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“Arise, Sir Ghostus!”: Textual Spectrality and Finnegans Wake

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 49, Number 2, Winter 2012
pp. 281-295 | 10.1353/jjq.2012.0011



This essay argues that the textual specter—a non-present presence, a dual being and non-being—precisely symbolizes, for James Joyce, the overlap between Irish myth and Irish history. It contends that Joyce’s corpus, central to Irish literary tradition, celebrates this impurity and offers readers insight into contemporary Irish novelists’ motivations for and methods of reinvention. In Finnegans Wake, Joyce establishes the specter, that figure of uncontrollable and uncanny repetition, as a narrative device for (re)inventing a more nuanced version of Irish history and, therefore, a more complex definition of twenty-first-century Irishness.

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