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144 SHOFAR Summer 1999 Vol. 17, No.4 of how we understand and value the literary oeuvre of an author whose life has been tainted by collaborationist activities. The study concludes by suggesting that the double legacy of 1492 remains unresolved. The expulsion of the Jews from Spain and Columbus's journey to America set in motion two historical narratives leading to genocide, "in which racial 'cleansing' is the key motif, and buried cities-whether Amazonian or Jewish-are the conclusive outcome" (p. 163). Ravvin suggests that so far neither nationalist, postcolonialist, nor multiculturalist readings have proven adequate to the task of comprehending this history and its imaginative legacy in literature. As the book's title suggests, this is a poetic and eclectic attempt at beginning to bridge the traditional critical categories that seem sometimes to prevent a fuller view ofthe contexts in which people make sense of their history through story. Diana Brydon School of Literatures and Performance Studies in English University of Guelph James Joyce's Ulysses and the Consciousness of Jewish Identity: Culture, Biography, and "the Jew" in Modernist Europe, by Neil R. Davison. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 305 pp. $49.95. At the beginning ofhis book, Davison says that "grasping 'the Jew' in [Joyce's] Ulysses entails no less than weighing the cultural, biographical, political, intertextual, and textual into a combined approach toward a rereading of the novel." In his first seven chapters, he then takes us through Joyce's life up until his completion of the writing of the novel, discussing Joyce's personal experiences and the works that he read in the context of the particular time. In his last chapter, chapter 8, he demonstrates how all these experiences affected Joyce's understanding of Jews and his writing of Ulysses. Davison argues Joyce's conception of "the Jew" was not simply a stereotype that he imbibed as a child growing up in Catholic Dublin but one that developed over the years as he responded to his family and the people he met, the circumstances of the world around him when in school, Dublin, Paris, and Trieste, and what he read. He starts, of course, with Joyce's childhood and the early influences of his mother and his aunt, devout Catholics, who accepted their church's position on most matters implicitly. Thus early on, Joyce learned of the "sinfulness" ofthe Jews and their responsibility for killing Jesus. His education, largely under the Jesuits, contributed to the stereotype, although his Old Testament studies and his reading of Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe tempered the harshness of that view. At the end of the century, when he was in the Book Reviews 145 university, and after the tum of the century, during a short stay in Paris, he read about the Dreyfus affair and began to develop an interest in socialism, experiences which tempered his provincialism and helped develop in him a more sympathetic attitude toward Jews. Even more important was']oyce's departure from Dublin for permanent residence on the continent. There he got to know Jews-assimilated Jews, a matter of some importance, as I shall explain later. And he continued to read: Matthew Arnold, Friedrich Nietzsche, Maurice Fishberg, and, possibly, Otto Weininger-all of whom, Davison believes, were important influences on how Joyce understood "the Jew," as was Joyce's friendship with Ettore Schmitz, the novelist, an assimilated Jew who wrote under the name of Italo Svevo. . Davison faced several difficulties in writing his first seven chapters. It is not clear, for example, whether Joyce ever read Weininger's Sex and Character(German 1903; English 1906), although it is clear that people talked about the ideas in the book with him. In other instances it is not exactly clear when Joyce .read other works. Finally, Joyce did not always comment on particular works or give opinions about Jews at regular intervals as those opinions changed. Davison is left, then, with the problem of estimating the effect of the successive impacts of Joyce's experiences and readings on his attitudes from his occasional comments and from his writing, particularly his writing of Ulysses. Further, he has to be careful with such modest phrases as...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1534-5165
Print ISSN
0882-8539
Pages
pp. 144-146
Launched on MUSE
2012-10-03
Open Access
No
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