyce challenged the cultural assumptions of the Revival, especially its tendency to assume that the peasant somehow held out the hope of national virtue and cultural unity and its characteristic strategy, based on this primitivist assumption, of idealizing the Irish peasantry and locating cultural authenticity in folklore, legend, and mythology. He also challenged the redemptive mode of ethnography that characterized Revivalist attempts to represent or evoke the authenticity of the peasant’s way of life. But it seems to me that we cannot understand the complexity of Joyce’s attitude toward Revivalism if we place him outside its influence and lose sight of the fact that Joyce and Yeats desired the, same thing: the creation of an imaginary Irish nation and race. Seamus Deane raises a question pertinent to both Revivalism and anthropological modernism, in so far as both seek to invent or “write” Ireland: how was Joyce “to create as literature something which would otherwise have no existence and yet was believed to exist already? The idea of Ireland [173] still uncreated, awaited its realization.” (Celtic Revivals, 99-100.) Finding in Joyce a desire to realize the idea of Ireland provides powerful incentive for regarding him as a Revivalist; Deane goes so far as to argue that he was the one who most kept faith with the idea of reviving Irish culture: “whereas Yeats did indeed give up, to some extent, 'the deliberate creation of a kind of Holy City in the imagination’ and replace it with images of enduring heroism and not-so-durable authority, Joyce remained faithful to the original conception of the Revival. His Dublin became the Holy City of which Yeats had despaired.” (Ibid., p.96.)

The important point here, as Deane and others have noted, is that Joyce refused the mystic essentialism that underwrote Yeats’s Revivalist aesthetics.’ As we have seen, Yeats’s mystical view of the Irish folk tradition, developed partly in response to Matthew Arnold’s imperialist Celticism, was grounded in what Yeats called “our 'natural magic’ [which] is but the religion of the world, the ancient worship of Nature and that troubled ecstasy before her, that certainty of all beautiful places being haunted, which it brought into men’s minds” (EI, 176). But, as he developed his interest in mysticism, “natural magic” was transformed into something closer to alchemy, reflected in Robert Aherne’s desire for the “transmutation of all things into some divine and imperishable substance” (SRH, 192). By the time Joyce was writing Dubliners (1904-7), Yeats’s mystic essentialism, however much it might have attracted him when he was a student in the 1890s, was now the object of a critique that revealed it to be a mystification of oppressive social conditions. A problem arises, however, when we infer from this attitude toward essentialism that Joyce and Yeats had nothing in common. Emer Nolan has recently argued that Deane’s view of a decisive difference of opinion between Joyce and Yeats on the questions of essence and authenticity tends to leave us with no credible argument to make regarding Joyce’s view of Ireland and the Irish. (Joyce and Nationalism, pp.17-18.) If Joyce rejected Yeats’s essentialism, and the redemptive ethnographic imagination that authorized it, and if he rejected as well the Irish-Ireland nationalism of Arthur Griffith, D. P. Moran, and the Gaelic League, a view which until very recently has been something of a dogma in Joyce studies, what then are we to make of his attitude toward the Irish and his treatment of both nationalism and Revivalism? It is not my concern here to treat of Joyce’s attitude toward the former, since Nolan’s James Joyce and Nationalism has mounted a persuasive revisionist argument that opposes those critics who regard Joyce as [175] indifferent to nationalism and to nationalist responses to the social conditions of colonial Ireland as well as those who regard him as espousing a “moderate” and or “pacifist” nationalism. (Ibid., pp.1-22.) It will be the chief burden of this and the next chapter to analyze Joyce’s attitude toward the Revival and Revivalism, specifically the ethnographic imagination that subtends its dominant practices and modes of textual expression, and consider the question of nationalism insofar as it shares ideas, theories, or practices with Revivalism.

Joyce and Yeats, each in different ways, epitomize the dilemma of the Irish writer faced with the necessity of constructing an imaginary nation from within a colonial context. While Yeats chose to revive an autochthonous folk tradition by evoking it using methods borrowed from anthropology and ethnography, Joyce chose to create a national literature by engaging in an immanent critique of Revivalism in which colonial and anthropological discourses are appropriated and criticized in a more sustained and consistent fashion than either Yeats or Synge were able to accomplish. In both cases, an ethnographic imagination comes into play, either as a method of cultural preservation and authentication (as with Yeats) or as a strategy of cultural critique (as with Joyce). This is not to say that Yeats was not critical, but rather that his criticism tended to focus on the subjects of his representations, the peasantry, and even himself among them; and, though he complained about the misrepresentations of his predecessors, he was not always aware of the extent to which his own work relied on classic anthropological assumptions and prejudices. Joyce’s critique proceeds from this naive stage in the development of the Revival’s anthropological modernism to arrive at a position from which he’ can challenge the theories and practices by which the Irish people ate represented. In Yeats, the question of authenticity was pegged to the possibility of arriving at a “a fair equivalent for the gesture “and voice of the peasant tale-teller” (UP I p.174). This possibility, as we have seen, is highly problematic, as Yeats knew intuitively, since he eventually abandoned that goal and moved first toward the goal of capturing “divine substances” and, ultimately, toward the elaboration of a spiritualized conception of artistic personality In Joyce, however, the desire for authenticity finds expression not in redemptive strategies for the preservation of folk culture nor in “divine substances” or a spiritualized personality. I submit that, for Joyce, authenticity does not refer to an object to be redeemed by a kind of ethnographic realism but rather to a [175] self-authenticating performance exemplified by Synge’s The Playboy of the Western World . Energized by Synge’s assault on nationalist pieties, Joyce wrote stories like “The Dead” which dramatized the ambivalence of Revivalist attitudes toward culture and the inevitably inauthentic appeal to essence and wholeness that they entail. In fact, I would argue that the depiction of the experience of inauthenticity is what Joyce seems to insist upon as the only irreducibly authentic representation he could make and that such representations could not be made without recourse to Revivalist strategies, positions, themes, and practices. Here Joyce departs from Synge, who remained convinced of the authenticity of his own experience even as he challenged his own representations of that experience.

Emer Nolan, in her revisionist critique of Joyce’s nationalism makes a similar point, arguing that Joyce’s “anti-nationalism” depends on the very rhetoric and tactics of nationalism that at least two generations of his critics have insisted were anathema to him. Her argument persistently illustrates the paradox that ' Joycean modernism and Irish nationalism can be understood as significantly analogous discourses, and the common perception of them as unrelated and antagonistic begins to break down.” (Joyce and Nationalism, p.xii.) In the conventional view of his politics, according to Nolan, Joyce “did not believe in resuscitating outdated traditions.” He criticized Irish national identity according to “implicitly cosmopolitan norms” and “rejected outright the cultural nationalism of Yeats and the Irish Literary Revival.” But she is quick to point out that it is “seriously misleading to consider Joyce’s relationship to Irish politics solely in these terms.” (Ibid., p.23.) For Nolan, the only “truly” nationalist position is one that confronts both the traditionality of the local and the inevitability of modernist interventions to rescue or recuperate tradition. Tradition and modernity, localism and cosmopolitanism, periphery and metropole become intertwined; the primitive “peasant” infiltrates the center, while the metropolitan “citizen” in turn infiltrates the margins. And, while she does not explore the anthropological authority behind the Revival, she nevertheless insists that Joyce’s critique of nationalism is unintelligible outside a Revivalist context. After all, she argues in her reading of “The Dead”, Joyce was “immune to revivalist romanticism and primitivism.” (Ibid., 32.) It is necessary to situate the apparently polarized positions of Yeats and Joyce in the same Revivalist context: “The gesture of commitment apparently offered by the work of Yeats, and the corresponding gesture of [176] disengagement offered by Joyce, should be interpreted in the context of the historical and political milieu of the Irish Literary RevivaU` By arguing that Joyce’s autoethnographic texts transform and revalue Revivalism in an immanent critique of its characteristic perspectives, attitudes, and textual practices, I offer what I hope is a productive elaboration of Nolan’s conclusion that Joyce’s “supposed repudiation of the Literary Revival takes its place among competing notions of decolonization current in the Ireland of his time.””

Clearly, Joyce was not a Revivalist in the sense that he did fieldwork or sought to preserve, through translation or accurate and realistic accounts, the essence of Irish folk life. The project of redemption he regarded (as Fanon would) as an instance of incomplete repudiation of colonial rule. But Joyce did keep faith with the Revival’s ideal of creating an imaginary Ireland by applying his style of “scrupulous meanness” to the critical analysis of this ideal, pushing the self-critical impulse we have seen in Synge’s Playboy toward great effectiveness and exposing the Revival’s investments in anthropological notions of a primitive Irish race. Whereas Yeats, and Synge in ne Aran Islands, relied on anthropological methods to get at what was essential and true about Irish peasant life, Joyce, like Synge in the Playboy, deconstructs such methods in the production of anthropological fictions that are patently inessential and untrue. This productivity in Joyce’s texts takes place on two levels: on one level, it issues in an autoethnographic inquiry into the conditions of Dublin, a scrupulous record of the folkways of its inhabitants; on another level, it articulates a critique of such a view in depictions of disaffected “natives” like Gabriel Conroy and Stephen Dedalus, who exemplify the futility of a redemptive attitude toward peasant culture, and Leopold Bloom, whose ethnographic voyeurism illustrates the phantasmic dimension of participant observation. More successfully than Yeats’s or Synge’s Joyce’s texts reveal the fictiveness of anthropological knowledge while simultaneously insisting that in that fictiveness lies whatever truth we are likely to find about Irish culture. Paradoxically, Joyce’s anthropological modernism, precisely by embracing the ambivalence that Revivalism sought to mask in its pretensions to cultural authority, arrives at something closer to an authentic representation of inauthentic social experiences. It acknowledges that the tension between the traditional and the modern is really a form of mutual determination whereby the traditional reveals its susceptibility to the intervention of modern [177] political aspirations and the modern unveils its hidden desire to express its longing for totality and unity in traditional terms. Joyce anatomizes this mutually determining interaction in the early fiction, and is especially critical of the Revival’s largely ineffective management of it. But it is in Ulysses that Joyce is able to recognize the productive power of this interaction and to transform a critique of Revivalism into a new revival, an awakening to the revolutionary possibilities of a “political education” in which both the traditional and the modern have a share in the invention of souls.

