I go to encounter for the millionth time : the role of revision in Joyce's exploration of identity by Erin M. Fitzgerald.
Author(s)Fitzgerald, Erin M. (Erin Mae)
Role of revision in Joyce's exploration of identity
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Humanities.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. School of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences. Literature Section.
Diana Henderson and David Thorburn.
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Introduction: James Joyce is perhaps the most talked about and least read major writer in the English language. Virtually every modernist class and every book or article on Joyce eventually reaches a point where the professor or author admits this adverse truth. Joyce's dense prose demands a reader's unwavering attention and acuity; the complicated symbolism expects the reader to be perceptive (and oftentimes knowledgeable) enough to recognize connections and ideas which the author refuses explicitly to state. This inaccessibility is doubly unfortunate. It is unfortunate first because, as one of the towering figures in the modernist movement, Joyce made invaluable and innovative contributions to literature. Second, because Joyce's art meticulously draws from the experiences he had growing up in turn-of-the-century Ireland, it vividly evokes a country oppressed from without by imperialistic Great Britain and from within by strict religious conservatism, a nation wracked by bitter political division and tired from centuries of battling British rule. Trevor Williams writes in Reading Joyce Politically that a student once asked him why it was important for a modern world plagued by its own troubles of impoverished third world countries to read Joyce: "We must study Joyce today, I said, because his life and work, originating from a colonialist context, address intimately the problems caused by unequal relationships, whether spiritual or material." In Joyce's bildungsroman A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man he explores the problem of competing identities in a colonized, oppressed culture; the book's message, however, only fully emerges once we examine not just the words Joyce uses for his story but also the order in which they come in-that is, the novel's structure. When looking at Portrait's structure, the fifth and final chapter of the book seems, upon first reading, unnecessary. Edward Garnett, the literary advisor for the publishing firm Duckworth and Company, to whom Joyce first submitted his novel, advised the publishing firm to decline the manuscript, noting that "at the end of the book there is a complete falling to bits; the pieces of writing and the thoughts are all in pieces and they fall like damp, ineffective rockets" (Joyce 320). In the century of Joyce criticism which has followed Garnett's review, countless critics have speculated why Joyce did not end his novel with the climactic close of Chapter IV, at which point Stephen stands at the edge of the shore, looks out over the waves, and discovers his calling to be an artist; they have come to vastly different conclusions. Harry Levin sees the fifth chapter as "the discursive chronicle of Stephen's rebellion" in which Joyce painstakingly develops what Stephen's approach to art will be once he leaves Ireland (22). Conversely Hugh Kenner interprets the chapter as one in which Joyce clearly removes his support from Stephen and demonstrates that his protagonist is incapable of becoming a true artist. Kenner believes "it is quite plain from the final chapter of the Portrait that we are not to accept the mode of Stephen's 'freedom' as the 'message' of the book...The dark intensity of the first four chapters is moving enough, but our impulse on being confronted with the final edition of Stephen Dedalus is to laugh." My goal in this work is to explore the purpose of Chapter V and discover how it fits into the structure of the novel as a whole. Joyce separated Chapter V into four distinct sections, delineating each section with a line of asterisks. I will be referring to each of the segments as Section 1, 2, 3, and 4, respectively. Section 1 opens as Stephen finishes drinking tea at home and prepares to leave for class at his university; the section concludes at the end of Stephen's discussion with Lynch, during which he expounds upon his aesthetic theory. Section 2 begins with Stephen having just awoken from a dream and ends with the villanelle he has composed piece by piece throughout the section typed out in full. The start of Section 3 finds Stephen standing on the library steps: he is watching a flock of birds flying above him, romantically trying to read his future in the patterns of their flight. The section follows Stephen's conversation with Cranly about his decision to leave the Catholic Church and finishes with Stephen's declaration that he is willing to accept complete isolation from his community-which he defines as home, fatherland, and church-in order to express himself as freely as he can and create true art. Section 4 comprises a series of journal entries, the first of which is a description of Stephen's talk with Cranly the day before and the last of which is a prayer to the pagan Dedalus to support Stephen as he leaves Ireland and follows his calling to become an artist. ...
Thesis (S.B. in Literature)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Humanities, 2009.Includes bibliographical references (p. 63-64).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Literature Section; Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Department of Humanities
Massachusetts Institute of Technology