JORGE CATALÁ CARRASCO
TITLE OF THE PAPER: EXPLORATION IN THE WORLD OF DUBLINERS
MY PAPER IS BASED IN JAMES JOYCE AND HIS NOVEL DUBLINERS
SUMMARY OF THE RESEARCH
I will treat to study the book Dubliners. My interest in the book
consists in the narrative structure of the shorts stories and in the predominant
marks or themes such as: alcohol, close society, religion... I would like
also to explore the beginnings of the stream of consciousness, that later
was developed in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man or in Ulysses.
It is also interesting to study the strange endings of the stories, in
which we can find an Epiphany. Finally I will talk about the relation between
the tale The Dead and the film directed by John Huston, based in
the story of James Joyce.
Academic year 1998/1999
© a.r.e.a./Dr.Vicente Forés López
© Jorge Luis Catalá Carrasco
Universitat de València Press
The death of Father Flynn is the main fact of this tale and all around
with it, because we can see the attitude of the sisters ( they are very
sad and they pray for her brother ) and, of course, the relationship between
Father Flynn and his young pupil. I think this is the best part of the
story because Joyce has got ( through the mind of this young boy
) show us which are the feelings and what does his mentor’s
death mean for him. He is a little bit dizzy and he does not know
what he must to do. He is quiet and I want to emphasize that when he is
in the wake of his mentor he images that he could be laughing in his coffin.
I mean that this is an indicative mark of the end of the tale because after
that, Eliza tells that one day, they found Father Flynn in the church,
laughing quietly and then she says that it indicates that he, at last,
was not sane.
I think that this is a simple story but its simplicity makes that we can identify us with it and this is a predominant mark in all the book. James Joyce tells us stories that are very near to all of us and so that we can see some similar things of this Irish society in our own life.
Religion is a constant in this book and here, in this tale, we have an example in which Joyce wants to escape of this catholic and close religion but, actually, we know he can not do it.
From my point of view the Epiphany of this short story could be the thought of the boy about his mentor joined with the end of the tale.
This is a strange story and it affects the
reader because Joyce plays with the things that you expect are going to
happen and then, he changes the story and makes it completely different
There is in the tale a narrator ( a child who looks things in a particular vision ) and there are other characters like little boy’s friends, specially Mahony, because both of them have an adventure that they do not expect. In fact, the narrator is the only one who lives a very strange and terrifying encounter.
The whole story is influenced by West stories about Indians and cowboys because children play about it, but they want to have an adventure and they plan an excursion not very far from home, although for them, going out alone is an exciting experience. It looks that we are reading a typical story about children but then an old man appears and all changes. He talks to children and at first he seems to be a liberal man because he talks about girlfriends without prejudices and even the protagonist thinks that his attitude is not normal but after that his behaviour changes and he thinks absolutely different than few minutes ago. I think that perhaps these two forms of thoughts mean two different ways to see life in Irish society and this, saw it by a child, is extremely confused and terrifying.
In this tale also religion, childhood, a close society..., are predominant marks like in THE SISTERS and this short story has a surprising ending too, so readers can interpret this ending of many several ways. I think this is very good in Joyce’s writing and finally I want to emphasize that the Epiphany of this tale ( if actually there is an Epiphany )
could be again the strange ending that shocks ingenuous readers like me.
We can see in this tale that themes have
changed a lot in relation to the two tales of before because, here, we
are not reading a childhood story about strange adventures or confusing
situations for a little boy.
There are two main characters. One of them is Lenehan, a not-so-young man who does not have a job and Corley, his gigolo friend who gets money form girls ( a prostitute in this case ).
Through the story Joyce indicates many places, streets, squares, colleges with names and surnames and it looks that he wants to show us Dublin like a common city where we can identify people but only with the difference of the names.
While two protagonists are going to meet with a girl, they walk for many streets and as they are walking and also talking we can discover what is their behaviour and many other things.
However, I think the most important of this story could be the period of time when Lenehan is waiting for his friend because this talkative man be quiet and he thinks of his life, future and perhaps hopelessness can summarize his attitude in relation to his life.
Apart of that, I want to remark again this curious ending because it looks that Joyce likes to write special endings for his tales in order to leave reader thoughtful and also maybe surprised.
THE BOARDING HOUSE
The plot of this story is quite simple (
like in the other tales ). Mrs. Mooney, the owner of a boarding house conspires
with her daughter, Polly, to force Mr. Doran ( Polly´s lover and
a boarder in the house ) to marry Polly. Characters are described with
some notes and with this short information we are able to imagine all the
But if we have to find the main character, I think Mrs. Mooney is the protagonist because in only eight pages we see that she is a clever woman who earns money and she has a strong behaviour. She is also methodical and she thinks and evaluates facts before doing something. Mrs. Mooney is a religious woman and she trusts in religion and in this close society to marry Polly, her daughter, with a well situated man who does not want a scandal because he has a good job.
For Mr. Doran this situation is very complicated because on the one hand his morale does not permit that he gives up Polly in spite of nobody obliges him but close society and strong moral of Dublin ( again ) would drown him.
I would like to emphasize that Mrs. Mooney is an archetype of woman because everybody knows in his neighbourhood a woman like Mrs. Mooney and also literature is full of this archetypal women. For example in the novel LA BUSCA by Pío Baroja , “ Doña Casiana “ is quite similar to this woman and I remembered this character when I was reading the tale. This is another characteristic of Joyce’s style because he wants to show us some characters that are common to already all societies. Besides, stream of consciousness is very clear in this tale because we can see what are thinking about the problem Mrs. Mooney, Mr. Doran...
A LITTLE CLOUD
This tale is about an encounter of two friends
when have passed some years. One of them, Gallaher, left Ireland and travelled
along Europe and has triumphed like a journalist and he has a job in an
English newspaper. The another man is Chicco Chandler, who also likes writing
but he has not had good luck with his aspirations. He has a family and
also he is shy and because of that he could not leave Ireland like his
friend. Now, he sees, jealous, that he has got all that he would have wanted.
I think main theme is exile to get fame because in the country is already impossible. Joyce also left Ireland and it looks a constant in Irish writers of this period.
