Joycean nationalism in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Postcolonial theory delves into the struggle of power in countries which have been colonized. The colonizer attempts to break through the colonized culture, politics and even literature. Postcolonial literature is concerned with literature produced in countries once colonized by other countries, especially those countries which were colonized by European colonial powers, and also the literature written by citizens of colonial countries, about the colonized people as its subject matter.
A political study of Joyce's works is considered as a new area of investigation. James Joyce is a writer who makes the best use of different discourses to discuss the colonial power and its attempts to subjugate the Irish nation. The way Joyce portraits Ireland and its relationship with England or the English empire has been the subject of much scholarly research. Earlier readings of Joyce such as those by Stuart Gilbert, Richard Ellmann, and Frank Budgen focus on the absorbing aspect of Joyce's writing which is considered to be political as depicting all political issues and national boundaries of the time. Beginning by Dominic Manganiello's Joyce's Politics (1980), many critics realized that they can observe Joyce apart from his native country. Despite his exile which was self-imposed, he never left Ireland mentally. Dublin and Ireland have always been two dominant subjects of his works. In order to understand Joyce better it is important to realize the fact that Joyce is a political writer who is deeply involved in the political conditions of Ireland.
Evoking and complicating oppositions at the same time is a characteristic of Joyce's works. It roots in his interest in political and ethnic issues. Howes and Attridge (2000) believe that philosophically James Joyce can be considered a separatist and a unionist at the same time. Joyce even separates and unites notions like hybridity. As a result of this combination, they cannot be defined or functioned separately. He actually makes a connection between two separated issues. For each issue, separatism and unionism, the authors of this article have observed two equals in Joyce's mind and writings: nationalism and anti-nationalism. He does not belong to either party. His works, letters, lectures, and articles in or out of Trieste prove this matter. In fact they are the proofs of political Joyce and good sources of reference for a new analysis of his works and views.
Doubleness in Joyce's views is vividly seen in the matter of Irish nationalism. He has been known as a serious supporter of Irish nationalism and its critic at the same time. This vast difference between his views might be concluded in a rush. He could simply be a supporter of Irish nationalism in its basic sense, but a harsh critic of its abusers and the people who spoiled the main purpose of it under different names and jobs for personal profits.
The main methodology of this article has to do with the core issues and principles of nationalism and politics inspired by Derek Attridge and Marjorie Howes. It depicts the relationship between Joyce and the political issues of his time. As Attridge and Howes (2000) put it, can be defined as a political Joyce who is neither a nationalist nor an anti-nationalist. The research methodology benefits from their observations and theories in order to assemble a good amount of practical reasons to come to a unified conclusion about political Joyce and his attitude towards nationalism.
Analyzing Joyce's works under this methodology brings together primary commentators on the Irish dimension of Joyce's writing. Contributors explore Joyce's undecided and changing response to Irish nationalism and reassess his writing in the context of the history of Western colonialism. The article draws on and questions the accomplishments of postcolonial theory, and provides fresh insights into Joyce's ingenious commitment with political issues that remain highly relevant today. The main approach which suits this paper well is postcolonialism as it includes many different aspects such as religion, social phenomena, historical events, nationalism, politics, etc. which all play vital roles in Joyce's works.
This paper holds the take that the concept of the resistance of the Irish which plays an important role in A Portrait is not actually the resistance of a third- world or a non-European country for Ireland has a special situation unlike that of the third-world's. Therefore, Nationalism and postcolonialism in Ireland needs its own way of analysis.
One part of postcolonial scholarship argues that nationalism is a derivation of imperialism. Some scholars think that this derivation conducts a complex relation with imperial power, but for others it is the quandary of anticolonial resistance. Attridge and Howespoint out another mode of critique:
Its terminological difficulties aside, another way of defining postcolonial studies is through its intense, ambivalent engagement with nationalism. Postcolonial scholarship conducts a thorough critique of the category and ideology for the nation on several grounds. One is the now well-establishec argument that nationalism is derivative of imperialism, and that its intellectual structure simply inverts and mirrors those of imperialism. For the some scholars this derivativeness represents a pernicious complicity with imperial power, while for others it merely reveals the necessary and historically determined predicament of anticolonial resistance. Another mode of critique emphasizes that nationalism, particularly cultural or ethnic nationalism, is often homogenizing; it neglects or seeks to erase various kinds of difference among members of the nation. (9)
In fact, nationalism is a key issue in postcolonial studies. Not only is it considered as an important part of postcolonial and the anticolonial resistance but also a key factor in recognition of the history of a nation.
