(Self) Censorship and the Making of Joyce’s Modernism
Susan Stanford Friedman
There is at least one spot in every dream at which
it is unplumbable—a navel, as it were, that is its
point of contact with the unknown.
SIGMUND FREUD, The Interpretation of Dreams
—Do you mean to say, said Stephen scornfully, that
the President must approve of my paper before
I can read it to your society!
—Yes. He’s the Censor.
—What a valuable society!
JAMES JOYCE, Stephen Hero
One of the “unplumbable” spots in the transformation of Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is the disappearance of the Jesuit “Censor.” In some three hundred manuscript pages of Stephen Hero that survived Joyce’s probable destruction of his unfinished self-portrait, Stephen’s two confrontations with the Censor represent key moments in the production of his alienation as an artist in the making.1 In the first instance McCann warns Stephen that his paper on Ibsen must have the permission of Father Dillon, the president of the college, before it can be read before the Debating Society. Whelan, the secretary of the Society, tells Stephen that his paper is “tabu” (SH, 89). Then Stephen defends himself before Father Dillon, who initially denies Stephen permission to read his paper but finally relents (SH, 90–98). In the second instance Stephen realizes that the monthly review that McCann edits is silently controlled by Father Cummins, the benign originator whose “discretionary powers” amount to censorship in spite of his relative open-mindedness (SH, 181–82).
But in Portrait the Censor has vanished, excised in the revision. Is the Censor’s absence as character a symptom of his presence within the artistic process that governs the transformation of Stephen Hero into Portrait or the continuation of Stephen’s story into Ulysses? The role of the state censor in the suppression of Joyce’s writings for obscenity has been outlined at length by others. But have we satisfactorily identified the operation of the censor within Joyce himself as he came back again and again to the story of Stephen D(a)edalus? Have we found the traces of repression—(self)censorship—inscribed in his texts? Do we know what role this repression may have played in the production of Joyce’s modernism? Can we chart the connection between repression and oppression, between individiual psychic processes and the ideological and material structures of the social order, in the making of a modernist artist? Finally, how might such a connection be marked by gender?
I pursue these inquiries by proposing a psycho-political hermeneutic for reading the texts in which Stephen appears. Some of these texts are commonly regarded as “drafts” leading up to the “final” text, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man—such as the 1904 narrative/essay titled “A Portrait of the Artist,” and the “Epiphanies,” many of which were adapted for Stephen Hero and Portrait.2 Portrait and Ulysses are conventionally read as related but autonomous texts. I suggest that we read these texts as distinct parts of a larger composite “text” whose parts are like the imperfectly erased layers of a palimpsest, one whose textual and political unconscious can be read with a psychoanalytic, intertextual approach. This approach to interpreting Joyce’s Dedalus texts adapts Freud’s concept of the dream-work, his analysis of serial dreams, and his identification of “the return of the repressed” in the drama of transference.3
Freud’s Hermeneutic and the Textual Unconscious
In his narrative of the psychodynamics of repression and desire in The Interpretations of Dreams, Freud personifies the psychic agency that forbids the drive to pleasure in the form of the “censor” or more generally “censorship.”4 As internalized agent of the cultural ethos in the realm of necessity, the censor attempts, with only partial success, to silence the forbidden desires of the unconscious. The linguistic processes that Freud calls the dream-work accomplish a compromise between the desire to express and the need to repress what is forbidden. Latent desire, buried deep within the unconscious, is transformed into the manifest content of dream or symptom by the grammar of the dream-work: the mechanisms of condensation, displacement, nonrational modes of representability (such as pictographics, symbolism, narrative juxtapositions, superimpositions, and transpositions), and secondary revision (the interpolation of connectors or structuring principles that arrange and order the dream content). These mechanisms distort the latent wish just enough to evade the censor. Freud himself likens the dream-work’s negotiation between revealing and concealing to the delicate encoding of the political writer who must disguise dangerous content so as to fool the censor, who works on behalf of the oppressive state. He writes:
A similar difficulty confronts the political writer who has disagreeable truths to tell to those in authority. If he presents them undisguised, the authorities will suppress his words. … A writer must beware of the censorship, and on its account he must soften and distort the expression of his opinion. According to the strength and sensitiveness of the censorship he finds himself compelled either merely to refrain from certain forms of attack, or to speak in allusions in place of direct references, or he must conceal his objectionable pronouncement beneath some apparently innocent disguise. … The stricter the censorship, the more far-reaching will be the disguise and the more ingenious too may be the means employed for putting the reader on the scent of the true meaning. (ID, 175–76)5
Freud’s hermeneutic in turn fools the censor—undoes the repression of the psyche, the suppression of the social order—by a process that he names “decoding” and variously images as an archaeological dig, a journey into the labyrinth, an unraveling of woven threads, a translation of pictographic runes, a detective analysis of mystery and disguise, a removal of the layers in a palimpsest. Beginning in determinacy, his method ends in indeterminacy. Dreams have “authors,” “intentions,” and “meanings” to be decoded, he affirms. But their “overdetermination” necessitates an “overinterpretation” which never ends. The multiple layers of manifest form and latent content require an infinite regress of interpretation which ultimately leads to the “unplumbable” spot, what Freud names the “navel” of the dream, its contact point with the unknown (ID, 143). His metaphor for the gap or knot in the dream-text and in the text of dream interpretation suggests that the threshold of mystery is a point of contact with the maternal body, the irretrievable site of origins, as well as the origin of what is censored, what is disguised in the grammar of the dream-work. Ultimately, his figurative formulation suggests, the return of the repressed is the return of woman, of that mother/Other, to him forever unknown, untranscribable, untranslatable.