The first stage in this awakening is Dubliners, a text that is often regarded as a premier example of either realism or naturalism, part of a tradition that features European masters like Gustave Flaubert and tmile Zola. To be sure, this view of Joyce’s first major work would not be out of place in a literary history of realistic fiction. However, as recent critics have begun to notice, Dubliners has complex ideological commitments to cultural nationalism and anti-colonial resistance, and its realist strategies are not strictly consonant with those of nineteenth-century practitioners, though Zola’s interest in unmasking the hidden sources of social oppression is similar to what we find in Joyce. In some cases, as in Nolan’s discussion of “The Dead”, Revivalism is identified as an important context for understanding these commitments. It hardly bears repeating the conclusion drawn by so many critics that Gabriel Conroy experiences a conflict over the values of cultural nationalism as they manifest themselves in Miss Ivors’ enthusiasm for the Aran Islands. My discussion of Synge’s own experience there indicates the extent to which the West of Ireland attained a nearly iconic significance for cultural nationalists and continued to hold that significance well into the opening decades of the twentieth century. Michael Levenson has drawn our attention to the significant fact that the Playboy riots of late January and early February Of 1907 took place during the time Joyce was composing “The Dead.” He writes that Joyce, “who was living out a few months of his exile in Rome, eagerly followed the controversy, clearly sensing that here was a foretaste of a feast being laid for him. The Playboy affair made clear that in the midst of an ongoing colonial struggle, the boundaries between art and politics were highly permeable, where they existed at all.” (Michael Levenson, 'Living History in “the Dead”,’ in Dubliners: Text, Criticism and Notes, ed. Robert Scholes & A Walton Litz, Penguin 1996, pp.421-38.) Joyce, then, picks up where Synge leaves off, exploring in his own anthropological fictions the permeability of boundaries that Synge had tested and exposed. [179]

One thing Joyce might have taken from Synge is a sensitivity to the problems of the native artist for whom the dilemma of the participant-observer - is he inside or outside the culture he observers? - registers as a profoundly aesthetic problem. Seeing the kind of responses elicited by the representations of the peasant in Synge’s plays, Joyce was reluctant to duplicate Revivalist representations of an Irish peasantry whose authenticity was all too often guaranteed by ethnographic means. Like Synge, Joyce developed an antimimetic style, especially in Ulysses, that privileged the artist’s ability to enter into something like a natural process in which something new is produced. The idea is summed up in Stephen Hero, in a formulation that echoes Talal Asad’s description of “transformed instances of the original, not authoritative textual representations of it” “For Stephen art was neither a copy nor an imitation of nature: the artist’s process was a natural process” (SH, 171). The emphasis on artistic process and the need to eschew imitation or copying (though not, I might add, the need to be realistic) are repeated in his letters to Grant Richards. As early as 1906, when he was composing Dubliners, Joyce saw that the liberatory potential of his writing depended on his success at representing Dublin as he knew it. Defending his stories and their “scrupulous meanness” to Richards, who was trying to get Joyce to revise some of the “scandalous” passages in Dubliners, Joyce wrote, “I fight to retain [the passages] because I believe that in composing my chapter of moral history in exactly the way I have composed it I have taken the first step toward the spiritual liberation of my country” (D, 270). I believe that this is one of those points in Joyce’s career that explicitly marks his Fanonist position between the phase of revivalist recuperation of indigenous traditions and the phase of cultural awakening. That he conceives of liberation in terms of spirit testifies to his recognition that any genuinely anti-colonial position must incorporate the task of “inventing souls.” That this invention paradoxically entails a scrupulous analysis of material social conditions, as opposed to an elaboration of anthropological fictions about the “natural magic” of the Irish peasantry, testifies to Joyce’s unwillingness to succumb to the essentialism of the Revival’s redemptive ethnographic imagination.

In part because of his concern with material social conditions, Joyce remained committed to a mode of realism that he treated less as a neutral instrument for social analysis than as a means by which [179] to assert the social authority which granted him the right to represent those conditions. Like Synge, who resisted any suggestion that his experience with the Irish peasantry was illegitimate, Joyce insists on the authority of his own experience with the subjects of his analysis; and, also like Synge, his appeal to his own intimate knowledge of Irish society invokes a personal authority defined by interests that he clarifies to both Richards and his brother, Stanislaus. In a famous letter to Stanislaus, Joyce explicitly links his artistic justifications with his own “moral nature”: “The struggle against conventions in which I am at present involved was not entered into by me so much as a protest against these conventions as with the intention of living in conformity with my moral nature” D, 254). Here again, Joyce resembles Synge (especially the Synge of The Playboy) in that he refuses any authority other than his own “moral nature”; we do not see in Joyce’s work the same confusion of ethnographic and autobiographical authority that we see in texts like The Celtic Twilight and The Aran Islands . When Joyce tells Richards that “I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilization in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking-glass” (D, 277), we are impressed with the extent to which Joyce has arrogated the authority of the cultural observer entirely to his own position as an artist.

We should not fail at this juncture to notice that Joyce, in flourishing his “nicely polished looking-glass”, employs a metaphor that had been used against Synge during the Playboy controversy. A reviewer of The Playboy had lamented Synge’s refusal to represent the Irish realistically, asserting that the Abbey Theatre directors “were expected to fulfill the true purpose of playing - 'to hold as ’twere the, mirror up to Nature,’ to banish the meretricious stage, and give, for: the first time, true pictures of Irish life and fulfillment of that pledge.” (Anon, Freeman’s Journal, 29 Jan. 1907; rep. in James Kilroy, ed., The Playboy Riots, Dolmen Press 1971, p.20.) Perhaps more effectively than Synge, Joyce reveals the complacency of those people whose faith in “true pictures” blinds. them to the constructedness and the interestedness of realistic representation, as well as to the deleterious effects of Revivalist programs of cultural redemption that offer meager and ineffective alternatives to colonialist and nationalist idealizations whose reliance on a primitivist discourse was largely unexamined and uncriticized. Joyce’s employment of the mirror-image, however, is both ironic and strategic, for, while it appears that Joyce’s stories are meant to represent the social world realistically, we are constantly pulled, [181] despite the narrators’ scrupulous attention to detail, toward the subjective responses of characters to that world. This ironic deflection of the reader’s gaze from the realistic detail to the subjective experience of characters who all too often simply fail to see, constitutes a strategic reversal of the aims of realistic discourse: to imitate through language the social and material relations of the external world. Joyce simply brings to the fore the ideological assumptions about what aspect of that world is “real” and proper for representation and how those assumptions fail individuals who abide by them.

A number of features of Joyce’s realism alert us to the potentially subversive nature of his invocation of the mirror-image. First, the phrasing of his remark to Richards lends itself to an ironic reading: it is a “ nicely polished looking-glass”, which suggests a recognition on Joyce’s part that the artist inevitably intervenes in the act of representation, transforming what is reflected with a scrupulous (that is to say, “nice”) polishing of the image. (Compare Yeats’s use of the same image - “I hold a clean mirror to tradition” (UP II, p.69) - which suggests a more conventional mimetic intention.) Whereas Synge, in The Playboy, reflected exaggerated characters in the mirror he held up to his audience, Joyce offers a different kind of distortion - the unreality of clarity, of a “good look” at what had been obscured by idealized images of what was “real” about Irish life. Another significant difference, but one that does not alter the similarity of effects between Synge’s and Joyce’s methods, lies in Joyce’s choice of subjects - the urban proletariat, the lower classes, the petite bourgeoisie, the unemployed, single men and women, children which underscored the double injustice done by the misrepresentations of both nationalists and Revivalists, for not only did they idealize or mystify the peasant, but the figure of the peasant had come to stand for all Irish people, regardless of the fact that many were increasingly residing in cities. Joyce recognized that this double injustice led to an equally doubled sense of inauthentic life for city dwellers; reality was twice-removed, as Gabriel Conroy, in “The Dead”, realizes when he tries to vouch for his own authenticity through a self-serving vision of the specter of a peasant boy. If we regard his attempt as inauthentic, it should be no surprise, given the resources that Revivalism has made available for him.

