Abstract

Abstract:

In “Circe,” Leopold Bloom is given cause to denounce the unnamed industrials of Nighttown. “Machines is their cry, their chimera, their panacea,” he intones: “Laboursaving apparatuses, supplanters, bug-bears, manufactured monsters for mutual murder, hideous hobgoblins produced by a horde of capitalistic lusts upon our prostituted labour” (U 15.1391–94). Here Bloom is not just borrowing ideas from Karl Marx; he is also echoing Marx’s rhetorical expression. As is well known, the first English translation of The Communist Manifesto said nothing about stalking specters but instead referred to its eponymous ideology as a “frightful hobgoblin” sprung from the recently industrialized forces of production. Beyond this, which reads as a direct allusion, Joyce shares Marx’s affection for monstrous figuration, the purpose of which is to understand and appreciate economic forces as decidedly nonhuman: as the animalistic deformation of human experience. This is why Marx, like Joyce after him, drew from evolutionary biology and ecological science as much as he did from ancient myth to formulate an aesthetically compelling vision of capitalist modernity. While Joyce was influenced by Marx’s writing, this is especially true of moments when Marx models his criticism on the work of another writer, Charles Darwin, who appears as a mediating figure between Marx’s critique of political economy and the Joycean transformation of literary form. Beginning with a conceptual overview of what the nonhuman meant for both Marx and Joyce, and how both found inspiration in Darwin, the goal of this essay is to scan Joyce’s literary writing to demonstrate the import of Marx as a talisman of nonhuman energies. Less a comparison of Joyce and Marx, and less still another Marxist reading of Joyce, I want to show how Joyce was drawing aesthetic and intellectual inspiration from Marx’s writing—in particular, from the Manifesto and from Capital—as well as from ideas and phrases that became crucial to public discourse in the wake of the twentieth century’s political revolutions. My contribution to the scholarship will therefore be thoroughly to disprove the critical myth that Joyce “never read anything by Karl Marx except the first sentence of Das Kapital,” and to demonstrate that, when conceiving of the nonhuman, Joyce was thinking and at times writing through Marx.

pdf

Additional Information

ISSN
1938-6036
Print ISSN
0021-4183
Pages
pp. 61-80
Launched on MUSE
2021-03-02
Open Access
No
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.