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31:2, Book Reviews comedy of manners after 1910, takes us beyond James and up to Noel Coward and even, momentarily, Pinter, and indicates some of the crucial ways in which the tradition has changed. Women of Grace: James's Plays and the Comedy of Manners is a study of a perhaps undervalued body of work, and yet one cannot help thinking that this short book might have profited from more of the Edel bias, an emphasis—at moments—on the fiction. Carlson makes astute observations on the theatre, but one misses—and misses almost completely—her comments on the crucial interplay between the career of the playwright and that of the professional novelist. Edel and others may read the plays for what they tell us about the late fiction, but surely the early, middle, and even late novels might be read in part for what they tell us about the idiosyncrasies of these plays. Fewer than half of the study's 149 primary pages of text concentrate on the specifics of James's work, and therefore it seems reasonable to regret such omission. Carlson is right to ask that we consider a developed theatrical tradition, but might we not also have the dramas discussed in relation to an equally important background, that of an author's dominant personal tradition? John Auchard University of Maryland JOYCE CENTENNIAL James Joyce: The Centennial Symposium, eds. Morris Beja, Phillip Herring, Maurice Harmon, David Norris. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1986. $22.50 At first glance, James Joyce: The Centennial Symposium appears to be yet another James Joyce Miscellany. It contains capsule histories of book-making, Pentecost, and syphilis; it explores Joyce's affinities with writers such as Arnold, Yeats, Woolf, and Pynchon; it includes a descriptive account of papers written by Joyce's daughter Lucia (to whom the book is dedicated): disjointed memories, fantasies and dreams patched together at intervals from 1958-1961 in one of the many mental institutions where Lucia spent the last fifty years of her life. The variousness of the volume is real, but there is also a surprising coherence to the collection; the best essays position themselves around a single dominant issue: the relative importance of the individual, unified human subject in Joyce's works. Interestingly, the debate over what I will call the human "subject"—character, narrator, or author—is a version of the more familiar debate over whether Joyce's works favor symbolism or realism, whether his is the tradition of Blake or Defoe. Realism, such as that of Defoe, presents itself as strictly mimetic, with an emphasis on believable, human characters derived from life. In contrast , a "symbolic" approach will trace in actualities of time, place and character the outlines of myth, resolving the idiosyncrasies of historical, 249 31:2, Book Reviews geographical and personal difference into archetypes. If the term "symbolism" is used to mark an affinity between a given character, or narrative, and myth, "realism" affirms its fidelity to everyday experience. To replace symbolism and realism with terms that measure the unity or diffusion of a speaking subject is to abandon the presupposition that art and life are at odds, and to highlight, instead, the energies that define individual identity from within and without. One result of the "translation" of terms is a reversal of positions : "realism" demanded an emphasis on particulars and on the differences that distinguish individuals and events, in contrast to a symbolist intuition of the "typicality" or unity of individuals and narratives, but the new terminology emphasizes the extent to which a realistic portrayal of individual characters as unified and recognizable is itself a generalization, and it is the diffusion of individual characters or "subjects" into competing, often unidentifiable "voices" that opens up a world of new particulars. Joyce criticism, to judge from this collection of papers presented at the centennial symposium in Dublin five years ago, has given new currency to the dichotomy that animates Joyce's words by renaming it. Initially, it seems to be the "symbolic" term that has undergone the most dramatic metamorphosis, since a precise concern for individual locutions seems to have displaced the universalizing sweep of a more "mythical method." Derek Attridge, for...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1559-2715
Print ISSN
0013-8339
Pages
pp. 249-254
Launched on MUSE
2010-05-21
Open Access
No
Archive Status
Archived
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