Unlike Synge, who exaggerates the real to get at what he felt to be true about the Irish peasant’s life, Joyce unveils the real as already a kind of exaggeration, especially for Dubliners who lack a ready [181] access to traditional folkways and must rely on representations mediated by nationalist and Revivalist intellectuals. The effect is the same for both Synge and Joyce: their art reveals the constructedness of the real and the reality of constructions, a tautological relation that we might say grows out of the increasingly mutually determining relation between tradition and modernity. Just as the Aran Islanders could recite the names of previous anthropological adventurers to their shores, so the Dubliner could revel in the thoroughly modern spectacle of the peasant on the stage of the Abbey Theatre a state of affairs which, paradoxically, Synge was signally responsible for bringing about. Though Joyce as a student defended the Abbey Theatre’s production of Cathleen ni Houlihan, he soon grew wary of the power such dramatic representations could carry; the Playboy riots convinced Joyce that this power could be channeled into the kind of political education that Joyce’s “nicely polished lookingglass” was meant to inaugurate. This may be why he could say tha the attempt on the part of publishers to withhold or alter his representations would retard civilization in Ireland, for getting a “good look” at themselves as phantasms, people who exist only in the terms of a primitivist discourse with little or no relevance to their daily lives, who see reality as a distortion of what may be real or authentic about themselves, will lead his Irish readers to enter into a “civilized” condition that would grant them the right to represent themselves. Joyce holds a mirror up to inauthentic lives and, while the people he reflects may fail to amend their lives, to find a way to live authentically, his stories accomplish an important first step toward that goal by representing, with a kind of ethnographic fidelity, the effects of Revivalism on the construction of an Irish identity. So, while Joyce may appear to invoke the kind of ethnographic authority we see in Revivalists like Yeats and Synge, his subversive application of its protocols marks his distance from Revivalist practice and from the tradition of realism implied in the reviewer’s Shakespearean reference. As I have indicated above, this application is both an appropriation and a critique, for the subversive effects of Joyce’s ethnographic scrupulosity amount to the kind of immanent critique that we have seen in variously nascent or incomplete forms in Revivalist practice. Thus Joyce remains committed to a mode of realism that scrupulously exposes the inauthentic experience of Dubliners who are guided by Revivalist ideals. But the revelation of inauthenticity - which characterizes a [182] good many of Joyce’s famous epiphanies - becomes an empowering anthropological fiction in its own right, capable, for good or ill, of inventing Irish souls.

Joyce’s representational strategy mimics the objectivity and detachment of the ethnographic participant-observer and functions on two interlocking levels: the narrator participates imaginatively in the lives of Dubliners whose experience is communicated from the position of a detached observer; but these experiences themselves are often ones of detached self-observation. What Roy Pascal says of Flaubert’s style might be said of Joyce’s: “Flaubert’s realism did not imply the sort of objectivity that belongs to natural science, an objectivity founded on communicable skill and authoritative control over the (imaginary) object; on the contrary, it meant an imaginative self-submergence in the object, participation in the imagined character’s experience, and communication of this intuitive experience.” (Pascal, The Dual Voice: Free Indirect Speech and Its Functioning in the Nineteenth-century European Novel, Manchester UP 1977, p.98.) We see this most powerfully in the access we are given to the subjectivity of characters like James Duffy, in “A Painful Case”, whose pathological dissociation from himself and from the social world in which he moves converts objective observation into opportunities for regret and longing: “He began to doubt the reality of what memory told him” (D, 117). The tendency of characters like Duffy and Little Chandler, in “A Little Cloud”, to regard themselves in the third person not only offers an ironic counterpoint to Joyce’s scrupulous method, but also encodes a critique of the ethnographic imagination of the Revival. If The Celtic Twilight represents Yeats’s attempt, by means of a redemptive ethnography, to represent an authentic peasant folk culture and to unify the artist with the peasantry by virtue of a shared belief in the reality of fairies, Dubliners might be read as a critique of that representation and the unity it celebrates, a critique in which Revivalism is shown to be a discourse that mystifies class and gender relations and offers no real alternative to oppressive social conditions.

The best illustrations of the pernicious effects of this mystifying discourse are “A Little ClouX’ and “The Dead.” In the former, Little Chandler’s desire to sound “the Celtic note” and to “write something original” hinges on his ability to imitate the “Celtic school”, to infuse the poems he has not yet written with a “melancholy tone” and “allusions” (D, 73-4). Joyce’s lack of patience with the “Celtic school” is well known and can be gauged by his response to Lady Gregory’s Poets and Dreamers, which he reviewed in 1903. “In [183] fine, her book, wherever it treats of the 'folk,’ sets forth in the fullness of its senility a class of mind which Mr. Yeats has set forth with such delicate scepticism in his happiest book, 'The Celtic Twilight.’” (CW, 124.) In this relatively rare, if guarded, expression of praise for Yeats, Joyce contrasts two ways of looking at the “folk”: one that manages a “delicate scepticisrn”, while another that appears gratuitous alongside it. Little Chandler, believing that the power of a cultural discourse like Revivalism will elevate him above his impoverished living conditions and confer upon him the authenticity that a “more Irish-looking” name would confer, lacks Yeats’s saving skepticism. The inauthenticity of his position is all the more apparent, to the reader at least, when we learn of his habit of speaking of himself in the third person, “invent[ing] sentences and phrases from the notices which his book would get” (D, 74). Little Chandler engages in a detached self-observation; he makes himself the subject of a primitivist discourse that maintains an Arnoldian distinction between Celtic and English “notes.” But the fiction of the Revivalist poet he conjures up, “T Malone Chandler”, fails to transform the ineffectual man who is terrorized by his own lack of authenticity, At the end of the story, he sinks back into the oppressive social conditions and “inauthentic consciousness” that Revivalism has done nothing to alleviate - in fact, it has made things worse by leaving him with no alternative but a remorseful longing for an authenticity he can never attain. Like Mrs. Kearney, in “A Mother”, who exploits her daughter’s tenuous connections to the Revivalist movement in order to live vicariously through her musical achievements, only to discover that those connections are annihilated with the emergence of economic realities to which she has blinded herself, Little Chandler is ultimately the victim of Revivalism.

In “The Dead”, a story which, for many readers, serves as both culmination and summation of attitudes that have emerged more or less explicitly in the preceding stories, Joyce offers a far more trenchant and fully developed critique of Revivalism, specifically its reliance on a redemptive mode of ethnography. “The Dead” picks up on the detachment and anomie of other characters in Dubliners and links it explicitly with a set of essentially Revivalist attitudes toward the Irish “race” and the Irish language held by Gabriel and Gretta Conroy and Miss Ivors. As Levenson argues, “two strains of political discourse ... leave visible marks on 'The Dead’: the national autonomy movement of Sinn Fein, and the Irish language [184] campaign.” ('Living History in “the Dead”,’ 1996, p.425.) Gabriel’s ambiguous position also reflects the influence of the primitivism that subtends, albeit in a deeply sublimated fashion, the nativism of the Gaelic League and the Irish-Ireland nationalists. As Nolan argues in her reading of “The Dead”, this context of cultural nationalism is vital, since it is the nationalist mythology of authenticity and its valorization of “the West”, and not the encroachment of modernity, that precipitates Gabriel’s “decenteredness.” “Mortality - the occasion for Gabriel’s reflections on identity is his meditation on death - in itself may be universal, but the particular ways in which it is apprehended ... are intimately linked with the cultural situation in which the story is set.” (Nolan, Joyce and Irish Nationalism, p.35.) In Joyce’s depiction of Gabriel, we have an example of the compromised position Fanon describes in which the native intellectual engages in “the frantic acquisition of the culture of the occupying power” and “takes every opportunity of unfavorably criticizing his own national culture.”(Wretched of the Earth, p.237.)

Uncertain about his own cultural allegiances, Gabriel reacts defensively when he is playfully accused by Miss Ivors of being a West Briton:

It was true that he wrote a literary column every Wednesday in The Daily Express, for which he was paid fifteen shillings. But that did not make him a West Briton surely. The books he received for review were almost more welcome than the paltry cheque. He loved to feel the covers and turn over the pages of newly printed books ... He did not know how to meet her charge. He wanted to say that literature was above politics. But they were friends of many years’ standing and their careers had paralleled, first at the University and then as teachers: he could not risk a grandiose phrase with her. (D, 188)

This confrontation dramatizes Gabriel’s sense of detachment from the Gaelic Ireland that she idealizes and aligns him with the West Britonism he so strenuously denies. His motives for writing for the pro-British Daily Express reveal that his complicity, far from artistic or subversive, turns out to be a pallid, unreflective mimicry of the bourgeois intellectual’s rise to power in the metropolitan center. His position within a nascent national bourgeoisie is camouflaged by his fetishization of books and by a blithe indifference to the situation of colonial Ireland. His “lame” response to Miss Ivors “that he saw nothing political in writing reviews of books” (D, 188) is an attempt to gloss over with an aesthetic justification what he half recognizes as it politically ambiguous pursuit. [185]

Gabriel’s contempt for Miss Ivors, who has unsettled his complacent indifference to Irish culture, is a classic response of the native intellectual whose scant share of the colonizer’s power has been held up for public censure. His response to the suggestion that he learn Irish - “if it comes to that, you know, Irish is not my language” - provokes Miss Ivors, who calls his national identity into question: 'And haven’t you your own land to visit ... that you know nothing of, your own people, and your own country?” (D, 189). His exasperated retort - “I’m sick of my own country, sick of it!” unveils his contradictory position. “For while Gabriel denies that Irish is his language”, writes Levenson, “he implicitly accepts Ireland as his nation - 'my own country’ - sick of it though he may be.” (Levinson, op. cit., 1996, p.429.) This contradiction is duplicated in Gabriel’s dinner speech, in which he indicts Miss Ivors as part of a “new generation, educated or hypereducated”, that lacks “those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day” (D, 203). We are struck by his hypocrisy (they have had, after all, “parallel” careers) and by his failure to see that he participates in the same essentialist and primitivist attitude toward the West of Ireland that characterizes the colonialist ruling classes. [Ftn.] By scorning the invitation to visit the Aran Islands, Gabriel effectively scorns his wife, Gretta, who is herself from Galway, and implicitly calls into play a binomial primitivism similar to that which motivates Revivalist tourists like Miss Ivors.

