Ulysses, the poetics of tragedy, and a new mimesis.
While it is easy enough to find references in Joyce's letters to his design for the novel, it is difficult to reconcile those references to each other in pursuit of a singular description of his technique. As Richard Ellmann notes in his introduction to Joyce's Selected Letters, "He did not condescend to explain his own work, but through letters and conversations he laid down, as he told Harriet Shaw Weaver, the terms in which Ulysses was subsequently discussed" (xxi). In 1919, when Mr. Brock of the Times Literary Supplement begs him to explain his methods, Joyce writes to Weaver, "but these methods are so manifold, varying as they do from one hour of the day to another, from one organ of the body to another, from episode to episode, that, much as I appreciate his critical patience I could not attempt to reply" (20 July 1919, Letters 128).Joyce's allusions to "methods," "intention," "technique," and "styles" reveal more about his process than anything about the product itself. He writes in the aforementioned letter to Carlo Linati, "My intention is to transpose the myth sub specie temporis nostri. Each adventure (that is, every hour, every organ, every art being interconnected and interrelated in the structured scheme of the whole) should not only condition but even create its own technique" (21 Sept. 1920, Letters 146-47). In adapting classical forms to modern times, he places on his writing a set of technical constraints; he writes to Weaver that "[t]he task I set myself technically" is to write a book "from eighteen different points of view and in as many styles" (24June 1921, Letters 167). These letters convey what most readers tend to associate with the novel and its adaption of the epic form:
plentitude (of hours, organs, points of view, styles). What has been overshadowed by attention to that expansiveness, however, is its flipside, the way that formal constraint both distills and contracts its content. Joyce's adaptations of both the epic and the dramatic establish a counterbalance--a condition of both/ and--of expansion with contraction that anticipates the dualism of the novel's ending. While Robert Weninger rightly argues, "It would be misleading to create the impression that Joyce conceived Ulysses as the epical putting into practice of Aristotle's theory of the tragedy" (191; emphasis mine), I argue thatJoyce enacts a dramatic practice of that theory, not adopting Aristotle's neat formula wholesale but rather adapting it as a constraint for his "little story." Aristotle's poetic ideal thus inspires Joyce not so much to a single form but more to an experimentation with formal rigor--which provides a productive compression--in the interest of reconfiguring modern narrative. (2) Joyce's reworking of Aristotle's classical unities and verse-form in terms of modernity generates experimental forms of the modern novel that produce the kind of immediacy he admires. (3)
Joyce's evocation of the poetics reflects what for Aristotle are the primary distinctions between tragedy and epic: magnitude, length, and the relationship of verse-form to visibility of action. The ideal drama offers a congruity of action with time, where the length of time corresponds to a unified whole plot, while an equivalent unity of place offers the most efficient presentation of action. (4) Though Aristotle is not prescriptive about the unities of time and place--those constraints are developed and codified much later (5)--he writes, "tragedy tries so far as possible to keep within a single day, or not to exceed it by much, whereas epic is unrestricted in time, and differs in this respect" (9). The unities offer the most efficient presentation of the drama's tragic content, where the audience experiences mimesis, or the closest likeness to life. For Aristotle, mimesis is a direct form that shows likeness to the audience through the dramatization of actions and direct speech of characters. (6) The direct presentation is superior because it has a greater emotional effect on the audience. By contrast, Aristotelian diegesis refers to the narrative form in which the poet's voice, telling the story, distances the audience from the action and characters. That distance lessens the emotional impact on the audience. Unlike Plato, Aristotle valued emotion, but he also valued emotional balance, endorsing the Apollonian idea that tight form can create that balance in the audience. The most efficient and direct mimetic presentation (the dramatic) brings about the ideal emotional effect on the audience, a mix of terror and pity that leads to the pleasure evoked by the end resolution. (7)
Joyce's reworking of Aristotle's poetics modifies the relationship between form and emotion and effectively revises--or revives--mimesis. Instead of using form to regain emotional equilibrium in service of release and closure, as Aristotle does, in Ulysses Joyce uses an economy of form to hold and offer the dynamic chaos of human relations, a chaos that is evident in the action and the style of the novel. That offering brings the audience in immediate relation to those unreconciled emotions. Moreover, in reimagining narrative as dramatic in pursuit of greater immediacy, Joyce reclaims Aristotle's concept of mimesis from its association with realist representation. (8) Dissatisfied with a conception of the novel in which the name "mimetic realism" conceals what amounts to excessive diegesis, Joyce is drawn to the "showing" effects of Aristotle's mimesis and the potential for immediacy offered by the conventions of tragedy. Some modernist discourses refer to works like Joyce's as offering a new kind of realism, (9) while the term "mimesis" remains a dirty word. Rather than reimagining mimesis as diegesis in order to produce narrative realism, Joyce reimagines narrative as dramatic in order to produce mimesis.
To suggest thatJoyce reconstitutes narrative using a modified poetics is to suggest a new way to read Ulysses. Though widely understood in terms of expansion, plentitude, and readerly alienation--especially as the latter episodes give way to great length and multiple styles--earlier episodes evoke contraction, concision, and immediacy. The unities of Aristotelian drama, in light of modernity, become an economy of time, place, and action. Unlike the sprawling diegesis of the social realist narrative, this economy offers verisimilitude through a congruence of space-time with page time and links the streamlined actions of Stephen and the Blooms, with an internal logic and causality, to this particular day. (10) At the same time, the economy denies a neat closure, instead offering a dualistic and paradoxical closing and reopening. The economies of time, place, and action are matched with a narrative style--the "initial style" (11) of early episodes--that modifies Aristotle's concept of verse-form to offer the least intrusive kind of narration. In contrast to later episodes where Joyce explores radically different types and degrees of narrative mediation, the spare narration of his mimetic economy most approximates dramatic immediacy. In rewriting mimesis to convey experience rather than to tell about or represent a specific content (whether material or psychological), Joyce brings the audience in more direct relation to the subject at hand. This directness of Joyce's modernist dramatic narrative has crucial implications for the relationship between emotion--of the artist and the audience--and the work of art, matching a detached artist with an active, engaged reader.Joyce reimagines mimetic showing as both defamiliarizing and intimate for the reader, offering a dualistic experience of "narrative intimacy" between reader and text. (12) Beyond presenting the dualism of modern reality in terms of a likeness the reader can recognize, Joyce's "mimetic economy" effectively conveys what it is like to experience life.
