Abstract

Abstract:

This essay examines the representation of odor in Joyce’s fiction and epistolary writing. The significance of (mal)odor in Joyce’s writing has attracted extensive critical commentary. I argue, however, that the interrelationship between Joyce’s visual impairment and his alleged olfactory paraphilia urges closer consideration. By situating Joyce in the context of other smell savants such as Helen Keller and Le Pétomane, this study offers a fresh reading of Joyce’s scatological correspondence of 1909 and his representation of blindness in Ulysses. The linkage of farts and cecity offers a means of exploring Joyce’s conception of individual identity. This reframing of Joyce’s depiction of olfaction, as informed by sensory augmentation, enables a linkage between the sensorium as a cooperative/dysfunctional system of disparate sense modalities and the representative capabilities of language as a system constructed of discrete lexical items. A central feature of Joyce’s writing on odor is his reliance upon analogy and similitude to evoke a powerful, yet inarticulable, sensory experience. Joyce’s fiction strives fully to encode the affective impact of the foul and the fragrant, yet his letters enact the futility of seeking to make language odorous, to be the object it represents.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1938-6036
Print ISSN
0021-4183
Pages
pp. 307-326
Launched on MUSE
2018-06-15
Open Access
No
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