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Sexual Confessions

Wolfgang Streit

Publication Year: 2004

Sheds new light on James Joyce's use of sexual motifs as cultural raw material for Ulysses and other works Joyce/Foucault: Sexual Confessions examines instances of sexual confession in works of James Joyce, with a special emphasis on Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses. Using Michel Foucault's historical analysis of Western sexuality as its theoretical underpinning, the book foregrounds the role of the Jesuit order in the spread of a confessional force, and finds this influence inscribed into Joyce's major texts. Wolfgang Streit goes on to argue that the tension between the texts' erotic passages and Joyce's criticism of even his own sexual writing energizes Joyce's narratives-and enables Joyce to develop the radical skepticism of power revealed in his work. Wolfgang Streit is Lecturer, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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p. ix

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Introduction: Joyce and Confession

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pp. 1-12

After Ulysses was published, James Joyce dissociated himself from psychoanalysis in no uncertain terms: “In Ulysses I have recorded, simultaneously, what a man says, sees, thinks, and what such seeing, thinking, saying does, to what you Freudians call the subconscious—but as for psychoanalysis it is neither more nor less than blackmail.”1 The psychoanalytic method...

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1. Confession and Order in Chamber Music and Dubliners

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pp. 13-28

Written between 1901 and 1904,1 Joyce’s early poems, later collected in Chamber Music, provide an initial perspective on the discursive arena that forms the backdrop against which the author’s subsequent works unfold. According to Robert Spoo, poems XII (“What counsel has the hooded moon”) and XXVI (“Thou leanest to the shell of night”) depict the lyrical...

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2. The Struggle for Confession in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

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pp. 29-69

The major role of ordering forces in Dubliners is considerably reduced in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and disappears from Joyce’s writing from Exiles onward. Their impact, however, is still palpable in A Portrait’s depiction of the effect of Stephen’s parental home as the quasi-material ordering force of continuous decline from which Stephen attempts to flee by read-...

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3. The Stage as Confessional: Exiles

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pp. 70-84

When Robert states, “We all confess to one another here” (E 117) in the second act of Exiles, he aptly describes the play whose plot and structure are motivated by confession to an experimental extent equaled by none of Joyce’s previous texts. Padraic Colum is thus correct in terming the structure of Exiles “a series of confessions.”1 The emergence of the play eluci-...

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4. Ulysses’ Sexual Confession and Its Self-Critique

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pp. 85-143

Stephen’s exile has failed by the time of the Telemachiad. Within Joyce’s text in progress, the extroverted energy that fueled his attempt to flee from ordering forces and the power over life by entering physical exile has been reoriented in Exiles and Giacomo Joyce. This critical energy reappears in Ulysses as an introverted search for an exit from the text’s own sexual...

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5. Sexual Uncertainty in Finnegans Wake

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pp. 144-158

It is a truism that Finnegans Wake deals excessively with sexuality.1 It is equally obvious, however, that the text evades signification in general, and in particular signification of its own sexual talk.2 In this sense Joyce’s final book is also the last turn of the screw in his attempt to undermine the power over life. ...


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pp. 159-202


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pp. 203-214


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pp. 215-240

E-ISBN-13: 9780472024650
E-ISBN-10: 0472024655
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472110001
Print-ISBN-10: 0472110004

Page Count: 244
Publication Year: 2004

OCLC Number: 651701651
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Joyce/Foucault

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Subject Headings

  • Joyce, James, -- 1882-1941 -- Criticism and interpretation.
  • Confession in literature.
  • Sex in literature.
  • Foucault, Michel, 1926-1984.
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