restricted access The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, and: James Joyce and the Politics of Desire (review)
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Derek Attridge, ed. The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990. 305 pp. $39.50 cloth, $12.95 paper.
Suzette A. Henke. James Joyce and the Politics of Desire. London: Routledge, 1990. 288 pp. No price given.

In The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, Derek Attridge has assembled an excellent wide-ranging and diversified collection of essays. The volume contains background material on Joyce that could function in introductory ways for students as well as critical positions that will engage more advanced scholars. What these essays share are nuanced arguments, stylistic clarity, and original insights. Four of the essays are centered around specific parts of the Joycean corpus, although not in exclusionary ways. Vicki Mahaffey's contribution, for instance, contains sections on each of Joyce's shorter works (the epiphanies, the poetry, Giacomo Joyce, and Exiles), sections that are prefaced by an insightful analysis of their structural, thematic, and technical connections to Joyce's longer fictions. Jennifer Levine discusses the kinds of background knowledge that may help students to appreciate Ulysses, before moving on to the more specific question of its genre (poem? novel? sheer "text"?). Her description of Ulysses as textual "play"—with its associations of motion, performance, anarchy, pleasure, work, and game—provides a potential theoretical framework for Joyce's corpus as a whole, even while it focuses on the example of "Oxen of the Sun." Margot Norris assumes the role of the tour guide to Finnegans Wake, whose voice is heard in the work's opening line, by explaining its inseparable content and form and by speculating about its overall structure; she also provides commentary on its compositional and critical histories. In one section of her essay, Norris makes fascinating connections between a section of the Wake (1.8) and the early short story "Clay," suggesting that the former may have emerged from the latter in inverted guise. John Paul Riquelme offers a similar critical interweaving, although one that emphasizes both ruptured and continuing seams, in his argument about Joyce's evolving styles of realism and fantasy, as manifested in Stephen Hero, Dubliners, Portrait of the Artist, and the first part of Ulysses.

The rest of the essays examine the author and his works in a diverse range of readerly and writerly contexts. In "Joyce and Feminism," Karen Lawrence discusses Joyce's inscriptions of and to the feminine "Other," with reference not only to his published fictions but also his dreams and letters. One essay analyzes the process of reading Joyce, another Joyce in the process of writing. Attridge's contribution explores the pleasurable inexhaustibility of readerly inquiry and response, using two strikingly different passages as discursive ground. In "Joyce's text in progress," Hans Walter Gabler describes what can be inferred about compositional and creative techniques from the various surviving notes, sketches, drafts, fair-copies, typescripts, and proofs: he focuses on the way read and interpreted "pre-text," in the broadest sense of the term (observations, memories, earlier literature, Joyce's own works and notes) is transubstantiated into written and shaped [End Page 960] "text." Klaus Reichert's essay situates Joyce in a long tradition of European writers, many of whom served as influential rebels against various authoritative structures of their times. In a complementary contribution, Christopher Butler discusses Joyce in the narrower and more contemporaneous context of modernism, and the critical reception of his work during that era; he concludes with Finnegans Wake as "the climax of the high modernist revival of formally extremely complicated works" and as the spur to postmodernism and poststructuralism. A final pair that may be fruitfully read in tandem are Seamus Deane's piece on "Joyce the Irishman" and Jean-Michel Rabaté's on "Joyce the Parisian." One strand of Deane's rich and complex essay follows Joyce's obsession with betrayal—as the governing myth in Joyce's sense of Irish history, as the problem inherent in Ireland's embrace of Roman Catholicism, as a symptomatic theme of Ulysses that produces Stephen's fantasy of total independence, of self-generated origins. More biographical in its approach, Rabaté's contribution situates Joyce in the context of the French language, literature, and circle of...


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