In the early episodes of Ulysses, the economies of time, place, and action serve as constraints whose effects compound each other and have a causal relationship to Joyce's experiments with style. In response to what he perceived as Harrier Shaw Weaver's dismay at the multiple styles represented in Ulysses, Joyce wrote on 6 August 1919 that, "in the compass of one day to compress all these wanderings and clothe them in the form of this day is for me possible only by such variation which, I beg you to believe, is not capricious" (Letters 242). Here, Joyce suggests a cause-and-effect relationship between style and compression, where stylistic variation enables him to compress his chosen content into one day, with compression as his intended effect. The inverse is true, as well: just as stylistic variation allows compression, so does the compression produce a particular, economical style (sometimes called the "initial style"). Some scholars have addressed Ulysses in the context of the novel of one day, (13) and the prevailing interpretation is that the day simply offers a slice of life. Laura Marcus, who sees the one-day novel as characteristically modernist, draws her conclusion partly from Virginia Woolf's proposal in "Modern Fiction" to examine "an ordinary mind on an ordinary day" (287), (14) while Joseph Frank asserts, "Joyce's most obvious intention in Ulysses is to give the reader a picture of Dublin seen as a whole--to re-create the sights and sounds, the people and places, of a typical Dublin day" (233). The words "ordinary" and "typical" suggest the length of time is significant as a microview of the macrolife, implying any such day would do. When considered with the economies of place and action, however, and in light of the link between the time constraint and stylistic variation that Joyce himself draws, the single day actually serves an essential formal function that enables greater immediacy in modern narrative. (15) Aristotle refers to the productive constraints of time and place as "concentrations," saying, "the end of imitation is attained in shorter length; what is more concentrated is more pleasant than what is watered down by being extended in time" (47). No one would argue that Ulysses is short in length, or that everything in it could be contained in audience memory, but neither is it "watered down by being extended in time"--on the contrary, the concise limitation of time to one day is directly related to the economy of action that echoes Aristotle's mimetic ideal. (16)
Moreover, Joyce's economies of time and place operate together to establish his dramatic mimesis; that is, the concentrating effect of compressed time is more significant when compounded with the unity of place--the confinement of most of the action to walkable Dublin (17)--just as the action legitimates the setting on one day. Though Erich Auerbach argues persuasively that, in modernist novels, objective reality sometimes disappears--in a way that a stage never does--when characters mentally travel over years in time and distances in space not covered physically in the storyworld, (18) Ulysses maintains a sense of rootedness in physical space, even during flashbacks. The unity expressed by the spatial confinement to Dublin is exemplified by the events experienced by multiple individuals:19 * Stephen (1.248-49) and Bloom (4.218) both observe the passing of the cloud over the sun at the same time, just as in "Wandering Rocks" more than one character notes the viceregal cavalcade, Father Conmee walking, and Molly's arm extending to pass the sailor a coin (10.221-23, 250-53). According to Aristotle, such simultaneities are allowed by the discourse of the narrative epic, but they also indicate spatial proximity where the actions are confined to an immediate area. 20
Such concision of space is enabled by the "staging" of characters' bodies, akin to actors in a play. Though for Aristotle the staging is literal--"the imitation is performed by actors" (10)--he notes that it does not have to be performed: tragedy's effect can come from reading (47). In Ulysses, the staging is less literal, enacted through the characters' consciousness of their own bodies and the narrative presentation of those bodies in space. (21) Even during narrative forays into interiority, Bloom retains a consciousness of his body, for example, when in the outhouse (4.500-10), when imagining his body in the bathtub (5.567-72), when touching his belly while considering the experience of blindness (8.1135-1142), and when noting his "cold and clammy" shirt after orgasm (13.851-52). The novel never loses sight of the physicality of its "actors" for very long, which contributes to what at the narrative level amounts to a staging of Dublin and the blocking of bodies on that city-stage. Joyce's staging of Dublin relies upon meticulous mapping; as Frank Budgen writes, "Joyce wrote the Wandering Rocks 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" (122-23). The Dublin that Joyce maps in the novel matches the Dublin--the place itself--he and his contemporaries would have known. This mimetic treatment of Dublin, where Joyce produces an accuracy of place in terms of walking time, creates verisimilitude that equates more with dramatic staging than with the mimetic realism of a novel.
Moreover, when that verisimilitude offers the spatial distance covered by characters, it also conveys the experience of walking in Dublin. The narrative expresses Bloom's sense of his body moving through space--blocking--which also maps the city. In "Calypso," Bloom's free indirect discourse uses everyday landmarks of Dublin--from Eccles Street past the National school, to the butcher's and then along the quayside and back to Eccles Street (4.77-98)--to trace his physical movement through space. (22) That movement can be imaginatively mapped by a reader familiar with Dublin, and, because of the time-space congruity, that mapping does not require the readerly suspension of disbelief needed for a work covering great lengths of time or distances in space. (23) While a realist novel might describe Bloom's experience to relatively great length (i.e. lots of page time), Joyce's mimetic tracing of Bloom's footsteps observes a congruity between page time (in the text) and walking time (in the storyworld), (24) as if the timing and blocking are simply transferred onto the page of the novel. (25) In many of the earliest Bloom episodes, from "Calypso" through "Wandering Rocks," much of the story world time equals page time (what narrative theorists call "story"), and space is measured out in the time it takes to read. (26) Words on the page create the space to imagine the body's movement through it. Thus the constraints of time and place, and especially the congruity between them, allow the reader to envision the layout of the landscape (staging) and the characters' movements (blocking) without overt narrative mediation.
The congruity of time passage and movement through space to establish a dramatic mimesis also operates in conjunction with an economy of action in Joyce's "little story of a day (life)." His modifications to the classical poetics reflect a life that is particular to modernity, and those changes surface predominantly in the economy of action. The novel seems to lack a significant plot (where essential events occur in an order that is probable and necessary) in part because its plenitude and interior digressions seem to make the novel endlessly inclusive. (27) Though not all events in the novel contribute to a classical unity of action, however, reading Joyce's novel through an Aristotelian lens highlights particular events whose accumulated significance develops a complex economy of action and suggests that Joyce uses constraint within the plentitude to construct the narrative dramatically. (28) Moving away from the single hero, Ulysses reframes Aristotle's cathartic resolution as a kind of "both/and" dualism, adapting and complicating the classical emphasis on suffering in the philos relation by making the figurative, rather than the literal, family unit the core of the economy of action. In Ulysses, the family unit itself is a sort of embattled hero, ironically explored and shaped by figuratively childless parents and parentless children, and by anxieties produced by the threat of female infidelity. The crucial events occur in the storylines of Stephen and the Blooms who, like the classical tragic hero, balance virtue with weakness while experiencing suffering within philos (parent-parent and parent-child) relations. The Blooms are not literally childless, of course--Milly is away in Mullingar (29)--and neither is Stephen literally parentless, as Simon Dedalus appears regularly throughout the novel and features largely in the "Hades" and "Sirens" episodes. Nevertheless, Rudy's death deeply hurts Leopold and Molly as individuals and as a couple, and Stephen's attempts to distance himself from all forms of parentage are central to his self-conception as an artist and intellectual. These seemingly unrelated family storylines prove to be strands of a thread that ultimately converge and, though Stephen and Leopold Bloom begin the novel separately, their first episodes take place simultaneously as if to mark the day as shared between them. (30)
Stephen and Bloom also share interrelated anxieties about parentage and female integrity, which account for the dissolution of the family unit and which, when developed and transformed through the events of the day, enable its figurative reconstitution. These fears and anxieties are manifest in the novel in terms of uncertain parentage, not having or wanting a parent or child, or feeling obligated to perform in a parent or child role. Further anxieties stem from being subject to the power and mystery of womanhood, wanting to self-parent or self-produce, and the loss of one's creation or creative potential. Stephen's famous theory from "Scylla and Charybdis" about Shakespeare as father, son, and ghost maps the family--and the individual's role in and relation to it--as the site of primary suffering. (31) As Stephen explains to his peers at the National Library, the "incertitude of the void" refers to the mystery and unknowability on which, he says, both the church and the world are founded:
Fatherhood, in the sense of conscious begetting, is unknown to man. It is a mystical estate, an apostolic succession, from only begetter to only begotten. On that mystery and not on the madonna [...] the church is founded and founded irremovably because founded, like the world, macro- and microcosm, upon the void. Upon incertitude, upon unlikelihood. Amor matris, subjective and objective genitive, may be the only true thing in life. Paternity may be a legal fiction. Who is the father of any son that any son should love him or he any son? (9.837-45)
The church is founded on the mystery of fatherhood just as the world is founded on the void. At the heart of this mystery and void is the mother: that the mother's identity and love are the only certainties--and, by extension, that the father's identity is not certain--shrouds conception in mystery and casts the mother's fidelity into doubt. Both father and son, then, can never quite be sure of the woman's activities or of their biological connection to each other. Thus Stephen publicly intellectualizes at the National Library what Bloom--both fatherless and sonless--more tangibly experiences throughout the day. (32)
