Semicolonial Joyce
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ELT 45 : 3 2002 vent of the free market—but also a new cultural and aesthetic openness toward the West and its literature since the early 1980s. Let a thousand bloomsdays bloom. Patricia Laurence ________________ City University of New York Semicolonial Joyce Derek Attridge and Marjorie Howes, eds. Semicolonial Joyce. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000. χ + 269 pp. Cloth $54.95 Paper $19.95 SEMICOLONIAL Joyce marks the convergence of Joyce Studies and postcolonial theory. That point of convergence is the concept of "semicolonialism," which captures the ambivalence and complicity inherent in a colonial condition defined as much by close cultural contact and borrowing as by repression and violence, as much by sameness as by difference. As Marjorie Howes and Derek Attridge put it in their introduction , Joyce's texts are semicolonial because "in their dealings with questions of nationalism and imperialism they evince a complex and ambivalent set of attitudes, not reducible to a simple anticolonialism but very far from expressing approval of the colonial organizations and methods under which Ireland had suffered during a long history of oppression , and continued to suffer during his lifetime." The emphasis on ambivalence, on the inadequacy of binary models for analyzing the Irish colonial experience and on the importance of questions of gender and gendered authority, is similar to that which we find in contemporary postcolonial thinkers like Gayatri Spivak, Homi Bhabha and Partha Chatterjee. As it happens, the critics and scholars gathered in this volume use the terms and concepts of colonial discourse and postcolonial theory in ways that are responsive to the nuances of the Irish context without being dismissive of the broader postcolonial settings in which these terms and concepts developed. The collection consists of eleven essays on subjects ranging from the politics of space to the double-bind of Irish manhood, from the politics of paralysis to the problems of race and authenticity. Each of the writers explicates the phenomenon of semicolonial ambivalence and complicity and each demonstrates the relevance of postcolonial theory to the analysis of colonial and postcolonial Ireland. Emer Nolan suggests one way to regard this "postcolonial" turn in the study of Joyce. She notes the "epistemological and political pessimism of much postcolonial theory" and then praises David Lloyd for reading Joyce's texts as models of resis366 BOOK REVIEWS tance to hegemonic social power. However, Lloyd's "optimistic departure " from postcolonial pessimism is not, finally, satisfactory, in part because Nolan is skeptical about his unwillingness to grant the postcolonial critic a greater measure of authority in the formation of new national governments: "Lloyd's vision of forms of subaltern or nonstatist resistance to capitalist modernity... does not shed light on the strategic choices a participant in these struggles should make." It is precisely this question of strategic choices that concerns Nolan in her consideration of what is essentially an ethical problem: how best to survive in a social world saturated by representation, by false consciousness and inauthentic discourses. Seamus Deane's essay on the much-analyzed social paralysis represented in Joyce's Dubliners reframes the question of representation in terms of "cultural pathology." Representation and alienation, themes echoed in Katherine Mullin's analysis of emigration propaganda, make the pathology of Dubliners a modernist problematic: "To be colonial is to be modern. It is possible to be modern without being colonial; but not to be colonial without being modern." Deane's analysis οι Dubliners, while focusing mainly on the dynamics of the "colonial modern," suggests rather than argues for a "semicolonialism" characterized by incompletion and repetition: "In effect, the Joycean drama whereby the world of the actual is processed into the world of consciousness is, of necessity, always incomplete, since the process is never-ending and it is never entirely persuasive." Luke Gibbons makes a similar point about the "politics of paralysis," emphasizing the "pathology of post-Famine Ireland." The Famine foreshortened historical development and "effected in four years what took over four centuries to achieve on the European mainland, namely, the purging of an unruly premodern culture from a newly constituted bourgeois public sphere." This purging took the form of sublimation, suppression and social regulation, usually resulting in sanctioned carnivals or the privatization of communal...


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