In the very notion of nationalism there exist different sub-branches which might be difficult to put together and generalize with the term nationalism. Some versions of nationalism might be narrow, intolerant, resistant, and totalitarian, while there are more open and pluralistic ones. Some conform to the state and some reject and resist it. There are those who are in favor of ethnic customs and national and local culture while others have ideals which are more similar to republican ones. Some activities might struggle for working class rights while others seek their goals through feminism, Marxism, or humanism.
This has been also a great matter of concern in the history of Ireland when such nonconformities have resulted in many broken bounds among nationalist and other side. Effects on authors like James Joyce whose acceptance and rejection of nationalism happen alongside are the results of such dispersions. Joyce criticizes this diversion of nationalists which results in his hatred of those Irish who blindly follow such nationalist figures or those who are driven out of the main path.
It is widely believed that nationalism moves in a way that supports traditional values, practices and cultures. This support itself is completely considered to be modern. The fact is that nationalism is not thoroughly a defense of tradition or a response to colonialism. Studying Joyce politically and from a postcolonial point of view is a phenomenon which was hidden behind the modernism of him. But having both the modernism and postcolonialism in mind help the readers to have a better understanding of imperialism in general and knowing its roots in Ireland in particular. For instance reading Tratner's (1995) Modernism and Mass Politics proves this notion that modernism of Joyce, Yeats, and Woolf was preoccupied with collective rather than individual phenomena. This is also argued in Nolan's James Joyce and Nationalism (ch. I).
Joyce's life is in a period of history in which revolutionary changes were in progress to shape the growth and decline of European empires. This was naturally coincided by the flourish of various nationalisms, which were divided into two categories of imperialist and anti-imperialist. At this time colonialism and nationalism were the subjects of conflict and change. Joyce's works engage to the issue of Ireland as a subject and victim of British imperialism.
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce has his maneuver on the word "ivory." He implies that imperial ideology has this pre-supposition that colonialism was benign as it brought Western civilization, religion, and a specific modern economic system to the colonies.
There are different parts in Joyce's works which show the fact that the colonizers try to force their language and culture upon the colonized nation. As an example from A Portrait, Stephan at university, talks to the English Dean of studies and asserts that, "the language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine ... His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech" (159). There is an opposition between his Irishness and Englishness of the language in which he speaks. This seems to be strange when one expresses one's national identity in a foreign language.
Besides the matter of language, in Joyce's novels many characters are intellectually named after notable figures mostly related to Irish heroes and liberating activists. There are various reasons that Joyce and his Stephen become sensitive of the institutions, political, and nationalistic issues. The disgrace and death of Charles Stewart Parnell that Joyce memorializes in the dinner scene from A Portrait, was a very important moment in Joyce's life. His distrust of politicians and the Catholic Church and the feeling that the Irish are convicted because they betray each other start from this point. It is believed that Joyce was not inspired by patriotism or nationalism at the death of Parnell, but he was influenced from this event by a bitter cynicism about the Irish politics.
Stephan Dedalus as a child is very sensitive to each phenomenon surrounding him. He has a scrutinizing vision of God which is formed by whatever was taught by his family and school teachers. He is touched by basic Irish political issues even if many of them are not identified as a particular sector in his young, curious mind. His very identity seems to be in danger of destruction due to internal and external forces.
Mingling of politics and religious institutes and the misuse of religious figures from their power to put the political streams on the preferred path are matters which make Stephan confused. While he is taught to obey religion and religious authorities, he feels the contradictions which are hidden in the political scene of Ireland. He sees people like Mr. Casey who is against the political interference of priests and the church. On the other hand, there are strict believers like Dante, who is known as a prejudiced character and insists on Catholic values and interprets every word as a blasphemy which is against Catholicism and Christianity. Visiting all these different characters make him confused and this is the beginning of his journey in search for the truth.