Freud’s method for overinterpretation is fundamentally intertextual. In The Interpretation of Dreams Freud rejects what he calls the “symbolic” method of dream interpretation, which analyzes the dream as an autonomous unit with interrelating parts—a method that is strikingly consonant, by the way, with the theory of art Stephen expounds in Stephen Hero and Portrait. Freud proposes instead his psychoanalytic method, in which fragments of the dream become departure points into a labyrinth of associations that radiate without end into the dreamer’s recent and distant past, the linguistic and visual artifacts of culture, and the events of history. The dream’s meaning, however indeterminate, emerges in the dialogic exchange of analysis through a retelling—the creation of a new narrative whose constitutive parts are the intertexts of the individual and cultural past.6
Freud also breaks down the autonomy of the dream-text by reading dreams in relation to other dreams, decoding a series of dreams as a composite text. “A whole series of dreams,” he writes, “continuing over a period of weeks or months, is often based upon common ground and must accordingly be interpreted in connecton with one another” (ID, 563). In “consecutive dreams,” one dream often “takes as its central point something that is only on the periphery of the other and vice versa” (ID, 563). Reading serial dreams requires an analysis of the gaps in each that can be filled in by the others—the traces of displacement, condensation, and secondary revision that can be deciphered by juxtaposing and superimposing the texts in the whole series. The resonances among the dreams, the consonances and dissonances, can themselves be read for clues to unravel the disguise, undo the work of the censor. As he writes about dreams occurring in a single night:
The content of all dreams that occur during the same night forms part of the same whole; the fact of their being divided into several sections, as well as the grouping and number of those sections—all of this has a meaning and may be regarded as a piece of information arising from the latent dream-thoughts. … [T]he possibility should not be overlooked that separate and successive dreams of this kind … may be giving expression to the same impulses in different material. If so, the first of these homologous dreams to occur is often the more distorted and timid, while the succeeding one will be more confident and distinct. (ID, 369)
This formulation of repetitive dreams anticipates Freud’s concept of the repetition compulsion and transference. Repressed desires, Freud later argues in his papers on technique, lead a person to “repeat” patterns of behavior as the person “transfers” the feelings from early childhood onto the contempotary adult scene. The analytic situation triggers the “transference”: the analysand acts out with the analyst the patterns he or she once enacted with others, particularly parents, a repetition that is both a resistance to analysis and the clue that allows the analysis to proceed. The goal of analysis, Freud believes, is to move the analysand from repetition to remembering by “working through” the transference. Once an adult can remember the past, he or she is no longer doomed to repeat it.7
Freud’s intertextual hermeneutic is richly suggestive for literary analysis because writing, like dreams, can enact a negotiation between desire and repression in which linguistic disguise accomplishes a compromise between expression and suppression. When the novel is autobiographical—like Stephen Hero, Portrait, or Ulysses—this negotiation is further heightened. Autobiographical selfcreation recapitulates the developmental processes of the psyche, especially, as Colin MacCabe writes in James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word, “the construction of the subject in language.”8
Like a palimpsest, both psyche and literary text are layered, with repressed elements erupting in disguised forms onto the manifest surface of consciousness. Building on the work of Julia Kristeva, critics such as Jonathan Culler, Shoshana Felman, Fredric Jameson, and Michael Riffaterre further suggest that a text has an unconscious accessible to interpretation through a decoding of its linguistic traces and effects. For Culler in “Textual Self-Consciousness and the Textual Unconscious” and Felman in “Turning the Screw of Interpretation,” this textual unconscious is located in the interaction between reader and text, which they see as a scene of transference in which the reader “repeats” the complexes of the text.9 For Jameson in The Political Unconscious and Riffaterre in “The Inter-textual Unconscious,” the textual unconscious resides in the text, subject to the decoding of the reader, who occupies the authoritative position of the analyst. According to Riffaterre, the surface of a novel is narrative, but it has a lyric “subtext,” a “verbal unconscious” buried etymologically and sylleptically inside the manifest words of the text.10 For Jameson texts have a “political unconscious,” which he defines as the repressed narrative of class struggle which a Marxist hermeneutic can interpret: “It is in detecting the traces of that interrupted narrative [of class struggle], in restoring to the surface of the text the repressed and buried reality of this fundamental history, that the doctrine of a political unconscious finds its function and its necessity.”11 From another perspective, Culler suggests, “the literary unconscious is an authorial unconscious, an unconscious involved in the production of literature; and the notion is thus useful for raising questions about the relation between what gets into the work and what gets left out, and about the sorts of repression that may operate in the production of literature.”12
Combined with Freud’s intertextual hermeneutic, all these approaches to the textual unconscious are useful for reading chains of related texts such as Joyce’s works featuring Stephen D(a)edalus. “Drafts,” such as Stephen Hero, can be read as the textual and political unconscious of the “final” text, Portrait of the Artist. The draft may contain elements that are repressed and transformed by the linguistic mechanisms analogous to the dream-work as the author revises the text. In becoming more “artful,” the final version may indeed subject the draft to the process of linguistic encoding analogous to the production of a dream out of the forbidden desires restricted to the unconscious. In political terms, the repression of what is forbidden in the change from draft to final text may reflect the role of ideology as an internalized censor that allows the revelation of a given story only if it is concealed through the mechanisms of the dream-work. Existence of the draft potentially aids the interpretation of what is hidden in the final text. The earlier text may erupt into the gaps of the later text just as cultural and political rebellion disrupts the social order. Textual repression can reflect cultural and political oppression. Representing “the return of the repressed,” the draft version may contain a powerful and forbidden critique of the social order reflected in the final text.