Joyce's version of Aristotle's unity of action--with its errors and changes of fortune, reversals and recognitions--establishes the significance of this day for each man's experiences and, by extension, for the family unit. If Stephen's and the Blooms' storylines together develop the dissolution and reconstitution of the figurative family unit, (33) the single day as a form offers more than just a slice of everyday life--there is something necessary or probable about the setting on this day. (34) As we know from the "Telemachus" and "Proteus" episodes, Stephen's decision to return to Ireland to face his mother's death brings about his change of fortune from good to bad. From that decision come two actions whose consequences reverberate throughout June 16, 1904: he refuses to pray for his mother on her deathbed (not long before she dies), and he abandons life as an artist in exile, where he was free from the "fathers" of nation, empire, religion, and artistic convention. On this day, then, he is haunted by images of his dying mother, (35) and his loss of artistic independence echoes throughout the morning in mundane sufferings: he is financially strapped, effectively homeless, and using his talents as an underappreciated teacher of schoolboys. Similarly, the Blooms' own change of fortune from good to bad can be traced back to a familial death: Rudy's death marks not only the loss of a son but also the break in their sexual intimacy. (36) A drift in his position as a now sonless father, Leopold allows his grief to disrupt his relationship with his wife and thus mistakenly brings about suffering in his marriage and, on this particular day, in the acute awareness both of Molly's specific assignation with Boylan and of her appeal to fellow Dubliners generally. (37)
Both Stephen and Bloom experience a change of fortune through a series of events in which they reach beyond the atomized self to care about, acknowledge, and even incorporate the experiences of other people, encounters that in turn transform them. (38) Marian Eide describes the impact of this kind of ethical encounter on the individual: "an encounter with the other reconfigures the subject even as the subject begins to apprehend or even understand that other" (7). Stephen's interactions with his students in "Nestor," with his sister, Dilly, during their brief encounter in "Wandering Rocks" (10.854-880), and especially with Bloom during their evening spent together suggest his connection to other people is developing after the drastic severing of ties at the end of A Portrait. These events mark the revival of his sympathetic response and responsibility to the other that he renounced when he chose artistic exile and denied his mother's dying wishes. Bloom's encounters with the blind stripling (a young son-like figure that anticipates Stephen) and with Mrs. Purefoy (who gives birth on this day and parallels Molly as mother) reestablish for him physical contact and empathy. (39) His intimacy-with-strangers encounter with Gerty revives his sexuality, shortly after which he reconciles himself to Molly's infidelity and extends both Molly and Boylan some grace. (40) The convergence of Stephen's and Bloom's paths in "Oxen of the Sun" initiates versions of Aristotelian reversals and recognitions that in turn contribute to the loving reconstitution of the family unit by the novel's end. (41) Bloom's and Stephen's interactions with each other allow Bloom to perform in a father role and bring about a reversal in the parent-child relationship: Bloom's intention to support the suffering Mrs. Purefoy leads him to find a sense of belonging with a younger group of men--Stephen and his friends--where his role as a protective, if occasionallyjudgmental, outsider positions him to serve as a guide and father-figure to Stephen, the effective son (especially in "Circe"). (42) Stephen also experiences a reversal: despite his determination to behave as if he is fatherless and to parent himself (as not just a person but also an intellectual and artist), he accepts Bloom's kindness and care. Though the father/son model does not map perfectly onto Bloom's and Stephen's relationship, (43) the reversals of expectation involving each other directly and the father/son moments they share exemplify how Joyce mobilizes elements of Aristotle's poetics in the development of action.
While Joyce's economy of action ultimately works toward rebuilding the family unit, the parallel and then shared paths of Stephen and Bloom complicate Aristotle's classical philos relation. The change of fortune relates to the familial relationships as it does for Aristotle, but the reversals and recognition for Stephen and Bloom are brought about by acquaintances or strangers: the students, the stripling, Gerty, Mrs. Purefoy, and especially each other. That Bloom and Stephen can be both figurative father/son and virtual strangers attests to how Joyce's dualism writes against Aristotle's poetics: as literal ties give way to figurative ones, loving connections rise in unexpected interactions. This connection with strangers conveys an experience of modernity in which traditional associations based on nation, nationalism, religion, and social convention do not necessarily connect individuals anymore, leaving the individual somewhat unmoored. In Ulysses, the alternative connection between strangers is enabled in the crowded modern metropolis by relative anonymity, manifest in outsiderness: cultural, for Bloom, and intellectual for Stephen. Though the resulting atomization could be read as a sad paradox--that the only thing shared is a sense of isolation--this novel implies the opposite: intimate identification is generated by precisely that shared sense of isolation and the common everyday experiences, routines and activities, familiar objects, and physical details of place. The emotional effect of this kind of connection is distinct from that in Aristotle's poetics: in Ulysses, familiar recognition of the unknown other produces a kind of love between strangers.
This intimate identification becomes clearest in the final two episodes, "Ithaca" (44) and "Penelope." Both episodes use dialectic terms to show the interdependent relation of two beings that evokes the expansion and contraction of the novel's form. (45) In "Ithaca," Stephen and Bloom turn their restored compassion for and connection to the other into hospitality, understanding, and symbiosis. After the adventures in Nighttown and the cab shelter, where Bloom's and Stephen's relationship is presented primarily in terms of response to external stimuli, the privacy of Eccles Street in "Ithaca" presents an opportunity to see them and examine their relationship in more intimate terms, without the distractions of other characters. What emerges is a tender relationship established first on literal kindnesses and respect. Bloom extends to Stephen a "special hospitality" in the preparation and presentation of the cocoa (17.359-65) and invites Stephen to stay the rest of the night at Eccles Street; though Stephen declines, he does so "[p]romptly, inexplicably, with amicability, gratefully" (17.955). The narrating voice frames this invitation in terms of a longer-term relationship between Stephen and the Bloom family, considering the advantages of "a prolongation of such an extemporization" for Molly as well as Bloom and Stephen (17.936-39). These expressions of literal hospitality and mutual benefit to all three individuals also has a figurative resonance--it conveys the extension of the individual self to meet the needs of others, an extension for which Stephen and Bloom have both been prepared by the events of the day. Moreover, the extension of two selves toward each other, which produces a balanced kind of symbiosis, can be seen in the dialectic language that threads through the rest of the episode. The narrative language describes Stephen and Bloom figuratively as different sides of the same coin, expressing traits or roles that are different or even opposite and yet part of the same whole. Bloom and Stephen are by turns "host" and "guest," ordinary man and intellectual, father and son. In what Blamires calls "a curious moment of mutual recognition" (222), Stephen hears "in a profound ancient male unfamiliar melody the accumulation of the past" (17.777), and Bloom sees "in a quick young male familiar form the predestination of a future" (17.780). Here old meets young, unfamiliar meets familiar, past meets future, calling attention to their differences and their symbiosis at the same time. Bloom is also the "centripetal remainer" to Stephen's "centrifugal departer" (17.1214, 17.1125), where the suggestion of Bloom's movement to the center and Stephen's movement away evokes the expansion and contraction of the novel itself. The recurrence of dialectic language reiterates that, over and above the kindness and mutual respect Bloom and Stephen offer each other as individuals, there is a symbiotic balance, even an interdependence, that is crucial for the restoration of the family unit. (46)
In this oblique reference to balance--oblique because it appears in the narrative language as much as in the characters' actions themselves--lies the novel's reworking of Aristotelian resolution and recognition. After Bloom laments the condition of the everyman, Stephen's response is, again, narrated in dialectic language, which also refers back to the crisis within the family that he theorizes in "Scylla and Charybdis": "[Stephen] affirmed his significance as a conscious rational animal proceeding syllogistically from the known to the unknown and a conscious rational reagent between a micro- and a macrocosm ineluctably constructed upon the incertitude of the void" (17.1012-15). Though Bloom does not apprehend this affirmation verbally, he receives the affirmation "substantially" (17.1017), or, as Blamires writes, "through the very presence of Stephen, through the entry of Stephen into a share of Bloom's own nature" (224). Here Bloom receives meaning not rationally but by taking it into himself, then mirroring and echoing Stephen's language, a reflection but also its opposite: "as a competent keyless citizen he had proceeded energetically from the unknown to the known through the incertitude of the void" (17.1019-20). The "uncertitude of the void" recalls Stephen's lecture on the mystery surrounding the mother's relations and womanhood more generally. Though Stephen passes from known to unknown and Bloom unknown to known, they nevertheless proceed together, are moved by the same views, and, in their proceeding, find solidarity in facing the mystery of woman. As they walk outside on Stephen's departure, they are both confronted by the spectacle of "[t]he heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit" (17.1039), and, soon after, both see the lamp in Molly's upstairs window (17.1171-81), which leaves them "[s]ilent, each contemplating the other in both mirrors of the reciprocal flesh of theirhisnothis fellowfaces" (17.1183-84) before they urinate together. Blamires writes, "in the unity of common masculinity which the sense mystery and illumination of womanhood plants in the two of them, both are silent, abashed, knowing each other, and ashamed" (225). They shake hands before parting (17.1221-23), as if to affirm a shared recognition--a movement from ignorance to knowledge--that for them each amounts to a kind of loving closure.
