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Modernism/modernity 10.4 (2003) 757-759

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James Joyce in Florida

Katherine Mullin,
University of Leeds

James Joyce's "Fraudstuff." Kimberly Devlin. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. Pp. 201. $55.00 (cloth).
Joyce's Ulysses as National Epic: Epic Mimesis and the Political History of the Nation State. Andras Ungar. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. Pp. 154. $55.00 (cloth).
Joyce and the Scene of Modernity. David Spurr. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2002. Pp. 151. $55.00 (cloth).

The Florida James Joyce Series, under the general editorship of the formidable Zack Bowen, can claim much of the credit for the flourishing North American "Joyce Industry," as it is sometimes fondly, sometimes maliciously named. Both in convivial annual conferences in Miami, thoughtfully planned to coincide with Joyce's birthday in frosty February, and in the building of a Joyce list for Florida University Press, Joyce scholarship in the United States has blossomed in the last decade, a trend that shows little sign of reversal. The year 2002 saw five monographs on Joyce from the Florida series, an increase in the usual annual three. This increase is perhaps attributable to a heightened level of interest during the buildup to the Bloomsday centenary celebrations next year. Three of them are reviewed here, and each concentrates on issues currently to the fore in Joyce scholarship: Joyce's treatment of gender and sexuality; his relationship to Ireland, nationalism and postcolonialism; his position within the cultures of modernism.

Kimberly Devlin's James Joyce's "Fraudstuff"is an eagerly awaited book from one of the liveliest current thinkers on the tricky and notoriously vexed subject of Joyce's sexual politics. It indicates the level of interest in Devlin's work that four of the six chapters have been partially published elsewhere; their collection together here allows readers to appreciate the overall densely woven coherence of her argument. [End Page 757] Devlin's notion of "fraudstuff" is borrowed from Finnegans Wake, and she takes it as shorthand for "an increasing concern of Joyce's canon as a whole, his growing interest in fraudulent being and the various theatrical props that support identity" (xi). Such a fascination with inauthenticity and masquerade develops during the later Joyce, as the writer moves away from his earlier Dubliners preoccupation with the authentic. This preoccupation is signified both in his famous declaration to reflect back to the Irish people a mirror image of their own paralysis in Dubliners'"nicely polished looking glass," and in the stories' dependence on blinding moments of authentic revelation, the Joycean "epiphany." 1 Instead, Devlin suggests, Joyce's later writing transforms that nicely polished looking glass into what Stephen Dedalus would later term "the cracked looking glass of a servant," a mirror which refracts, distorts, parodies, and celebrates its own inaccuracies of representation. 2 Devlin's hypothesis appears immediately convincing; all the more so when she applies it to that most performative of all identity poses, gender.

James Joyce's "Fraudstuff" begins with an ingenious analysis of the transition between the early Joyce fragment Stephen Heroand the novel it would eventually become, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The earlier Stephen rails against "mummery," whether he finds it in the Catholic piety or the idealistic Gaelic League nationalism of his fellow students. Accordingly, "mummery" is not a quality to be found in the self: the Stephen of Stephen Hero delivers a "seriously intended" lecture on art, and provides an eloquent undergraduate theory of "epiphanies," both intellectual stances validated by their rejection by an inherently fraudulent Ireland (Devlin, 7). Yet in A Portrait and in Ulysses, the young Stephen's reliance upon masks and disguise becomes more pronounced until he mutates in Finnegans Wake into Shem the Penman, a plagiaristic, inauthentic author-persona whose degenerate "squidself" gleefully delights in "cuttlefishing every lie unshrinkable about all the other people in the story" (Finnegans Wake, 173-4).

This first chapter acts as the overture for the rest of the book, which explores through several brilliant close readings Joyce's increasingly sophisticated exploration of what modern identity is. A genuinely fruitful use...