[Ftn. quotes Fanon: ‘The bourgeois caste, that section of the antion which annexes for its own profit all the wealth of the country, by a kind of unexpeced logic will pass disparaging judgements upon the other Negroes and the other Arabs that more often than not are reminiscent of the racist doctrines of the former representatives of colonial power.’ (Wretched of the Earth, p.167.)]

Joyce’s examination of people like Gabriel underscores the pervasive influence of anthropological attitudes, mediated by Revivalist representations, toward the Irish-speaking peasantry. His ambivalent position as an academic caught between nationalist and colonialist interests is not unlike that of the Revivalist, for he is similarly caught up in an identity crisis in which he cannot know himself without confronting the specter of an Irish Other, someone more authentic, more essential, rooted in the West of Ireland. But, perhaps because, of this ambivalent position with respect to his own Irishness, Gabriel remains blind to the level of his own complicity with nationalist and’ Revivalist projects of cultural redemption. Consequently, he gets caught up in a process by which Michael Furey, a West of Ireland boy his wife once knew, is marked as Other with respect to himself, what he perceives to be the ascendancy, in his wife’s remembrance, of a more authentic Irishman, turns into a radical confrontation with himself as inauthentic. The dead West of Ireland boy becomes [186] the sign of a cultural authenticity from which Gabriel, the ambivalent insider, feels utterly estranged. He falls into a colonialist way of seeing the world in which his own ambivalent but privileged position in the native intelligentsia is defined by the existence of an unambivalent, purely Irish peasant. Gretta Conroy is also complicit in this half-conscious primitivism, for, in her memorialization of Michael Furey and in her self-image as a sacrificial sovereignty figure, she duplicates the legendary and folkloric tropes that Revivalism had made generally available as the signs of an authentic peasantry. Especially provocative in this regard is Gretta’s answer to Gabriel about Michael Furey - “I think he died for me” (D, 220) - which echoes the answer given by the Old Woman in Yeats’s and Lady Gregory’s Cathleen M Houflhan to a query about “yellow-haired Donough that was hanged in Galway”: “He died for love of me: many a man has died for love of me.”” Bewitched by Bartell D’Arcy’s rendition of “The Lass of Aughrim”, the Conroys are seduced into a belief in their own authenticity, which is confirmed in their mutual adoration of Michael Furey, whose ghostly presence puts the lie to Yeats’s famous claim that “Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone.” For, though it may be dead, the Romantic vision of Ireland is far from gone; it has merely become attenuated and ineffectual, exercising a kind of spectral influence from beyond the grave. Like the harp in “Two Gallants”, which “seemed weary alike of the eyes of strangers and of her master’s hands” (D, 54), Michael Furey is an exhausted symbol, signifying the inability of Revivalist discourse to offer meaningful alternatives to sentimental nostalgia and West Britonism. That Gabriel and Gretta have different emotional investments in him matters less than the fact that he serves the same psychic function for both: he provides the empty center for a hybrid identity caught in a vortex of conflicting demands: Revivalist mythologies, nationalist ideologies, Catholic confessionalism and the rewards of assimilation into an anglicized national bourgeoisie.

In the final scene of “The Dead”, Gabriel undergoes a crisis in which he confronts the hybridized nature of his own identity; his response is simultaneously ambivalent and epiphanic and echoes similar responses by Little Chandler, with his faux Celtic Twilight sensibility and his inarticulate despair, and james Dufly, with his anemic emotional life and his well-nigh ethnographic distance from the sensual world in which he longs to participate: “He looked down [187] the slope and, at the base, in the shadow of the wall of the Park, he saw some human figures lying. Those venal and furtive loves filled him with despair. He gnawed the rectitude of his life; he felt that he had been outcast from life’s feast” (D, 117). In Gabriel’s case, this “gnawing” takes the form of a “vague terror”, an “impalpable and vindictive being” (D, 220) that assails him. It is significant that his “generous tears”, which for many critics signal his epiphanic moment of self-consciousness, should be shed precisely when he imagines he sees a vision of the peasant boy: “The tears gathered more thickly in his eyes and in the partial darkness he imagined he saw the form of a young man standing under a dripping tree” (D, 223). For many readers, the “flading out” of Gabriel’s identity and the “dissolving and dwindling” away of the “solid world” signal a “generosity of spirit” that proceeds, as Vincent Pecora argues, from a Christian tradition of self-sacrifice in which the autonomous subject is consolidated through a process of spiritual surrender: “[1]t is what Gabriel views as his generous self-sacrifice that proves and morally justifies [his] identity.” (‘The Dead and the Generosity of the Word’, in PMLA, 101, 1986, p.239.) But, if Gabriel sacrifices himself to anything, it is to his own delusions, his mystified sense of what he is missing and what his wife evidently has access to: the “West of Ireland boy”, whose authentic status is the product of his unwitting complicity in the redemptive desire of Revivalism. In the selflegitimating logic of ethnographic authority, Gabriel stabilizes his own position at the expense of a native Other whose authenticity he constructs, though he is not aware that it is a construction, in order to salve his own inauthentic consciousness.

When Joyce turns to Stephen Dedalus, his critique of Revivalism appears at first glance to be subsumed within a larger critique of nationalism. This is certainly the common view of Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a view which tends to regard Stephen as a renegade whose rejection of nationalism reflects Joyce’s own rejection of the Gaelic League and Irish-Ireland nationalism generally.13 Vincent Cheng’s position is representative of this view: “Stephen recognizes that the emphasis on Irish language and culture is a misdirected nostalgia for a glorious Celtic past and purity which may have never really existed, [one that is] based ... on the reaction of the oppressed group within a binary logic and structure imposed by the oppressors.” (Joyce, Race and Empire, p.62.) It seems to me that the problem here, as in other readings of Stephen’s repudiation of nationalism, is the [188] uncritical assumption of a Manichean model of colonial domination. By taking the view that Stephen’s rejection of the Irish-Ireland nationalist agenda is equivalent to a rejection of Celticism, Cheng assumes that the Celticism in question is identical to the imperialist discourse of people like Matthew Arnold or the nationalist discourse of Gaelic Leaguers like Hughes (in Stephen Hero) and Madden/Davin (in Stephen Hero and A Portrait, respectively). To a certain extent, these discourses come into play in Stephen’s political education; but the Manichean model leaves out of account the complicating factor of the Anglo-Irish Revivalists whose Celticism is significantly different from Arnold’s and the Irish-Irelanders’ and not so easily subsumed under the heading of “nationalism.”

As I have indicated in previous chapters, this complication takes the form of the AngloArish Revivalist’s constitutive ambivalence with respect to the native Irish, an ambivalence akin to that which characterizes the classic ethnographer. And, as I have suggested in my discussion of Dubliners, this ambivalence is not restricted to the Anglo-Irish Revivalist but can be located in the Catholic-Irish intelligentsia whenever Revivalist discourse is drawn upon to authenticate their experience as Irish men and women. It seems to me that Stephen is no exception in this regard. In fact, I submit that his experience elaborates and develops, within the framework of a Bildung -plot, the kind of ambivalent and inauthentic national consciousness that we have already seen in Gabriel Conroy. Stephen occupies a social position similar Gabriel’s: both are what Seamus Deane calls “provincial intellectuals” (Celtic Revivals, p.76) educated in the English language and European traditions, both are impatient with the linguistic policies of the Gaelic League, both are overly sensitive to accusations of inauthenticity, and both are complicit in the construction of an Irish Other indispensable to the formation of their own identities. Although Stephen’s artistic sensibility alerts him to his own position within culture in a way vastly more sophisticated and critical than Gabriel could manage, both share a similar investment in Revivalism. Moreover, we see a significant shift in Stephen’s attitude toward Revivalism as we move from Stephen Hero to A Portrait, and, finally, to Ulysses, a fact that is not marked in Cheng or in other critical assessments of Stephen’s cultural politics. If we try to understand Stephen’s attitudes toward the language question and the primitivism of the Revival in terms of ambivalence, then we might be able to avoid the very binary trap to which Cheng [189] alerts us. The difference between Stephen and the Revivalists may not depend, finally, on the former being a Catholic and therefore more native than the latter; rather, it may depend chiefly on Stephen’s ability to exploit the potential for critique (both of the attitudes he holds and of his own complicity in holding them) that an ambivalent position holds out - and to do so in a more sustained and critical fashion than the Revivalists (to their credit) attempted to do with limited success. From the detached observer of the peasantry in Stephen Hero to the detached observer of cultural observers like Haines in Ulysses, we witness a kind of political education of the native intellectual whose authenticity depends on his recognition of what is most inauthentic about himself. Joyce’s ironic narrative method, then, often discussed in terms of aesthetic distance, might better be described in terms of the distance proper to ethnography; in this context, Joyce’s irony falls squarely on Stephen’s experience of inauthenticity and the role it plays in the creation of a racial conscience.