Just as Bloom and Stephen, after experiencing reversals, come to a symbiotic knowing by the end of "Ithaca," so do the Blooms come to a version of loving acceptance through a reversal in the spousal relation: Leopold means passively to leave Molly to her assignation with Boylan but ends up addressing the rift between them. Hardly the ideal romance, their union more closely resembles the respect for difference and love of the other that characterizes acquaintance and stranger relationships earlier in the novel. By the time the "Penelope" episode finishes, Molly and Bloom have each come to a kind of closure marked by relative peace, together. (47) And yet, in this relationship as in Stephen's and Bloom's, Ulysses redefines the closure that for Aristotle produces the "characteristic pleasure" (38) by reimagining pleasure as an awakening or opening. Any seeming closure in the novel is more of an arrival at a place of pause, a concentration of possibilities. The emotional tension from the day resolves with a lingering sensation of both/and, a paradoxical condition where seeming opposites--rest and movement, peace and upset, known and unknown, conclusion and continuation--coexist without reconciliation or without the domination of one over the other. Rather than a state of balance, which denotes stasis or stability, this inclusive state is best characterized as dualism. (48) It echoes the dialectic language in "Ithaca" and is illustrated in "Penelope" in the relationship between Molly and Bloom at narrative, physical, and emotional levels. Each gets page time uninterrupted by each other, as Bloom does not speak at all in "Penelope," and Molly does not have a direct voice in "Ithaca": both Molly's sleepy inquiry about Bloom's day and his response are presented in indirect speech, referenced obliquely by their roles as narrator and listener (17.2250-97). Their physical positioning, where they lie head to foot like a yin and yang, evokes cyclicality rather than conclusion, suggesting disconnection (since they are not face to face), at the same time that they effectively complete each other's fetal position (17.2302-18). Bloom's final act of planting a kiss on Molly's bottom combines the physical with the emotional, as the gesture is by turns impersonally tactile and intimate, evasive and tender, selfishly sexual and humbly submissive. The dualism of these connotations, like the characters' balanced positioning, proposes they surrender together to the events that have led to this moment and to the events to which this moment will in turn lead.
Instead of offering a perfect ending, gesturing toward happilyever-after, or offering a final emotional release, the close of the novel--especially in the narrative form of "Ithaca"--bespeaks emotional calm. In answer to the question "In what state of rest or motion?" the response is "At rest relatively to themselves and to each other. In motion being each and both carried westward, forward and rereward respectively, by the proper perpetual motion of the earth through everchanging tracks of neverchanging space" (17.2306-10). This emotional rest is reaffirmed by Molly's recollection in the last lines of the novel of their falling in love, which concludes with her famous affirmation: "yes I said yes I will Yes" (18.1604-09), the affirmative power of which is, of course, tempered by the disappointments of intervening years. This ending denies the closure of a tragic downfall, instead embracing cyclicality--past, future, and present--and sadness with joy, just as (according to Joyce) "Penelope" itself "turns like the huge earthball slowly surely and evenly round and round spinning" (To Budgen, 16 August 1921, Letters 170). The narrative refusal of emotional closure does not just defy conventional narrative expectations, but also embraces terror with joy rather than surrendering to any compulsion to purge fear. The dualism of Ulysses departs from Aristotle's idea that form reigns in emotional imbalance by instead allowing chaotic and contrasting concepts and emotions to coexist--joy and love with uncertainty, melancholy, and terror; movement with stasis; progress with regression--without attempting to order or reconcile them. The yin and yang and Molly's "yes I will yes" suggest Ulysses says yes to life, to celebrating unreason, to living with and through the chaos. (49)
The "yes to life" that characterizes the economy of action also lies at the heart of Joyce's narrative innovation more broadly. As implied by the causal relationship conveyed in his 1919 letter to Weaver, for Joyce subject matter is inextricably linked with the narrative form in which it is presented. His adaptation of the Aristotelian unities to convey a dualistic conception of life, then, corresponds with his adaptations to Aristotle's verse-form, in which he pursues a minimally intrusive narrator. He develops that form as an alternative to the inherited subject matter and practices of social realism, which (re)present a what--material or information; an object, character, scene, or even a transcript of the mind--and rely on a narrator to tell, preach, or persuade that the what shows reality. Joyce's alternative aim is a hard-to-define effect: a universal way of experiencing that he calls "life" or "spirit," (50) which is best described in terms of the action of how--how to convey, how to move closer, how to read--rather than the presentation of a what. The dramatic form, which enables the appropriate distance between artist's vision, the art object, and the audience, proves for Joyce to be the perfect medium for the presentation of that dualism, that "life": "Drama is again the least dependent of all arts on its material. [. . . ] drama arises spontaneously out of life and is coeval with it" ("Drama" 42-43). Here Joyce defines "life" in opposition to material, as both source and subject matter of drama, and the two prove to be mutually defining--the content, life, is defined as that which drama conveys best, while drama is the best form because of how it conveys life. The "portray[al of] truth," "the everlasting hopes, desires and hates of us" and "our widely related nature" are central to the very definition of drama ("Drama" 41). Describing to Budgen the distinction between the what and the how, Joyce uses a visual arts analogy: "When you talk painting to Taylor, Sargent or Suter you don't talk about the object represented but about the painting.[. . . ] And quite rightly, I should say, because that is where the beauty of the artist's thought and handiwork become one" (qtd. in Budgen 176). The Anglo-Irish writer Elizabeth Bowen articulates this difference between ends (the object) and means (the how) in Joyce's work when she accounts for readers' difficulty understanding Finnegans Wake.
We are used to receive, from a page of print, information, of one or another kind, information that we could, if necessary, pass on to a friend in our own words . . . We do not, on the other, expect information from a symphony or the sound of a waterfall. Finnegans Wake, like music or a long natural sound, acts on us. We are affected, profoundly, instead of being informed. Sense has been sacrificed to sensation. ("Joyce" 244-45)
Bowen contrasts the informing and receiving of sense with the mimetic conveying of sensation. Rather than putting a description or a picture of a waterfall (a what) in place of information, she argues, Finnegans Wake substitutes one action (how) for another, affecting for informing. The shift from sense to sensation occurs when the narrator no longer informs or tells; instead of receiving information, the reader is affected, acted upon, and experiences the work of art in a more direct way. Joyce told his friend Frank Budgen, "I want the reader to understand always through suggestion rather than direct statement" (21), calling attention to the inverse relation of the narrator's statement to the reader's access to the storyworld: that is, the less direct the narrator, the more unmediated the experience, bringing the reader in greater immediacy to the experience.
As we might expect, the shift in subject matter from material to life corresponds to a shift in how it is conveyed, and Joyce works in the early episodes of Ulysses to create the least intrusive narrator possible in pursuit of his mimetic economy. In order for narrative to approximate this dramatic immediacy, Joyce develops a hybrid verse-form that navigates between Aristotle's direct speech and direct narrator statement. Aristotle insists that, in dramatic verse-form of both tragedy and good epics, "[t]he poet in person should say as little as possible" (41) because action conveyed directly, rather than mediated by a narrator, offers the best likeness.Joyce's alternative form includes the direct "speech" of interiority (51)--a spare style known to critics and readers as interior monologue, stream of consciousness, or free indirect discourse--but offers it as part of a blend of discourses in pursuit ofreducing the narrator's intrusiveness.Joyce's hybrid verse-form can be seen on the page at various points throughout Ulysses, (52) and it is a variable focalization characterized by the indistinct shifts between free indirect discourse, character focalizers, and external focalization conveying actions and movement in the storyworld. (53) When, for example, Bloom helps a young blind man cross the street in "Lestrygonians," the focalization alternates, without distinguishing punctuation to mark transitions, between direct speech (also called direct discourse, underlined below), narrative tags (or reporting clauses) such as "Mr Bloom said," indirect thought indicated by first person voice (bolded below), and free indirect discourse (italicized below) in often fragmented third person voice:
The cane moved out trembling to the left. Mr Bloom's eye followed its line and saw again the dyeworks' van drawn up beforeDrago's. Where I saw his brilliantined hair just when I was. Horse drooping. Driver in John Long's. Slaking his drouth.