And yet, a chain of drafts and texts with the same characters invokes Freud’s theory of serial dreams and repetition. Stephen’s reappearance in text after text suggests another form of the return of the repressed. Especially in autobiographical texts, writing, as well as reading, can be regarded as a scene of transference where the drama of repetition, resistance, and working through is enacted. Different drafts of a final text or texts in a series can be interpreted as repetitions in which the author is working through conflicts in an effort (conscious or unconscious) to move from repetition to remembering. Within this context the earlier drafts may well be the most repressed, most subject to resistance and transference, while the final text may represent in certain respects the author’s capacity, achieved through language, to bring to conscious memory the issues repressed in the prior drafts. Similarly, in a series of texts with the same character, the early text may be the most distorted or timid, while the last text may represent the author’s success in working through repetition to remembering.13
I am suggesting, in other words, the necessity of reading a chain of related texts “both ways”—on the one hand by refusing to regard the final text simply as aesthetically superior, the teleological endpoint of all the others, and on the other hand, by recognizing that repression can be present at the beginning as well as the end the process.14 Rather than searching for the “authentic” version, I want to regard all versions as part of a larger composite text whose parts remain distinct yet interact according to a psycho-political dynamic to which we have some access with the help of Freud’s grammar for the dream-work. This fluid method for reading a palimpsestic text further suggests that neither the beginning nor the endpoint in a textual series should be privileged as the most or least repressed. Rather, all texts in the series can be read as sites of repression and disguised expression. In addition to reading both ways, we need to read the texts in a series relationally, recognizing that what may be condensed or distorted in one text may appear in less disguised forms in another. The object of this psycho-political hermeneutic is not a single, fixed reading of repression and expression, but rather perpetually shifting and relational readings that can give us some sort of access to the textual and political unconscious of a writer’s oeuvre.
Stephen Hero and Portrait
If we superimpose Portrait on top of Stephen Hero, Portrait reads like a dreamscape and primer of the modernist break with the conventions of nineteenth-century realism, as many critics have argued. Reading Joyce’s early development through the lens of Finnegans Wake, John Paul Riquelme finds the realist “muddles” of Stephen Hero a stage Joyce had to grow beyond to achieve the masterful sharpness of Portrait’s modernist style.15 Riquelme’s evident distaste for Stephen Hero is more overt than most critics’, but his assertion that Portrait represents Joyce’s emergence out of a realist/ naturalist discourse into a recognizably modernist one is common.16 Joyce’s letters and conversations with friends, as well as the vast archive of manuscript material, suggest that he regularly engaged in an extraordinarily self-conscious process of layered writing and rewriting and thus foster the view that the difference between Stephen Hero and Portrait resulted from conscious aesthetic choice. Moreover, the contemporary privileging of modernism over realism (and postmodernism over modernism) has led to teleological readings of his revisions and developing oeuvre as necessarily progressive, with each text an “advance” over the one before.17 I do not question the force of Joyce’s conscious intention or the significance for literary history of his emergent modernism, but I want to suggest that revision, like composition, is an overdetermined process that incorporates unconscious motivations as well as conscious ones and cannot be fully understood solely in terms of poetics and literary history.
Traces of the unconscious processes of Joyce’s revisions reside in the usefulness of Freud’s grammar of the dream-work for reading the transition from realism to modernism marked by Stephen Hero and Portrait. The condensation of Stephen’s family name from Daedalus in Stephen Hero to Dedalus in Portrait is symptomatic of the operation of the dream-work in the revision process. The absence of the a provides Portrait’s Dedalus with what Riffaterre calls a “verbal unconscious”: the Greek name Daedalus is both there and not there in Stephen’s name. This condensation disrupts an allegorical equation of Stephen with the brilliant Greek artificer Daedalus and introduces irony into Joyce’s mythic analogue. The letter change questions, for example, whether Stephen’s kinship is with the father or the foolhardy son Icarus; the sound change (from Daedalus to Dedalus) also puns on the word dead, which suggests Stephen’s paralysis to come and his obsession with death in Ulysses.18, “Names! What’s in a name?” someone, echoing Shakespeare, asks Stephen in the ninth episode (“Scylla and Charybdis”) of Ulysses.19 The deletion of the a establishes an ironic indeterminacy, an open-endedness that invites the reader to complete its interpretation—all qualities we have come to associate with modernism.
Condensation is clearly a major principle of revision in the transformation of Stephen Hero into Portrait.20 Before Joyce abandoned the unfinished Stephen Hero in 1906, the manuscript was already about a thousand pages. Moreover, the 253 extant pages of Stephen Hero focus on a time period covered in 93 pages of Portrait.21 More important, Portrait is stripped of what critics have called its naturalist setting and panoply of characters to focus entirely on Stephen. As Stephen himself prophetically states in Stephen Hero, “Isolation is the first principle of artistic economy” (SH, 33). Maurice and Isabel, Stephen’s siblings in Stephen Hero, vanish, highlighting Stephen’s alienation within the family. As Bonnie Kime Scott has pointed out in Joyce and Feminism, Emma Clery, a fully drawn character, a fellow student and feminist in Stephen Hero, is reduced to the initials E.C. in Portrait, a wraithlike fantasy of Stephen’s desire instead of a woman who speaks her own mind.22 Many episodes have been dropped from the later text. Stephen’s delivery of his paper on Ibsen at the Debating Society and the traumatic death of his sister Isabel are two of the more important incidents to be erased.23 Even the narrator in Stephen Hero, whose commentary is at times essayistic, disappears into a Jamesian center of consciousness which unrelievedly follows Stephen in Portrait. Accomplished in part by condensation, this focus on Stephen’s subjectivity parallels what Freud calls the overwhelming egotism of the dream-world and embodies the foregrounding of consciousness that we associate with modernism.24
Displacement also contributes to the transformation of Stephen Hero into Portrait in ways that highlight the later text’s modernism. In Stephen Hero, for example, Stephen’s aesthetic theory appears near the middle of the extant manuscript, at the beginning and end of Chapter 19, first in the narrator’s discursive summary of his ideas and then in a dramatic episode in which Stephen expounds his Aqui-nian theory of the beautiful to the president of his college in defense of what the president calls his heretical paper representing “the sum-total of modern unrest and modern freethinking” (SH, 91). But in Portrait, Stephen’s theorizing on integritas, consonantia, and claritas appears in direct dialogue with Lynch in the penultimate chapter, immediately preceding his decision to leave Ireland. His audience is not the Censor, who is won over by the brilliance of his defense in Stephen Hero, but rather the scatological and materialist collegemate, who is preoccupied with scratching his groin, swearing, thinking about his “yellow drunk” the night before, remembering how he ate cow dung as a boy, and connecting desire to writing his name on the backside of the Venus of Praxiteles (P, 204–10). Joyce’s displacement of Stephen’s aesthetic theory from the president’s chambers to the walk with Lynch undermines Stephen’s stance as romantic artist-hero in Stephen Hero and contributes to the modernist irony of Joyce’s self-portrait in Portrait.
