James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus's Nightmare

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"History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." Stephen Dedalus's famous complaint articulates a characteristic modern attitude toward the perceived burden of the past. As Robert Spoo shows in this study, Joyce's creative achievement, from the time of his sojourn in Rome in 1906-07 to the completion of Ulysses in 1922, cannot be understood apart from the ferment of historical thought that dominated the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Tracing James Joyce's historiographic art to its formative contexts, Spoo reveals a modernist author passionately engaged with the problem of history, forging a new language that both dramatizes and redefines that problem.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Robert Spoo's book provides an indispensable contribution to the current critical discussion of Joyce and history. Lucid in its theorizing, rich and detailed in its textual engagements, this is a work that restores Stephen Dedalus to the center of the Joycean project and so renews and deepens our sense of its intellectual coherence."—Vincent Sherry, Villanova University

"Robert Spoo has illuminated the cunning passages of Joycean historiography with many cunning passages of his own. He has written one of the most consistently interesting and important books about Joyce published in recent years."—Modernism/Modernity

"Although Joyce himself declared while writing Ulysses the character Stephen Dedalus no longer interested him, Robert Spoo has given us...a complex portrait of Stephen worthy of our interest."—English Literature in Transition 1880-1920

"Spoo has written an intellectually sophisticated, and in places brilliant book. It maintains a high level of critical poise, shedding fresh light upon the structural and stylistic contours of Joyce's work....And it offers many original and carefully developed analyses of particular passages."—James Joyce Literary Supplement

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780195087499
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 9/28/1994
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 208
  • Lexile: 1640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 6.44 (w) x 9.68 (h) x 0.73 (d)

Meet the Author

University of Tulsa
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Table of Contents

A Note on Citations
Introduction 3
1 Joyce's Attitudes Toward History: Rome, 1906-7 14
Nietzsche and the Malady of History 17
W. E. H. Lecky and Moral History 22
Guglielmo Ferrero and the New History 27
2 Fabricated Ghosts: A Metahistorical Reading of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 38
Clongowes: The Heads of Great Men in the Books of History 40
Historical Texts and Textiles 46
Conjured Ghosts and Contextualist Fabrics 49
Romantic Aesthetics and Stephen's Double Discourse of History 57
3 Teleology, Monocausality, and Marriage in Ulysses 66
The Goal of History and Story 69
Origin and Causation 78
Marriage as Telos 81
4 "Nestor" and "Proteus": History, Language, Intertextuality 89
"Nestor": Art Versus History 92
Jules Laforgue and the Nightmarish Jester of History 98
"Words alone are certain good": "Proteus" and Language 105
5 "Aeolus," Rhetoric, and History 113
Giambattista Vico and the Invincible Enthymeme 116
Historiographic Oratory 120
Poundian Pellets and Dedalian Parables 127
"Innuendo of Home Rule": Advertising and History 131
6 The Language of Literary History: "Oxen of the Sun," "Circe," and Beyond 135
Anthologies and the Discourse of Literary History 137
Styles of History in "Oxen of the Sun" 145
"Oxen" and "Circe": Literature-and-History Versus Drama-and-Life 150
The Terror of History and the Spectrality of Myth in the "Nostos" 157
Notes 163
Index 187
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