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Ideas

Schedule of presentations for term 2

Telemachus - ; Nestor - ; Proteus - ; Calypso - ; Lotos-Eaters - ; Hades - ; Aeolus - ; Lestrygonians - ; Scylla and Charybdis - ; Wandering Rocks - ; Sirens - ; Cyclops - ; Nausicaa - ; Oxen of the Sun - ; 'Circe' - ; Eumaeus - ; Ithaca - ; Penelope -

 

James Joyce, Ulysses

 

Dublin

 

If I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world’ (James Joyce, qtd in Attridge 124)

 

‘The forces of the action have become internal, and in a way there is no longer a city, there is only a man walking through it’ (Raymond Williams, The City and the Country, Ch.20)

The world of Ulysses is animated by an inexhaustible life: we revisit it as we do a city, where we come more and more to recognize faces, to understand personalities, to grasp relations, currents and interests…And when we reread it, we start in at any point, as if it were indeed something solid like a city which actually existed in space and which could be entered in any direction… Ulysses creates the illusion of a living social organism…We possess Dublin, seen, heard, smelt and felt, brooded over, imagined, remembered” (Edmund Wilson, Axel’s Castle)

To see Joyce at work on the Wandering Rocks was to see an engineer at work with compass and slide rule , a surveyor with theodolite and measuring chain...Joyce wrote the episode with a map of Dublin before him on which were traced in red ink the paths of the Earl of Dudley and Father Conmee. He calculated to a minute the time necessary for his characters to cover a given distance of the city. (Frank Budgen, qtd in Attridge)

Joyce / Ireland / Europe

In Ireland, the problem of being a writer was in a very specific sense a linguistic problem. But it was also a political problem. The possibility of maintaining one’s integrity as an artist while being involved with a community’s enterprise was, initially at least, looked upon with scepticism by Joyce. Yet the achievement of that integrity could only be complete when it was expressed as an indication of a communal and not merely personal possibility (Deane, in Attridge 25)

‘In Irish conditions, mimesis is a double problem. The mirror that is held up to nature is cracked and it belongs to a servile race, a race of imitators, a people that cannot bear to see its own sorry reflection in the glass, nor bear to see that its authentic nature is not reflected in the glass. It is either a distorted image or it is no image’ (Deane, in Attridge, 36)

Joyce repeatedly spoke of Dublin – as in the letter to Grant Richards - as a European city. Indeed, he saw it as a city that inhabited three spheres of civilization. The first was that of the British Empire; the second that of Roman Catholicism; the third that of the ancient Europe to which Ireland had made such an important contribution. All three of these coexisted in Dublin, the only major European city which had not yet been commemorated in art. (Deane, in Attridge 41)

Joyce’s major project: the invention of a cosmopolitan subject that incorporates without fully assimilating the.... Irish colonial subject (Wollaegher, in Wollaegher, 147)

Realism / Modernism

In realism you get down to facts on which the world is based; that sudden reality which smashes romanticism into a pulp. What makes most people’s lives unhappy is some disappointed romanticism, some unrealisable misconceived ideal. In fact you may say that idealism is the ruin of man , and if we lived down to fact, as primitive man had to do, we would be better off. That is what we were made for. Nature is quite unromantic. It is we who put romance into her, which is a false attitude, an egotism, absurd like all egotism. In Ulysses , I tried to keep close to fact’ (James Joyce, quoted in Attridge, 261)

Simply by dint of its realism, the material the text supplies for a diagnosis of the economic and political malaise of the group of lower middle-class men who constitute its primary focus, its description of their proneness to alcoholism, violence and debt ..and of the bleak lives of their dependants, Ulysses powerfully suggests Joyce’s hostility to British colonial rule in Ireland’ (Nolan, in Wollaegher, 157)

The novel’s ‘stylistic diversity enshrines an essentially relativist attitude towards the ‘truthful’ depiction of reality...although Joyce obeys the underlying causal necessitities of narrative, and is as obsessively concerned with accuracy as Proust, he also makes us see his history of a day within a number of stylistic frameworks, which are all relative to one another, and which often disrupt the conventions of word formation and syntax. This is the beginning of Joyce’s ‘revolution of the word’ which is completed in Finnegans Wake’ (Butler, in Attridge, 261)

Structure

There are certainly elements that hold the whole thing together: the reiteration of allusions, themes, motifs; the persistence of named characters; the chronological sequence of episodes that record events in Dublin, hour by hour, on... 16 June 1904. But ...the episodes do not so much share a common life as work together [often seemingly] in contradiction. (Levine, 148)

See the Gilbert Schema, p.xxiii. In what sense, if any, does this provide a scaffolding for the novel?

In Ulysses Joyce ‘imitated, parodied and transcended the nineteenth-century novel, grappling with both the past and the future to create a new, modern mode of fiction which surpassed the limitations of his forefathers’ (Emer Nolan)

 

Text and ‘Textuality’

The ‘textuality’ or ’intertextuality’ of Ulysses refers, in part, to the way the text plunders a vast range of discourses , including advertizing copy, epic poems, novels, historical, philosophical and scientific writing. (C.B.)

The text is Penelope’s web: constantly made and unmade, an impossible weaving with ravelled selvedges. And Penelope too is made and unmade by such a text, for ‘textuality’ calls the reading subject into question...It makes a great deal of sense to think of Ulysses as a[a machine] in motion, its elements knowable only in relation to each other. One of the most relentless and yet exhilirating effects of the book is the way the verbal ground keeps shifting under you’ (Levene in Attridge 147)

As Ulysses proceeds – notably, from ‘Aeolus’ (chap.7) onwards, it undermines the illusory transparency of language, extravagantly calling attention to the textuality of its text’ (Staten, in Attridge 177)

 

Gender

Joyce could imagine the female sexual body as the last remnant of authenticity in the technologized social space (Ziarek in Wollaegher 123)

 

Increasingly, Joyce’s texts unmask male anxieties of women’s power... But in unmasking the power relations inscribed in culture and the workings of male fear and desire of the Other, [he] implies that no one can stand outside this process...’ (Lawrence in Attridge, 243)

 

Stream-of-consciousness

In the stream-of-consciousness, the subject withdraws to make room for the invasion of things; paratactical paragraphs, with the doors flung wide, and always enough room for one more sentence, and one more stimulus...advertizing and the stream of consciousness pursue and implicate one another throughout Ulysses’ (Moretti, Modern Epic)

 

All references to texts listed on course reading lists, except where indicated.