Chicco Chandler thinks about if his book will success and if people will like it for its quality. From my point of view all these things have a direct relation with Joyce because he wrote these tales when he was in his twenties and I think he would wonder if he was going to triumph with his books.
This is a hard story about a man, Farrington,
who is an alcoholic. He works in an office and he has bad relations with
his boss, who is very strict and he likes humiliating Farrington when he
has not done his work. In one of this discussions the protagonist answers
to a question with irony and his boss get angry and he humiliates him and
asks him to apologize for his attitude and he does it. After, this situation
will be repeated more times with his friends at bar.
Joyce relates the story of a man with the problem of alcohol, another predominant mark in these tales. In this case he even sales his watch to pay some beers. I like when he is at office but he is only thinking about drinking beers with his friends at bar and so, he will forget the day with his stupid boss.
He has too many stress and he thinks that his only exit is alcohol. Violence is also predominant in this short story, so as Farrington can not hit his boss, when he arrives at home, drunk and very angry with everybody, he hits his son Tom, a little boy who finally, in another fantastic ending, prays for his father.
A PAINFUL CASE
James Joyce has given us a sad and melancholy
about the relationship between a man, Mr. Duffy and a woman, Mrs. Sinico.
Some different and also common marks make this tale one of the best of
the book. For example the protagonist, Mr. Duffy, is not a religious man,
he does not have many friends like most of the other characters in the
book but he has again a strong morality, difficult to understand it, so
at the end of the story he will hate that morality.
Then we can see a lonely man who one day knows a woman and then, step by step, a good relationship makes that Mr. Duffy can share his thoughts with “ a friend “. Mrs. Sinico is married but her husband is a sailor ( a captain of a ship ) and because of that they do not have problems to go out...
The problem comes when Mrs. Sinico ( that has fallen in love with him ) wants to show these feelings to Mr. Duffy. He does not understand her attitude and a little bit upset he decides to end the relationship. After that, he summarizes this problem writing that friendship between a man and a woman is impossible because it must have sex.
So he goes on with his solitary life but after four years he is eating something in a restaurant and looks with care in a newspaper this title: A Painful Case. He surprised reads that Mrs. Sinico has dead in an accident with a train. He discovers that two years before, she started drinking alcohol and he gets angry because he thinks she was not ready to live in this hard world. But his attitude changes while he is remembering things about her and finally he is angry with himself because owing to his stupid morality he did not want to share her love and he thinks this is the reason why she is dead.
Then he understands her solitude and he wonders that he is now alone ( before he did not worry to be alone ) and he will be suffering this loneliness since death comes. Last sentence is a summary of all of that because he feels that he is alone.
Joyce is showing us a world, a society, through people and their problems. But he wants to insist in common themes: close society, religion, morality, alcohol, friends... Reading these tales we have an idea of Dublin and Dubliners, so if we read A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN we can understand better Stephen’s problems with religion, friends, family, prostitutes...
This tale, the longest of the book, is considered
for most of people the best and, in fact this story has main characteristics
of Joyce’s writing in Dubliners.
The author has written a longer story developing better the characters for instance. He does not make a description of them. He uses conversations, thoughts, attitudes, etc, for showing us how are they and this is really original. Although there are other tales that, in few pages, like A PAINFUL CASE or THE BOARDING HOUSE are written with his particular style and from my point of view are fantastic because they are shorter than THE DEAD but they also contain most of characteristics of this tale.
In this story we can see that in conversations Joyce uses frequently stream of consciousness, so inside the dialogue we see character’s thoughts and, though this style is not perfectionated ( I prefer A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN ) it is the beginning of his later style that will culminate in ULYSSES.
But in order to continue with this idea I would like to remark that we have some information in the story about a discourse that Gabriel must to do. So he thinks about it and in several occasions he remembers some things in relation to it. However we do not know the meaning of these thoughts and later, when he has finished the speech, we have the answer to our questions. I think this is great because it makes that readers are active in the reading. Besides, this tale has also predominant marks like alcohol ( Freddy Malins ), politic problems ( Miss Ivors against Gabriel because he is a journalist in the Daily Express ) and I think the main characteristic is that we all can feel these situations are near of us and I think Joyce has got to create a world with names and surnames and this world is Dublin in Ireland but it could be another place only changing little things.
COMMENTARIES ABOUT THE DEAD'S FILM VERSION
The Dead (1987)
1987, Color, 82 minutes.
Directed by John Huston
Screenplay by Walter Anthony Huston
Cinemotography by Fred Murphy
Music by Alex North
Produced by Wieland Schulz-Keil & Chris Sievernich
Cast (in order of credits)
Agelica Huston . . . Gretta Conroy
Donal McCann . . . Gabriel Conroy
Dan O'Herlihy . . . Mr. Browne
Donal Donnelly . . . Freddy Malins
Helena Carroll . . . Aunt Kate
Cathleen Delany . . . Aunt Julia
Ingrid Craigie . . . Mary Jane
Rachael Dowling . . . Lily
Marie Kean . . . Mrs. Malins
Frank Patterson . . . Bartell D'Arcy
Maria McDermottroe . . . Molly Ivors
Sean McClory . . . Mr. Grace
Catherine O'Toole . . . Miss Furlong
Maria Hayden . . . Miss O'Callaghan
Bairbre Dowling . . . Miss Higgins
Lyda Anderson . . . Miss Daly
Colm Meaney . . . Mr. Bergin
Cormac O'Herlihy . . . Mr. Kerrigan
Paul Grant . . .1st Young Gentleman
Paul Carroll . . . 2nd Young Gentleman
Patrick Gallagher . . . 3rd Young Gentleman
Dara Clarke . . . Young Lady
Brendan Dillon . . . Cabman
Redmond Gleeson . . . Nightporter
I will reprint the blurb from
the back of the videocassette case. (I own a copy, having permanently "borrowed"
it from the English department at the school where I taught chemistry.
Heh. Maybe I should've replaced it with a copy of "Zinc: Your Metallic
In this, his final film achievement, legendary director JOHN HUSTON brings the magic of James Joyce to the screen with an evocative drama, a profound elegy to his cinematic career. Huston leads an award-winning production team, an acclaimed cast of Irish players, and directs his daugter, ANGELICA HUSTON, for the first time since their Academy Award-winning collaboration in PRIZZI'S HONOR.
