- JOYCE: The Return of the Repressed
In a 1929 Vanity Fair interview with Djuna Barnes, James Joyce boasted that he had successfully captured in Ulysses the elusive and mysterious terrain that Freudians label the subconscious. Joyce had read a number of Freudian texts, including The Psychopathology of Everyday Life, and evidently considered the Viennese doctor a formidable antagonist in the modernist mapping of uncharted psychological territory. The ten essays in Susan Stanford Friedman’s collection JOYCE: The Return of the Repressed offer a propitious example of implicit collaboration between [End Page 894] psychoanalytic theory and (post)modern art. One of the most provocative essays in the collection is Friedman’s opening gambit, “(Self)Censorship and the Making of Joyce’s Modernism.” Using a “psycho-political hermeneutic” in her reading of Stephen D(a)edalus, Friedman argues that the development of Joyce’s modernism, from Stephen Hero through A Portrait and Ulysses, entails a profound repression of the female as speaking subject. The mother who reads Ibsen and discusses drama in the first novel is replaced by a silent nurturer in Portrait, then reduced to a ghostly tormentor in Ulysses. Similarly, Emma Clery attenuates to E—C—, a shadowy reflection of Stephen’s subjectivity. Joyce’s modernism, like male modernism in general, evolves through the self-conscious “repression of the female subject and her insistent return” as the silenced Other who facilitates the symbolic utterances of a male artist/son.
In an essay on “Uncanny Returns,” Robert Spoo grapples with the problematic nature of authority and narrative voice in “The Dead.” Citing intertextual associations with Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken, Spoo delves into a spooky textual unconscious to reveal das Unheimliche erupting from Gretta’s uncanny parturition of her son/lover Michael Furey, a ghostly reminiscence of girlhood days in Galway.
In “Pharmaconomy: Stephen and the Daedalids,” Alberto Moreiras relies on Derridean discussions of Plato’s Pharmakon to trace the return of repressed scapegoat figures, Icarus and Talos, as Oedipal eruptions in the writing of Stephen Dedalus. Using narratological theories culled from Jonathan Culler and Peter Brooks, Jay Clayton offers an illuminating “Portrait