Stephen’s composition of the villanelle in Portrait is both a displacement and a condensation of related events in Stephen Hero. In the earlier text Stephen hesitantly shows a poem of desire to his brother Maurice, who immediately asks “who she was” (SH, 36). Stephen does not name or even know his muse, but desire fuels his verbal longing: “The dawn awakes with tremulous alarms / … O, hold me still white arms, encircling arms!” (SH, 37). Emma Clery, with her “warm” body and inviting eyes, increasingly fleshes out his disembodied muse. Catching sight of Emma one day through the college window, Stephen madly rushes after her to say: “I felt that I longed to hold you in my arms—your body. I longed for you to take me in your arms. … Just to live one night together, Emma, and then to say goodbye in the morning and never to see each other again!” (SH, 198). Emma is hurt, angry, and confused. “You are mad, Stephen,” she says twice as she breaks away from him (SH, 198–99). Thereafter she refuses to acknowledge Stephen, including the moment when she pointedly ignores him and bows slightly to his friend Cranly (SH, 215). Stephen in turn is angry with what he sees as her conventionality, coupled with the inviting warmth of her body. Thinking of her as “the most deceptive and cowardly of marsupials,” Stephen composes “some ardent verses which he entitled a ‘Vilanelle of the Temptress’” (SH, 210–11).
In Portrait this matrix of Emma’s anger and Stephen’s desire, his frustration, and the villanelle is collapsed into a single episode in the final chapter, which reweaves words and images from the earlier text to suggest the origins of poetry in unfulfilled and displaced desire. In Portrait there is no discussion with Maurice, no early verses about “encircling arms,” no mad proposition for a one-night tryst, no angry woman who is hurt and insulted. Instead, everything takes place within Stephen’s mind. His distant and bitter observation from afar of E.C. with her companions leads him to lie half awake the next morning in the dawn of desire to compose lines about a woman he does not name. “It was that windless hour of dawn when madness wakes”; Stephen feels encircled in the “pale cool waves of light,” and the opening line comes to him: “Are you not weary of ardent ways?” (P, 217). Four times this refrain punctuates Stephen’s villanelle in Portrait (223–24), with “ardent” echoing its first appearance in the scene from Stephen Hero where Stephen composes “some ardent verses” called “Vilanelle of the Temptress” (SH, 211). The desire that led Stephen to his mad act of a proposition in Stephen Hero is sublimated in Portrait into the creation of a poem. The poem itself embeds the narrative that was acted out in Stephen Hero. The poet’s question, “Are you not weary of ardent ways?” expresses Stephen’s anger at a woman whose body invites but denies: “And still you hold our longing gaze / With languorous look and lavish limb” (P, 223). She is a “temptress,” and Stephen’s villanelle in Portrait is the poet’s revenge for unrequited love. The transposition accomplished by this sublimating condensation of Stephen’s desire suggests that the move to (male) modernism coincides with the production of woman as representation—as, that is, a signifier originating in and functioning for the subject who is male.
The condensation of Emma Clery into E.C. in Portrait is accompanied by a dramatic intensification of nonrational modes of representation. In contrast to Stephen Hero, Portrait is a lyric novel whose narrative is continually forwarded by the complex web of figurative language which encodes the kinetic movement of the plot. Bird motifs, color clusters, alternating binaries (for example, light/dark, warm/cool, fire/water, virgin/whore, holy/polluted, word/flesh, body/soul, and so on), linguistic and structural repetitions, rhythmic patterns, and sound play weave the text into a whole and disrupt the linear direction of the surface narrative. Such stylistic patterns in Portrait are well known and need no review. But their absence from Stephen Hero and presence in Portrait suggest a heightening of linguistic processes that Freud associates with the dream-work and that later analysts such as Lacan and Kristeva identify with the discourse of the unconscious. Kristeva in particular theorizes that all texts constitute the subject through a dialectical interplay of what she calls the semiotic and symbolic modes of discourse.25 In modernist (and postmodernist writing), she suggests, the semiotic register, based in the pre-oedipal stage of psychosexual development, erupts more insistently into the symbolic register of the text than it did in premodernist writing. Nondiscursive and lyric, the semiotic mode is more evident in Portrait than it is in Stephen Hero.26
For Colin MacCabe, this lyric or semiotic dimension of Portrait signifies the later text’s resistance to narrative and renunciation of “classic realism,” the “meta-language” of the fathers. Portrait, he argues in James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word, “attempts to evade paternal identification and, in that evasion, to let the desire of the mother speak.”27 His view is consistent with those, such as Sheldon Brivic, who suggest that the modernist and especially postmodernist writing of Joyce represents a man “writing as a woman,” forging l’écriture féminine, or speaking the discourse of the Other in a subversion of the phallogocentric discourse of the father.28 I want to suggest in contrast that Portrait’s modernist revision of Stephen Hero represents the silencing of the mother, the erasure of her subjectivity, and the creation of the m/other who exists for and in the discourse of the son who thereby takes his place in the symbolic order of the father. This production of the mother as signifier of the son’s desire is symptomatic of the repression of female subjectivity in general: the agency of women as mothers, lovers, and actors on the literary and political stage of modern life.