There is a part in A Portrait which concludes that the priests, consciously or unconsciously, seem to act against the dominant nationalism of Irish, as Mr. Casey points out:
Didn't the bishops of Ireland betray us in the time of the union when Bishop Lanigan presented an address of loyalty to the Marquess Cornwallis? Didn't the bishops and priests sell the aspirations of their country in 1829 in return for catholic emancipation? Didn't they denounce the fenian movement from the pulpit and in the confession box? And didn't they dishonor the ashes of Terence Bellew MacManus? (30)
Joyce here is implying that there are many nationalists who pretend to be in love with their country and they act like they are against any dominating power, but in fact they stand against the liberation of their country due to many reasons such as personal benefits, established church, etc.
In his childhood, Stephan, like a baby who neutrally listens to every word of others and tries to absorb the meaning, aims at learning the basic alphabet of politics from others. Political views transcend to his mind automatically while he is confronting a conflict between what he has been taught in a religious school and what many people, like his own father, think of truth, politics, and the seemingly corrupted religion and religious men. The alphabets of nationalism also were transcended to Stephan's mind through the same way. The consequences of growing up in such a society are reflected in the mind and lives of its people. To know the social and historical background of a person who comes from a resistant nationalist society it is important to be acquainted with the historical and social background of the society that such individuals like Joyce and his Stephan are born in.
Gradually, Stephan tries to be an independent individual. He chooses his own way. He feels that nationalism, religion, and political issues are boundaries and he does not want to imprison his mind by these. He realizes that this is the only way to be free and to become an artist. But this is not what happens with James Joyce. He remains an artist who is sensitive to the religious, social, and political issues of his time.
In the time of James Joyce's, Dublin had a period of glory when it was a place for literary revival and a setting for a war of independence. It is known to be a birth place of poets and patriots. The conflict between Irish and English people has always been evident. Richard M. Kain in his book Dublin in the Age of W.B Yeats and James Joyce notes that "the Irishman's vivacious imagination is always titillated by Saxon stolidity" (6). The Irish mock the English when they are serious and "English common sense often seems to them the most outrageously uncommon nonsense" (6).
As Kain mentions, "Centuries of oppression had left serious scars, and Ireland's quest for cultural and political identity was carried on amid growing discord" (21-22). All these were making a background for an upcoming revolution of civil war. The struggle continued for a long time and still the island is not a whole and is actually divided.
The struggles went on when finally in 1962, the Irish Resistance Movement suspended its activities. During these conflicts and controversies many super minds of Ireland got alienated. Their relation to their homeland broke. George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wild, and James Joyce are among many notable Irish figures who preferred to exile while Joyce admitted to being "self-exiled upon his own ego" (Kain 23).
The tensions and diversities, unavoidable exiles, and betrayals continued in Ireland to the point that James Joyce as an Irish artist in his diatribe against Ireland points out, "This lovely land that always sent her writer and artists to banishment and in a spirit of Irish fun betrayed her own leaders, one by one" (Kain 25).
Artists are most of the time, the most influenced group of society in revolutions, social and religious controversies, and political movements; perhaps they are the most fragile class of society. Any change in political system of a country would make them heroes and heroines or would send them to prison, banish, or murder them. It is not the matter only in Ireland but all around the world.
According to Kain, there are elements in Irish people that make them a loved nation such as "patriotic pride, nostalgia for a lost culture, the sorrows of defeat, and the pangs of exile" (38). The people are sensitive after being called the "wild" or the "mere" for centuries, "much of the bitterness that Yeats and Synge and Joyce encountered is attributable to this sensitivity" (39).
