Introduction to James Joyce

The Irish government – still guilty about the way Joyce was treated in his home town – are helping to pay for six months of celebrations culminating in a “Bloom’s breakfast”, when 10,000 people will sit down on O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare, and stuff themselves with fried offal and mutton kidneys washed down with Guinness.

Dubliners

 

“My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to be the centre of paralysis. I have tried to present it to the indifferent public under its four aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity, and public life. The stories are arranged in this order. I have written in for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness….”

 

The effect is something like walking slowly away from an impressionist painting, the soft colors and muted brushtrokes suddenly coming together to reveal the complete picture. Vanity, shame, self-loathing, disillusionment, frustration, and regret are some of the principle states of emotion brought into such focus; but there are also moments of peace, joy, and bittersweet nostalgia, and a few touches of fragile beauty as well. It is impossible not to see aspects of yourself in Dubliners’ epiphanies, each story a dark mirror reflecting the soul’s most oblique corners. As Joyce has said, “Dubliners is about how we are everywhere – it’s the experience of modern urban life.”

 

“She dealt with moral problems as a cleaver deals with meat: and in this case she had made up her mind.” (Boarding House)

 

The Dead

She was fast asleep.                                                                                                                                Kirchner – Street in Dresden

(1908)

Gabriel, leaning on his elbow, looked for a few moments unresentfully on her tangled hair and half-open mouth, listening to her deep-drawn breath. So she had had that romance in her life: a man had died for her sake. It hardly pained him now to think how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life. He watched her while she slept, as though he and she had never lived together as man and wife. His curious eyes rested long upon her face and on her hair: and, as he thought of what she must have been then, in that time of her first girlish beauty, a strange friendly pity for her entered his soul. He did not like to say even to himself that her face was no longer beautiful, but he knew that it was no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death. Perhaps she had not told him all the story. His eyes moved to the chair over which she had thrown some of her clothes. A petticoat string dangled to the floor. (…)

The air of the room chilled his shoulders. He stretched himself cautiously along under the sheets and lay down beside his wife. One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. He thought of how she who lay beside him had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes when he had told her that he did not wish to live.

 

Generous tears filled Gabriel’s eyes. He had never felt like that himself towards any

woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love. (…)

 

A few light taps upon the pane made him turn to the window. It had begun to snow again. He watched sleepily the flakes, silver and dark, falling obliquely against the lamplight. The time had come for him to set out on his journey westward. Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay thickly drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.  http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/dubliners/index.html

 

(1916) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the semi-autobiographical story of Stephen Dedalus, a young Irish writer and literary stand-in for James Joyce himself.

 

In Portrait, we are essentially given a window into Stephen’s consciousness, and the whole world is unveiled to us through that single aperture. The narrative prose follows and reflects the stages of Stephen’s intellectual development, whether imitating the childlike simplicity of his earliest memories or the thrilling awareness of his artistic awakening. It swoops when Stephen is high; it crashes when he is brought low. It congeals in the murky muddle of a Jesuit lecture, and it skips and stutters and swirls when chasing the thoughts of an awakening poet. Like Stephen, it can be beautiful and bombastic, witty and self-pitying. The narrative of Portrait attempts to banish the authorial personality: it is never expository, never judgmental, and never willing to assist the reader – it exists only for Stephen. We are given no clues how to feel or react; we have no privileged position outside of the narrative – Stephen’s environment is just Stephen’s environment, Stephen’s thoughts are just Stephen’s thoughts. (Brazen Head)

Childhood…

He opened the geography to study the lesson; but he could not learn the names of places in America. Still they were all different places that had those different names. They were all in different countries and the countries were in continents and the continents were in the world and the world was in the universe.

He turned to the flyleaf of the geography and read what he had written there: himself, his name and where he was.

 

Stephen Dedalus
Class of Elements
Clongowes Wood College
Sallins
County Kildare
Ireland
Europe
The World
The Universe

That was in his writing: and Fleming one night for a cod had written on the opposite page:

Stephen Dedalus is my name,
Ireland is my nation.
Clongowes is my dwellingplace
And heaven my expectation.

He read the verses backwards but then they were not poetry. Then he read the flyleaf from the bottom to the top till he came to his own name. That was he: and he read down the page again. What was after the universe? Nothing. But was there anything round the universe to show where it stopped before the nothing place began? It could not be a wall but there could be a thin thin line there all round everything. It was very big to think about everything and everywhere. Only God could do that. He tried to think what a big thought that must be but he could only think of God. 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.