From an Academy Award-nominated sreenplay by TONY HUSTON, THE DEAD takes place in turn-of-the-century Dublin, at a holiday feast vibrant with food and spirit. A young couple at the party, Gretta and Gabriel Conroy, seem to have everything to be grateful for. But that night, a tenor's voice recalls poignant memories, and Gabriel learns of his wife's unforgotten young love. Her secret past is a shattering revelation as he finally sees himself, and indeed, the world of "all the living and the dead."
"Two thumbs up!"
--Siskel & Ebert
"An exquisite film. To be treasured always."
--New York Post
The Brazen Head's Review
A personal review will one day grace this page, I promise! It was a great movie -- I'll just be a bit more specific than that, I suppose. . . .
IMDB's "The Dead" Page -- The Internet Movie Database's page on The Dead.
Amazon.com: "The Dead" -- You can order a videocassette copy of "The Dead" directly through Amazon.com for $14.95
Roger Ebert's Review -- Roger Ebert's review, as posted in the Chicago Sun Times on 18 December 1987. Ebert delivers a very compassionate, respectful, and honest review.
Hal Hinson's Review -- Hal Hinson's review, as posted in the Washington Post on 18 December 1987. Mr. Hinson gives a very positive and quite detailed review.
Desson Howe's Review -- Desson Howe's review, as posted in the Washington Post on 18 December 1987. It is remarkable primarily for the reviewer's superficial understanding of Joyce's story!
Edwin Jaheil's -- Professor Edwin Jahiel's exteremely favorable review, as posted on his movie review Web site.
Joyce in Film (Main Page)
Passages from Finnegans Wake (1965)
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1979)
James Joyce's Women (1985)
Ten Great Writers, Vol. 7: James Joyce (1988)
Famous Author Series: James Joyce (1996)
BLOOM: (His eyes closing, quails expectantly.) Here? (He squirms.) Again! (He pants cringing.) I love the danger. -- Send email to the Great Quail -- comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions . . . all are welcome!
20 February 1999
THE INFORMATION ABOUT THE DEAD'S FILM VERSION HAS BEEN TAKEN FROM INTERNET, YOU CAN FIND THIS INFORMATION IN BRAZEN HEAD OF JAMES JOYCE.
En esta parte del trabajo aportaré alguna información sobre James Joyce, destacando lo que encontrado en la red sobre su biografía, obras, comentarios de profesores y comparaciones con otros autores o artistas de la época como Picasso.
A Joycean Chronology
Much work remains to be done on this
page. Please forgive the many omissions; I hope to rectify the more grievous
ones in time.
On 2 February James Joyce is born to Mary and John Stanislaus Joyce in Rathgar, a suburb south of Dublin's city centre.
Also in 1882, the Invincibles assassinate the chief-secretary and under-secretary in Phoenix Park; later Joyce will frequently allude to this event in both Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
In Galway, Nora Barnacle is born to Thomas and Annie Barnacle on 21 March.
On 17 December Stanislaus Joyce, James's brother, is born.
James Joyce enters Clongowes Wood College in September.
In June, Joyce withdraws from Clongowes due to his father's inability to pay the prestigious Jesuit school's fees.
Charles Stewart Parnell, a dynamic and charismatic leader of Ireland's Home Rule movement, dies in October, after a scandal over adultery splintered his party a year earlier. Joyce writes the poem "Et Tu, Healy," about the betrayal of Parnell by Tim Healy, a close supporter.
The family's declining means forces a reluctant John Joyce to send James and his brothers to the Christian Brothers' school. In April of this year, however, Joyce enrolls in Belevedere College, another Jesuit school, thanks to the assistance of Father John Conmee.
Joyce enters the Sodality of the Blessed Virgin Mary in December, and is elected prefect less than one year later.
Joyce listens to Father John A. Cullen's graphic depiction of eternal damnation in sermons given during the course of a retreat beginning on 30 November. Joyce would later re-create this retreat and these sermons in vivid detail for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Owing to his performance on exams and in an essay competition, Joyce wins academic accolades attended by monetary awards.
Joyce finishes at Belevedere.
During the summer, he begins visiting brothels in the Monto section of Dublin, a seedy part of town north of the Liffey.
In the autumn of 1898, Joyce matriculates at University College Dublin.
Yeats's The Countess Cathleen opens on 8 May, amidst controversy. Joyce, attending the opening performance, refuses to join the majority of his peers in condemning the play as heretical, unethical, and anti-Irish.
Later this year Joyce presents a paper, entitled "Drama and Life," to the University's Literary and Historical Society.
Joyce publishes an article on Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken in the Fortnightly Review. Ibsen sends a letter of thanks to the undergraduate Joyce, who is profoundly moved to receive a message from his literary idol.
Joyce writes "The Day of the Rabblement," attacking the Irish theatrical movement, but is unable to publish it in the University's magazine. Joyce's friend, a radical feminist named Francis Skeffington, also has an article turned down for publication that year. The two classmates decide to publish their work at their own expense, hiring a local printer to produce a pamphlet containing both "The Day of the Rabblement" and Skeffington's essay, "A Forgotten Aspect of the University Question."
Joyce graduates from UCD and leaves for Paris, intending to study medicine.
A telegram informing him of his mother's illness summons Joyce back to Dublin. Mary Joyce dies on 13 August.
Joyce meets Nora Barnacle in June.
That September, he lives for a brief time with Oliver St. John Gogarty and Samuel Chenevix Trench in the Martello tower at Sandycove.
On 8 October, James and Nora leave Dublin for continental Europe. After a number of misadventures, the couple eventually finds themselves in Pola, where Joyce teaches English at a Berlitz School.
In March the Austro-Hungarian Empire expells all foreigners from Pola, and the Joyces move to nearby Trieste, where Joyce finds work in another Berlitz School.
Nora Barnacle gives birth to the couple's son, Giorgio, in Trieste on 27 July.
In October Stanislaus Joyce, Joyce's brother, joins Jim, Nora, and Giorgio in Trieste at James Joyce's urging.
The Joyces move to Rome, where Joyce works at a bank and gives private English lessons. Despite the substantial increase in income, Joyce finds himself miserable in Rome.
The Joyces return to Trieste.
Nora Barnacle gives birth to a daughter, Lucia, on 26 July.