Language plays an important role in the mind of the people who have been subjugated by a ruling nation. Irish language went through change when the National Education Act filled the schools with teachers who knew no Irish. When a language comes, it brings along a whole new culture. Irish language was ignored by that time and the English customs had the dominancy, Kain suggests that, "the Irish revival thus became a revival of national honor and self-respect" (39). The result was the spread of nationalism in the whole country. Many social movements established and National Literary Society was formed. Also many artists tried to have a contribution to Irish nationalism.
Like many of his contemporaries, Joyce wanted to create ideals for Ireland. His most favorite subject was the role of the artist. Joyce wrote an essay "A Portrait of the Artist" in 1904 but it was not published until 1960. As Kain states, "Its peroration envisages a utopian future of socialistic enlightenment" (48). The artist proclaims a goal:
To many multitudes, not as yet in the wombs of humanity but surely engender able there, he would give the word: Man and woman, out of you comes the nation that is to come, the lightening of your masses in travail: the competitive order is employed against itself, the aristocracies are supplanted; and amid the general paralysis of an insane society, the confederate will issues in action. (48)
Here Joyce is close to a self-exile, being influenced by many years of frustration. This was actually the conclusion of his A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) in which there is a sense of idealism.
Joyce (1916) on his fictional counterpart, Dedalus, states that, "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" (Kain 49). In general, most Irish writers in the Ireland of Joyce used real characters, themselves, friends, or enemies as copy. It can be said that most characters of authors represent the real Irish of the time. Most of them are nationalists whose resistance is due to their colonized nation and country.
Joyce's novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man famously concludes with Stephen's diary, in which he identifies a goal to conceive "the uncreated conscience of my race" (144). Many post-colonial scholars have paid so much attention to A Portrait (e.g., Vincent Cheng in Joyce, Race, and Empire, in which he notes that Joyce uses the word race 18 times in A Portrait). Reading Stephen as a kind of Caliban is compelling, but such a practice fails to reveal the entire picture Joyce presents. It ignores a measure of Ariel, the policeman. Ireland is an idea which is covered under suspicion, and part of the work that Stephen does is surveillance, a kind of discovery work that requires critical distance, a distance which is a kind of exile.
Since art is the representation of a nation, when a nation denies its art in fact it is denying its being. Ireland disavows Singe and Joyce; hence, Ireland does not exist. Pound's Ireland demonstrated in his work (1952) is a "creation of certain writers" (451) who are either "driven abroad [or] ... driven into the wilderness": "Joyce has fled to Trieste and into the modern world. And in the calm of that foreign city he has written books about Ireland" (452). Joyce imagines Ireland at a distance, and in that sense, Pound is right in saying that Ireland is the creation of writers, or in this instance, of one writer so it is the Ireland which comes from the writer's mind, a picture. Joyce is in charge of the Ireland he has created and imagined. C. E. Bechhofer (1916) observes that revolts take the Irish detectors by surprise but that they watch Englishmen in Ireland closely. "It is a curious fact that Ireland produces not only an abnormally large quantity of policemen for its own use, but an unlimited supply also for export ... When there is actual disorder in Ireland, the numerous policemen do hardly anything" (207).
Implicit in Bechhofer's argument is the feeling that a condition of Irish detective is geographic or political distance. Stephen's memory of the opening of the Abbey theatre underscores the weakness of Irish surveillance: "A burly policeman sweated behind him and seemed at every moment about to act" (1849). Irish detector can only control that which is not Irish, whether because they are not real and have no central authority or because the authority they impose is that of a nation foreign to them.
Surveillance without a central authority is also the activity of Stephen, who tries to imagine a new nation of which he is the author and creator. He knows he must leave Ireland to achieve such a creation, as when he explains to Devin that "the shortest way to Tara was via Holyhead," the closest port across Saint George's Channel (2703). By his exile, Stephen will be able to write an Ireland that is not constituted only by an Irish race. He will be able to avoid the "essentialized" definitions of Ireland (as put forth by Orage and Boyd, for example), represented in the diary by the old man in the mountain cabin: "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" (2757).
