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Responding to Carl Jung's uncomprehending assessment of his epic, Joyce famously lamented, "He seems to have read Ulysses from first to last without one smile. The only thing to do in such a case is to change one's drink." William Brevda's "The Ha in Hat" is a witty and illuminating corrective to any humorless reading of the novel. Brevda notes that headgear proliferates in Joyce's Dublin and reflects the character and temperament of the wearer, from the trickster Mulligan's panama to the posturing Stephen's Latin Quarter chapeau. Joyce thus "epiphanises hats" in the novel, illustrating his theory that "the commonest object can become revelatory." Bloom's bowler, Brevda demonstrates, is a consistent source of revelation in the tradition of Jewish humor wherein a sudden material manifestation (Haha) becomes a sudden spiritual manifestation (Ahah). Joyce's repeated references to Bloom's "high grade ha" embed the onomatopoeic word for laughter in a sweat-altered object that is freighted with psycho-social significance: The bowler is an expression of bourgeois gentility and aspiration, a marker of modernity (echoing Chaplin's Little Tramp), and a Freudian symbol of male genitals. Brevda allows that "not all of Joyce's hat humor is high grade," invoking Bakhtin's concept of carnivalesque in his discussion of the novel's Rabelaisian "toilet bowler humor." Bloom's own comic sense is rich and diverse: He is a collector of jokes and a "Borscht belt dreamer" who laughs at his own expense and finds amusement even in the interment of Paddy Dignam's corpse. The one emotion Bloom can't convert into what Freud terms "the control of humor" is the threat posed by Blazes Boylan. Discussing the novel's "cuckold comedy," Brevda notes Molly's contrasting thoughts about her adulterous lover, with his rakish straw boater, and Bloom, who "is always and ever wearing the same old hat." She reflects that Bloom, too, wore a straw hat in the memories of Howth lovemaking that the two share. [End Page ix] Rather than trying to reclaim this "season" of his youth when he returns home, however, Bloom reconciles himself to loss by rejecting jealousy in favor of the "broken humor" of "equanimity." In doing so, Brevda concludes, "Bloom's seasoned hat represents his seasoned wisdom."

As readers of Ulysses can attest, a deepening familiarity with the novel can condition one's view of the world, and especially of the city that Joyce describes with such abundant exactitude. In his comic memoir, "How I met Ulysses," Robert Seidman recounts his first experiences in Dublin as a young man conducting research for Don Gifford's Ulysses Annotated. Following in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, Seidman feels he has "been here before" and that he is "walking pages" of the novel as he tracks down obscure references. He drinks a pint in an ancient pub of dubious hygiene, sees a "bent crone" dressed in black near Glasnevin Cemetery, follows a red-haired siren to her storefront lair, and is abruptly dismissed by the woman's cyclopean father with his nose of "Brodingnagian pores" and "blowholes." Seidman confides that a tab of mescaline he ingested upon arriving in the city lent a "logic-waffling," Circean hilarity to all of his Dublin impressions. Yet this initial immersion in the Irish capital also heightened his understanding of Joyce's scrupulously realistic depiction of a colonial city so small and cohesive that the recurrent appearances and collisions of the novel's characters are inevitable.

The soundscape of Ulysses is as mimetic as its urban landscape. Exploring the presence of popular music in the minds of Joyce's characters, Patrick Reilly observes that the novel "is full of hidden melodies"—specifically, the lyrics to ballads such as "Waiting" and "In Old Madrid." These recur in remembered fragments in Bloom's thoughts in "Sirens" and in Molly's interior monologue, where they are identified as parts of her professional repertoire. Drawing on the semiotician Yori Lotman's concept of heterogeneous "texts with the text" and what Denis Donoghue terms the "auditory imagination," Reilly conceives of Joyce's reader as a musical "detective." Looking back from "Penelope" to Bloom's musings in the Ormond Hotel, we re-read and re-contextualize his oblique references to these songs of absence, waiting and yearning, thereby gaining an enriched understanding of his melancholy circumstances. The reader not only re-interprets the music retrospectively but also "hears" it as an unarticulated undercurrent in Bloom's consciousness, particularly when he listens to Simon Dedalus's plangent rendering of Lionel's aria "M'appari" from Flotow's Martha. Reilly speculates that while Bloom's ear hears [End Page x] Simon intoning Lionel's final plea, "Come … to me!," he is simultaneously replaying comparable lines from "Waiting" and "In Old Madrid," both of which summon the vanished lover to "Come." The inner voice that Bloom hears intoning these submerged, extra-textual lines is that of Molly, whom he recalls singing them at Matt Dillon's in Terenure on the night they first met.

