While late-Victorians associated bicycles with male riders and masculinity, James Joyce counters Victorian conventions in Finnegans Wake and captures the subversive potential of the bicycle to empower women with a new brand of feminine sexuality that recalls characteristics of the late-Victorian “New Woman.” Rather than condemn these female cyclists, Joyce’s narrative admires them and shows that women can be both skilled bicyclists on the road and, in a metaphorical sense, biological cyclists (through menstruation and childbearing) that physically enact a self-propulsion similar to cyclists. As these actual and metaphorical cyclists propel through various terrains and biological sequences, they simultaneously author(ize) their own personal narratives and, in doing so, the composition of all narratives involving human life. Moreover, Joyce’s female cyclist is not only a figure of liberated female sexuality but also a figure of the artist herself.


Additional Information

Print ISSN
pp. 49-66
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.