On many levels, Stephen Hero and A Portrait articulate similar themes and present Stephen’s attitudes in similar ways. This is especially true with respect to nationalism and the Catholic Church. In Stephen Hero, the Gaelic Leaguer Mr. Hughes expresses a view of Stephen and his politics that remains relatively unchanged, though transferred to different speakers, in A Portrait . “Mr. Daedalus was himself a renegade from the Nationalist ranks: he professed cosmopolitanism. But a man that was of all countries was of no country you must first have a nation before you have art” (SH, 103). Many of Stephen’s attitudes in Stephen Hero toward the nationalist cause and the idea of an Irish nation are similar to those voiced in A Portrait, though the former lacks the subtlety and economy of expression we find in the latter. The belief that art and Stephen’s own artistic development are of greater importance than the nation, implicit in A Portrait and later articulated in the drunken confrontation with the British soldiers at the conclusion of the “Circe” episode of Ulysses, is plainly expressed in Stephen Hero: “[mly own mind ... is more interesting to me than the entire country”, Stephen says with sublime arrogance, while elsewhere the narrator notes that “[h]e acknowledged to himself in honest egoism that he could not take to heart the distress of a nation, the soul of which was antipathetic to his own, so bitterly as the indignity of a bad line of verse” (SH, 248, 146). It is this expression of the artist’s antipathy toward the nation [190] that has justified the belief that Stephen invested little or nothing in the nationalist cause. This is fair enough as far as it goes, but this same antipathy is often adduced as evidence that Stephen had little or no investment in Revivalism. However, other evidence points to the investments he did in fact make and continued to make in A Portrait. That they are for the most part uncriticized, that they exist as unacknowledged assumptions, indicates that Stephen’s ambivalent attitude toward the culture he both observes and participates in, like that of the characters Joyce so trenchantly exposes in Dubliners, is determined in significant ways by the very Revivalist discourse that so many critics believe he repudiates.

Stephen’s attitude toward the Revival in Stephen Hero might be said to begin and end with a few references to the fact that he admired Yeats’s mystical stories of the late 1890s, particularly The Tables of the Law, “every word of which he remembered” and recited with “careful animation” to his friend Lynch (SH, 177). In my brief discussion of these stories in chapter 2, I suggested that they represent a turning-point for Yeats, a point at which he appears to have abandoned a belief in the efficacy of “fair equivalents” of folklore and to have embarked on a revision of Revivalism that no longer sought to represent an authentic Irish peasant culture but rather to legitimate an Anglo-Irish tradition by way of an appeal to “divine substances” that emerge in the visionary experience of the “Protestant magician.” (Roy Foster, 'Protestant Magic: W. B. Yeats and the Spell of Irish History’, in Proceedings of the British Academy, 75, 1989, 243-66). But Stephen’s admiration for these stories, with their descriptions of “incoherent and heterogeneous” rituals and the “strange mixture” of “trivialities and sacred practices” (SH, 178), is inconsistent with views stated elsewhere in the text. For example, he had earlier criticized the “romantic temper” in art for being “an insecure, unsatisfied, impatient temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses therefore to behold them under insensible figures” which “are blown to wild adventures, lacking the gravity of solid bodies, and the mind that has conceived them ends by disowning them” (SH, 78). In a discussion of Shelley’s “spiritual interpretation of landscape”, Stephen notes that “[s]ome people think they write spiritually if they make their scenery dim and cloudy” (SH, 129). It is difficult not to discern in these criticisms an indirect attack on the “Celtic note”, associated with Yeats’s work in the 1890s, that Little Chandler strives to hit. What I think these references point to is a grudging investment in and identification with Yeatsian Revivalism, especially the form it began to take around [191] 1897, the annus mirabilis of Yeats’s folkloric fictions. It is, of course, unclear whether Stephen’s view of Yeats reflects Joyce’s but what is clear is that Joyce wished his hero to exhibit an ambivalent, perhaps even contradictory, attitude toward Yeats and Revivalism generally. We might gauge Joyce’s ironic purpose in such an exhibition by considering that, with the exception of a single important reference to Michael Robartes, who is featured in Yeats’s mystical stories, at the conclusion of A Portrait, there is little evidence to suggest that Stephen retains his ambivalent interest in Yeats or the Revival.

What does this add up to? For one thing, it indicates that Stephen’s attitude toward the Revival cannot be taken as identical to or subsumed within his attitude toward nationalism. But the scanty references to Yeats are not the only evidence of Stephen’s indebtedness to the Revival. His lingering dependence on primitivist cultural distinctions, for example, suggests at best an unconscious assent to the Revival’s project of cultural redemption. This is not to say, however, that he does not explicitly reject certain elements of the Revival. The evidence in Stephen Hero and A Portrait support only the limited claim that Stephen rejects those elements of Revivalism the language question, the fetishization of folklore, myth, and legend, complicity with colonial rule - that threaten his artistic freedom. In Stephen Hero, he explicitly denounces the Gaelic League for its complicity with colonial domination: “And how many relatives of Gaelic Leaguers are in the police and constabulary?” he asks Madden. “Even I know nearly ten of your friends who are sons of Police inspectors” (SH, 64). In A Portrait, this denunciation is generalized and aimed at the “indispensable informer” and the nationalist instinct for betrayal: “No honourable and sincere man”, Stephen tells Davin, who has tried in vain to recruit him, “has given up to you his life and his youth and his affections from the days of Tone to those of Parnell but you sold him to the enemy or failed him in need or reviled him and left him for another. And you invite me to be one of you. I’d see you damned first” (P, 203). Such statements, indeed the nature of the entire dialogue between the two, has the effect of downplaying the importance of the Irish-language movement and of Revivalism generally, focusing on the corruptive effects of complicity on his own artistic ambitions.

Though primitivist discourse plays an enabling role in Stephen’s artistic self-fashioning, it is represented in quite different ways in Stephen Hero and A Portrait . In a discussion of the role of the Church [912] and the police in the Gaelic League, Madden defends the Church by saying that “our people have suffered for [it] and would suffer for [it] again” while the police are looked upon “as aliens, traitors, oppressors of the people.” Stephen replies that “[t] he old peasant down the country doesn’t seem to be of your opinion when he counts over his greasy notes and says 'I’ll put the priest on Tom an’ IT put the polisman on Mickey” (SH, 64). His recitation of what he sarcastically calls “Irish peasant wisdom” is met with an accusation that reminds us of Miss Ivors’ retort to Gabriel Conroy: “No West-Briton could speak worse of his countrymen. You are simply giving vent to old stale libels - the drunken Irishman, the baboon-faced Irishman that we see in Punch” (SH, 64-5). Stephen’s response, which, significantly, does not attempt to refute Madden’s charge, invokes the authority of his own experience: “What I say I see about me.” But it also invokes the experiential authority of the participant-observer that underwrites Revivalist representations of the Irish peasantry as well as ethnographies like those produced by A. C. Haddon and C. R. Browne, which drew upon stereotypes borrowed by previous visitors to the Aran Islands. In any case, the issue of Stephen’s reliance on a primitivist discourse is sidestepped when he shifts the conversation to a critique of the economic hypocrisy of “[t]he publicans and the pawnbrokers who live on the miseries of the people” (SH, 65).

Vincent Cheng, who quotes exhaustively from L. P. Curtis’s seminal work on stereotyped representations of the Irish, fails to see the implications of this dialogue, quoting only the first sentence of Madden’s accusation and claiming, vaguely and tentatively, that Joyce was testing “the limitations of Stephen’s attitudes toward his country” (Joyce, Race and Empire, p.67.) Nor does Cheng examine the most damning evidence of Stephen’s primitivist thinking, the “additional manuscript pages” appended to the text of Stephen Hero which depict his journey to Mullingar to visit his godfather, Mr. Fulham. These pages begin with Stephen’s musings about the peasants in the third-class railroad carriage that takes him to Mullingar. He notes that

[t]he carriage smelt strongly of peasants (an odor the debasing humanity of which Stephen remembered to have perceived in the little chapel of Clongowes on the morning of his first communion) and indeed so pungently that the youth could not decide whether he found the odor of sweat offensive because the peasant sweat is monstrous or because it did not now proceed from his own body. He was not ashamed to admit to himself that he found it offensive for both of these reasons. (SH, 238) [193]

The suggestion that the peasant is a species of “debased humanity;” complicated by a characteristic egotism that prompts Stephen to take offense at that which does not emanate from his own body, is reinforced by the description of Mr. Fulharn’s neighbors as “primitive types” (SH, 241). Joyce will later include the episode at Clongowes in A Portrait, where the smell of “holy peasants” registers in the young Stephen’s consciousness as “a smell of air and rain and turf and corduroy” (P, 18); but it is displaced from the adult Stephen’s memory in Stephen Hero, where it is contextualized by attitudes that are far from childlike, and made to function in the later text as one of a number of seemingly unrelated sensations. The implication, in A Portrait, is that Stephen either outgrows a childish prejudice or that the childish prejudice is really nothing of the sort: it is simply another example of the incipient artist’s sensitivity to sensations.

