Justice, History and Language in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (Studies in Irish Literature v. 9)

Justice, History and Language in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (Studies in Irish Literature v. 9)

By: Yu-Chen Lin (author)Hardback

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Adopting a postcolonial perspective in conjunction with oeconstruction Dr. Lin's book explores Joyce's textual politics and its consequences in Finnegans Wake. It begins with three juridical cases in the late nineteenth century, which were traumatic to Irish cultural memory, to argue that Joyce aspires to serve as a national translator to redress colonial injustice inflicted on Ireland, a prejudice epitomized by the execution of Myles Joyce, the innocent suspect of the Maamstransna murders case who was silenced for want of a sympathetic translator. Canonical Joyce or Political Joyce? In 'The Day of the Rabblement', Joyce stringently advocated aloofness from the masses as a sine qua non for pursuing truth: No man, said the Nolan, can be a lover of the true of the good unless he abhors the multitude; and the artist, though he may employ the crowd, is very careful to isolate himself...If the artist courts the favor of the multitude he cannot escape the contagion of its fetichism [sic] and deliberate self-deception, and if he joins in a popular movement he does so at his own risk. (CW 69-71) Such a conviction was reiterated in his conversation with his brother Stanislaus: 'Don't talk to me about politics; I am only interested in style' (Ellmann 1958, xix). Stephen Dedalus, Joyce's fictional alter ego, also echoes his creator in his concern with aesthetics: 'The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails' (P 215). Such a gesture, frequently manifested in his letters, works and conversation, has invited the representation of Joyce as an apolitical internationalist writer who was exclusively devoted to the high modernist agenda of 'mak[ing] it new'. In Celtic Revivals, Seamus Deane aptly summarizes this critical history: Repudiating British and Roman imperialism and rejecting Irish nationalism and Irish literature which seemed to be in service to that cause, [Joyce] turned away from his early commitment to socialism and devoted himself instead to a highly apolitical and arcane practice of writing. Such, in brief, is the received wisdom about Joyce and his relationship to the political issues of his time. (92) Although Yu-chen never mentions her own position as 'colonial subject' in Taiwan, the reader can feel it as a shadowy background of her precisely chosen words. But in her treatment of Myles Joyce and Charles Stewart Parnell - the real historical figures and heroes of the nationalists - she has left room for old-fashioned 'catching-the magpie' joyceans in their search for what the magpie swiped from others and what it signifies that lets me continue to claim that Joyce purloins the most important words and notions in the opening sentence of FW from Edmund Spenser's 'A View of the State of Ireland', Charles Dickens' Our Mutual Friend, Maria Edgeworth's Castle Rackrent, Jonathan Swift's 'Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift', Giambattista Vico's The New Science, Edward Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire and the Irish Saltair Na Rann or Verse Psalter, usually known as 'The Irish Adam and Eve'. But that's another story, much as it might agree with Yu-chen's. It is time for you to read hers, the story that would make any teacher - that makes me - proud to say, I knew her when.

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Contents

Acknowledgements ix Preface xi List of Abbreviations xv Introduction 1 Chapter 1 The(de)Construction of Irish History 35 Chapter 2 The Problem of Desire in 'The Mime of Mick, Nick, and the Maggies' 77 Chapter 3 The Politics of Knowledge in 'Night Lessons' 103 Chapter 4 Interpretation and Justice: 'Hen', 'ALP', and Joyce's Writing 133 Conclusion 163 Notes 171 Bibliography 177 Index 189

Product Details

  • publication date: 30/11/2002
  • ISBN13: 9780773470354
  • Format: Hardback
  • Number Of Pages: 216
  • ID: 9780773470354
  • ISBN10: 0773470352

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