--There's a van there, Mr Bloom said, but it's not moving. I'll see you across. Do you want to go to Molesworth street?
--Yes, the stripling answered. South Frederick street.
The indirect thought and free indirect discourse (italicized and bolded) focalize Bloom, and the fragmentation of certain lines blurs even the distinction between first and third person, between indirect and free indirect discourse. This example demonstrates how passages dramatizing immediate subjective experience (rather than narrating it diegetically) produce narrative intimacy.
Joyce does not, of course, employ this economic kind of verse form throughout the novel, and the possible explanations for the change are multiple:54 * * one is that the juxtaposition of the hybrid form of his mimetic economy with episodes (especially the last eight) in radically different styles accentuates their departure from the narrative intimacy of the hybrid form. The result is a kind of narrative dualism, a contrast between the contraction of the tight hybrid form and the expansive styles of the later episodes.55 The contrast itself accentuates the difference between degrees of narrative mediation and intrusion. Examples of the contrast abound. Parts of "Nausicaa," for example, present two styles on the same page: the prevailing conventional discourse--in the flowery language of the sentimental novel that dominates Gerty as focalizer56--shifts abruptly to the spare free indirect discourse associated with Bloom as focalizer. Though the headline style of the "Aeolus" episode illustrates immediacy and calls attention to a congruity between storyworld time and page time, its explicit evocation of the newspaper format mimics the discourse appropriate to the setting rather than offering a likeness of being present in the news office. The contrast between the styles showcases Joyce's tendency to parody through formal virtuosity. (57) The stylized narratives that assume multiple conventional, often specialized discourses or forms (literary, popular, journalistic, professional, colloquial) prove to be highly mediated in the conventionality they mimic, (58) drawing attention to their forms. Meanwhile the more experimental forms are distractingly self-conscious in their play. (59) It is the very absence of narrative intimacy in the more stylized or experimental episodes that makes them so alienating to a reader, and their stark contrast to the clarity and rigor of the hybrid verse-form underscores how style--especially degrees of narrative mediation--can affect the reader's immediacy by obscuring a scene or laying it bare. Thus all of the novel's narrative forms, along with Joyce's adaptation of the unities, contribute in some way to the effect of the mimetic economy.
This mimetic economy reflects and has important implications for the role of emotion in both the production and reception of art, Aristotle's main preoccupation. For Joyce the arrest of personal emotions--what he refers to in terms of "static" and "rest"--is important for both the artist and the audience: ideally, art is "static for the feelings," and "this rest is the only condition under which the images, which are to excite in us terror or pity or joy, can be properly presented to us and properly seen by us" ("Aesthetics" 144-45). Ellmann and Mason say that, for Joyce, "literature is thejoyful affirmation of the human spirit," but only if the writer maintains an "indifferent sympathy (instead of a didactic partisanship) towards the play of passions he describes" (8). In this interpretation, Joyce distinguishes less mediated, dramatic narratives from novels dominated by didactic, telling voices. An insistence on the artist's "indifferent sympathy" attracts him to drama, which is, for the artist, the most impersonal of the modes because of its constraints and its tendency toward the least narrative mediation. (60) That kind of reduced narrative voice depends on and reinforces the detachment of the artist from any didacticism or intentional persuasion. In arresting personal emotion--though not erasing it--such an authorial position bypasses heavy-handed narrative telling and instead allows the work of art to convey life.
This artistic position does not preclude Joyce from embracing--indeed, conveying a strong investment in--the dualism of life. In fact, the very innovation of this mimetic economy, and the narrative intimacy it enables, is what allows the artist to shed any didacticism without erasing the politics or particularity of the world presented. This valuation of authorial detachment--along with Ulysses's formalist traits and Joyce's association with other members of the avant-garde--invites criticism that the novel is ahistorical, apolitical, even irresponsibly disinterested. At best Joyce's use of formal constraint might tempt critics to misread his work as formalist or cosmopolitan, privileging the autonomy of the work of art. (61) T. S. Eliot famously interprets Joyce's mythical method in Ulysses as "simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history" (373). In that interpretation, form orders and contains the mess of history, such that in pure form lies the artwork's fundamental significance. That philosophy of pure form, however, forecloses on the generative potential of the mess--the dualism of life--and leaves the audience out of the equation. In Ulysses, Joyce embraces the dualistic nature of modern life, in conscious service of the reader to whom the novel conveys human experience.
Thus while Joyce echoes the formalist idea that distillation through form is essential to achieving artistic ends, he does not avoid modernity or history, but instead roots the novel in the particular, intimate details of the historical moment and locality of setting: Ulysses is full of objects and people that are local and particular enough to prompt annual Bloomsday celebrations. In carving out a place for his method of rootedness, Joyce distinguishes it from both artistic idealism and formalism: "Art is marred by such mistaken insistence on its religious, its moral, its beautiful, its idealizing tendencies.[...] And it is this doctrine of idealism in art which has in notable instances disfigured manful endeavor, and has also fostered a babyish instinct to dive under blankets at the mention of the bogey of realism" ("Drama" 44). Joyce differentiates between "eternal conditions" and "the conditions of modern communities" that he embraces without compromising his aesthetic principles: "out of the dreary sameness of existence, a measure of dramatic life may be drawn. Even the most commonplace, the deadest among the living, may play a part in a great drama.. Life we must accept as we see it before our eyes, men and women as we meet them in the real world" ("Drama" 45). Joyce does not, however, take the attitude of reluctant acceptance that Eliot argues is the artist's fate, subject to the material "which [he] must simply accept" (372) and to which he must bring order. Ulysses conveys the vague and universal "life" characterized by the mess it embraces, neither transcending nor fully subject to history, locality, or the material world. Moreover, at the narrative level Ulysses presents this detailed and specific world without domination by the "poet's voice," without resorting to a cosmopolitan setting, and without losing the specifics of the real in an interior presentation. Joyce's ends go beyond pure form to the immediacy enabled by form, the modernist novel neither a fixed object nor representing a fixed reality--nor even idealizing formal or social stability--but rather offering a way of experiencing that comes from the difficulty of becoming familiar.
That difficulty falls on the shoulders of the reader who must actively engage with this dynamic mimesis. Vicki Mahaffey has argued that, in challenging the implied contract between author and reader that presumes the author has the responsibility and authority for meaning-production, modernist literature "forces readers to face and make interpretive choices that narrators used to make for them, and it also helps readers to come to terms with the meaning of those choices. Modernist literature erodes the sharp distinction between writer and reader, and in so doing presents readers with interpretive ethical dilemmas" (7).62 In contrast to a narrative style in which excessive mediation distances the reader by telling, and thus forcing, what the understanding should be, in UlyssesJoyce uses a modified narrative (rather than dialogic) dramatic style to liven form. Like Bowen's waterfall example, which produces an effect rather than making a point, Joyce's mimetic economy generates between reader and text an intimate exchange: just as the narrator (or poet) does not hand meaning to a reader, neither does the reader actively wrest meaning from the text. The familiarity between reader and text comes from letting, or cooperating, rather than trying. In "Rx for a Story Worth the Telling" Bowen asks,
Is a story, then, wholly within the narrator's power, circumscribed (as that would imply) by one individual's outlook, mind, pen or voice? Surely not. It enlists a series of faculties which are, no less, ours. In acting upon us, the story is drawing upon us; our responses contribute; our contributions create. The reliance of the narrator upon his audience may or may not be conscious, but it is immense. The reality (for us) of the story is a matter of how much it has elicited from us. We enter in, and through this entering in know ourselves to be active. We cooperate. (326-27)
Here Bowen suggests the "reality" of a story is contingent upon how the work acts on, and what it elicits from, the reader. Bowen thus articulates what we have seen in Ulysses: a far more immediate, interactive conception of the way the written work conveys than that which relies on the information of an overt narrator.