Stephen’s musings, far more crudely and pejoratively couched than what we find in Yeats or Synge, are nonetheless grounded in the same primitivism that we find in both Revivalist and ethnographic discourses. After hearing a “humorous story which was intended to poke fun at countrified ideas” (SH, 242), a story which Stephen thought had been told well and which makes him laugh, Mr. Fulham notes “with conviction” that “ [o] ur Irish peasantry ... is the backbone of the nation” (SH, 244). The narrator then proceeds to situate Stephen overtly within a context of ethnographic observation:

Backbone or not, it was in the constant observance of the peasantry that Stephen chiefly delighted. Physically, they were almost Mongolian types, tall, angular and oblique-eyed. Stephen whenever he walked behind a peasant always looked first for the prominent cheek-bones that seemed to cut the air and the peasants in their turn must have recognized metropolitan features for they stared hard at the youth as if he were some rare animal. (SH, 244)

Stephen here duplicates the characteristic position of the participant-observer who stands at a remove from the native subject and who is utterly different from that subject - a “metropolitan” outsider whose physiognomy throws the native’s racial Otherness into relie£ He repeats as well the language of primitivism, with its binomial structure and a typological rhetoric that makes a clear, physiological distinction between civilized and primitive types. The careful description suggests the anthropometric methodology of Haddon and Browne, while the “delight” Stephen takes in his “constant observance” suggests the “social authority” that his observation both [194] presupposes and confers. We are reminded of Bronislaw Malinowski’s similar feelings of delight when he has emerged from the torpor induced by novels and erotic daydreams: “Once again upsurge of joy at this open, free existence amidst a fabulous [sic!] landscape, under exotic conditions, a real picnic based on actual work ... This may have also been the cause of my joy at Wagasi, when suddenly the veil was rent and I began to collect information.” Diary [ . &c .], trans. Nobert Guterman, Stanford UP 1989, p.257.)

Though they are isolated examples, the passages quoted above support other instances of Stephen’s primitivist assumptions about the Irish peasantry. A problem arises, however, when we consider Joyce’s treatment of Stephen’s peasant friend Madden/Davin. In Stephen Hero, there is a clear separation between Stephen’s attitude toward Madden and his attitude toward the peasantry during the trip to Mullingar. The primitivism so strongly evident in the passage relating that trip is a barely noticeable subtext in passages describing Madden: “Madden and [Stephen] were often together but their conversations were rarely serious and though the rustic mind of one was very forcibly impressed by the metropolitanism of the other both young men were on relations of affectionate familiarity” (SH, 52). Stephen makes here the same distinction he made between the Mongoloid peasant and the metropolitan observer; but the difference lies in the “affectionate familiarity” that allows Stephen to achieve a kind of intersubjective rapport and to overcome the distance that guarantees his “constant observance.” The relationship with Madden, as with Davin in A Portrait, replicates in novelistic terms what Yeats attempted in folkloric terms in The Celtic Twilight : the artist-observer is allowed the seemingly contradictory privileges of distance and intimacy.

In Stephen Hero, Madden is represented in a specific social context that includes the Gaelic League, Irish-language instruction, and college life; he differs from Stephen’s other friends in being a “rustic”, but in every other ways he takes his place among his fellow students with little or no attempt on Stephen’s (or Joyce’s) part to romanticize his difference from them. In A Portrait, the blatantly primitivist discourse of Stephen Hero is excised, and the figure of Davin, with a few minor exceptions, remains the sole locus of Stephen’s (and the text’s) attitudes toward the peasantry; he condenses and crystallizes this attitude, emerging less as a character with whom Stephen interacts than as a type: “the peasant student” (P, 18o). Stephen’s description of him as a man in thrall to myth, [195] legend, and an Irish-Ireland political ethos signals his racial and and cultural difference:

Side by side with his memory of the deeds of prowess of his uncle Mat Davin, the athlete, the young peasant worshipped the sorrowful legend of Ireland. The gossip of his fellowstudents which strove to render the flat life of the college significant at any cost loved to think of him as a young fenian. His nurse had taught him Irish and shaped his rude imagination by the broken lights of Irish myth. He stood toward this myth upon which no individual mind had ever drawn out a line of beauty and to its unwieldy tales that divided themselves as they moved down the cycles in the same attitude as toward the Roman catholic religion, the attitude of a dullwitted loyal serf. Whatsoever of thought or of feeling came to him from England or by way of English culture his mind stood armed against in obedience to a password: and of the world that lay beyond England he knew only the foreign legion of France in which he spoke of serving. (P, 181)

To be sure, Joyce here criticizes nationalists’ reliance on myth when he suggests that “no individual mind had ever drawn out a line of beauty” from it, and he undermines the picture of a noble and virtuous peasantry painted by Revivalists and Gaelic Leaguers alike when he asserts that the peasant’s attitude toward myth was identical to his mindless subservience to the Church. But the critical thrust of the passage is undermined by its invocation of the “dullwitted loyal serf “ - either a Firbolg or a Milesian, both half-legendary candidates for the racial “origin” of the Irish Celts - which signals Stephen’s sense that the Irish peasant remains trapped in Manichean opposition to metropolitan culture. His attitudes clearly reveal a residual investment in a primitivist discourse that constructs Davin as simple, guileless, and superstitious, the embodiment of provincialism and “the hidden ways of Irish life”, a “peasant student” with “a dull stare of terror in the eyes, the terror of the soul of a starving Irish village in which the curfew is still a nightly fear” (P, 180-81). The irony, of course, is that Stephen takes an essentially Revivalist position even as he struggles to demythologize the peasant subject of the Revival’s redemptive ethnography.

It seems to me that the transition from Stephen Hero to A Portrait reveals the ambivalent nature of Stephen’s attitude toward the peasantry, for the rapport that he effects, or attempts to effect, with Davin in A Portrait is not simply the “affectionate farniliarity” he felt for Madden but something closer to confessional intimacy. Davin relates his unsettling encounter with a peasant women (P, 181-3), while Stephen confesses his desire to be free of nationalist and [196] religious oppression in such a way that suggests earlier confessions: “The soul is born, he said vaguely, first in those moments I told you of” (P 203). More important is Davin’s consciousness of the impropriety of Stephen’s confession: “I’m a simple person, said Davin. You know that. When you told me that night in Harcourt Street those things about your private life, honest to God, Stevie, I was not able to eat my dinner. I was quite bad. I was awake a long time that night. Why did you tell me those things?” (P, 202). The precise nature of Stephen’s intimacies is unclear, though given his sexual experiences it is not hard to guess what they might be. But one small clue indicates that this confessional relationship, even as it instates a binomial distinction between metropolitan artist and primitive rustic, renders the distinction to some degree unstable, since, unlike any of Stephen’s other friends, Davin calls him by the affectionately familiar “Stevie.” Moreover, though in this intimate confessional relationship Davin is given a voice, what he speaks is a repetition of the very discourse that otherwise reduces him to a primitive type - “I am a simple person . You know that” - and that confers upon him an authentic social status. Ironically, part of what defines Stephen’s relationship with him is his apparent desire for the authenticity that the peasant student represents. When Davin asks “What with your name and yourideas ... Are you Irish at all?” Stephen responds with a defense of his Irishness: “Come with me now to the office of arms and I will show you the tree of my family.” He clearly resents the implication that he is an inauthentic Irishman, yet he fairly bristles at signs of Davin’s authenticity, especially his heavy boots, his simple credulous nature, and his naive commitment to Fenianism. Indeed, it is this authentic Irishness that within minutes Stephen will reject in his famous line about throwing ofr the nets of “nationality, language, religion” (P, 202-3). Perhaps nowhere else does Stephen’s ambivalent desire for authenticity shade so markedly into contradiction.

Another important issue that undergoes transformation from Stephen Hero to A Portrait is the revival of the Irish language. The extended passages in Stephen Hero that describe Stephen’s attendance at Irish-language classes and his open confrontations with Gaelic Leaguers on the question of reviving the Irish language give way in A Portrait to meditations that displace his struggle with language from a Revivalist to an imperialist context. Moreover, the object of his meditations shifts from the Irish to the English language. A new ambivalence is admitted into A Portrait that does not exist, or exists [197] only implicitly, in Stephen Hero, for Stephen must now contend with a situation in which neither the English nor the Irish language appear authentic to him, neither appear to satisfy his desire for a language adequate to his artistic and emotional needs. The argument against learning Irish is clearly expressed in A Portrait . “My ancestors threw off their language and took another”, he tells Davin. “They allowed a handful of foreigners to subject them. Do you fancy I am going to pay in my own life and person debts they made? What for?” (P, 203). The question of language easily slides into the larger question of colonial domination, of the “debts” incurred by ancestors who chose to give up their “mother tongue.” His education and artistic sensibility have made him suspicious of the notion that the Irish language would somehow authenticate his experience as an Irishman. But he is equally suspicious of the English language, even as he continues to develop a masterful use of it. His meeting with the dean of studies articulates this suspicion and indicates the displacement from a Revivalist to an imperialist context:

The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine. How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit, His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language. (P, 189)

The bitterness we discern in this passage is partly attributable to the anxiety of the colonial subject who must contend with a language that has been imposed rather than acquired. Stephen’s discovery later that the word tundish, which he believed to be of Irish origin, turns out to be English after all, underscores the treachery of his situation. His response to the dean, recorded in his diary - “Damn him one way or the other” (P 251) - signals the frustration that ensues once he realizes the interminable ambivalence involved in defining national identity in linguistic terms.

