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The “united states of Scotia Picta”: Scottish Literature and History in Finnegans Wake

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 48, Number 2, Winter 2011
pp. 305-318 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0041



Important pretexts for Joyce’s treatment of duality or split-personality in Finnegans Wake come from Scottish literature. Joyce draws upon works such as James Hogg’s Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner (1824) and Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), as well as ancient and modern Scottish and Irish history in Finnegans Wake, creating a mutating network of phrases concerned with sibling rivalry, mental divisions, and the hybrid nature of nations. In this essay, I examine Joyce’s interest in Scottish matters and discuss the way Joyce’s Pict/Scot motif expresses some of the main themes of the Wake.

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