Two other Ulysses pieces in this JSA volume address literary subtexts in "Scylla and Charybdis." In "Riffing on Shakespeare," Irina Rasmussen treats Stephen's Hamlet theory as a "psychodrama" premised on the conviction that the playwright's "social consciousness" and personal history of "debt, gloom and compunction" emerge in his works. In promulgating this de-mythologized version of Shakespeare before the Dublin literati in 1904, Stephen anachronistically employs a "rhetoric of provocation" that emerged a decade later in writers of the modernist avant-garde. In rejecting the pervasive "quasi-religious" idea of Shakespeare's dramas as universal and sacrosanct, Rasmussen argues, Stephen advances a modernist paradigm of creativity that reflects several of the features T. E. Hulme advocated at the time Joyce was composing the Library episode: political awareness, transformation of earlier plots and tropes, and a commitment to "the small, dry things" of actuality. Rasmussen explains that Stephen's performance of creative subversion in the National Library lampoons two groups that had apotheosized Shakespeare as a timeless genius for their nationalistic ends: practitioners of Victorian "bardology," who consecrated him as the poet of Empire, and Anglo-Irish Revivalists (represented by Russell and Eglinton), who valorized Shakespeare as "a model for creating a comparable Irish literary nationalism." By mocking these idealized appropriations and "re-making" Shakespeare, Stephen strives, at once, to "dazzle and outwit his listeners." Yet in imagining how art could be "created differently" in the twentieth century, he knows that he is jeopardizing his literary prospects in Dublin. What ultimately drives Stephen's Shakespeare theory, Rasmussen suggests, is his attempt to "understand his own status as a contemporary writer."

Thomas Kenny's note on Mallarmé's presence in "Scylla and Charybdis" contributes to our understanding of the complex intellectual climate in which Stephen stages his Shakespeare theory. Kenny notes that Joyce evokes the French poet through the librarians Lyster's and Best's reverent citations, but also through Joyce's parodic rendering of Mallarmé's distinctive mannerisms, as described in Arthur Symons's influential study of the Symbolist movement. Lyster's habit of rocking forward and backward [End Page xi] on his heels while speaking echoes Symons's memory of Mallarmé as he presided from a rocking chair on his Tuesday evening literary gatherings; and Best's rhythmic hand gestures, as he describes the poet's review of a Hamlet production, mimic Mallarmé's own dancer-like movements.

Surveying Joyce's work more broadly, Tim Conley provides an incisive guided tour through the writer's career-long fascination with Egypt. Because Joyce was "compulsively drawn to opposites," his representations of the ancient kingdom and culture are riddled with paradoxes: Egypt emerges as a distant yet "always present" land of both origins and flight, of the Jewish captivity and the liberating invention of writing. For Joyce, Conley observes, "all text leads to the Nile," beginning with Stephen's creative identification with the ibis-headed god Thoth in Portrait. Later in "Aeolus," as Stephen listens "transported" to McHugh's recitation of John. F. Taylor's speech in support of the Irish language, he envisions Moses floating in the bulrushes. Frequently imagined and re-imagined by Stephen and Bloom, the land of pharaohs, palms, and pyramids becomes conflated with multiple themes: Joyce's "Egypt is never just Egypt: it is always turning into something else." Conley notes, for example, that in Ulysses Joyce invokes Egypt as a twofold place of "potted meat"—both the seductive "fleshpots" of Cleopatra and preserved corpses of the entombed rulers. The Finnegans Wake notebooks reveal Joyce's particular fascination with The Book of the Dead and the discovery of Tutankhamen's burial chamber in the early 1920s. Indeed, Egypt's imaginary presence in the Wake is so pervasive, Conley argues, that we might consider the book both a "bogus book of the dead" and a "history of the Egyptomania"—a popularization that included Wildean sarcophagus motifs, mummy movies, and Agatha Christie's Death on the Nile. Conley notes that Christie's setting, the "Cataract Hotel/Assuan," caught Joyce's afflicted eye, and that he wove it into a passage in II.3: "O nilly, not all, here's the first cataraction!"