Joyce finishes "The Dead," the final story of Dubliners.
Joyce begins to revise Stephen Hero as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Joyce returns to Dublin twice on business.
The Egoist begins to print Portrait in serial form on Joyce's birthday.
Dubliners is published in June.
Joyce writes Exiles.
The family leaves Trieste for Zurich.
In Dublin, Patrick Pearse and fellow Republicans declare Irish independence during the Easter Rising. Six days of insurrection leave over 500 dead, and intense shelling from British gunboats in the Liffey wreaks destruction in city centre. The execution, and subsequent martyrization, of 15 rebel leaders galvanizes Irish resistance to British rule. Pearse, Joyce's former Irish teacher, and Roger Casement, who figures in the "Cyclops" episode of Ulysses, are among those executed for treason. (Casement, whose appearance in "Cyclops" [U 12.1542-7] suggests a link between imperialism in Ireland and imperialism elsewhere in the so-called "Third World," was not actually present at the Easter Rising, but had unsuccessfully attempted to secure German military assistance for the insurrection.) Among the over 300 civilian casualties of the Uprising is Joyce's former schoolmate Skeffington, an ardent pacifist who is shot by a British soldier while attempting to quell a mob of looters. Yeats writes "Easter 1916" later in this year.
A Portrait of the Artist is published in the States in late December.
Harriet Shaw Weaver, a feminist activist and editor of The Egoist, begins her anonymous patronage of Joyce.
Stricken with glaucoma, Joyce undergoes eye surgery in August.
In the United States, The Little Review begins to publish episodes of Ulysses in serial form.
Joyce attempts to initiate an adulterous affair with Marthe Fleischmann; no conclusive evidence exists to indicate whether or not his attempts were successful.
Joyce and family return to Trieste following the end of the war.
Joyce and family relocate to Paris.
A court case in the U.S. halts the Little Review's publication of Ulysses.
Joyce meets Sylvia Beach.
Sylvia Beach's Parisian bookshop, Shakespeare and Company, publishes Ulysses.
The Irish Free State achieves its independence from Britain; a partition is established excluding the six counties of Northern Ireland from the remainder of the island.
Joyce starts to compose "Work in Progress," later to be published as Finnegans Wake.
Joyce meets Samuel Beckett.
Shakespeare and Company publishes Our Exagmination round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress.
James Joyce and Nora Barnacle marry.
John Joyce, the writer's father, dies.
The Joyces' grandson, Stephen James Joyce, is born to Giorgio and his wife Helen.
Lucia suffers a mental breakdown and is hospitalized.
Judge John Woolsey lifts the ban on Ulysses in the United States. Judge Woolsey's decision provides a rigid legal definition for obscenity: obscene material is that which excites "impure and lustful thoughts" in a man "with average sex instincts." According to Woolsey, Ulysses does not conform to this definition of the obscene. While Woolsey's decision is not a particularly insightful piece of literary criticism, it is a landmark document in the history of literature and the law in the U.S.
The first American edition of Ulysses is published by Random House.
Dr. Carl Jung begins to treat Lucia.
Joyce publishes Finnegans Wake.
The Joyces leave France for neutral Switzerland.
Suffering from a perforated ulcer, Joyce dies in Zurich on 13 January.
Nora Joyce dies in Zurich.
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In the Brothel of Modernism: Picasso and Joyce
by Robert Scholes
Hey what! You here, dear fellow!
You, in a house of ill fame?
You, the drinker of quintessences! You, the ambrosia eater?
Really, this takes me by surprise.
(Charles Baudelaire, "Loss of Halo," Petits Poèmes en prose)
But it is precisely modernity
that is always quoting primeval
history. This happens through the ambiguity attending the social
relationships and products of this epoch. Ambiguity is the
pictorial image of dialectics, the law of dialectics seen at a
standstill. This standstill is utopia and the dialectical image
therefore a dream image. Such an image is presented by the pure
commodity: as fetish. Such an image are the arcades, which are
both house and stars. Such an image is the prostitute, who is
saleswoman and wares in one.
(Walter Benjamin, Reflections, 157)
This essay has existed in a number of forms: as a series
of slides with an
accompanying oral patter, as a written text with no visual illustrations,
and as a lecture with slides, as a chapter in a book, and, now, as a
hypertext with images. In the course of its existence as a lecture, the
view of modernism offered here has met with some serious criticism. The
present version has been modified to respond to that criticism, and it also
includes some material dropped from earlier versions because it seemed
likely that only those with a special interest in Joyce might find it
interesting. The criticism to which I shall be responding was made by
Professor Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, both publicly in a lecture following
my own, and privately, in a letter to me after the public presentation of
this material. I have taken her objections with the utmost seriousness, not
simply because we are old friends (which we are), nor because I have
enormous respect for her learning and her critical intelligence (which I
do), but especially because her objections focus on the role of women in
modernism, which has been a major concern of mine for some years, in the
courses I have taught and in my thinking about cultural history. It was
precisely thinking of modernism in terms of gender that led me to this
subject, that led me to see that Joyce and Picasso were connected, at some
important level, by their interest in the brothel as an aesthetic space.
Let me begin, then, by quoting, from Professor Spivak's
letter to me of 31
January 1991, what I take to be the heart of her objections to my talk:
"there was a qualitative absence of assuming woman as agent of Modernism in
your paper laced with masculist humor and what, in that qualitative
absence, seemed like a voyeurism painful to many of us. I spoke because
many women lamented this after your talk." A serious objection, powerfully
stated. My response is that modernism, especially around its Parisian
center of activity, was indeed a masculist activity that positioned women
voyeuristically and turned would-be agents into patients to an astonishing
extent. The careers of Djuna Barnes and Jean Rhys, for instance, show how
difficult it was--and what a price had to be paid--for a woman to function
as a modernist writer in Paris. My argument, then, is that modernism was
never a level playing field but was a gendered movement, driven by the
anxieties and ambivalences of male artists and writers--anxieties and
ambivalences that worked to bring the figure of the prostitute to the
center of the modernist stage.