I arrive at this reading by focusing on what MacCabe ignores: the role of the dream-work in compromising with the strictures of the censor, that agency which represents the internalization of cultural ideology. What, in other words, is repressed or censored out of Stephen Hero? What in the earlier text is so forbidden that it must be disguised in the revision? The answer centers, I believe, on the issue of the mother and what she represents to Stephen. Freud’s metaphor for the dream’s knot as a navel is prophetic for the transformation of the maternal in the movement from Stephen Hero to Portrait.29 In Stephen Hero the mother is a figure who is both inside and outside a patriarchal church and state from which Stephen must ultimately flee to become an artist. In Portrait Stephen’s projected exile represents a repudiation of the maternal, which incarnates the suffocating forces of the Irish church and state.
Censored out of Portrait is Stephen’s first confrontation with the censor, the president who represents the paternal authority of the church which stifles the modern, the freethinking, and the creative. Significantly, Stephen’s debate with the Censor in Stephen Hero follows a lengthy discussion of Henrik Ibsen with his mother. Stephen reads the paper he has written celebrating Ibsen as the spirit of the modern to his mother as she stands ironing. To his surprise she likes the paper and asks to read Ibsen. At first he imagines that all she wants is “to see whether I am reading dangerous authors or not” (SH, 85). But to his shock she reveals that “before I married your father I used to read a great deal. I used to take an interest in all kinds of new plays” (SH, 85). His father’s distaste for such things led her to stop. “Well, you see, Stephen,” she explains, “your father is not like you: he takes no interest in that sort of thing” (SH, 85). He is startled when she actually reads a group of plays “with great interest” and is amazed to watch her try to persuade his baffled and bored father to read the plays too. Stephen suspiciously asks whether she thinks Ibsen is “immoral,” writing about “subjects which, you think, should never be talked about.” Stephen tries, in other words, to put his mother in the position of the censor, a role she pointedly refuses. “Do you think these plays are unfit for people to read?” he asks. “No, I think they’re magnificent plays,” she answers. “And not immoral?” he repeats. “I think that Ibsen … has an extraordinary knowledge of human nature,” she says (SH, 87).
In liking Ibsen, Stephen is his mother’s child, not his father’s. The role of moral censor that Stephen anticipated his uneducated mother would play is actually acted out by her intellectual “superiors”—first, among Stephen’s classmates, the “young feminist” McCann, who says the paper is a “bit strong,” and the Irish nationalist Madden, who predicts that no one will understand it (SH, 105); then the president of the college, the Jesuit authority Father Dillon; and finally the audience, who react with general hostility. While Stephen’s father attends the Debating Society at which Stephen speaks, Stephen’s mother, the only one to appreciate his ideas, stays home. Outside the college that does not admit women, outside the Jesuit educational system, Stephen’s mother has a certain freedom the others do not possess to respond to Ibsen. The “modern” toward which Stephen aspires is presented as a legacy from his mother, not his father, a “freethinking” that can be nurtured only beyond the reach of the Jesuit Censor.30
That Ibsen should be the playwright to introduce Stephen to the mother who knows, the mother who speaks, the mother who thinks outside the Jesuit hegemony is no arbitrary choice. Ibsen’s women are powerful figures who insist on their status as human beings, as subjects in a patriarchal world that would confine them to what men desire them to be. Joyce’s first formal publication was “Ibsen’s New Drama,” a lengthy review essay focused on Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken, which was published in the Fortnightly Review (1900). In it Joyce praised Ibsen’s psychological realism, especially the “marvelous accuracy” of “his portrayal of women,” whom “he seems to know … better than they know themselves.”31 Joyce wrote his brother in 1907 that Ibsen “was the only writer that ever persuaded me that women had a soul.”32 Much later still, Joyce defended Ibsen to Arthur Power by saying that “the purpose of The Doll’s House, for instance, was the emancipation of women, which has caused the greatest revolution in our time in the most important revolution there is—that between men and women; the revolt of women against the idea that they are the mere instruments of men.”33 As with some of Ibsen’s women, the potential for freedom that Stephen’s mother represents is ultimately destroyed by the power of the church and the authority she is willing to give it. Her defense of Ibsen is ironically followed in Chapter 21 by her request for Stephen to perform his “Easter duty,” which he refuses to do (SH, 131). In the context of her superiority to Father Dillon about Ibsen, her naive faith in the church represents a betrayal of the freethinking to which her position as a woman privileges her. In refusing her request, Stephen remains true to the legacy she has betrayed for herself but passed on to him.
