The shadowy world of Finnegans Wake represents the final stage of a gathering darkness, the beginnings of which can be traced back to Joyce’s first work of fiction. The shadows that darken his fictional universe in all of his major works are the conditions of an entire range of things ill seen, through errors of visual interpretation, limited perception, irreducible ambiguity, gross distortion, and outright misrecognition. However, these scenes of darkness are the occasions for Joyce’s passage from the known to the unknown, from the visible to the invisible world, where another kind of vision becomes possible. The many instances of visual failure in Joyce should be understood not merely as a series of errors, but rather as a continual interrogation of the logic of error and of its possible redemption in the form of discovery.


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pp. 73-89
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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