Stephen's re-examination of his intentions toward the figure of the old man suggests that the way to defeat the image of an "essentialized Irishness" is not through violence or denial but through variety of images. Disciplining the structure of Irishness in this case requires one to recognize the conflict with essentialism, as it is not about the abolition of the idea itself. This struggle is systematized by Stephen's relationship to the English language: Statements such as "whatsoever of thought or of feeling came to him from England or by way of English culture, his mind stood armed against" and "I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay" indicate Stephen's resistance to a British central authority against which he wishes to establish himself (254-258).
When Stephen is read as a detective figure structuring an Ireland under suspicion of a non-existence image, his childhood seclusion begins to become an early example of surveillance. But for Stephen to examine Ireland as a nation he must get outside of it and this is the beginning of the exile and separation.
Bechhofer criticizes that in Portrait Joyce "keeps on the circumference of his hero's mind, and never dives to the centre of his soul," producing what amounts to a "mere catalogue of unrelated states"(206). While the reviewer's smart observation points to the sense in which Joyce's style enacts a kind of structured exile, the novel's most basic involvement with exile occurs on the thematic level of it. In fact, the significance of exile in Joyce's thinking, and probably in modernism more generally (a la Terry Eagleton's Exiles and Emigres), is suggested by its formation quite early in Portrait, presumably before Stephen is capable of mature or complicated conceptions of affiliation and alienation.
Stephen's first artistic act, imaginatively reconstructing a ghost story, takes place only after he is completely isolated from the other boys in the dormitory. Completely covered by his bed sheets, "[h]e peered out for an instant over the coverlet and saw the yellow curtains round and before his bed that shut him off on all sides" (421-423). Later, a slightly older Stephen realizes that the "hollow sounding voices" of his schoolmates disturb the solitude he prefers and that "he was happy only when he was far from them, beyond their call, alone or in the company of phantasmal comrades" (858).
These examples show a sense of exile existing in both aesthetic and social registers a good deal of time before Stephen is able to recognize or articulate it as he does later in the novel. So is exile a modern concept? Probably yes, but the more vivid matter is that the author himself, or as Stephan, is made out of a society in which surveillance lives. More specifically, Stephen's obsessive attention to what the priests wear--disciplinary figures with whom he self-consciously identifies --reveals an interest in the uniform of the disciplinarian or those who are in charge. Exile can be considered as a modern concept which stands near resistance of colonization which results in nationalistic movements as a way of resisting the colonizer or to leave the scene and exile in a case that the individual feels fragile to stand against the dominant power and finds his/her way out of the colonized society. Joyce and his Stephan are the observers who react against colonization and are always under the surveillance which wants them to take the side of the traitors and false nationalists or choose exile. Such an exile cannot be interpreted as self-exile but it is more like an imposed one.
Stephen's humiliation at the hands of the prefect of studies for breaking his eyeglasses is marked by the "swish of the sleeve of the soutane" (39) as the priest raises the pandybat high, a strange moment which is so interesting and then evolves later, when his interview with the Jesuit who asks him to consider joining the order begins with the "swish of a soutane" (131) as the priest opens the door to enter the room. In addition, the priest's beginning "test" questions (as Stephen thinks of them) during this latter event relate not to faith or doctrine, but rather to clothing --the "capuchin dress" (131) and its sensibleness. Like the detector, the priest wears a uniform that shows his profession and also makes him able to have a kind of authority over others. In two of the novel's key incidents then, one in which Stephen is the victim of this disciplinary power and the one in which it is offered to him, Stephen seems to be concerned about the uniforms.
He is influenced by the authority that detects, controls, and rules over everything and everyone. In his whole life to the moment of epiphany he is under this influence and this is the matter which made him doubt many common and previously accepted issues. This doubt gradually expands to a degree that he rejects the accepted concept of nationalism by many Irish figures who are called nationalists but get away from its main necessities. Joyce sees such traitors in every classes of society and in any occupations.
It is not surprising that Joyce puts such thoughts into Stephan's head, as a notorious Irish police was identified by its uniform at that time. It is also thematically conventional in light of Joyce's own use of irony as a force which disciplines the whole structure. In fact, for Joyce, irony may even function as a kind of literary soutane. He uses his linguistic power to discipline the other components.
