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BOOK REVIEWS into a larger consideration of the conflicting Continental and American feminist theories of the eighties and nineties. This is full-bodied criticism : theoretically aware, historically astute, yet rigorous and precise in its attention to nuances of readerly response to a language that is simultaneously working on the reader. Only the long chapter on "Finnegans Wake, or the Dream of Interpretation" has a bit less of the imaginative fluidity that characterizes the other readings. Some of the short pieces in this volume are also marvelously original and enlightening—for example, the essay on "Joyce and the ideology of character." Attridge argues that the two senses of character—character as personage and character as sign—are conflated by Joyce in Finnegans Wake precisely in order to undermine our assumptions of the stability , consistency, and recognizability of both. The turns of this argument are a surprise, and the effect of understanding character in more complex ways than before stays with you. Attridge's meditation on coincidence in Ulysses—titled "The postmodernity of Joyce: chance, coincidence , and the reader"—is another such jewel opening small textual moments into large, exciting generic and periodic issues. Only a few of the essays feel a bit hurried and limited. "Popular Joyce?" stands as a somewhat slight contribution to the widely explored and fascinating topic of Joyce's relationship to popular culture—a discussion limited especially in occluding the status of popular culture in early twentieth century avant-garde visual art. However, the brief essay on "Narrativity in Finnegans Wake" gives us—in its distinction between narrative and narrativity—a whole new way of conceptualizing the status of those endlessly repeated stories in the Wake: "Narrativity, that is to say, has everything to do with the reader's performance of the text as he or she reads it—a strange kind of performance since it involves being performed by the text as well." Derek Attridge's Joyce Effects: On Language, Theory, and History, gives us Joyce criticism at its selfreflexive best. Margot Norris University of California, Irvine Joyce's Comic Portrait Roy Gottfried. Joyce's Comic Portrait. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2000. 188 pp. $49.95 JAMES JOYCE'S A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has been called a number of things over its almost 85-year existence, but "comic" 391 ELT 44 : 3 2001 has rarely if ever been one of them. Until now. Roy Gottfried's Joyce's Comic Portrait seeks to correct the common assessment of Joyce's Künstlerroman as a solemn deviation from the comic progress of Joyce's works, from Dubliners to Ulysses and Finnegans Wake: "Despite the transparent humor of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, and even the wry wit of Dubliners. .., Portrait seems to be a separate work, written for a different purpose by what seems like an artist with a different temperament ." This seems to be the case, for Gottfried, because the novel's comedy "appears tangentially" and because of the generic "drive of the Bildungsroman" which seems to eschew "the comic." Gottfried argues, however, that a "muted" comedy is in fact everywhere to be found in the novel, from its narrative structure, to its protagonist's conscious disavowal of humor, to its author's comic use of word-play and vulgarity. In the process of demonstrating his thesis that, "for all of the novel's seriousness and development, it has a comic countertone," however "offside and silent" this countertone may be, Gottfried explores Joyce's early conceptions of comedy and leavens his own argument with relevant formulations of comedy from critical theory and the history of criticism. Gottfried begins by arguing that the novel sports a comic "countermeasure " to its predominantly telic Bildungsroman structure. Although the "drive and purpose of the novel seems to have checked laughter and turned it at best to irony," there is a countermovement to the novel's linear development that is dilatory, not driven; diffuse, not directed; amusing, not instructive. To the accretive motion of rhythmic rise and fall it may offer another motion. Rising and falling are the dynamic of religion and myth, noble and uplifting; they are the motion of redemption. There is another movement in...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 391-394
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
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