In Portrait the paper on Ibsen has vanished, along with the mother who knows and the father who censors. What remains is his mother’s request that Stephen perform his Easter duty and his ringing non serviam, displaced into the final chapter of Portrait and embedded in his last conversation with Cranly as the climactic preparation for his flight. As Hélène Cixous points out, Portrait portrays words as Stephen’s legacy from his father, while the body that he both desires and hates is his inheritance from his mother. As a secondary revision of Stephen Hero, Portrait reorders the Bildung narrative of development along classically oedipal lines. The mother is the figure from whom Stephen must separate, for whom he must repress and ultimately sublimate his desire.34
As Portrait’s famous opening paragraph establishes, the father is the storyteller, the impresario of words, while the maternal is associated with the “moocow,” taste, smells, blossoms, music, nonsense syllables, and warm urine—a sort of Kristevan semiotic (P, 7). Initiation at school involves learning that a boy shouldn’t “kiss his mother before he goes to bed” (P, 14). Initiation as a youth, as Su-zette Henke argues, means oscillating between desire for and loathing of the maternal body—in its pure form, the madonna; in its polluted form, the whore. Youth also means identification with the awesome power of the priest, whose word can bring the spirit of Christ into the flesh and blood of the Eucharist.35 Even when Stephen rejects the power with which the Jesuit tempts him in Chapter 4, he takes on the priest’s authority in the secular domain of art. Stephen’s birth as an artist in Chapter 5, however qualified through irony, nonetheless represents his identification with the legacy of the fathers’ exercising the authority of Logos. Within a Lacanian framework Stephen’s Bildung follows the expected pattern of the son who has come to take up his position within the Symbolic Order according to the Law of the Father. The endless deferral of his desire—first for his mother, then for E.C.—is what allows him to occupy the position of the subject, the master of the signifier.36
The identification of Stephen’s mother with the body instead of the word in Portrait is evident in the transposition of kitchen scenes between mother and son from Stephen Hero to Portrait. In the earlier text Stephen reads his paper while his mother irons, her thoughts moving back and forth with her arm (SH, 83–87). But in Portrait this scene is moved to the opening of the final chapter and represents the only substantial scene in the novel in which she appears directly, unmediated by Stephen’s representation of her (P, 175–76).37 Instead of discussing Ibsen, Stephen’s mother agrees to bathe him, complains that “a university student is so dirty that his mother has to wash him,” but does not contradict him when he “calmly” counters, “But it gives you pleasure” (P, 175). The mother who knows is replaced by the mother whose pleasure is to care for her son’s body. As for his soul, she is convinced in Portrait that he has been corrupted by his reading: “Ah, it’s a scandalous shame for you, Stephen, … and you’ll live to rue the day you set your foot in that place. I know how it has changed you” (P, 175). In Portrait Stephen’s mother occupies the position of censor she had repeatedly refused in Stephen Hero.
With the removal of the Jesuit censors from Stephen Hero, the mother in Portrait remains the central force opposed to Stephen’s flight into the modern. In this role she represents the suffocations of both church and state in Ireland. Ireland is the “fatherland” in Stephen Hero, a nomenclature reinforced by the power of the male priesthood, from whom Stephen must escape (SH, 53, 77).38 In refusing the appeal to Irish nationalism made by Madden and other classmates, Stephen is denying his patrimony. In Portrait Stephen tells Cranly that he will not serve his “fatherland” (P, 247), but in the lyric web of the text Ireland has become feminized, frighteningly maternal. Stephen bitterly calls his country “the old sow that eats her farrow” (P, 203), a line that recurs in Ulysses and anticipates Stephen’s association of Ireland with Old Gummy Granny in Nighttown (U, 15.4578–88). “When the soul of man is born in this country,” Stephen tells the Irish peasant-student Davin, “there are nets flung at it to hold it back from flight. You talk to me of nationality, language, religion. I shall try to fly by those nets” (P, 203). The peasant woman who called Davin to her bed one dark night epitomizes that Irish net to Stephen. Absorbing Davin’s story in horrified fascination, Stephen remembers
[the] figure of the woman in the story [who] stood forth, reflected in other figures of the peasant women whom he had seen standing in the doorways at Clane … as a type of her race and his own, a batlike soul waking to the consciousnes of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness and, through the eyes and voice and gesture of a woman without guile, calling the stranger to her bed. (P, 183)
In the wake of this story, the request of Stephen’s mother that he remember his religion is tantamount to the peasant woman’s “calling the stranger to her bed.” Cranly reminds Stephen of the constancy of a mother’s love and concludes his appeal by softly singing an Irish tune: “For I love sweet Rosie O’Grady / And Rosie O’Grady loves me” (P, 244). But Stephen counters this conflation of mother love and Ireland by announcing his commitment to “unfettered freedom” (P, 246). In psychodynamic terms Stephen’s exile is matricidal. The final diary entry in Portrait represents the son’s erasure of the maternal and identification and embrace of the Father: “21 April: Old father, old artificer, stand me now and ever in good stead” (P, 253).
What happens to Stephen’s mother in Portrait is symptomatic of what happens to Emma Clery in the secondary revision of Stephen Hero. No doubt caught in the conventions of the patriarchal church and state, Emma nonetheles advocates an end to the exclusion of women from the university, refuses to be expended in the economy of Stephen’s desire, and chooses to whom she will direct her attention in Stephen Hero. While none of these acts poses a radical challenge to Irish patriarchy, each demonstrates a degree of female agency that Stephen himself would deny her. His anger at her independence—akin perhaps to W. B. Yeats’s frustration with Maud Gonne—anticipates Joyce’s censorship of that agency in Portrait. As E.C. she is the temptress who flirts with the priest, the tease who leads Stephen on, lyrically linked to both virgin and whore. Scarcely ever a character who speaks and acts in Portrait, E.C. has become a representation of woman primarily existing in and for Stephen’s subjectivity.39
The narrative of the mother who knows and the lover who speaks in Stephen Hero is the political unconscious of Portrait, censored out of the later text as Joyce forges the language of modernity. These transformations of the mother and lover suggest that the development of Joyce’s modernism—and perhaps the phenomenon of male modernism in general—involves the repression of the mother, of woman, as subject. In Lacanian terms, woman in Portrait exists as the position of castration—as the Other (m/other) who cannot speak, but whose function as signifier within the chain of signification in the Symbolic Order is essential. To put it simply, a Lacanian theory of the subject, which is dependent on the presumption that the phallus is the transcendental signifier, suggests that the subject—a position implicitly reserved for men—cannot speak without the silence of the Other, a place occupied by women. While Lacan’s concept of the subject in language is presented in universalistic terms, I am suggesting that it is itself an extension of the modernism represented in Joyce’s Portrait—the male modernism premised on the erasure of women’s agency in language and women’s reduction from subject to object in a male economy of desire.40
This censorship of women’s speech in Portrait parallels the erasure of feminism itself as a discourse from Stephen Hero, prefigures the marginalization of women writers within the literary histories of modernism, and points to another dimension of the political unconscious of the later text. In Stephen Hero feminism, nationalism, and pacifism are the three political movements debated among the students. Stephen denies the relevance of all three to his development as an artist. But what is relevant here is the presence of feminism as an issue that Stephen must work through. One of the early extant chapters of Stephen Hero presents a sharp debate between Stephen and McCann about feminism. Formulaically identified at several points as “the young feminist,” McCann argues forcefully for the rights of women to have access to all spheres of life. “Stephen delighted to riddle these theories with agile bullets,” the narrator tells us, not only by bringing the authority of the church to bear, but also by linking feminism with McCann’s prudish chastity and advocacy of abstinence from alcohol (SH, 49).41