LAST WORDS: Welcome, O life, I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.

27 April: Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead.

http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/portrait/index.html

 

 

 

a little story of a day” Ulysses: Bloomsday

The day in question is Thursday, June 16, 1904

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                      Pablo Picasso –  1905                             Pablo Picasso – 1907

  • Although Ulysses takes place on a single day, as Bloom remarks, it is “an unusually fatiguing day, a chapter of accidents,”
  • Total time and distance from the entrance of “Stately, plump Buck Mulligan” to Molly’s final “yes?” – Eighteen hours and seven hundred and eighty-three pages. At 1.38 minutes per page.

 

  • Like Picasso depicting a scene from all perspectives, Joyce has playfully distorted his medium to better capture the whole picture.

 

Calypso

Milly too. Young kisses: the first. Far away now past. Mrs Marion. Reading lying back now, counting the strands of her hair, smiling, braiding.

A soft qualm, regret, flowed down his backbone, increasing. Will happen, yes. Prevent. Useless: can’t move. Girl’s sweet light lips. Will happen too. He felt the flowing qualm spread over him. Useless to move now. Lips kissed, kissing, kissed. Full gluey woman’s lips.

Better where she is down there: away. Occupy her. Wanted a dog to pass the time. Might take a trip down there. August bank holiday, only two and six return. Six weeks off, however. Might work a press pass. Or through M’Coy.

Eolus

 

IN THE HEART OF THE HIBERNIAN METROPOLIS

Before Nelson’s pillar trams slowed, shunted, changed trolley, started for Blackrock, Kingstown and Dalkey, Clonskea, Rathgar and Terenure, Palmerston Park and upper Rathmines, Sandymount Green, Rathmines, Ringsend and Sandymount Tower, Harold’s Cross. The hoarse Dublin United Tramway Company’s timekeeper bawled them off:

— Rathgar and Terenure!

— Come on, Sandymount Green!

Right and left parallel clanging ringing a doubledecker and a singledeck moved from their railheads, swerved to the down line, glided parallel.

— Start, Palmerston Park!

THE WEARER OF THE CROWN

Under the porch of the general post office shoeblacks called and polished. Parked in North Prince’s street His Majesty’s vermilion mailcars, bearing on their sides the royal initials, E.R., received loudly flung sacks of letters, postcards, lettercards, parcels, insured and paid, for local, provincial, British and overseas delivery.

GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS

 

Nausikaa

 

There was an innate refinement, a languid queenly hauteur about Gerty which was unmistakably evidenced in her delicate hands and higharched instep. Had kind fate but willed her to be born a gentlewoman of high degree in her own right and had she only received the benefit of a good education Gerty MacDowell might easily have held her own beside any lady in the land and have seen herself exquisitely gowned with jewels on her brow and patrician suitors at her feet vying with one another to pay their devoirs to her. Mayhap it was this, the love that might have been, that lent to her softlyfeatured face at whiles a look, tense with suppressed meaning, that imparted a strange yearning tenderness to the beautiful eyes, a charm few could resist. Why have women such eyes of witchery? Gerty’s were of the bluest Irish blue, set off by lustrous lashes and dark expressive brows. Time was when those brows were not so silkily seductive. (…) Then there was blushing scientifically cured and how to be tall increase your height and you have a beautiful face but your nose? That would suit Mrs Dignam because she had a button one. But Gerty’s crowning glory was her wealth of wonderful hair. It was dark brown with a natural wave in it. She had cut it that very morning on account of the new moon and it nestled about her pretty head in a profusion of luxuriant clusters and pared her nails too, Thursday for wealth. And just now at Edy’s words as a telltale flush, delicate as the faintest rosebloom, crept into her cheeks she looked so lovely in her sweet girlish shyness that of a surety God’s fair land of Ireland did not hold her equal. (…)

Gerty had an idea, one of love’s little ruses. She slipped a hand into her kerchief pocket and took out the wadding and waved in reply of course without letting him and then slipped it back. Wonder if he’s too far to. She rose. Was it goodbye? No. She had to go but they would meet again, there, and she would dream of that till then, tomorrow, of her dream of yester eve. She drew herself up to her full height. Their souls met in a last lingering glance and the eyes that reached her heart, full of a strange shining, hung enraptured on her sweet flowerlike face. She half smiled at him wanly, a sweet forgiving smile, a smile that verged on tears, and then they parted.

