States of Desire: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and the Irish Experiment

States of Desire: Wilde, Yeats, Joyce, and the Irish Experiment

by Vicki Mahaffey
     
 

This book is an intimate study of the three giants in Irish literary history: Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce. In addition to constructing a narrative of Irelands political and literary past, Vicki Mahaffey interweaves the lives and writing of the authors into a portrait of national imagination, shaped not only by a vast cultural and mythic

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Overview

This book is an intimate study of the three giants in Irish literary history: Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats, and James Joyce. In addition to constructing a narrative of Irelands political and literary past, Vicki Mahaffey interweaves the lives and writing of the authors into a portrait of national imagination, shaped not only by a vast cultural and mythic heritage, but also by the hard fact of English political domination.

States of Desire argues that what people desire is fundamentally connected to how they write and read. Not only do language and narrative shape desire (and vice versa), but because these processes are socially conditioned, some political circumstances, such as those present in Ireland at the turn of the century, foster experimental desire more successfully than others. Mahaffey's contribution to the critical discourse on literary modernism is to assign a political motive to the art of modernist wordplay; in doing so, she offers a more compelling and socially driven version of the oft-told tale of literary modernism. Irish writers, she argues, sought to disrupt the rigidity of political thinking and social control by turning language into a weapon; by opening up infinite new possibilities of meaning and association, linguistic play makes it impossible for thought to be monopolized by the state or any other institutional power. In this light, the text becomes a prism of political, cultural, and erotic desires: a fountain of conscious and unconscious linguistic suggestion. Defying semantic control and refuting societal repression, Wilde, Yeats, and Joyce literally fought, in their lives and in their work, for a freedom of expression which—as was painfully evidenced in the case of Wilde—was not to be had for the asking.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780195115925
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
05/28/1998
Edition description:
ON DEMAND
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

Table of Contents

Abbreviations
1Introduction: Reading and "Irish" Desire3
Reading as "Habit"7
Starting Again: Experimental Reading and Desiring8
Verbal Experimentation in Ireland9
Iconoclasm as De-siring13
A Micropolitics of Experiment19
Fretting Nationalism and Masculinity21
Beyond Radicalism24
Oedipal Desire27
Territorializing and Deterritorializing Desire31
2Wilde's Desire: A Study in Green37
A Scary Wildman, or Nothing Wilde?41
Flowers of Green: Ireland, Crime, and Youth50
Mature Individualism65
De Profundis: Taming Wilde70
Pere-version and Im-mere-sion: Parental Corruption73
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and the Prohibition of Desire76
Wilde Im-mere-sions of Desire81
3"Horrible Splendour of Desire": The Will of W. B. Yeats87
Hanrahan's Passion: Hunt as Flight92
"It Was the Dream Itself Enchanted Me"96
The Rose101
Celtic Rosicrucianism108
A Woman's Rose112
The Secret Rose121
The Wind Among the Reeds124
The Tower and The Winding Stair132
4Joyful Desire: Giacomo Joyce and Finnegans Wake142
Joyce's War on Status146
Giacomo Joyce: Joyce and Wunderlich150
Fascism and Silence: The Coded History of Amalia Popper167
From Italy to Ireland: The Ambivalence of Men toward Men177
Female Desire and Power in Finnegans Wake183
Marriage as "Marrage"193
"Male and Female Unmask We Hem"198
Waking Desire205
5Conclusion210
Notes213
Selected Bibliography253
Index261

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