Virgin and Veteran Readings of Ulysses

Overview

Imagine reading a classic novel like James Joyce’s Ulysses as though for the first time. Such an exercise, especially when informed by contemporary narrative theory, makes possible a different reading experience of the work, one with a renewed focus on plot and a surprising amount of suspense. Veteran Joyce scholar Margot Norris offers an innovative study of the processes of reading Ulysses as narrative and focuses on the unexplored implications, subplots, subtexts, hidden narratives, and...

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Virgin and Veteran Readings of Ulysses

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Overview

Imagine reading a classic novel like James Joyce’s Ulysses as though for the first time. Such an exercise, especially when informed by contemporary narrative theory, makes possible a different reading experience of the work, one with a renewed focus on plot and a surprising amount of suspense. Veteran Joyce scholar Margot Norris offers an innovative study of the processes of reading Ulysses as narrative and focuses on the unexplored implications, subplots, subtexts, hidden narratives, and narratology in one of the twentieth century’s most influential novels. It is a striking and essential contribution to literary criticism that will change the readings and understandings of Joyce’s most important work. 

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
'Former president of the International James Joyce Foundation, Norris (emer., Univ. of California, Irvine) is a distinguished Joyce scholar whose critical work on Joyce is required reading. Her other works include Joyce's Web: The Social Unraveling of Modernism (1992), Beasts of the Modern Imagination: Darwin, Nietzsche, Kafka, Ernst, and Lawrence (1985), and The Decentered Universe of Finnegans Wake (CH, May'77). Here Norris presents an innovative reading of James Joyce's Ulysses based on issues of "fictional construction." She uses Possible-Worlds
Theory in order to examine narrative functions in the novel. This unique reading of Joyce's preeminent text will provide a valuable framework for readers new to Ulysses and innovative ideas that veteran readers will appreciate. Summing Up: Highly recommended.' - CHOICE

'The concept behind Norris's Virgin and Veteran Readings of Ulysses is brilliant and disturbingly original, even fearless. Her approach and execution are thoroughly and profoundly grounded in narrative theory, while also yielding specific and practical insights into the world (and 'possible worlds') of Bloom, Molly, and Stephen—and into the formal world of the novel, using the experience of a 'virgin' reader to illuminate that of the 'veteran' reader. Her dedication speaks of her debt 'to the wonderful community of Joyce scholars,' but in fact with this volume she adds to the debt they all owe to Norris.'—Morris Beja, author of James Joyce: A Literary Life and former president of the International James Joyce Foundation

'Virgin and Veteran Readings of Ulysses is a brilliant example of how to read Joyce as well as the most consistently engaging book on Ulysses that I have read in many years. I believe its radically original focus on the extent and limits of the 'virgin' reader's knowledge at any point in the text will influence a generation of scholars and teachers. Anyone writing on Ulysses, or working with students who are learning how to read Ulysses, would do well to keep it close at hand.' - Patrick A. McCarthy, professor of English, University of Miami and editor of the James Joyce Literary Supplement

''Backward, turban backward, o time in thy flight/Make me a child again just for tonight!' Impossible, of course, and reading Ulysses requires much more than a single night, but Norris does make it possible to imagine experiencing Joyce's masterpiece not as a child but as a 'virgin reader' who knows nothing of the novel or its author. The jourbaney is exhilarating and enlightening.'—Austin Briggs, Tompkins Professor of English Literature Emeritus, Hamilton College, and trustee of the International James Joyce Foundation

'This is a terrific book—an innovative study full of original, thought-provoking observations and ideas. The real pleasure in reading this study is the insightful, sometimes eye-popping close-readings provided in every chapter by this Joycean grandmaster.'—Vincent J. Cheng, Shirley Sutton Thomas Professor of English, University of Utah

"Virgin and Veteran Readings of Ulysses provides brilliant insights into the actual and possible worlds imbricated in Joyce's novel. Norris's unique use of Possible Worlds theory foregrounds the 'plots' of Ulysses, so often obscured by Joyce's dazzling linguistic play. The narrative orientation of Ulysses is vividly seen through a new, complex theoretical lens.'—Kimberly J. Devlin, professor of English, University of California Riverside

'With Norris as our expert but still inquiring guide, we encounter the puzzling, suspenseful narrative of Ulysses as if experienced for the first time, as well as through rich layers of previous interpretation, and the recent narrative theory of Possible Worlds. The motives and trials of Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and Molly Bloom unfold in competing actual and fictional worlds—interior, interpersonal, cultural, historical, and Homeric. Fresh insights into small and missing details of the text abound and rebound.'—Bonnie Kime Scott, professor emerita of Women's Studies, San Diego State University

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Margot Norris is Chancellor's Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Irvine and former president of the International James Joyce Foundation.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Virgin Reading, Possible Worlds Theory, and the Odyssean Intertext of Ulysses
Part I: Stephen Dedalus
• The Conflicts of Stephen Dedalus: From the "Telemachiad" to "Aeolus"
• The Stakes of Stephen's Gambit: "Scylla and Charybdis"
• The Larger World of 'Wandering Rocks': The Case of Father Conmee
• Part II: Leopold Bloom
• Meet the Blooms: Secrets, Implicature, and Suspense in 'Calypso' and 'Lotus Eaters'
• Jewish in Dublin: Bloom's Encounters on the Way to "Cyclops"
• An Anatomy of Anti-Semitism: the "Cyclops" Episode
• The (Im)possible Worlds of the "Oxen of the Sun"
• "Circe": Stephen's and Bloom's Catharsis
• The Text as Salvation Army: Abjection and Perception in "Eumaeus"
• Stephen Dedalus's anti-Semitic Ballad: A Sabotaged Climax in "Ithaca"
• Part III: Molly Bloom
• Molly Bloom before "Penelope"
• Don't Call Him "Blazes": Hugh E. Boylan's Narrative Caricature *Inside the Worlds of "Penelope"

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