In A Portrait, irony's disciplining power is chosen to be shown on two levels, the first being Joyce's ironic behavior of Stephen's self-image as one who has transcended the oppressive regime of the Church and criticizes the beliefs which were commonly accepted during ages. "No king or emperor on this earth has the power of the priest of God," Stephen is told and taught so. "No angel or archangel in heaven, no saint, not even the Blessed Virgin herself has the power of a priest of God; the power of the keys, the power to bind and to loose from sin..." (382).
In escaping religion's boundaries to become "a priest of eternal imagination" (1677). However, Stephen is unavoidably constructed according to the norms that he rejects. As Cranly reminds him ("your mind is saturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve" ), his attempt to resist the thumb of the priesthood fails for lack of an ability to imagine anything other than a priesthood. His liberation from priestly power amounts only to a somewhat absurd (in Cranly's eyes) misuse of that power for himself. Joyce's ironic disciplining of Stephen is in some ways part of a larger project of using irony to discipline the Irish public. It actually distances Joyce from Stephan but at the same time makes Stephan closer to the Irish public.
The end of the Christmas dinner scene early in the novel can be seen as a notable example of this project. Throughout dinner, arguments between Stephen's father and Mr. Casey, who admires the nationalist leader, Charles Stewart Parnell, and Dante, who supports the Church's condemnation of Parnell, continue to rise until Dante grows angry enough to leave the room. Mr. Casey then with an expression cries "Poor Parnen.... My dead king!" (1148). His claiming Parnell as "king" is a sharp ironic change in what has until now seemed a staging of the Parnell argument strongly understanding toward Parnell's supporters.
In "king," however, Joyce performs an ironic shift: giving Mr. Casey the last word emphasizes the prejudice toward him that has been shown during the whole scene, but selecting to make this word "king" simultaneously weakens this bias by suggesting that Parnell's supporters have hoped not to free themselves from royal rule, but instead merely to substitute one form of tyrannical power for another. Ostensibly, without knowing it, Mr. Casey actually grieves the possibility of submitting himself to authority rather than liberating himself from it. This conversation also shows the fact that to many, Irish nationalism and resistance against a colonizing power means nothing when church and priests are between.
Observing the detective form of Ireland, its nation and Joyce is useful, an idea with formal (Joyce "reforming" the English language and novel genre) and theoretical (Foucault, Spivak, and Bhabha identifying colonial disciplining practices) valences. Ireland has always been a colonized country and Irish a colonized nation and that's why it does not exactly fit into a post- or neo- colonial paradigm. A historical observation of this matter proves this fact, as British nationalist rhetoric refused to recognize Ireland as anything other than another province of the Great Britain. Irish nationalist rhetoric made national boundaries based on Ireland before being colonized. In conclusion, one could argue that the colonial pressures in Ireland ascend both historical qualities of Irish detective sense within the borders of Ireland and abroad and to the kind of detecting that Joyce engages in, which was discussed here. Also postcolonial reading of the Portrait is possible as some elements are discussed above.
James Joyce creates a variable double singleness through the weak balancing of dichotomies which were brought in by modernity and specifically by the dual colonization of the British Empire and Roman Catholicism. In A Portrait, Stephen's reflection of colonialism is directed against his own countrymen for their subservience, as it is against the imperialist ambitions of the British. Joyce also deals with the opposition between the extreme patriotic spirit and the mimicry of colonial values found in Irish nationalism. The dichotomies between the metropolitan and the pastoral paradigms of culture and those between the colonial and the vernacular languages are also reflected in the novel.
A Portrait deals with the dichotomies between public / national space and private / personal space as well as between public / national time and private / personal time. Stephen is in search to find a meaning in the city of Dublin by imposing personal / private meanings and explanations of the demonstrations and scenes that happen in his journey:
The dichotomy between standardized and mechanized public linearity and the relative and erratic private time that was introduced by modernity is overcome by Joyce in this novel by subverting conventional linearity and by explaining real inner time through the presentation of the chaotic and fluctuating conscious states. (Franz 4)
His tool for resisting punctual and mechanized public time which is clearly imposed by modernity is using stream of consciousness technique in a brilliant way. "We find Joyce also dealing with other dichotomies like body and soul, good and bad, right and wrong, York and Lancaster, red and white, coldness and hotness, maroon velvet back and green velvet back of the brush, and so on" (Franz 4). Dealing with the problem of identity is a matter which the protagonist deals with. By leaving Ireland Stephan does not reject his or his nation's identity; but he escapes from the colonial construct of the colonized and from the manipulated nationalism of Ireland.
