In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

364Philosophy and Literature Joyce, Bakhtin, and Popular Literature: Chronicles of Disorder , by R. B. Kershner; xi & 338 pp. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1989, $34.95. R. B. Kershner's important study of the influence of popular literature on Joyce's early works through Exiles is a first-rate follow-on to Cheryl Herr'sJoyce's Anatomy of Culture, which appeared three years earlier. Herr's book discussed the popular press, the music hall, and the clergymen's guides to popular sermons as expressions of the popular culture ofJoyce's day which were incorporated into his books as naturally as the Dublin atmosphere he breathed. Now Kershner has filled in anotherimportant part ofthe popular mosaic oftum-of-the-century Ireland, with a sweeping and detailed comparison of the popular or "entertainment " literature which Joyce would have read as a schoolboy and later in his most productive periods of composition. Kershner's study is not wildly speculative, relying principally on texts either direcdy alluded to by Joyce or a part of his library at one time or another. The author's approach to the tricky business of differentiating between "serious literature" and "popular entertainment" initially draws upon revisionist Marxists Fredric Jameson and Louis Althusser, who see popular culture as an "ideological state apparatus" (pp. 12-13), but immediately refined by Bakhtin's concept of heteroglossia, the "conflicting multiplicity of languages" of "officialdom , vernaculars, occupationaljargons, technical, literary, and subliterary languages "; and diahgism, a method ofassimilating a coherent picture or knowledge of the world through a dialectic logic which forms the relationship between or among the different languages present. Because the resulting consciousness is for Bakhtin always itself language, its process and perception of the world is always dialogical. The "official" voices ofthe culture—both its high art and its popular politically sanctioned voices—are opposed by the "carnival" atmosphere of folk-wisdom and antipathy to artificially created orders, resulting in the parodies and burlesques of the lower bodily poles, closer to earth and reality and, as such, more profound than the hierarchies ofofficial sanction and custom. Thus the affinity of Bakhtinian criticism for Marxist revisionists, whose proclivity is to expose similar attitudes. This book is concerned with the early works, when Stephen's and Joyce's consciousnesses are in the formative stage, the dialogic of the competition of multiple languages of varying institutions impinging upon a single narrative consciousness. Kershner's seriatim study of the stories ??Dubliners is fascinating throughout, beginning with his analyses of the official languages of Eliza, the Uncle, and Cotter—including the significance of the continuing vacancies of the ellipses running ad infinitum under their own power—in "The Sisters." Each story inDubliners is freshly informed by some aspect ofpopular literature Reviews365 or other aspect—such as Farrington and parodie repetition—of the dialogical discourse. As we might expect, the rhetoric of the later, "public" stories, is more concerned with social, artistic, and economic spheres than the assimilation of the ideas and languages of the earlier popular literature studies in the minds of the evolving protagonists in the early stories. Kershner's approach to Portrait is first an analysis of Stephen's assimilation of the discourses of school, church, and pop fiction, and his use of the "incremental repetition," which finally makes the popular discourses his own, in effect achieving a dialogism with the alien languages which surround him. The author here is especially impressive, with his detailed command of a vast assortment of the popular literature ofthe period. Particularly memorable are the parallels he draws to Tom Brown's S^oI Days, Eric, The Harrovians, Vice Versa, A Modern Daedalus, and, most importantly, The Count ofMonte Cristo. The author's Exiles chapter primarily explores the possibility of the play's echoing the popular literature of sexuality and marriage which found its way into Joyce's library. As with the earlier discussions, Kershner's detailed knowledge and thoughtful presentation of parallels and influences reflect not only painstaking research, but also an alert, creative use of the material. If the great traditional canonical writers, from Dante through Cervantes to Nabokov and Barth, commonly share anything with those who have only recendy been discovered , it is their pervasive use...

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1086-329X
Print ISSN
0190-0013
Pages
pp. 364-365
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.