Any such argument will be heavily dependent upon definitions.
begin, then, by trying to define and locate modernism as I understand it,
and to explain why Joyce and Picasso are so central to it. In terms of the
history of art and literature, modernism follows impressionism (or
post-impressionism). All of these new movements in art and literature
emerge from a crisis of confidence in aesthetic realism--a crisis shaped by
the development of new means of representation, more mechanical or more
scientific than the arts had been, and by a growing fragmentation in social
life itself. This crisis was marked in painting by the rise of photography
and a turning away from the linear perspectivism first generated by the
camera obscura in the Renaissance--and marked in literature by the rise of
social science and a questioning of the power of a single omniscient
viewpoint to capture social realities for art. In both visual and verbal
art this move away from realism emphasizes the unique perspectives of
individual artists, so that it may be said to complete a Romantic swerve
away from an aesthetic of imitation toward one based on the creator's own
struggle for expression. In the writing of English fiction, impressionism
emerges from the work of Walter Pater and Henry James to flourish in the
hands of Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf, and the early James Joyce,
among others. It is characterized, to an important extent, by an emphasis
on the interior monologue as a form, in which various impressions (directly
from the senses and from memory and imagination as well) are presented as a
stream of prose textuality. Virginia Woolf (who seems to me a writer at
least as interesting as Joyce) remains an impressionist or
post-impressionist throughout her career. In this she is like the painters
to whom she was close--her sister Vanessa and Duncan Grant, for instance.
She never quite becomes a modernist, in my view, though I see this as a
purely descriptive matter rather than an evaluative one. It is only if one
accepts the modernist position on art and literature that becoming a
modernist assumes a crucial evaluative role. And I do not accept that
The modernist position on art is one most of us have internalized
to such a
degree that we take it to be natural. To free ourselves from it we need to
situate it and examine its workings with a more critical eye. I now see
modernism as a late--perhaps the last?--phase of the Romantic movement in
art and letters. From Romanticism, modernism gets its emphasis on
originality, on the need to make things "new"--to be perpetually innovative
at the level of both form and content. It is their perpetual restlessness
and formal innovation, among other things, that have put Joyce and Picasso
at the center of modernist art and literature. And from Romanticism
modernism also gets its sense of the artist as a kind of secular priest or
prophet, whose role it is to purify the language of the tribe or free
vision from the shackles of older perspectives, and whose struggle to
accomplish this is held to be interesting in itself. And finally, it is
from Romanticism that modernism gets its special form of classicism, an
emphasis on myths and archetypes that buttress the modernist claims to
timely originality with equally powerful claims to the representation of
eternal archetypes or recurring aspects of reality. In modernist literature
such archetypal gestures produce what T. S. Eliot himself called "the
mythic method" of writing.
By the standards of this classical modernism, it is Virginia
refusal to be sufficiently avant-gardist in form and subject matter that
relegate her to what Hugh Kenner has called "provincial" status with
respect to modernism, and, in the case of Gertrude Stein, who was as
avant-gardist as one could wish, it is her refusal to be mythic and
archetypal that keeps her on the margins of modernist writing. Let me
hasten to say again that I am not making value judgments here. Woolf and
Stein are two of the writers of this period to whom I find myself
continually returning, both for the pleasure of reading them and because of
their importance in the history of modern culture. In the case of Stein, it
is fair to say that she moved directly toward post-modernism in her
"portrait" style, without lingering in modernism. In the case of Woolf, she
found room for further development of impression in ways that suited her
chosen subject matter extremely well. Her work has lasted because she
solved the problems of impressionism much more successfully than Dorothy
Richardson, for example, who never found the best way to focus her obvious
talent as an impressionist so as to give narrative as well as descriptive
power to her enormous text. By way of contrast, we might think of Proust,
also a late or post-impressionist, who solved the narrative problem
Other women writing fiction in English during the modern
period found other
viable solutions to the breakdown of realism, without feeling it necessary
to attain the level of flamboyant experimentalism so characteristic of
modernism and so obvious in Joyce. I think of May Sinclair, E. H. Young, E.
M. Delafield, Rebecca West, Elizabeth Von Arnim, Rose Macaulay, Rosamund
Lehman, Storm Jameson, Ivy Compton-Burnett, and Winifred Holtby--a list
that could be extended. Nor do I mean to exclude the cases of those
international figures whose relationships to modernism are problematic in
various ways, such as Djuna Barnes, Jean Rhys, Katherine Mansfield, Hilda
Doolittle, and Kay Boyle. One could produce durable fiction during the
heyday of modernism without being entirely, or even mainly, a modernist.
That is part of my point. But another part of it is that the modernists
were adept at claiming the central aesthetic ground. They made artistic
life difficult for many writers who lacked patrons, who needed to be
published and read regularly for financial reasons or simply did not share
the modernist aesthetic. And one of the ways they made life difficult will
be the burden of the bulk of this essay.
My claim here, is that modernism as a literary and artistic
to have been structured in such a way as to exclude, marginalize, and
devalue the work of women--or to extract a price from them that hampered
their development. This can be traced in specific historical incidents,
such as the attacks on her intellectual integrity that damaged the
reputation of Edith Sitwell during her career as a modernist poet, or the
rejections by publishers of Stevie Smith's poetry along with instructions
to her to go and write a novel, or the seduction of Jean Rhys by Ford Madox
Ford as a way of assisting her with her career, or the impregnation of
Rebecca West by H. G. Wells, which hindered West's progress in getting
established as a writer, or the misogynistic and anti-semitic attack of
Wyndham Lewis on Gertrude Stein's prose, or Ezra Pound's expulsion of Amy
Lowell from the imagists--and so on. Modernism's exclusion or
marginalization of women can also be shown in the extraordinary role that
prostitution played in the development as modernists of those two giants of
the movement, Joyce and Picasso--and that is the burden of the following
We begin with a myth. The Roman poet Ovid tells us how
Pasiphae, the wife
of king Minos of Crete, desired sexual contact with a bull and hid herself
inside a wooden cow to achieve this. This offspring of this unnatural love
was a creature half man and half bull, called the Minotaur. Embarrassed by
the existence of this creature who partly bore his name and made his wife's
shame visible to all, Minos hired an architect named Daedalus to construct
a labyrinth in which the Minotaur could be hidden away. In the midst of
this maze the monster lived, and was given girls and boys from Athens to
feast upon at regular intervals, until the hero Theseus killed him.