Colonization, modernization, and nationalism are the matters that Stephan as a colonized Irish is confronting. For Joyce, nationalism is not merely a monolithic historic issue that is related to political liberation, but a compound cultural and political process provoked by modernization and colonization accompanied by a lot of cultural and social matters.
As mentioned before, Booker states that any academic attempt to redefine Joyce as a "political" writer would not come to any conclusion because of the difficulty of his work: Joyce can never be "political" in any material sense because his writing will never affect "the everyday lives of ordinary people" (24). But the fact is that many "ordinary people" know Joyce well or at least have heard of him. The fact is that these "ordinary people" are aware of the importance of Joyce as a canonical figure, and they are probably acquainted with the new criticism of Joyce and his works.
After years of scrutinizing Joyce's work in its historical, cultural, and political context, it can be concluded--as Elizabeth Butler Cullingford (2002) mentions in her contribution to Semicolonial Joyce--of "the bad old days, when Joyce was an apolitical modernist" (221), before he became Irish and postcolonial. Of course, answering this question that which one Joyce really is seems to be a hard job to do. This is argued in both Booker's monograph and Derek Attridge and Marjorie Howes's collection. In fact A Portrait examines Joyce's new status as a postcolonial author, regarding the fact that Ireland's imperial history had a great influence on Joyce and his works. Referring to a point in Finnegans Wake, Howes and Attridge replace the widely used "post" with "semi," and at the same time they suggest that ambivalence and hybridity may define Joyce's relationship to colonialism better than temporality can ever define him.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is seen in the perspective of very strong and dynamic reaction to the ideological, cultural and political positions established in the Irish society in the wake of colonialism and modernity. Issue of identity is vital for Stephan as a colonized subject. Even though the protagonist is not shown in the figure of the colonized, he presents himself to the modern readers as a touching image of the modern man overwhelmed by the complex issue of loss of identity, whether collective or individual, as he is trapped in the domination of colonization, homogenization and multiculturalism.
Joycean techniques of parody and pastiche, fragmentations of his words and images, self-referentiality, multiple points of view, open-ended narrative, and mythologies are not the only great features of his works done after him. He manifested cultural and political situations in his works of art. Joyce's works are complicated as they have their roots in the social, economic, and political changes that occurred before and during his lifetime. As Attridge claims, "far more people read Joyce than are aware of it" (1), by which he means to draw our attention to what extend modem communication and interpretation are in debt to Joyce's works.
The settings of Joyce's novels are so clear and detailed that if Dublin was demolished after the Second World War, it was possible to rebuild it according to Joyce's descriptions. The way that he visualizes the city is not just considered as his artistic aptitude. But his insistence on his nationalism and spiritual sense of belonging to the place that he was born in and belonged to, despite his self- exposed exile. The people living in the settings of A Portrait, the Irish, are dramatized and worked on as realistic as possible, mingled with their real characteristics and features, as they really are. The portrayal of such aspects makes it easier for Joyce's audience to feel the spirit of those ages of Dublin and in case of this research, the colonial and nationalistic spirits of the age. If it was possible to rebuild Dublin from what Joyce writes, so it is rather an easy job to imagine, understand, and know the Irish society of Joyce's time, with all its aspects according to Joyce's writings, including the facts and details of politics and nationalism of Joyce's time.