Like Conley, John Gordon employs a single lens to provide an overview of multiple works in "Mirroring and Mummery." Gordon analyzes subtle perceptual moments in "The Dead" and Ulysses as illustrations of the "pattern recognition" described by Gestalt psychologists and inaugurated by William James. In moments of epiphanic "radiance," the mind extracts "something apprehensible, recognizable, and namable" from the swarm of data that James called a "blooming, buzzing confusion." In explaining this process, Gordon is concerned with the "mediating mechanisms" that Joyce's critics often overlook—in particular, the ways in which external [End Page xii] conditions, "kinesthetic stimuli," influence the mind's pattern-making. He notes in "Circe," for example, how the darkness in Nighttown diminishes Bloom's visual acuity but intensifies his auditory register as a form of "sensory compensation." When he gives his newly bought crubeen to a stray dog, he hears "crunching bones" and conceives of the shape-shifting canine as a "mastiff." While habit dulls Gestalt-making processes, the consciousness of changing circumstances increases a subject's awareness of "just noticeable differences." Hence, Bloom notes that the boiled pig's foot feels heavier in his less-used left hand than in his right. Applying Gestalt theory to self-perception, Gordon notes the importance of what Rousseau termed "amour proper"—a sustaining self-regard that normally informs our assembling of self when confronted with our reflection in a mirror. This insulating mechanism sometimes fails for Joyce's characters in "sudden and unprepared" moments, as when Gabriel Conroy glimpses his image in a pier-glass and sees himself as "a piteous fatuous fellow." Arguing against a critical tradition of "Gabebashing," Gordon holds that this is a false perception, a distorted pattern-making forged by a conflation of circumstances. Gabriel, he predicts, will see himself more clearly after a night's rest.

Joyce's protracted struggles to get his work into print are legendary and, as Luca Crispi demonstrates, he was plagued not only by tentative publishers but by unreliable and inactive literary agents. Beginning in 1915, Joyce was represented in the marketplace by James B. Pinker and his sons, but, as Crispi explains, the novelist found their efforts so underwhelming that, upon moving to Paris in 1920, he relied on his friend and advisor Paul Léon to conduct his negotiations. Joyce depended on Léon especially during the early 1930s, when he was publishing fragments of Work in Progress, and as Faber & Faber in Britain and Viking Press in the United States waited uneasily for the completion of Finnegans Wake. Crispi focuses upon Léon's deft handling of Carolus Verhulst's publication of the so-called "Children's Games" chapter, first in the journal transitions and then as a small book, with Lucia's illustrations, in 1934 by Servire Press under the title The Mime of Mick, Nick and the Maggies. Crispi details Léon's patient negotiation of complicated copyright agreements with both Faber and Viking, whose vice president, Benjamin Huebsch, feared that the publication of yet another portion of Work in Progress would curb the public appetite for the eventual book. Léon countered by arguing that the fragments were "effective marketing tools" that would acquaint readers with the work's inventive language. As he [End Page xiii] correctly predicted, these published selections continued to "sustain international interest during the long gestation of Finnegans Wake." Although The Mime of Mick sold well, Crispi's archival research reveals that Joyce received only a fraction of his royalties at a time when mounting expenditures (including Lucia's sanitarium treatments) produced a "desperate financial crisis."