Daedalus, desiring to leave the island of Crete, set his mind to unknown
arts and designed wings for flight. He and his son Icarus flew off the
island, but Icarus, ignoring his father's prudent flight plan, flew too
high, so that the sun melted the wax holding his wings together, and he
fall into the sea where he drowned. This familiar story has a strange
connection with modern art, which I shall make plain in a moment, but first
I must tell, very briefly the stories of two lives.
In late October of 1881 a child was born in Málaga,
Spain, just across the
sea from Africa, who was destined to become the richest and most famous of
modern artists. His name was Pablo Ruiz Picasso, and it is said that he
could draw before he could speak. His father was an artist, and legend has
it that the young Picasso painted so well that his father gave the boy his
own palette and brushes and vowed never to paint again, since his son had
surpassed him. Picasso grew up in Barcelona and attended art school there,
but moved to Paris early in the twentieth century. There he soon attracted
attention as a painter, but he was never satisfied with any one mode of art
and kept innovating relentlessly, developing the cubist mode of painting
but then abandoning his followers, ever moving onward toward new methods,
new media, and new ways of recycling found objects and old artifacts.
Whenever modernism in the arts is mentioned, Picasso's name holds a central
A few months after Picasso was born, in February of 1882,
a boy was born in
Dublin, Ireland who was destined to share with Picasso a central position
in modernism. Christened James Augustine Joyce, he was exceptionally gifted
as a writer, as precocious with words as Picasso was with visual forms. He,
too, was drawn to Paris, arriving there first in the same year as Picasso
but not settling there until after the first World War. He did not become
rich, but he did become a figure as dominant in modern letters as Picasso
was in visual art, whose relelentless formal innovations kept the rest of
the literary world panting helplessly behind him. It is a curious fact that
these two men, born in Catholic countries far from the centers of culture
and power in modern Europe, came to live in Paris, the city that Walter
Benjamin called "The Capitol of the Nineteenth Century," and helped to make
it the capitol of modernism as well.
These two are linked by other curious facts, so many that
becomes, as Alice said, curiouser and curiouser, the more we look into it.
Such looking is just what I propose we do on this occasion. We can begin
this enterprise by noting how they come together most strikingly of all
through the mythic structure I have cited from Ovid. Picasso regularly
thought of himself and painted himself in the figure of the Minotaur, as a
brutal creature with a man's body with a bull's head, the devourer of
youths and maidens, ruthless but fascinating in his Nietzschean exultation,
in which creation and destruction were merged. Joyce, on the other hand,
regularly thought of himself and represented himself in the figure of
Daedalus, setting his mind to unknown arts, escaping from his island
prison, and building labyrinths of textuality. As the Minotaur, raging
against his imprisonment in the labyrinths of tradition, Picasso shares the
same myth of self-definition as Joyce, as the indefatigable builder of new
labyrinths in which to capture in a web of words the monstrosity of modern
I am not suggesting that these two encountered one another
life, for they did not, Picasso once even refusing to paint Joyce's
portrait when asked. But they belong together nonetheless, not only because
they chose different aspects of the same myth in which to figure
themselves, but because they shared a preoccupation with bestiality that
was intimately connected with the formal innovations that gave each of them
a dominant position in modern art. Moreover, at a crucial moment, each of
them chose to embody his most striking formal innovations, aesthetic
breakthroughs that changed the face of modern art and literature
altogether, in scenes that share an astonishing number of formal and
thematic features. These breakthroughs came, for each one of them, as he
labored furiously to present a scene set in a house of prostitution,
located in the city in which he had spent his youth. This fact, I want to
argue, is a coincidence of such monstrous proportions that it requires our
most serious consideration if we are to understand what modernism itself
was all about. Any such consideration will reveal that modernism and the
representation of prostitution are linked in ways that extend well beyond
the two texts on which we shall be focussing our attention here.
The idea that there is a special relationship between
modernism is not a new one. T. J. Clark, Charles Bernheimer and others have
drawn our attention to this powerfully in recent years. But for me the
connection of Joyce and Picasso to this theme--and to one another--did not
become clear until I taught a course at Brown University on the work of
these two modern artists. And even then, I did not quite grasp the
situation until I happened, while trapped in a motel in Indianapolis, to
see on television a film by Louis Malle called Pretty Baby. Let me tell you
about that film. The action takes place in New Orleans during the First
World War--in a brothel, for the most part. As it begins we are with a girl
(played by a very young Brooke Shields) who is watching something out of
our range of vision. Watching her watching, we are aware of sounds: grunts,
groans, heavy breathing. Knowing where we are, we quickly jump to the
conclusion that the little girl is watching a scene of sexual intercourse.
Not exactly, as it turns out. She is watching her mother give birth to her
baby brother, whose arrival she is soon announcing to everyone in the
house. Pretty Baby is the story of a child prostitute and a photographer,
set, appropriately enough, in Storyville, New Orleans, from 1917 to 1920.
For reasons that I hope to explain adequately, I want to read this film as
an allegory or parable of modernism itself.
The story it presents to us is a familiar one in certain
respects, in that
it is about a male artist and his female model--a text with deep roots and
long ramifications in the history of Western culture. What is special about
this version is that the model is a child prostitute and the artist is a
photographer--a photographer who finds the ideal motifs for his art in the
prostitutes who pose for him in their off-duty moments, in natural
sunlight, as if he were an impressionist painter. This situation links him
to such precursors of modernism as Delacroix, Manet, Degas, and
Toulouse-Lautrec. Delacroix, in his later years, posed nude models to be
photographed by his friend Eugène Durieu and then sketched from the
photographs, regretting that "this wonderful invention," as he called it
had arrived so late in his life (Newhall, 82). Manet, of course, shocked
Paris with his paintings of Victorine Meurent in the D?jeuner sur l'herbe
and Olympia . Degas--in addition to painting horses, dancers, milliners,
and laundresses--produced over a hundred of his stark brothel monotpyes.
