The Word According to James Joyce: Reconstructing Representation

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Bucknell University Press, 1997 - Literary Criticism - 171 pages
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"This book argues for a more conservative view of Joyce's place in the history of critical theory than the view held by scholars. For years interpretation of Joyce's views on language has proceeded on the assumption that an avant-garde writer requires an avant garde theory. It has been suggested that critical theory has just begun to catch up with Joyce, and that we are now able to see Joyce for what he was. In his denial that language refers to anything but itself and in his undoing representation, Joyce anticipates contemporary developments in the history of critical theory. Contrary to modern criticism, Joyce does not abandon representation, the idea that language affords access to reality." "This study finds an Aristotelian underpinning for much of Joyce's thinking on language and representation. Language is primarily an aural phenomenon, but knowledge, according to Aristotle, is grounded mainly in vision. In Dubliners and A Portrait Joyce tries to make language as efficient a cognitive tool as vision. According to this study, his solution lies in a systematic conception of language, which entails a correspondence theory of representation which provides an explanation of how verbal art, apprehended temporally, can approximate the directness and immediacy of visual art, which is apprehended spatially." "Viewed historically, however, language as system has its limitations - a tenuous stability; it does not provide a stable "surface" for reflecting extralinguistic reality. This book argues that this fact does not mean that reality is inaccessible through language, but complicates the task of recovering it. Joyce's response is to redefine the connection between language and the real. In his work from Ulysses on, this study argues, he increasingly realizes a resemblance theory of representation, a conception of language as process - one that emphasizes the aural and temporal properties of language. Joyce, however, does not totally reject a systemic conception of language. In Finnegans Wake he attempts a synthesis of the linguistics of time and space." "According to this study, the problem of representation for Joyce resolves into that of translating sensory experience into language. His focus on this problem allies him, to a certain extent, with modernist writers like Ezra Pound (ideogrammic method), T. S. Eliot (objective correlative), and Gertrude Stein (continuous present), who profess to be strengthening the connection between word and object. The modernists therefore cannot be seen as precipitating, much less initiating, a retreat from the word." "This interpretation of Joyce's works might seem to be at odds with his reputation for experimentalism, his radical departures from traditional literary techniques. There is, however, no such discrepancy, not even with Finnegans Wake. Joyce's innovations are motivated by a desire to revivify traditional notions about the powers of language to communicate and to represent the world."--BOOK JACKET.Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

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Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments
9
Undoing the Supreme Fiction
13
The Word as Mirror Dubliners and A Portrait
19
The Distorted Mirror Ulysses
45
The Word in Process Finnegans Wake
68
The MisContextualization of Joyce
87
Notes towards the Redefinition of Modernism Retreat from the Word?
107
Apologia pro Scriptura Sua
125
Notes
133
Works Cited
157
Index
167
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Page 105 - The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an " objective correlative " ; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion ; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.
Page 143 - Life is not a series of gig lamps symmetrically arranged; life is a luminous halo, a semi-transparent envelope surrounding us from the beginning of consciousness to the end.
Page 22 - The truth of this second point is shown by experience: though the objects themselves may be painful to see, we delight to view the most realistic representations of them in art, the forms for example of the lowest animals and of dead bodies.
Page 46 - The esthetic image in the dramatic form is life purified in and reprojected from the human imagination. The mystery of esthetic, like that of material creation, is accomplished. The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.
Page 27 - God was God's name just as his name was Stephen. Dieu was the French for God and that was God's name too; and when anyone prayed to God and said Dieu then God knew at once that it was a French person that was praying. But though there were different names for God in all the different languages in the world and God understood what all the people who prayed said in their different languages still God remained always the same God and God's real name was God.
Page 123 - The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything.
Page 53 - Experience, already reduced to a group of impressions, is ringed round for each one of us by that thick wall of personality through which no real voice has ever pieced on its way to us, or from us to that which we can only conjecture to be without. Every one of those impressions is the impression of the individual in his isolation, each mind keeping as a solitary prisoner its own dream of a world.
Page 37 - He drew forth a phrase from his treasure and spoke it softly to himself: — A day of dappled seaborne clouds. The phrase and the day and the scene harmonized in a chord. Words. Was it their colours? He allowed them to glow and fade, hue after hue: sunrise gold, the russet and green of apple orchards, azure of waves, the grey- fringed fleece of clouds.

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