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Book Reviews, 32:2, 1988 below, with his wife (usually) by his side. Contemplating his history, he begets HCE. Contemplating HCE, the earwig squeezed into upper and lower, he begets Shaun and Shem. Contemplating the servant as 'other' ... he finds as it were a psychic place to put Shem." And all this does not as yet include the women of the Wake, especially important to John Gordon since he feels that "The voice that the dreamer hears most often is Issy's . . . coming through the fireplace flue his room shares with hers." Both Gordon and Bishop argue from aggressive positions of strength, in sharp contrast to many of the hesitant and tentative murmurings that pass as Wake scholarship of late, and one almost feels that Gordon claims to be able to see in the dark: "I am convinced," he insists, "that he [Sackerson] is the book's hunchback. (It isn't HCE, although the weight he has put on makes him feel like it at times. . . .") Yet for Gordon Sackerson is an old man, as well as the pub bouncer-an odd job for an old man. When Gordon's omniscience falters, however (and his honesty prevents him from hiding these falterings), there are uneasy moments, as when he admits that "this doesn't fit as nicely as the rest, but both shore and door are borders." Unallied to the Linear School in quest of the seamless narrative, Bishop perhaps offers a less ambitious project (not that the 479 pages of Joyce's Book of the Dark would make one think so). He has no intention of dotting every i and crossing every t, since he is not the "uniformitarian" that Gordon declares himself to be. For Bishop the Wake is permitted to remain an enigma wrapped in the usual wrappings: "even if we consult the available reference works [and Bishop consults etymological dictionaries as if they were sacred texts] and have the allusions and foreign words explicated for us [so much for the Annotationists], they only render what is already unintelligible a little more clearly unintelligible." While John Bishop observes with awe James Joyce's stringing of Odysseus' bow, John Gordon makes mincemeat out of the Gordian knot. Bernard Benstock _______________________________University of Miami JOYCE'S UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE Phillip F. Herring. Joyce's Uncertainty Principle. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987. $32.00 Joyce's Uncertainty Principle is a provocative development of a powerful idea, that unsolvable uncertainty is at the heart of all of Joyce's works. The importance of uncertainty in Joyce's last two novels has already been noticed, but Herring extends the idea to a general 268 Book Reviews, 32:2, 1988 Joycean principle, primarily by showing that Joyce had it clearly in mind from the first story he published. Paradoxically, Herring gives more authority to Dubliners than it has ever had before by showing how many crucial points in the collection cannot be understood. The word gnomon, which Joyce introduced at the start of "The Sisters," designates a geometrical figure with a missing part. Herring argues that this figure stands for the idea that the typical elements of Joyce's fiction lack the parts that would complete them or make them clear. The impossibility of knowing the truth is shown to be almost as central to Dubliners as it is to Finnegans Wake. Herring does not quite integrate this idea with the other main theme he describes in Dubliners , the need for social consciousness, which is dependent on knowing the truth, and he also overlooks an essay relevant to his work, "Silence in Dubliners," by Jean-Michel Rabaté. Herring traces through Dubliners and the later works many examples of issues that are so arranged that they stimulate various perspectives and make it impossible to tell which view is true. He argues effectively that Joyce critics must realize that most of the key questions raised by the texts will never be solved, and he applies to Joyce George Steiner's useful distinction of four categories of solvability among textual difficulties. Herring demonstrates that the indeterminacies in Joyce's work operate to represent the difficulties of the reader as a model of the quest for truth that the...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 268-271
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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