In Portrait this debate has vanished; McCann is a greatly reduced character, and his feminism is condensed into one pejorative comment made about him by a mocker: “No stimulants and votes for the bitches” (P, 195). As in Stephen Hero, McCann in Portrait asks Stephen, without success, to sign the petition for the tsar on peace. But his role as serious advocate for feminism is repressed in the process of revision. The disappearance of Stephen’s paper on Ibsen in Portrait can also be read as part of this general suppression of feminism in the discourse of (male) modernism. Ibsen’s trapped but powerful heroines were frequently associated with “the woman question” at the turn of the century—most especially Nora in The Doll’s House, a connection alluded to in Stephen’s discussions with McCann and his mother (SH, 52, 86). Stephen’s interpretation of Ibsen in Stephen Hero anticipates the erasure of Ibsen from Portrait. In touting Ibsen as the avant-garde of the modern, Stephen sees him “as free from any missionary attempt,” free from the shackles of using “art to instruct, to elevate, and to amuse” (SH, 92, 79). Ibsen perfectly embodies for Stephen the aesthetic of Aquinas—“Pulcra sunt quae visa placent. … the beautiful as that which satisfies the esthetic appetite”—an advocacy of art based on “integritas, consonantia, claritas” (SH, 95–96). Unnamed in Portrait, Stephen’s Ibsen in Stephen Hero is the textual unconscious buried within his description of the ideal dramatist in Portrait: “The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails” (P, 215).42
The censorship of debate about feminism evident in the revision of Stephen Hero in turn replicates the gradual erasure of feminism as part of the agenda of the modern in the heady days of prewar modernism. As Rachel Blau DuPlessis has argued, the name change of The New Freewoman to The Egoist in December 1913 is symptomatic of a shift in modernism.43 Founded in 1911 by the militant feminist Dora Marsden, The Freewoman and its 1912 successor, The New Freewoman, advocated a broad-ranging cultural revolution that would affect not only the arts but also the institutions of sexuality, the family, work, and the state. What Marsden called “egoism” was central to her feminism, which promoted for both women and men a radical severing of the self from the confinements of social obligation and convention. After The New Freewoman changed its name to The Egoist to reflect Marsden’s philosophy, however, the feminist agenda of the journal was gradually marginalized as Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, and T. S. Eliot increasingly used the journal to promote modernism.44 Significantly, Portrait, which itself had censored feminism out of Stephen Hero, began its serialization in the newly named Egoist in February 1914.The textual and political unconscious of Portrait represented in Stephen Hero replicates the way feminism became the political unconscious of male modernism, the way women’s writing became what was censored out of the literary histories of modernism itself.
Repetition and Remembering
Reading Stephen Hero as the textual and political unconscious of Portrait demonstrates how the psychodynamics of revision are based in the repression of woman as subject, an act of the internalized censor that replicates the oppression of women in history. But what about what I have called reading both ways? Freud’s concept of serial dreams, whereby the earliest ones are the most repressed, suggests that Stephen Hero may itself represent the operation of the censor, while Joyce’s later texts about Stephen may reflect his efforts to work through repetition to remembering. To chart this process through the succession of texts about Stephen, we must examine the origins of these autobiographical self-creations—textu-alizations of the self—in Joyce’s own life. Central to these (re)productions of Stephen is the early death of Joyce’s mother on August 13, 1903. The birth of Stephen D(a)edalus and the death of May Joyce are forever linked by the publication of Joyce’s story “The Sisters” under the nom de plume “Stephen Daedalus” on the first anniversary of his mother’s death.45 I suggest that Joyce repeated this connection in every text featuring Stephen, and that what governs these transferential repetitions can be called an Orestes complex: a repressed fear that his break from his mother was indeed matricidal, that his glorious flight into the modern required killing his mother, an act that, however necessary to his art, paralyzes him with guilt. Writing over and over again the story of Stephen represents for Joyce the exorcism of his mother’s ghost and the search for expiation—a repetition, in other words, of the movement of Aeschylus’s Oresteia.46
The key to this reading of Stephen’s Orestes complex is a major displacement that both Stephen Hero and Portrait make in relation to the sequence of events in Joyce’s life—namely, placing Stephen’s refusal of his mother’s request that he perform his Easter duty before his flight to Paris, instead of after his return. The telegram calling Joyce home from Paris with the words “MOTHER DYING COME HOME FATHER” arrived in April 1903. In a panic, Joyce scraped together the money to get home and found his mother not on her deathbed but quite ill and suffering from what her doctor diagnosed as cirrhosis of the liver. Fear of her impending death, according to Richard Ellmann, led May Joyce at this point to ask her son just after Easter to make his confession and take communion. Joyce absolutely refused, in spite of tears which led to her vomiting green bile into a basin. Joyce was disconsolate in the long months waiting for his mother to die from what was finally recognized as cancer. Her vomiting grew much worse over the summer. John Francis Byrne, Joyce’s closest friend and the model for Cranly, chastised Joyce for not alleviating her suffering by going through the motions of confession and communion. “Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not,” Byrne recalls telling Joyce in his memoir Silent Years.47 But Joyce still refused. While his mother lay in her final coma, Joyce’s uncle ordered Joyce and his brother Stanislaus to kneel. Both refused. Later that night, after her death, Joyce and his sister Margaret got up at midnight to see her ghost. Margaret reported seeing her in the “brown habit in which she was buried.” In spite of his refusals, Joyce later comforted his youngest sister, Mabel, by telling her: “Mother is in heaven. She is far happier now than she has ever been on earth. … You can pray for her if you wish, Mother would like that. But don’t cry any more.”48
In his tell-all letter to Nora Barnacle a year after his mother’s death (August 29, 1904), Joyce took some responsibility for her death and justified his unwillingness to marry Nora as a refusal to participate in the institution of the middle-class Irish family which had victimized May Joyce: “My mother was slowly killed, I think, by my father’s ill-treatment, by years of trouble, and by my cynical frankness of conduct. When I looked on her face as she lay in her coffin—a face grey and wasted with cancer—I understood that I was looking on the face of a victim and I cursed the system which had made her a victim.”49
Not until Ulysses, however, was Joyce able to write overtly about his mother’s death. But he did repeatedly write covertly about aspects of her dying. Elements of the biographical sequence appear in variously distorted forms in a chain of texts. These can be read according to Freud’s notion of the dream series in which the first are the most “timid” while the last are the least censored. The series begins with a highly coded poem about grief; titled “Tilly,” it was written shortly after May’s death but not published until 1927. Starting out in the third person, the poem focuses on a cowherd who drives the cows home with “a flowering branch before him.” The cows listen to his voice that “tells them home is warm. / They moo and make brute noise with their hoofs.” The final stanza switches into the first person to record surrealist images of inarticulate grief:
Boor, bond of the herd,
Tonight stretch full by the fire!