The irony of this immediacy is that its directness does not promise explicit meaning. On the contrary, the style can be off-putting because its scarcity of mediation makes it difficult to read. (63) Budgen, for example, refers to the dearth of orienting information in Ulysses in terms of familiarity: "There is a wealth of delicate pictorial evocation in Dubliners, but there is little or none in Ulysses. Streets are named but never described. Houses and interiors are shown us, but as if we entered as familiars, not as strangers come to take stock of the occupants and inventory their furniture" (68). Instead of representing Dublin and its houses for the passive reader to see, Joyce offers a place where the universal is rooted, and to know it the reader must bring it into himself or herself. To name this or that house is to evoke not a particular place in 1904 Dublin but rather a sense of familiarity, the universal feeling of knowing a place--any place. The place Joyce might have in mind, or any particular association in the reader's mind, is immaterial to the feeling of familiarity evoked, a feeling that is unconscious and enabled by the immediacy of form. Joyce's narrative intimacy assumes, creates, and relies on this familiarity, privileging it over any question of the artist's message, the narrator's control, or the reader's comfort. This formal defamiliarization might seem, to critics or readers deterred by excess and stylistic difficulty, like a cynical or elitist choice onJoyce's part. Ironically, however, that defamiliarization produces an intimate familiarity in the reader who is willing to let the unmediated narrative "act on" her or him and who, like Stephen and the Blooms, remains open to the challenges and chaos that make up the experience of life.
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(1) T.S. Eliot's "Ulysses, Order and Myth" is one of the first critical responses to the novel to celebrate the its recourse to the classical in his "mythical method." Joyce's explicit allusion in his schema to the Odyssey seems to insist that we approach Ulysses primarily in epic terms--it is long and large in scope, full of universal themes, an abundance of episodes, catalogs of the body and bodily functions, and narrative and rhetorical styles. For treatments of Ulysses as Irish epic see Len Platt's "Corresponding with the Greeks" and as epic of the human body see Maud Ellmann's "Ulysses: Epic of the Human Body."
(2) No scholar has offered a sustained reading of the intersections of the modern novel with Aristotelian poetics of tragedy and the three unities, though Higdon cites letters by authors Mervyn Jones and Brian Moore expressing interest in the challenge of writing a novel within the constraints of the unities (59). S. L. Goldberg argued in 1963 that any meaning and value in Ulysses "lies in its dramatic presentation and ordering of human experience" (30). More recently, Jennifer Levine takes a similar general approach to mine in arguing that "the initial moment in any reading is a decision about genre" (128) but then reads Ulysses not in terms of drama but rather as a poem, a novel, and a text.
(3) Scholars have noted that Aristotle's poetics does not have much influence on modern drama. Joyce himself argues that Aristotelian drama is "played out" ("Drama" 39), while Richard Ellmann and Ellsworth Mason write that, for Joyce, the past is "consigned by its conventions to the museum" in contrast to modern drama's close ness to "eternal laws of human behaviour" (8). Likewise Martin Puchner asserts that modern drama is widely considered to have turned away from Aristotle, arguing that Plato's dramatic dialogues are a more apt classical source for comparison (73). See also Puchner's chapter on "Circe" as "modernist closet drama" in Stage Fright (81100) and Margot Norris's chapter on "Circe" and catharsis, where the dramatic form constitutes an exchange between author and reader (157-81). For the influence of tragedy on modern literature and the distinction between Aristotle's poetics of tragedy and the philosophy of tragedy developed by the German Idealists, see K. M. Newton.
(4) See Aristotle on plot beginning, middle, and end (13-14); on parts and kinds of tragic plot (17-24); on length and magnitude of epic (14, 28-30), episodic plots (17), suffering in close relationships (21) and histories (38).
(5) Unities of time and place were concretized in Italy and France in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. See Andrew Bongiorno and Bernard Weinberg for more on the history of those developments.
(6) Malcolm Heath suggests that Aristotle's mimetic likeness is neither reducible to a set of conventions nor synonymous with "representation"--both of which are linked to a particular form; Aristotle's mimetic likeness is more like mimicry, denoting similarity or evocation rather than a strict copy (xiii). In narrative theory the term "diegetic" refers to the world described in the primary narrative storyline; information from outside that narrative world is therefore considered extradiegetic. This usage connects to Aristotle's "diegesis" in its relation to the narrator--in both cases diegesis refers to that which is told about by a narrator.
(7) On emotion and characteristic pleasure see Aristotle (21, 38, 48) as well as Malcolm Heath's explanation ofAristotle's concept on catharsis and its relation to the pleasure specified (xxxviii-xliii).
(8) See Brian Richardson on narration in drama (151). By the early twentieth century, mimesis has taken on a maligned association with social or material realism in the novel, corrupting Aristotle's original conception. In presenting a likeness by trying to recreate physical reality through narrative detail, that mimetic realism comes to look a lot more like extended diegesis, losing its "showing" quality as the excessive narrating time dilates reading time indefinitely. In effect realism delinks likeness from showing because that which appears before the reader is familiar but presented through telling--diegesis--rather than showing.
(9) Some seeJoyce's work as merely registering a new modern reality, or shifting focus to a new object, the psyche. Suzette Henke calls the new Georgian style "psychological realism," "psychological verisimilitude," and "psychological fiction" (623, 626, 625). Similarly, in Against Interpretation Susan Sontag argues thatJoyce's and Woolf's novels are simply mimetic of a different kind of content.
(10) Much has been made of Ulysses's setting on June 16, 1904--its reification of Joyce's courtship with Nora and its legacy as Bloomsday--and Joyce's detailed schema makes explicit his consciousness of time.
(11) These early episodes in Ulysses include "Telemachus," "Nestor," "Calypso," "Lotus Eaters," "Hades," "Lestrygonians," and "Wandering Rocks." Hugh Kenner develops the critical term "initial style" in his chapter on "The Arranger" (62-71), but Joyce himself uses the term in his 6 August 1919 letter to Weaver.
(12) My argument about the effect on the reader joins a substantial body of scholarship about Joyce's readers, which includes considerations of the pleasures and difficulties of reading Joyce's work (and modernism more broadly), efforts to classify and often historicize different types of readers (including the ordinary, plain, or common reader; actual/historical readers, ideal readers, the implied reader, etc.), and approachable aids to accessing Joyce's work. Vicki Mahaffey, for example, argues for the intellectual and ethical value of reading challenging modernist fiction. See also John Nash's book on readingJoyce and Michael Gillespie and Paula Gillespie's review of recent criticism, especially "The Narrative Thread: Discourse, Reader Response, and Post-Structuralist Thinking."
(13) Robert Weninger cautions against ignoring significant differences between Ulysses and Aristotle's poetics (191) while Don Gifford and Robert Seidman read the novel in terms of a play between epic and dramatic time (1-3). David Higdon writes on the "circadian novel" and its particular appeal in the "time-obsessed twentieth century" (57).
(14) Therese Fischer-Seidel also argues that Ulysses is not a "slice of life" work but a selfreflexive "literary construct" (87).
(15) Paul Schiffer, in cautioning against reading potential closure into the future of the storyworld of Ulysses, suggests considering "how Joyce's narrative framework of a day is strategic and thematically expressive in itself' (293).