And Toulouse-Lautrec, who in 1893 and 1894 lived a good deal of the time in
two high-class brothels (Bernheimer, 195), produced some paintings and
drawings of prostitutes in their habitat that are extraordinary in their
freedom from both condemnation and condescension. His work leads directly
to the early Parisian paintings of Picasso--and to the photographs of the
real E. J. Bellocq, who looked more like Toulouse-Lautrec than like Keith
Carradine, who played him in Pretty Baby . What distinguished Bellocq from
these painters, of course, in life and in Louis Malle's film, is that he
was a photographer rather than a painter, but in this film he is
specifically inscribed as an artist rather than a mechanical hack. He is a
photographer of the old school, an anachronism even in 1917, working under
a black hood with glass plates, developing his pictures with dangerous
chemicals. In this film the brothel is a refuge, a sanctuary for
photography as a form of art. E. J. Bellocq is presented as a licensed
voyeur in the brothel, of which he neither approves nor disapproves but
accepts as providing the best material for his art. After a time he comes
to belong in the brothel, on much the same footing as the elegant Negro who
plays an equally elegant jazz piano--and is called "Professor," of course.
Neither of these two "goes upstairs" with the prostitutes. They are,
themselves, prostitutes of a sort, making their livings off the
comodification of their arts rather than with the sweat of their bodies.
This situation, in which musician and photographer manage to exist both in
and on prostitution, practicing their arts in an accomodation with
commodity culture, offers us a fruitful image for the situation of the
artist under the cultural and economic regime we know as modernism.
It is not a new image of course, nor is it merely an image.
As early as
1843, the arch Bohemian Alexandre Privat had proposed (in a letter asking
the help of Eugène Sue) to write two novels (which, being a true bohemian,
he never wrote): one about "the lives of girls who started out working in
various Paris manufactures, and who then became grisettes of the Latin
Quarter before going on to lives as prostitutes," and the other about
"young men who have had their arms broken by secondary education and have
no occupation"; these young men as Jerrold Siegel has reminded us, "lived
by selling their intelligence. . . . Like the grisettes, therefore, they
were prostitutes, putting their minds up for sale just as the young women
put up their bodies" (Seigel, 137-138). Charles Baudelaire was the first
major literary figure to realize fully the cultural importance of
prostitution and its resemblance to artistic production in modern,
capitalistic Europe. As Susan Buck-Morss has pointed out (following Walter
Benjamin), "Baudelaire makes modern, metropolitain prostitution 'one of the
main objects of his poetry.' Not only is the whore the subject matter of
his lyrical expression; she is the model for his own activity. The
'prostitution of the poet,' Baudelaire believed, was 'an unavoidable
necessity.'" As Benjamin himself put it, "Baudelaire knew how things really
stood for the literary man: As flâneur, he goes to the literary
marketplace, supposedly to take a look at it, but already in reality to
find a buyer" (B-M, 185).
Benjamin also observed that the prostitute held a special
the modern artist because she was subject and object in one, both the
seller of flesh and the fleshly commodity that was sold. This parallel
between the situations of artist and prostitute was both fascinating and
troubling for male writers and artists. For painters in particular, it was
complicated by the relationship between artist and model, which recapulates
in certain respects the situation of client and prostitute, and indeed,
many models were also the sexual objects of their painters. We should
pause, however, and consider how much more complicated this relationship
was for female painters and sculptors in particular. Many of them were both
models and artists, objects and subjects with a vengeance. The case of
Camille Claudel, one of the sculptor Rodin's models and mistresses, yet a
talented scuptor herself, is now, thanks to film, well known. Less well
known is the case of Gwen John, one of the finest of English painters, who
was also a mistress of Rodin, posing for his scupture called "The Muse,"
whose work is only beginning to be properly known and respected today. A
"Muse," of course is a woman who inspires an artist, rather than an artist
in her own right. This list could be extended specifically to include the
women artists who became models, mistresses, muses, whatever for Picasso
himself--but, for the moment, a mere mention of this aspect of the
situation will have to suffice.
Now we are concerned with the other side of this
relationship--specifically, the ambivalence of male artists who saw that
they, too, sometimes played the role of prostitute in order to function as
artists. Under the commodity culture which spawned modernism, even
succesful artists could scarcely avoid thinking of themselves in this
manner. The greatest of modernists were often as jealous of one another as
any prostitute might be of another who was getting a higher rate. Thus we
find James Joyce, in a 1920 letter to his friend Frank Budgen complaining
in this vein: "If you see the October Dial in any reading room you will
find a long film about me. I observe a furtive attempt to run a certain Mr
Marcel Proust of here against the signatory of this letter. I have read
some pages of his. I can't see any special talent but I am a bad critic"
(Let. I, 148); and in 1927 he complained to his patron, Harriet Weaver
about yet another rival or competitor: "My position is a farce. Picasso has
not a higher name than I have, I suppose, and he can get 20,000 or30,000
francs for a few hours work. I am not worth a penny a line. . ." (Sel. Let.
Joyce here was measuring himself against those he saw
as his main
competitors for the title of major modernist. The comparison with Picasso
is the main burden of this essay. But before getting on with that, it will
be useful to pause and consider this brief reference to Proust and The Dial
. Joyce's relationship with Scofield Thayer, the editor of The Dial
magazine, was a strange one. In 1919, persuaded by Mary and Padraic Colum,
Thayer cabled Joyce the substantial sum of seven hundred dollars, but his
magazine was never interested in the seamy side of modernism, which Joyce
represented all too clearly for him. The Dial really did preach the gospel
of Proust, who expressed his gratitude in appropriately fulsome terms: "Au
trés cher Dial qui m'a mieux compris et plus chaleureusement soutenue
qu'aucune journal, aucune revue. Tout ma reconnaissance pour tout de
lumi?re qu'illumine la pens?e et réchauffe le coeur" (Joost, 192).
Proust's choice of words is illuminating. A souteneur
may be one who
sustains, but in French he is also, specifically, a pimp. The language of
patronage and the language of prostitution often proved painfully smilar to
those being patronized. It is clear, however, that Thayer had no intention
of "sustaining" Joyce. It is true that he testified at the Ulysses trial on
behalf of Joyce's book, but he admitted on the witness stand that he would
not have published the novel's "Nausicaa" episode in The Dial. Given his
feeling about Joyce, it is a wonder that he did print the poem of Joyce's
that appeared in the July 1920 number. It is called "A Memory of the
Players in a Mirror at Midnight." Written in Zurich in 1917, it was later
included in Pomes Pennyeach.