Slowly without looking back she went down the uneven strand to Cissy, to Edy, to Jacky and Tommy Caffrey, to little baby Boardman. It was darker now and there were stones and bits of wood on the strand and slippy seaweed. She walked with a certain quiet dignity characteristic of her but with care and very slowly because– because Gerty MacDowell was…

Tight boots? No. She’s lame! O!

Mr Bloom watched her as she limped away. Poor girl! That’s why she’s left on the shelf and the others did a sprint. Thought something was wrong by the cut of her jib. Jilted beauty. A defect is ten times worse in a woman. But makes them polite. Glad I didn’t know it when she was on show. Hot little devil all the same. Wouldn’t mind. Curiosity like a nun or a negress or a girl with glasses. That squinty one is delicate. Near her monthlies, I expect, makes them feel ticklish. I have such a bad headache today. Where did I put the letter?

Circe

BLOOM

(Prolonged applause. Venetian masts, maypoles and festal arches spring up. A streamer bearing the legends Cead Mile Failte and Mah Ttob Melek Israel spans the street. All the windows are thronged with sightseers, chiefly ladies. Along the route the regiments of the royal Dublin fusiliers, the King’s own Scottish Borderers, the Cameron Highlanders and the Welsh Fusiliers, standing to attention, keep back the crowd. Boys from High school are perched on the lampposts, telegraph poles, windowsills, cornices, gutters, chimneypots, railings, rainspouts, whistling and cheering. The pillar of the cloud appears. A fife and drum band is heard in the distance playing the Kol Nidre. The beaters approach with imperial eagles hoisted, trailing banners and waving oriental palms. The chryselephantine papal standard rises high, surrounded by pennons of the civic flag. The van of the procession appears headed by John Howard Parnell, city marshal, in a chessboard tabard, the Athlone poursuivant and Ulster King of Arms. They are followed by the Right Honourable Joseph Hutchinson, lord mayor of Dublin, his lordship the lord mayor of Cork, their worships the mayors of Limerick, Galway, Sligo and Waterford, twentyeight Irish representative peers, sirdars, grandees and maharajahs bearing the cloth of estate, the Dublin Metropolitan Fire Brigade, the chapter of the saints of finance in their plutocratic order of precedence, the bishop of Down and Connor, His Eminence Michael cardinal Logue, archbishop of Armagh, primate of all Ireland, His Grace, the most reverend Dr William Alexander, archbishop of Armagh, primate of all Ireland, the chief rabbi, the presbyterian moderator, the heads of the baptist, anabaptist, methodist and Moravian chapels and the honorary secretary of the society of friends. After them march the guilds and trades and trainbands with flying colours: coopers, bird fanciers, millwrights, newspaper canvassers, law scriveners, masseurs, vintners, trussmakers, chimneysweeps, lard refiners, tabinet and poplin weavers, farriers, Italian warehousemen, church decorators, bootjack manufacturers, undertakers, silk mercers, lapidaries, salesmasters, corkcutters, assessors of fire losses, dyers and cleaners, export bottlers, fellmongers, ticketwriters, heraldic seal engravers, horse repository hands, bullion brokers, cricket and archery outfitters, riddlemakers, egg and potato factors, hosiers and glovers, plumbing contractors. After them march gentlemen of the bedchamber, Black Rod, Deputy Garter, Gold Stick, the master of horse, the lord great chamberlain, the earl marshal, the high constable carrying the sword of state, saint Stephen’s iron crown, the chalice and bible. Four buglers on foot blow a sennet. Beefeaters reply, winding clarions of welcome. Under an arch of triumph Bloom appears, bareheaded, in a crimson velvet mantle trimmed with ermine, bearing Saint Edward’s staff, the orb and sceptre with the dove, the curtana. He is seated on a milkwhite horse with long flowing crimson tail, richly caparisoned, with golden headstall. Wild excitement. The ladies from their balconies throw down rosepetals. The air is perfumed with essences. The men cheer. Bloom’s boys run amid the bystanders with branches of hawthorn and wrenbushes.)

 

Ithica

What act did Bloom make on their arrival at their destination?

At the housesteps of the 4th of the equidifferent uneven numbers, number 7 Eccles street, he inserted his hand mechanically into the back pocket of his trousers to obtain his latchkey.

Was it there?

It was in the corresponding pocket of the trousers which he had worn on the day but one preceding.

Why was he doubly irritated?

Because he had forgotten and because he remembered that he had reminded himself twice not to forget.