Patrick McGee argues that the ambivalent status of Ireland as a metropolitan colony created a unique set of social conditions in which writers like Joyce could be said to “anticipate the postcolonial writer precisely to the extent that they themselves, as subjects, have been colonized by hegemonic discourses to which they offer specific forms of linguistic resistance.” (Patrick Magee, Telling the Other: The Question of Value in Modern and Postcolonial Writing, Cornell UP 1992, p.139.) For an Irish intellectual like Stephen, who refuses on principle to embrace Irish as a “mother tongue” and who is hypersensitive to the denotative and connotative [199] potentialities of language, English offers both the temptation of aesthetic satisfaction, as evidenced by the pleasure he derives from poetry and etymology, and the awareness of the inadequacy of what at times seems like an inauthentic mode of expression. But, even as he evinces the same impatience with the language question that characterizes Gabriel Conroy, he is capable of seeing that behind the question of whether Irish is his language lies a more pertinent one: why is a nearly dead language being used as a sign of authentic Irishness and the principal plank of a nationalist campaign? While Stephen may have a personal reason for not wanting to learn Irish (”Is it on account of that certain young lady and Father Moran?” Davin asks him [P, 202]), it is clear that his rejection is based chiefly on a conviction that the struggle for the future of Ireland, if it is to be fought on the battlefield of language, would take place in English, but an English that had been appropriated and resignified by the Irish artist. It is perhaps generally true that the Irish-Ireland movement, insofar as it adhered to a nativist ideal, insisted on the prominence of the Irish language on their political agenda; but, within the ranks of the Anglo-Irish intelligentsia, there was a decisive split between those like Douglas Hyde, who argued for the “deanglicization” of Ireland”, and those like Yeats, Synge, and Lady Gregory who maintained that the future of Irish literature depended on the development of a Hiberno-English dialect. Stephen’s resistance to the call for “de-anglicization” and his willingness to expand the expressive power of the English language places him within the tradition of the Celtic Revival, though he is critical of attitudes and practices often associated with a Hiberno-English dialect that readily lent itself to his parodic method. Nolan writes, “[l]ike his counterparts in the Literary Revival, Joyce concentrated on varieties of Hiberno-English, rather than on Irish, in his search for an alternative national vernacular. More explicitly than Yeats, Gregory, or Synge, however, Joyce’s dialect also bears the weight of crucial political questions.” (Joyce and Irish Nationalism, p.113.) One of those questions bears directly on the anthropological modernism of the Revival, for, while Revivalists like Synge and Lady Gregory strove to use dialect forms of English to evoke a “fair equivalent” of an authentic folk culture, Joyce sought instead to subvert the reifying and essentializing effects of such equivalents in the production of a “national vernacular” whose inauthenticity is a function of a deliberate and liberatory will to style .

Intimately connected with the language question is Stephen’s [199] construction of Emma Clery as a parody of the traditional female sovereignty figure. Typically cast as Kathleen ni Houlihan, the sovereignty figure was developed in part as a response to the British image of Hibernia (a response which, not incidentally, can be regarded as a replication of colonialist iconography) but also, and perhaps largely, as a continuation of an indigenous tradition in which the sovereignty figure represents the political autonomy of the Irish people. Yeats’s Cathleen ni Houlihan, which reworks a folktale of an old woman who persuades the young men of Ireland to protect her from the strangers in her four fields, had become, by the time Joyce wrote A Portrait, both a powerful emblem of the aspirations of cultural nationalism and an obvious target of parody. And, while parodic manifestations of the sovereignty figure appear in Ulysses, Joyce’s treatment of it in the early work is harder to characterize. Gretta Conroy’s sense of her role in the death of Michael Furey certainly suggests the sovereignty figure, who seduces young men to sacrifice their lives, and the peasant woman in Davin’s story of seduction serves a similarly conventional iconic function. Less conventional are the depictions of the bird-girl and E- C. in A Portrait . E L. Radford and Anthony Roche have recently argued for the Celtic origins of the bird-girl, interpreting her as a figure of Irish sovereignty that embodies and resignifies Revivalist iconography in an aesthetic vision situated in the liminal time of the sidhe, a transitional zone of transformation and timelessness through which the artist passes, a space between this world and the Other world of Tir na nOg (Land of Youth).` As a reinterpretation of the Revivalist sovereignty figure, the bird-girl emerges less as a nationalist icon than as an “envoy” to the metropolitan artist on the eve of exile.

The image of sovereignty and seduction to which I now turn E. C. refigured as the “bat-like soul waking to the consciousness of itself “ (P, 183) - underscores both Stephen’s ambivalence toward Revivalist iconography and the critical power of his parodic resignification of Revivalist myth. His reconstruction of the peasant woman in Davin’s story and his conflation of her with Emma Clery together constitute a seductive tableau in which the sovereignty figure emerges as the symbol of an uncreated race with respect to which Stephen presides as priest and confessor.

The story Davin relates - the attempt to seduce him by a married peasant woman - duplicates the Revivalist trope of Kathleen ni Houlilian in such a way that reflects something of the reality of [200] peasant life: Davin’s lonely walk in the dark countryside, the woman’s solitude and poverty, her husband’s absence on market business. But, immediately after Davin relates the story, Stephen incorporates it as a repetition of his own experience - that is, of his habit of transforming “real” women into types of racial authenticity:

The last words of Davin’s story sang in his memory and the figure of the woman in the story stood forth, reflected in other figures of the peasant women whom he had seen standing in the doorways at Clane as the college cars drove by, as a type of her race and his own, a batlike soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness and, through the eyes and voice and gesture of a woman without guile, calling the stranger to her bed. (P, 183)

Davin’s story of the peasant woman becomes for Stephen an anthropological fiction that reconfigures the terms of binomial racialism into a monstrous representation of a native Other struggling through betrayal to awaken to a consciousness of herself and her race. It is significant that this manifestation of Irish sovereignty hovers at the threshold of adultery, for, as David Lloyd points out, “where the principal organizing metaphor of Irish nationalism is that of a proper paternity, of restoring the lineage of the fathers in order to repossess the motherland, Joyce’s procedures are dictated by adulteration.” (Anomalous States, 1993, p.105-06.) We should also note the way in which Stephen manages to undermine one kind of gendered icon (e.g., Kathleen ni Houlihan) only to create another in its place; for, although he rejects the idealized figure of sacrificial sovereignty in favor of a figure of vampiric sexual seduction, his rejection merely instates a more cynical version of previous icons: we are still confronted with a woman who seeks the sacrifice of young men who will save her from the violence of intruders and who holds out the promise of national self-consciousness. The tension between the opposed impulses to idealize and to demystify is sustained in nearly every encounter Stephen has with Irish women. Consider, for example, the passage immediately following his meditation on Davin’s story in which Stephen comes upon a girl selling flowers who becomes still another repetition of his habit of iconizing peasant women: “The blue flowers which she lifted toward him and her young blue eyes seemed to him at that instant images of guilelessness .” It is with a concentration of effort that he is able to vanquish these images and to see in their place “only her ragged dress and damp coarse hair and hoydenish face “ (P, 183; added emphasis). [201]

As part of a critique of Revivalist iconography, these passages are both powerful and original, instances of an autoethnographic expressiveness that retranslates a conventional figure of sovereignty into a new and subversive image, one that replicates an iconizing gesture while simultaneously dramatizing the process by which the gesture is deconstructed, leaving behind an image that suggests something of the material reality of poverty and oppression. We see something quite different in the representation of E. C. (Emma Clery in Stephen Hero ) in Stephen’s villanelle. The villanelle represents E. C. as a disembodied temptress in a profane interweaving of the sacrament of the Eucharist and sensual images of water, waves, and bodily warmth that effectively aestheticizes both religious adoration and sexual desire. What is not often noted about the passage is its framing context, for here we find one of those rare moments in A Portrait where the Gaelic Leaguers, so prominent in Stephen Hero, appear. But their appearance is so oblique, so much a function of Stephen’s creative process (he appears to remember them in the intervals of composition), that we cannot help but notice how completely they and their cause have been diminished, serving now only as images of inadequacy and futility. Stephen recalls leaving the classroom where the Irish-language lessons are held, castigating himself for reviling and mocking Emma’s image:

And yet he felt that, however he might revile and mock her image, his anger was also a form of homage. He had left the classroom in disdain that was not wholly sincere, feeling that perhaps the secret of her race lay behind those dark eyes upon which her long lashes flung a quick shadow. He had told himself bitterly as he walked through the streets that she was a figure of the womanhood of her country, a batlike soul waking to the consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness, tarrying awhile, loveless and sinless, with her mild lover and leaving him to whisper of innocent transgressions in the latticed car of a priest. (P, 221)

The repetition of phrases he had earlier used to describe the peasant woman in Davin’s story might lead us to think that she is merely another type of primitive Irish womanhood; but there is a key difference between the two passages, for here Stephen refers to her race, her country, whereas in the earlier passage he had referred to “her race and his own.” As a result, E. C. is rendered absolutely Other with respect to Stephen. His latest reconstruction of the sovereignty figure as an image of the artist’s profane sacramental [202] desire, then, effects an uneasy balance between iconizing parody and mere repetition of conventional iconographic strategies.

It is this sacramental desire that critics leave out of their account of Stephen’s construction of E. C. Vincent Cheng, for example, argues that “Emma is Hibernia” and that Stephen “is of course misogynistically essentializing Irish womanhood with the pejorative image of a 'batlike soul.” (Joyce, Race and Empire, p.71.) My interpretation takes a native sovereignty figure, rather than the imperialist Hibernia, as the more likely antecedent of Stephen’s meditations. Moreover, Cheng does not pursue the link between this image of Emma and the Revivalist iconographic tradition, preferring instead to speak monolithically of “Irish Nationalism.” He argues further that Joyce “imaginatively function[s] her as the seductive lure of Ireland and Irish Nationalism” and that she represents to Stephen “the very Irish Nationalist mind-set he must put aside.” (Idem.) Cheng is, of course, right about her seductive function, but I submit that Stephen’s attitude toward the nationalist “mind-set” is more ambivalent than Cheng allows and that Stephen’s sacramental desire is crucial to our understanding of E. C.’s function as an image of the Irish race.

