Category Archives: Criticism

Yes.

It’s Friday. Today’s FW thoughts:

1) Donald Barthelme’s “After Joyce” (in Not-Knowing); Joycean musicality in Barthelme’s novel, The Dead Father.

2) Marshall McLuhan’s FW quotes and Joyce discussions in War and Peace in the Global Village. Prankquean’s “Clothing As Weaponry.” Also, “Marshall McLuhan and James Joyce: Beyond Media” by Donald and Joan Theall.

3) Norman O. Brown, Apocalypse and/or Metamorphoses and Love’s Body. I remember the night I discovered Apocalypse, via Branwynne, who rang me up that evening, 12 years ago at C.U and said, “You have to see something. Come over” [paraphrased]. I was 19 years old. We sat in her room and perused his essays, specifically, “Daphne and/or Metamorphoses.” The bizarre chapter break flourishes. She asked, “Have you seen anything like it?” I sighed, “No.” But anyway, this work changed my life w/r/t Joyce and beyond.

4) I need to find my notes for Michael Seidel‘s C.U. class, “Joyce and His Contemporaries [Woolf and Beckett].” I took it in 1995, and just found out via this article, that Seidel offered an FW seminar at Columbia in 2001.

5) I ordered Tindall on Amazon today and should get Ellman [I link to this music Joyce site (which cites the Ellman biography) because it’s amazing] and McHugh out of storage.

6) Totally unrelated: my favorite future novelist Elif Batuman has a new article in the LRB and issue 7 of n+1.

7) ReJoyce: I miss Paris and Bloomsday 2008.

Here’s my Circe route in the Marais area:

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Filed under Criticism, FW, James Joyce, Real Life, Ulysses

Unsatisfied Customers

Ezra: “I will have another go at it, but up to present I make nothing of it whatever. Nothing, so far as I can make out, nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clapp, can possibly be worth all the circumambient peripherization.” (145)

Stanislaus: “With the best will in the world I cannot read your work in progress. The vague support you get from certain French and American critics, I set down as pure snobbery. What is the meaning of that rout of drunken words?” (216)

Harold: “I try very hard to understand that book but fail completely. It is almost impossible to decipher, and when one or two lines of understanding emerge like telephone poles above a flood, they are at once countered by other poles going in the opposite direction….I truly believe that Joyce has this time gone too far in breaking all communication between himself and his reader. It is a very selfish book. (34)

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Filed under Criticism, FW, Skeleton Key

Samuel Beckett’s “Dante…Bruno.Vico.. Joyce”

… has a great summary of Vico’s philosophical system (in Scienza Nuova) as it pertains to FW.

But first, Beckett’s opening lines:

“The danger is in the neatness of identifications. The conception of Philosophy and Philology as a pair of nigger minstrels out of the Teatro dei Piccoli is soothing, like the contemplation of a carefully folded ham-sandwich.”

Anyway, I will quote here in (somewhat) full:

“Giambattista Vico was a practical roundheaded Neapolitan. It pleases Croce to consider him as a mystic, essentially speculative, “disdegnoso dell’ empirismo.” It is a surprising interpretation, seeing that more than three-fifths of his Scienza Nuova is concerned with empirical investigation. Croce opposed him to the reformative materialistic school of Ugo Grozio, and absolves him from the utilitarian preoccupations of Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Bayle and Machiavelli. All this cannot be swallowed without protest. Vico defines Providence as: “una mente spesso diversa ed alle volte tutta contraria e sempre superiore ad essi fini particolari che essi uomini se avevano proposti; dei quali fini ristretti fatti mezzi per servire a fini piu ampi, gli ha sempre adoperati per conservare l’umana generazione in questa terra.” What could be more definitely utilitarianism? His treatment of the origin and functions of poetry, language and myth, as will appear later, is as far removed from the mystical as it is possible to imagine. For our immediate purpose, however, it matters little whether we consider him as a mystic or as a scientific investigator; but there are no two ways about considering him as an innovator. His division of the development of human society into three ages: Theocratic, Heroic, Human (civilized), with a corresponding classification of language: Hieroglyphic (sacred), Metaphorical (poetic), Philosophical (capable of abstraction and generalization), was by no means new, although it must have appeared so to his contemporaries. He derived this convenient classification from the Egyptians, via Herodotus. At the same time it is impossible to deny the originality with which he applied and developed its implications. His exposition of the ineluctable circular progression of Society was completely new, although the germ of it was contained in Giordano Bruno’s treatment of identified contraries.”

[Continued here.]

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Filed under Criticism, FW, Our Exagmination, Work in Progress

Notes on Borges’ Notes on Joyce

Emir Rodriguez Monegal.

Gerald Martin.

L.A. Murillo.

B: “Pierre Menard, Author of Don Quixote,” “Funes the Memorious.” “The Aleph.”

Mario Vargas Llosa.

John Irwin.

“The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde.

Joyce and Borges: blindness.

“Autobiographical Essay.”

Irish and Argentinian Politics.

At age 9, J and B publish.

“The Shape of the Sword.” Parnell as hero and traitor.

Black Finnegan in “Death and the Compass.”

Borges refers to Norah as “Miss Norah Healy.”

Affinity: death of a parent.

Homer, J and B: blind bards.

Daniel Balderston.

DQ = Borges. Ulysses = Joyce

Work In Progress/Obra-en-gestacion.

Ireneo Funes. Brilliant failures.

“Fragment on Joyce.”

Matei Calinescu.

The Aleph and totality.

Neologisms.

“The pun is the philosopheme of this ear tuned to the other.” (Ulmer)

Valery Larbaud.

Samson Agonistes.

“Secular phoenish.”

B not as impressed with J’s wordplay. Other writers before J: Jules Laforgue and Lewis Carroll did “a better job” with calembours, portmanteaus, wordplay.

Beside the rivering waters of, hitherandhithering waters of Night.

[Continued here.]

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Filed under Criticism, FW