 

What were then the alternatives before the, premeditatedly (respectively) and inadvertently, keyless couple?

To enter or not to enter. To knock or not to knock.

 

Bloom’s decision?

A stratagem. Resting his feet on the dwarf wall, he climbed over the area railings, compressed his hat on his head, grasped two points at the lower union of rails and stiles, lowered his body gradually by its length of five feet nine inches and a half to within two feet ten inches of the area pavement and allowed his body to move freely in space by separating himself from the railings and crouching in preparation for the impact of the fall.

Did he fall?

By his body’s known weight of eleven stone and four pounds in avoirdupois measure, as certified by the graduated machine for periodical selfweighing in the premises of Francis Froedman, pharmaceutical chemist of 19 Frederick street, north, on the last feast of the Ascension, to wit, the twelfth day of May of the bissextile year one thousand nine hundred and four of the christian era (jewish era five thousand six hundred and sixtyfour, mohammadan era one thousand three hundred and twentytwo), golden number 5, epact 13, solar cycle 9, dominical letters C B, Roman indication 2, Julian period 6617, MXMIV.

Did he rise uninjured by concussion?

Regaining new stable equilibrium he rose uninjured though concussed by the impact, raised the latch of the area door by the exertion of force at its freely moving flange and by leverage of the first kind applied at its fulcrum, gained retarded access to the kitchen through the subadjacent scullery, ignited a lucifer match by friction, set free inflammable coal gas by turning on the ventcock, lit a high flame which, by regulating, he reduced to quiescent candescence and lit finally a portable candle.

Penelope: Molly speaks…

http://www.robotwisdom.com/jaj/ulysses/index.html

 

 

Finnegan’s Wake:A Work in Progress’

Towards Post-Modernism…

 

 

 

 

 

 


ASSIGNMENT:  James Joyce- Ulysses

Brian Maston – brian.maston@hu.nl

 

Choose from the following topics:

  1. Joyce & Modernism: Research a chapter of Ulysses and compare its style to a contemporary modernist work in another medium: music, dance, theater, film, poetry, painting, sculpture etc…
  2. Joyce & Classicalism: Research a chapter of Ulysses and compare it to its corresponding episode in The Odyssey. Take a position on whether Ulysses is a true epic or an anti-epic.
  3. Joyce & Joyce: Compare a ‘stream of consciousness’ moment of Stephen Dedalus in one of the later chapters of Ulysses and a similar moment in Portrait. How has Stephen changed as a person, and how has Joyce’s literary representation of ‘stream of consciousness’ changed?
  4. Joyce’s Impact: Research one of the early chapters in Ulysses as well as Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. What are the similarities in styles and preoccupations? What are the differences? What if any is the impact of Ulysses on Woolf’s work?

In groups of two, students will prepare a 10 minute presentation on one of the above mentioned topics. (Audio-visual material is an option.) In addition to the presentation, students will also prepare a 1-2 page hand-out for the class. Grades will be determined based-upon the quality and originality of the presentation as well as the clarity and thoroughness of the corresponding hand-out (including proper citation).

 

About James Joyce

NY Times review – January 14, 1941

Editorial: James Joyce

If there was something ambiguous and enigmatic in Joyce’s genius, the conflicting elements in it were the cause. He was naturalistic, symbolist and fantast. He was steeped in medieval philosophy and in studies of the unconscious. In his later years pedantry possessed him. His mostly unintelligible experiments with language are tiresome, though we may forgive him for spoofing his worshipers while he remains “for all his kinks english plus his irismanx brogues Humptydump Dublin’s granddada of all rogues.”

His first period was lucid. His first little book of verse, his “Dubliners” and “Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” have no trace of the eccentricities or technicalities, if we choose to be more polite, of his post-Dublin works. Of his long-labored and prodigiously advertised “Ulysses,” a strange enlargement of the “Portrait,” it is still hard to make a sober judgment. It has been compared to “Hamlet” and the “Inferno.” It has been pursued vainly in the courts as obscene. There are brilliant passages, but the cold-hearted reader it may easily invite to sleep. Part of it are so obscure that commentaries have had to be published; and even the most orthodox commentators are not of one mind. Wise Time will decide whether it is enduring Art or mere maze and artifice.

For his industry and courage in his long fight with blindness Joyce must always be respected as a man. He was not without scholarly support, but he has left no school, as it once seemed he might do in the United States. He was cut off from the Irish literary movement. His most famous book can circulate only illegally in Ireland. Apart from his hierophants he was essentially a lonely figure.