Three pieces in this JSA volume treat individual stories from Dubliners. Focusing on the turbulent emotions Joyce's youthful protagonist experiences upon arriving at the bazaar at the end of "Araby," Richard Gerber reads this inexhaustible tale through Jung's view of the grail quest as a young man's initiatory discovery of his "anima archetype"—the submerged, feminine side of his psyche. Gerber notes that Joyce and Jung both approached the Arthurian myth through the same text, Sebastian Evan's The High History of the Holy Graal, a translation of Chrétien de Troyes's unfinished tale of Perceval. Joyce's story incorporates several elements of this narrative, including the reiterated trope of a feminized vessel, a grail allusion made explicit in the boy's reference to his secret love as a "chalice" but also insinuated by various images of "uterine" enclosure in the story. Gerber notes that the boy's quest, like the knight's, is undertaken on behalf of a virginal "sovereign lady" and pursued through encounters with three other females: a mother figure (the boy's aunt), a wise and mysterious elder (Mrs. Mercer), and a sexually alluring witch (the young woman behind the counter at the fair). While Perceval sees the grail but is "unable to secure it," Joyce's adolescent has no specific object in his pursuit and fails to recognize the talismanic significance of the grail-like "great jars" for sale at the Araby fair. Instead, Gerber argues, his exposure to female sexuality, in the salesgirl's overheard flirtation, produces a loss of innocence rather than a breakthrough into the self-knowledge that marks Jungian individuation.

Tom Ue highlights a new, award-winning film adaptation of "The Sisters" in his interview with its director, Matthew Eberle. Describing his longstanding fascination with Dubliners, Eberle notes the particular challenges he faced in filming the volume's opening story: The characters are not "visually active" and the dialogue is notoriously elliptical and ambiguous. The logistical limitations of the project, originally made for Eberle's MFA degree in Film Production, required an interpretive focus on "the question of faith"—both the boy's religious questioning and Father Flynn's spiritual crisis. The film's mise-en-scene, inspired partly by Kasper David Friedrich's paintings, evokes this numinous dimension, but Eberle [End Page xiv] also transmits the story's "heightened sense of paralysis" by "locking the camera down" and restricting the actors' movements.

Finally, in the volume's longest essay, Peter Nohrnberg explores "Grace" as a "sociological critique" of metro-colonial life in turn-of the-century Dublin, a city where "the pawnshop is the counterpart of the pub" for men like the impecunious alcoholic Tom Kernan. Despite the insolvency of Kernan's tea importing business and chaotic domestic life, Nohrnberg stresses his narcissistic "obsession with appearances," a symptom of the preoccupation with social status that characterizes all Joyce's middle-class, Catholic colonials. Torn between "insubordination and dependency," insecure subjects such as Kernan exalt in minor sartorial differences through a self-fashioning that strives to mask poverty and hopelessness. After dismissing his drunken fall down a flight of pub stairs at the start of the story as an "accident," Kernan's rehabilitation—the attempted "sanitizing" of his body, soul, and reputation by his friends—is no less fraudulent. Nohrnberg characterizes the Jesuit retreat initiated on Kernan's behalf by Martin Cunningham as a "pseudo-catharsis" in which the "pledge" to abstain from drink is merely a version of the pawnshop where "promises are made" but never redeemed. Even oratory and rhetoric, often the ontological guarantors of Irish vitality, fail as saving graces in the story: The slurred speech caused by Kernan's severed tongue anticipates the story's "ellipses, euphemisms and clichés" and the stale anecdotes recited at Kernan's bedside. Ultimately, such anodyne performances are part of what Nohrnberg calls "a colonial masquerade," a cover-up enacted by snobbish subalterns. Thus, in the depths of his mercantile failure, Kernan clings to relics of old decency: a once-stylish, second-hand coat and a silk hat that his abused wife labors to repair. This hat is no laughing matter. [End Page xv]

Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4241
Print ISSN
1049-0809
Pages
ix-xv
Launched on MUSE
2020-01-30
Open Access
No
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