They mouth love's language. Gnash
The thirteen teeth
Your lean jaws grin with. Lash
Your itch and quailing, nude greed of the flesh.
Love's breath in you is stale, worded or sung,
As sour as cat's breath,
Harsh of tongue.
This grey that stares
Lies not, stark skin and bone.
Leave greasy lips their kissing. None
Will choose her what you see to mouth upon.
Dire hunger holds his hour.
Pluck forth your heart, saltblood, a fruit of tears:
Pluck and devour!
This, it is fair to say, is the most avoided text in the
oeuvre. Joyce's biographers and commentators have virtually nothing to say
about it, beyond the fact that it exists. Like many of the other poems that
ultimately appeared with it in Pomes Pennyeach, these words may have sprung
partly from Joyce's reading of Elizabethan or Jacobean drama--or from
Baudelaire himself. Certainly, this language has the putrescent flavor that
drew T. S. Eliot to some of his raids upon these same sources. But who can
doubt that Joyce's poem also has roots in his own broodings on age, lust
and corruption. Without attempting a full scale reading of the poem on this
occasion (I, too, shall avoid it), let me observe that it combines images
of the brothel and the charnel house, motifs that haunt the work of Picasso
as well as Joyce, both of whom frequented brothels and had bouts with
venereal disease in their youth. The poem can even be read as a gloss upon
Picasso's Demoiselles d'Avignon , to which we shall be turning our
attention shortly. In any case, it is not typical of what Scofield Thayer
liked to publish in The Dial , and yet it is the only work by Joyce that he
actually did publish.
What Joyce referred to (in his letter to Frank Budgen)
as "a long film
about me," is in fact a critical essay by Evelyn Scott, which was the first
extended discussion of Joyce's work to appear in America and still ranks as
one of the best essays written about Joyce by anybody at any time. This
should have pleased him, and perhaps it did, since Scott's biographer says
that Joyce wrote her a thank-you note, though such a note does not appear
in any volume of Joyce's letters (Callard, 39). But why did Joyce call this
essay a "film"? Perhaps because it rolled along through his work and only
stopped with the latest serialized publications of the unfinished Ulysses .
As we know, film was frequently on Joyce's mind, and especially in 1917,
when "A Memory of the Players in a Mirror at Midnight" (not a bad metaphor
for film in itself) was composed. At that time, in addition to being very
involved in the theatre, Joyce was working on a scheme with a man who
called himself Jules Martin, for making a film (or pretending to make a
film): "'We'll get wealthy women into it,' Martin said, 'women in fur
pelts. We'll teach them how to walk and then charge them a fee for being in
the film.' The studio was to have a Kino Schule as an adjunct" (Ellmann
423). Martin, who at one time proposed himself for the Joycean role of
Richard Rowan in a performance of Exiles, was a bohemian confidence man (a
metempsychotic version of Alexandre Privat, perhaps), whose real name was
Juda de Vries, and who ultimately had to be helped out of jail and into a
hospital by Joyce. Nevertheless, Joyce, who was a bit of a bohemian
confidence man himself, went along with the film project for a while.
Joyce's cinematic inclinations (let us not forget the
project) encourage me to find a place for him in Louis Malle's cinematic
brothel. We shall return to that, but first it should be acknowledged that
his jealousy over The Dial's preference for Proust was well founded, for
Scott's article was preceded by a short selection from Proust's massive
work in progress, with a fulsome introduction by Richard Aldington, in
which Joyce was relegated, along with Dorothy Richardson and May Sinclair,
to the ranks of Proust's inferior contemporaries. Perhaps by "film" Joyce
meant to include both Scott's and Aldington's pieces, but my point is that
in 1920 The Dial provided both the public location for his poem on the
horrors of sexuality and the occasion for his jealousy of a rival who was
described by Aldington as "more coherent than Mr Joyce, more urbane, less
preoccupied with slops and viscera," but nonetheless capable of describing
"a public convenience with a precision and verve which would have aroused
the jealousy even of Flaubert" (345). Joyce, who, after all, was no mean
describer of public conveniences himself, must have bitterly resented being
called a purveyor of "slops and viscera," and then being positioned as a
poor third behind Proust and Flaubert in the public convenience Derby.
Criticism and Analysis of Joyce's Work
Did you ever want to play head games with a tree?
Just take every book, research paper, newsletter, essay, and journal devoted
to illuminating the mysteries of Joyce, and gather them all into a big
pile -- the sheer amount of paper alone could make an entire forest recoil
in horror, pulling its leaves away in trembling apprehension. Indeed, the
esoteric world of "Joycecrit" is something of an academic cottage industry,
and a comprehensive survey of more "serious" Joycean criticism would be
a project worthy of an entire Web site all to itself -- and better souls
than I have already made such an attempt. Therefore I feel no guilt or
shame in admitting that the following list does not aspire to completion;
my goal was to list some of the more noteworthy, useful, or intriguing
works commonly accessible to the interested reader. I have also tried to
provide a small review of the major works, as well as the necessary data
needed to order them from your friendly neighborhood bookseller. Of course,
bear in mind that the versions I annotate are the ones I own, and therefore
reflect a natural bias towards American and Irish editions. Where alternate
titles exist, I have made every effort to include the "European" title
in parentheses. And remember, most of these books -- and many others not
listed -- may be purchased at a discount from the Brazen Head's Joyce Bookstore,
where you may order them online and have them shipped right to your doorstep.
And just for you impulse buyers out there, I have provided the necessary
link after each of the entries.
If you find that some of my information is out of date, or you have a book you would like to add, please email me!
Readers interested in a more comprehensive bibliography of titles in Joyce Criticism are invited to look at the list at Charles Cave's Joyce Page -- Books by and about James Joyce.
Notes and Annotations on Dubliners & Portrait -- Guides and criticism on Joyce's first two works.
Notes and Annotations on Ulysses -- Guides and criticism on Ulysses.
Notes and Annotations on Finnegans Wake -- Guides and criticism on Finnegans Wake
General Criticism -- General literary criticism or commentary on Joyce and his works.
Specific Criticism -- Joycean criticism with an angle: Feminist, Marxist, Postructural, Postquailist, etc.
Biography: Life and Times -- Biographies about Joyce, or books about Ireland during his epoch.