(16) See Don Gifford and Robert Seidman on dramatic, epic, and mimetic time:
Only we as readers know that the characters are both acting in the dramatic time of a play, complete with peripeteia, and, by implication rather than by action, completing a major phase of their lives in the narrative medium of epic time. So while we judge significance in relation to our expectations of dramatic and epic time, the characters move in what might be called mimetic time. (2)
(17) The farthest locations in the novel--Sandycove, Dalkey, and Sandymount Strand--are not really walkable from Dublin city center but are still considered areas or suburbs of Dublin. Though Bloom and his fellow funeral-goers take a carriage to Paddy Dignam's service in "Hades," one could walk to Glasnevin Cemetery from city center in only forty-five minutes.
(18) Erich Auerbach argues that some writers of this period develop "a method which dissolves reality into multiple and multivalent reflections of consciousness" (551), using Woolf's To the Lighthouse as his example (538-40); see also his specific comments on theme and reader experience of Ulysses (544). Joseph Frank goes so far as to assert that certain modern works, including Ulysses, demand to be read spatially, not sequentially (225, 233).
(19) Several critical works address this phenomenon of parallax; see the most recent by Justin Kiczek.
(20) Joseph Frank argues thatJoyce imitates Flaubert in presenting a sense of simultaneous activity (233).
(21) See Brian Richardson on intersections between drama and narrative in terms of bodies in space (154).
(22) Similar traces occur prominently throughout "Lotus Eaters," "Lestrygonians" and "Wandering Rocks."
(23) See David Herman's Story Logic on cognitive mapping of fictional worlds.
(24) Teresa Bridgeman theorizes the relationship between space and page time; see also Gerard Genette's "duration," which refers to relations between time span, story tempo, and textual space.
(25) Of course this time-space congruity cannot be claimed for the whole of the nov el--indeed it is much more the case in the first ten episodes (excepting, perhaps, "Proteus") and dissolves nearly completely as the novel moves toward the afternoon and evening hours, when Joyce privileges his experimentation with narrative style over his emphasis on verisimilitude.
(26) According to Daniel Ferrer, the "Aeolus" episode was originally written in this "initial style" and only later revised to its current form, punctuated by newspaper headlines.
(27) While it is widely asserted that modernist novels do not have a plot, see recent reconsiderations of plot in Ulysses in Therese Fischer-Seidel and Margot Norris (13-14).
(28) Aristotle says, "As for the art of imitation in narrative verse, it is clear that the plots ought (as in tragedy) to be constructed dramatically" (38).
(29) The fact that the Blooms still have one child--their daughter, Milly--does not make up for the loss of their son, perhaps partly because (as several instances in the novel suggest) Bloom sees Milly as an extension or copy of her mother: "Molly. Milly. Same thing watered down" (6.87-90). See also Bloom imagining Milly becoming a sexual adult woman (4.444-50), Milly and Molly on the same menstrual cycle (13.785), and referring to Milly as Marionette (15.540).
(30) In the schemeJoyce sent toJohn Quinn, the numbering of episodes in the "Odyssey" section restarts at 1, so that both Stephen's and Bloom's first episodes are numbered 1, 2, 3 (3 Sept. 1920, Letters 145).
(31) Critical treatment of Stephen's theory about Hamlet, and of Bloom as father-figure to Stephen, has a long history, though to my knowledge no one frames those themes in terms of Aristotle's poetics or an economy of action. See for example, Jennifer Levine's chapter on Ulysses and Gian Balsamo's "The Reluctant Son: Satire of the Epics and Tragedies of Lineage in 'Scylla and Charybdis.'"
(32) Margot Norris ranks Stephen's lecture, along with Molly's decision to have an affair, as a "momentous action in the plot of Ulysses" (240).
(33) The parent-child dynamic does not map perfectly onto this triumvirate of protagonists--for instance, Molly's soliloquy includes her sexual fantasies about Stephen (18.1351-4)--but that fact reiterates that openness to the other is central to Joyce's modification to Aristotle's unity of action.
(34) Joyce constructs his plot in terms of this crucial day, using flashbacks to convey the significance of beginning and intervening events rather than starting the discourse with Rudy's death and offering every event since then. Aristotle praises Homer for his verse-form (a high proportion of direct speech) and for similarly constructing the plot in terms of a single action, Odysseus's homecoming, rather than the whole war (38-39). However, Joyce's explicit allusion to the Odyssey does not account for the novel's tightness of form and plot.
(35) See Benjamin Boysen's essay connecting Stephen's amor matris with Bloom's proximity within the text, Marylu Hill's discussion of maternal selfhood in the context of the first three episodes of Ulysses, and Brenda Oded's discussion of Stephen's search for the mother.
(36) This link between Rudy's death and the last instances of sexual contact is most clearly established at the end of "Ithaca" (17.2271-2292).
(37) Some of that appeal comes directly to Bloom's awareness: see Mr Power's reference to "madame (6.224), Bloom remembering Bartell d'Arcy escorting Molly home after practice (8.181-3), and Nosey Flynn asking after Mrs Bloom's singing (8.763-88). In other instances, that appeal comes to the reader's awareness when it is conveyed between other characters without Bloom's knowledge: see the conversation between Menton and Lambert (6.695-98), Lenehan's story to M'Coy (10.545-74), Simon Dedalus talking about her (11.496-515), the Cyclops narrator praising her beauty (12.1003-07), and the list of Molly's suitors (17.2132-42).
(38) Marian Eide argues that this response to the other, preserving and yet honoring the other's difference, is at the heart of an ethical consideration that can be traced through Joyce's oeuvre: "For Joyce the first ethical consideration is the experience and expression of sympathy within the preservation of difference. In other words ethical response makes possible a communion that does not obscure necessary separation" (4). See also her discussion of Stephen's coming to knowledge through ethical sympathy (62-70).
(39) Eide notes that empathy is often understood as more valuable than sympathy because the former involves the bringing of the other into the self, while the latter retains a kind of distance. She prefers the concept of sympathy in her discussion of ethics, however, because sympathy preserves the particularly compelling value of coming to know and acknowledge--even feel responsible for--the other, in spite of differences and distance (69, 165 n. 29). I consider Stephen's approach to the other to be sympathetic in this sense, while Bloom's approach to the other is better described as empathic.
(40) Bloom notes the hypocrisy and over-moralizing leveled at prostitution (13.841-43), proudly contrasts Molly with other wives (13.965-74), and accepts and forgives Boylan (13.1275-78). See also his acceptance of his place in a line of suitors and his lack of desire for vengeance in "Ithaca" (17.2126-31, 2169-2226).
(41) The convergence of seemingly distinct plotlines suggests the novel does not follow an Aristotelian double plot structure (as the Odyssey does), which produces good outcomes for bad characters and bad outcomes for good characters, and does not produce the appropriate pleasure of tragedy (Aristotle 22).
(42) This dynamic is obviously set up by the parallel with Telemachus and Odysseus. In "Circe," for example, a sober Bloom helps keep Stephen out of trouble and even keeps track of Stephen's hat and ashplant (15.4278-4947, particularly 4278-85, 4511, 4732-33, 4749-50, 4808-09, 4838-41, 4920-21).
(43) They are not literally father and son, the characters themselves might not view themselves as father and son, and there are many other ways to interpret their dif ferences and their relationship to each other (for example, in terms of contrasts, i.e., the everyman and the intellectual).
(44) Margot Norris argues of "Ithaca" that the style and Stephen's anti-Semitic song make the episode a kind of anti-climax (199, 213).
(45) Joyce writes about these episodes in terms of each other, though not consistently. To Budgen on 6 Sept 1921 he writes, "To understand Penelope well you should have an idea of Ithaca" (Letters 172), while to Weaver he says, "[Ithaca] is in reality the end as Penelope has no beginning, middle or end" (7 Oct. 1921, Letters 172).
(46) Many critics--perhaps most recently Norris--insist that the promise of an enduring, mutually beneficial relationship between Stephen and the Blooms will likely go unfulfilled; see also Schiffer. I am more interested in the impact of this symbiosis on the narrative discourse and the structure of action in the novel than I am in the future of these actual characters as people.
(47) Christopher DeVault and Declan Kiberd (355-56) also interpret the Blooms' reunion in terms of reconciliation.