When he is not imagining E. C.’s “shy nakedness”, Stephen imagines himself as a “priest of eternal imagination, transmuting the daily bread of experience into the radiant body of everliving life.” His acquisition, through a process of Nietzschean transvaluation, of the sacramental authority of the priest sets him apart from more “authentic” priests like Father Moran, the putative object of E. C.’s attention, who is described as “a priested peasant, with a brother a policeman in Dublin and a brother a potboy in Moycullen” (P, 221). Stephen’s artistic priesthood, which we may regard as a further manifestation of his metropolitanism, reinstates the discourse of primitivism that we have seen numerous times before. In this way, he slyly implicates E. C. as sovereignty figure with the “priested peasant” in binomial opposition to the “priestly” aesthete that Stephen imagines himself to be. But, while his reconstruction of the sovereignty figure unveils the primitivist discourse at the heart of Revivalist iconography, it also has the unintended consequence of exposing his own residual investments in that discourse, which he has obscured in an eroticized aestheticism that redefines the “constant observance” of the native Other that so delighted him in Stephen Hero as “the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an esthetic end” (P, 207). [203]

Joyce’s representation of Stephen’s confrontation with Revivalism reaches a new level in the concluding section of A Portrait in which the point of view shifts abruptly from free indirect narration to the first-person immediacy of the diary entries, a shift that reflects an ironic detachment not only from the Revival but also from Stephen’s own investments in it. This is reflected in his last conversation with Davin, whose curiosity about Stephen’s imminent departure is met with the response that “the shortest way to Tara was via Holyhead” (P, 250) - a response that combines the metropolitan artist’s desire for exile from a provincial milieu with the Revivalist’s desire for mythic authenticity. The irony of his statement is perhaps doubleedged, for it suggests either acquiescence in that authenticity, with the proviso that it can be acquired only by traveling the road of exile, or a recognition that Tara is knowable only through the distance afforded by exile.

In a curious way, the diary entries recapitulate the attitudes that we first discover in Stephen Hero and that are later modified and consolidated in the more tightly controlled point of view of A Portrait . Davin, Yeatsian Revivalism, the language question, the radical Otherness of the peasant, the participant-observer in the West of Ireland - all of these elements reemerge, asserting the irony of Stephen’s position as an artist who has attempted to repudiate what the nationalist and Revivalist alike considered most authentically Irish. Though marked by a chronology that suggests the randomness of near-daily recording, the diary entries nevertheless create an effect of free association. For example, Davin’s reappearance “at the cigar shop opposite Findlater’s church” “in a black sweater [holding] a hurleystick” (P, 250) obliquely inscribes an Irish-Ireland ideal of robust peasant vitality. After this passage, Stephen invokes “swirling bogwater” and the “[elyes of girls among the leaves. Girls demure and romping ... Houp-la!” (P, 250). These images of rural Ireland direct our attention back to the “bat-like soul” of Davin’s peasant temptress and E. C., creating a tension between Stephen’s own myth-making and the Yeatsian vision of girls romping “among the leaves.” Lynch’s remark about women remembering the past seems to link these girls to a bygone time and provokes from Stephen an expostulation - “The past is consumed in the present and the present is living only because it brings forth the future” (P, 251) - that contextualizes, with its insistence on the primacy and immediacy of the present, his next remark about Yeats’s mystical persona, Michael [204] Robartes, the central character of the stories Stephen had so admired. The remark is a kind of self-criticism, one that revises and restates his opinion of the “incoherent and heterogeneous” rituals (SH, 178) that characterize those stories:

Michael Robartes remembers forgotten beauty and, when his arms wrap her round, he presses in his arms the loveliness which has long faded from the world. Not this. Not at all. I desire to press in my arms the loveliness which has not yet come into the world. (P, 251)

Any hint of appreciation for the rituals of the Order of the Alchemical Rose is here displaced by a conviction that the Revivalist nostalgia for a beauty that requires redemption in mystical terms is as fruitless as the atavism that he identifies with Davin. But, at the same time, we are drawn back to the remark about Tara and the irony of the statement becomes more pronounced - indeed we wonder whether Stephen is capable of recognizing the ambivalence of his position. If his exile is to lead him to Tara, what then do we make of his desire for “the loveliness which has not yet come into the world”? Assuming that Stephen is not simply dismissing Davin and Tara - though it is tempting to regard his remark as a witticism in which he does not believe - we might conclude that this loveliness refers to the “conscience of his race” that Stephen desires to forge, which is in some ways represented both by the “bat-like soul” and by the mythic image of Tara. We might go further and conclude that what “has not yet come into the world” is in fact a “new original” produced in an autoethnographic conjoining of the Revivalism he rejects and his own “mild proud sovereignty” (P, 169).

Though his self-criticism appears still to be unsettled by contradiction and ambivalence, there is also an awareness that they are somehow unavoidable, that they may in fact be necessary for his artistic development. The business of the tundish returns Stephen to the question of language and reminds him with the force of a revelation that his frustration is less with the Gaelic League and its unrealistic agenda for linguistic authenticity than with the dean of studies who reminds him of his own anxiety in the shadow of the English language. “What did he come here for to teach us his own language or to learn it from me? Damn him one way or the other!” (P, 251). The point, of course, is that Stephen can neither learn it nor teach it, leaving him bereft of any social authority and of any mode of expression that could authenticate his own experience. His inarticulateness surfaces again in the entry that replays a scene from [205] Stephen Hero, in which a story is told of country life featuring an old man’s wonder at the world beyond his peasant experience. Whereas in the early text this scene is played out in the context of Stephen’s “constant observance” of the peasantry, it is now condensed into a vignette of Revivalist ethnography:

John Alphonsus Mulrennan has just returned from the West of Ireland. (European and Asiatic papers please copy.) He told us he met an old man there in a mountain cabin. Old man had red eyes and short pipe. Old man spoke Irish. Mulrennan spoke Irish. Then old man and Mulrennan spoke English. Mulrennan spoke to him about universe and stars. Old man sat, listened, smoked, spat. Then said:

- Ah, there must be terrible queer creatures at the latter end of the world. (P, 251)

This new version of the event undergoes a shift in context from the scene at Mullingar, where Stephen enjoyed the story as it was related by an officer, to one that can only be described as textual. The story no longer belongs to Stephen’s experience, existing now as a selfconscious parody of Synge’s Aran Islands. The clipped, telegraphic style of the entry parodies not Synge’s style so much as the sovereign position of the participant-observer who uses his knowledge of Irish to establish a rapport with his native informant. Significantly, the old man’s statement is rendered free of the dialect that we hear in Stephen Hero (”Aw, there must be terrible quare craythurs at the latther ind of the world” [SH, 243), which may indicate Stephen’s reluctance to “redeem” the old man’s language and thus replicate the ethnographic gesture of Synge’s text.

As if to underscore the contrast between Synge’s position and his own, Stephen shifts out of a parodic mode and strives to articulate the ambivalent relation of the old man to his own experience. He admits that he fears him and his “redrimmed horny eyes”: “It is with him I must struggle all through this night till day come, till he or I lie dead, gripping him by the sinewy throat till ... Till what? Till he yield to me? No. I mean him no harm” (P, 252; Joyce’s ellipsis). Though he does not condemn the peasant as monstrous, as he had in Stephen Hero, he nevertheless sustains a self-conscious anthropological fiction of the peasant as an opponent in his struggle for self-expression. Perhaps for the first time, Stephen articulates his desire to be free of the primitivist discourse that has tempted him into a Manichean struggle with a native Other. The detachment of the parody, with Mulrennan embodying the ethnographic attitude [206] toward the peasantry, gives way to a personal struggle in which the metropolitan artist grips the old man’s “sinewy throat.” In this deadly intimacy, Stephen means him no harm; indeed, we are struck with the notion that this struggle is inextricably bound up with his desire to forge the “conscience of his race.” The figure of the peasant, no longer trapped in Manichean opposition to him, reminds him of the inescapable fact of his hybridized identity, one that has incurred powerful and half-repudiated debts to Revivalism and its ethnographic imagination. Perhaps Stephen is here struggling with what he will later acknowledge, while walking along Sandymount Strand: the presence within him of “jerkined dwarfs, my people, with flayers’ knives, running, scaling, hacking in green blubbery whalemeat. Famine, plague and slaughters. Their blood is in me, their lusts my waves” (U, 45). Unlike Gabriel Conroy, who regards Michael Furey as an implacable force, an Other that will beset and displace him, Stephen recognizes that the struggle with the old man and later the “jerkined dwarfs” is a fundamental part of his identity that he will not overcome so much as keep free from harm.

As I will show in the next chapter, Stephen has much to overcome, and Joyce is able to further his ends of criticizing Revivalist discourse in part because Ulysses allows Stephen to transcend his own limitations. This is partly a function of Joyce’s self-reflexive narrative style, a signal feature of his modernism, one that more fully exploits a potential in Synge’s Playboy and in some of Yeats’s late work, specifically the revisionist reconstruction of Yeats’s Red Hanrahan, poems like “The Fisherman”, and plays like Purgatory. The realistic mode of representation that so strongly characterizes Joyce’s early fiction and that suggests at certain points an affiliation with an ethnographic mode of representing the Irish peasantry undergoes a thorough revamping in Ulysses. This process, especially in the context of Leopold Bloom’s ethnographic voyeurism, constitutes a form of immanent critique of both Revivalism and ethnography that is simultaneously a source of new, empowering anthropological fictions. In Joyce’s modernism, the production of new fictions is always an opportunity to critique the process of fiction-making. And, in this relation of criticism and production, we find a complement to the tension between the archaic and the modern that characterizes Irish modernism generally. [END]


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