Joyce's intrusion in his stories is formed and characterized under the name of his hero, Stephan Dedalus. Stephan is a portrait of Joyce's past, present, and future as an artist and as an Irish. Joyce's personality and characteristic are reflected in his protagonist. Both are similar in their behavior and the way they look at issues of religion, politics, society, and nationalism. Their childhood and adolescence and the progression of their artistic potential are formed in the same way. Stephan experiences things in life just as Joyce does. Both of them react to colonization of the Irish, nation's sense of nationalism and different trends and movements in the same way. In fact Stephan to Joyce is like Zarathustra to Nietzsche in Thus Spake Zarathustra.
It is concluded from every study of Joyce that his works cannot be understood without accepting the fact that Joyce and his works are political indeed and they have a direct relation to the Irish struggle for independence and their nationalistic movements. Joyce's writing is like a mirror which reflects the history of Ireland and shows us the Irish political memory. Joyce's engagement with the social, political, cultural, historical, and economical changes of Ireland is parallel with his shifts in his writings; features like uncertainties, different narrative experiments and contradictions which are equal to the fluctuate Irish society of the time. The result drawn out is that, Joyce seeks Irish national independence and political freedom.
Joyce presents the dominance of nationalism in every episode of his books, especially in A Portrait. Meanwhile, he investigates the existing contradictions and ironies. Joyce puts nationalism near other social phenomena such as modernity, political conflicts and social movements, to make the relationship among them clearer.
Post-colonial studies can examine colonialism and nationalism in Joyce on a number of diverse points, from analyses of individual words and sentences to arguments of wide-ranging propensity and overall form. It enables the readers to see them as much discussed and fiercely debated issues, and as a set of overarching and often implicit suppositions about the world of Joyce's time. It integrates their immense worldwide correlations and their minute local separations. In Joyce, colonialism and nationalism constantly take us inward, to the fantasies, divisions, and traumas of individual psyche; just as continually they take us outward, to the institutions, competing communities, political conflicts, and historical obligations of our interrelated world. If we move toward Joyce's writings while keeping these points in mind, it becomes clear that some of the apparent paradoxes that construct them- his nationalism versus his internationalism, his fascination with Ireland versus his habitation in Europe, his rejection of the Irish Literary Revival versus his involvement in it- are not really paradoxes at all. They are in fact the controversial issues of history that influence the whole society, including artists and writers.
As discussed earlier, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is considered to be a strong reaction to the positions of ideology, culture, and politics which were constructed due to the beginning of colonialism and modernity in Irish society. Colonization as a social issue which affects the psychology of the individuals influences Stephan as a colonized subject. He does not present himself as a colonized figure, but as an individual which is touched deeply by the complex issues of loss of identity, and political conflicts which are caused because of colonization.
The result drawn out of the discussed matters bring us to this conclusion that Joyce was a part of nationalistic movements such as the Irish Revival. Although he had major conflicts with some people who claimed to be nationalists, they actually were not. He supported the core and the basic of nationalism, and social and political resistance against the colonial power. In fact, Joyce rejects some trends and movements, or at least parts of them which are diverged from the core ambitions and aims of resistance and nationalism in order to achieve different political purposes or even institutional or personal benefits. He is against movements which were practically moving against the Irish liberty and indirectly helped the Empire to follow up with its colonizing agendas. Therefore, Joyce is a "semicolonial" writer who has his own mode of nationalism.
Faculty of Humanities, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Shiraz
University, Eram Square, Shiraz, Iran
Faculty of Humanities, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, Shiraz
University, Eram Square, Shiraz, Iran
Bahee Hadaegh is Assistant Prof, of English Literature, Shiraz University, Eram Square, Shiraz--Iran. Her major field of academic interest includes world literature, drama and arts. Her latest publication is Hadaegh, B. & Shahabi, S. (2016) "Nationalism in James Joyce's Ulysses. " International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies. Siamak Shahabi is M.A. Graduate of English Literature, Shiraz University, Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Department of Foreign Languages and Linguistics, whose latest publication is Hadaegh, B. & Shahabi, S. (2016). "Nationalism in James Joyce's Ulysses." International Journal of English Language & Translation Studies.
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|Title Annotation:||James Joyce|
|Author:||Hadaegh, Bahee; Shahabi, Siamak|
|Publication:||Forum for World Literature Studies|
|Article Type:||Critical essay|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2016|
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