(48) Several critics have explored this lack of closure in Ulysses. Margot Norris sites the "absolute incompleteness or gap that seals a work of fiction after the last word" (263) that denies any satisfying closure, even after the promise of Stephen's and Bloom's evening, and the revelation in "Penelope" that the Blooms' problems are "soluble" (262-63). Paul Schiffer's essay links the lack of actual closure in the novel to narrative modes, and reads the novel's ending as an opening up: "an immediate and particular world, then, reasserts itself at the very close of Ulysses and whirls off into space together with the final mystery and promise of a wider, undisclosed order" (297).
(49) This dualism or inclusiveness of happiness with sadness, joy with terror, echoes Nietzsche's early philosophy of the ideal tragedy from The Birth of Tragedy, where the Apollonian impulse to order is tempered by the more chaotic, dynamic impulse of the Dionysian. Although Newton argues that most high modernists do not embrace Nietzsche's idea of tragedy and are only influenced by his assertion that art is not about reality or mimesis (121-22), Joyce adapts the formal constraints of Aristotle's poetics to a Nietzschean philosophy of life.
(50) Joyce makes explicit the shift in subject matter when he contrasts "spirit" with its tangible manifestation, its "house": "It might be said fantastically that as soon as men and women began life in the world there was above them and about them, a spirit, of which they were dimly conscious [. . . ] we must distinguish [the spirit] and his house" ("Drama" 41).
(51) For discussions of experimental forms in Ulysses, see Franz Stanzel's classic narratological approach, Erwin Steinberg's discussion of stream of consciousness, and Tony Thwaites's more recent treatment of the style as topological.
(52) See the early episodes in Ulysses: "Telemachus," "Nestor," "Calypso," "Lotus Eaters," "Hades," "Lestrygonians," and "Wandering Rocks."
(53) The term "focalizer" (as an alternative to the "narrator" that merely tells and "point of view" that merely sees) refers to the perspectival filter of narrative information that expresses the opinions, attitudes, experiences, and even voice of the focalized character. See Gerard Genette (161-211) and Manfred Jahn (94-108). I use the term "external focalization" not in the sense proposed by Genette--whichJahn characterizes as an outside view "reporting what would be visible and audible to a virtual camera" (98)--but rather in the sense developed by Mieke Bal, which combines and subsumes Genette's ideas of external and non-focalization; see Bal's Narratology and "Narration and Focalization." See also ongoing developments of "narrator" (Margolin) and "focalization" (Koppe and Klauk; Niederhoff) in The Living Handbook of Narratology.
(54) Examining the stylistic changes in terms of the composition history offers other, non-mutually exclusive explanations: for example, the hard deadlines of The Little Review and The Egoist ended with the installment of part of "Oxen of the Sun" in late 1920, so Joyce's composition of the last four episodes did not have the same editorial time constraints (Stacey Herbert), at least until his self-imposed deadline of publication by his fortieth birthday (Daniel Ferrer).
(55) Karen Lawrence made a similar kind of argument, suggesting that the first six chapters of the novel serve as a model for reading the following episodes.
(56) While one could read "Nausicaa" as Gerty's episode, she is not the only focalizer in the episode, and arguably her focalization serves Bloom's story just as her actions serve his desires.
(57) Richard Ellmann and Stuart Gilbert do not entirely agree about Joyce's attitude toward the English language. Ellmann refers to the dismantling and rebuilding of the language as "systematic attacks upon conventional English" (SelectedLetters 214), while Gilbert writes, "it seemed to some that he was using his incomparable com mand of the English tongue merely to play havoc with it. There is nothing, however, in the Letters to suggest that Joyce had any such subversive purpose" or that he held a grudge against the language (27).
(58) "Sirens" presents the discourse of music, while the style of "Cyclops" mimics the blustery rhetoric of pub culture. It is narrated in first person by an individual who is both an unnamed, judgmental member of the storyworld and at the same time a literary construct that assumes, at random, a rotation of highly mediated professional discourses (legal, journalistic, etc.)(Blamires 118-33). "Oxen of the Sun" mockingly rehearses styles of the literary tradition, where their highly mediated conventionality has a distancing effect. The final three episodes explore different kinds of realism and attest to the limitations of those realist forms: In "Eumeaus" the slow pace mimics the protagonists' sleepiness (Budgen 249), while the pseudo-realist narrative discourse relies on comparably lazy language, where extensive cliches and hyperbole layer the language and prevent immediacy. The "mathematical" catechism, as Joyce calls it, in "Ithaca" strives for fact, making explicit the notion that seeking and providing information do not produce clarity or likeness but rather obscure the reader's view with so much information that it is, as Budgen writes, "unassimilable" (257). As Joyce tells Budgen, in "Ithaca" the reader will "know everything and know it in the baldest coldest way" (257). "Ithaca" shows the trouble of too much information and knowing on the part of the narrator/focalizer, while the stream of consciousness style in "Penelope"--which might be deemed "psychological realism"--shows the alienating effect of an unmediated style that resists formal rigor.
(59) Though story time diverges from page time due to the narrative play of these episodes, the episodes do not depart from the physical location--the sights, sounds, voices--of the rooted moment. As Frank Budgen argues convincingly, even "Circe"--the longest and most fantastical episode and the least "real" or rooted in physical reality, and, ironically, the episode offered explicitly in dramatic form--mimetically recreates the hallucinatory daydream that, he says, ought to be wholly familiar to the average reader, where each surreal transformation in the episode happens exactly the way the text says it happens, mediated sparingly by parenthetical stage directions and speech tags.
(60) Richard Ellmann and Ellsworth Mason remark that, in distinguishing between the classical modes, Joyce "covertly award[s] the palm to drama as the most impersonal" (142). The words "impersonal," "detached," and "distinterested" should not be mistaken for the impersonality articulated by T. S. Eliot in "Tradition and the Individual Talent" (where the poet has "not a 'personality' to express"), for the disinterestedness of Bloomsbury formalists, or even for the detachment of the artist in A Portrait. Stuart Gilbert asserts that "in his published writing [Joyce] practised a deliberate detachment, in keeping with the conception of the artist set forth in A Portraif (30), but Joyce's letters to Budgen "show that Joyce was emotionally affected by his material and entered into the lives of the characters who filled his thoughts during the Zurich period . . . . This is a far cry from the godlike detachment of the artist preconized by his young aesthete of A Portrait' (36-37). A series of scholars have questioned and revised the notion of Joyce as an impersonal artist; most notably, John Paul Riquelme argues that impersonality in the narrator(s) throughout Ulysses is a myth and should be understood as another persona ("Enjoying").
(61) Criticism of this type is leveled at high modernism more broadly by Georg Lukacs. "The Ideology of Modernism" offers an indictment of the modernist ideology that celebrates the pathology of subjectivity, emphasizes form to the exclusion of history, and is a product of capitalist alienation. Even as early as 1914 Lukacs argues in Theory of the Novel that the novel is a modified, inferior epic because it reflects a set of historical conditions that have lost their sense of totality (60-61). Lukacs establishes an absolute link between art and historical, social conditions, and thus anticipates his later explicitly Marxist criticism.
(62) On the relationship between Ulysses and the active reader, see John Paul Riquelme's Teller and Tale, which explores the reader's response to shifting relations between narration and narrator. Ryan Guth argues that the reader must make decisions about how to negotiate the first person narrative voice and the thirty-two different rhetorical styles in "Cyclops," demonstrating how "we as readers have become implicated in the construction of the novel" (762). Similarly, Jennifer Levine's exploration of "Aeolus" and "Oxen of the Sun" suggests that it is precisely in "the places where connections come unstuck and the weaving frays" that "the playfulness of the text [of Ulysses] implicates the reader and allows itself to be seen" (146).
(63) See also Marian Eide, whose argument about the ethics of engaging alterity while maintaining responsibility to the other applies to the relationship between text and reader, where reading is based on partnership (23-27).
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|Publication:||Papers on Language & Literature|
|Date:||Sep 22, 2015|
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