I bleed by the black stream
For my torn bough!50
This poem suggests in condensed and nonreferential form some of the images that become associated with Stephen in later texts. For example, the cows longing for the warmth of home prefigure the maternal “moocow” that comes down the road in the opening section of Portrait, as well as the multiple cows of Ulysses. The movement from “flowering branch” to bleeding “torn bough” suggests Stephen’s “ashplant,” which makes an occasional appearance in Portrait and serves as a major attribute of Stephen’s weary sterility—the phallus that does not flower—in Ulysses. The alliteration of b’s in “boor,” “bond,” “bleed,” “black,” and “bough” links the words together in a web of vile liquid that may displace his mother’s vomit into an image of his grief and prefigure the snotgreen sea and bile of Ulysses.
As a lyric poem in which the personal has been made “invisible, refined out of existence,” “Tilly” does not gesture at its autobiographical origins in the death of May Joyce.51 Nor does “A Portrait of the Artist,” the narrative-essay written in January 1904 about an unnamed adolescent forging the principles of his aesthetic. But the first paragraph focuses on the issue of memory and proposes that the past is not an “iron, memorial aspect” but is fluidly present as a successions of pasts in the consciousness of the moment (P, 257). A “portrait,” Joyce states, follows “the curve of an emotion” (P, 258). The emotion in “A Portrait of the Artist” centers mainly on aesthetics, but a hint of the essay’s textual unconscious resides in the distanced abstraction of an interchange between the youth and his friend: “Moreover, it was impossible that a temperament ever trembling towards its ecstacy should submit to acquiesce, that a soul should decree servitude for its portion over which the image of beauty had fallen as a mantle. One night in the early spring, standing at the foot of the staircase in the library, he said to his friend ‘I have left the Church’” (P, 260). The narrator cryptically alludes in autobiographical terms to May Joyce’s request that Joyce take communion and his refusal to do so for the sake of his art. But significantly, the essay contains not a single reference to the youth’s mother, let alone her request about communion or her death.
Stephen Hero and Portrait come closer to reproducing this scene of the mother’s dying request and the son’s refusal. The youth’s dramatic announcement to his friend about leaving the church is repeated in a more direct and expanded form in both Stephen Hero (SH, 138) and Portrait (P, 238—39). But the mother’s illness is still repressed, and the chronological sequence is still altered. Both Stephen Hero and Portrait place Stephen’s refusal of his mother’s request in a period before his flight to Paris, indeed as a metonymic representation of why he must go to Paris. In censoring May Joyce’s illness and in displacing the chronology of her dying request, both texts avoid “remembering” the guilt and longing that impel the texts in the first place.
Joyce began writing Stephen Hero shortly after the magazine Dana rejected “A Portrait of the Artist” as incomprehensible. The discursive abstractions of the essay gave way to the direct narrative and dramatic dialogue of Stephen Hero. As we have seen, Stephen’s mother appears regularly and centrally in the extant manuscript as a woman with whom he partially identifies and sympathizes. In addition to his mother’s pleasure in Ibsen, Stephen is bonded to his mother in a moment of mutual horror just before his sister Isabel dies, a scene censored out of Portrait. The setting is deathlike: “He breathed an air of tombs” one evening as he “sat (silent) at his piano while the dusk enfolded him. … Above him and about him hung the shadow of decay, the decay of leaves and flowers, the decay of hope” (SH, 162). Suddenly, Stephen’s “dismal” scene is interrupted by his mother’s terrified voice calling out to him:
—What ought I to do? There’s some matter coming away from the
hole in Isabel’s … stomach … Did you ever hear of that happening?
—I don’t know, he answered trying to make sense of her words, trying
to say them again to himself.
—Ought I send for the doctor … Did you ever hear of that? … What
ought I do?
—I don’t know … What hole?
—The hole … the hole we all have … here. (SH, 163)
Vile liquid oozes out of the navel. The chapter ends abruptly in this hole of death—the navel, the point of contact with mystery, the maternal body, the knot of the dream-text according to Freud. Could this be a condensed and displaced dream-text for May Joyce’s death as it remained in the textual unconscious of Joyce’s autobiographical writing? Certainly Joyce’s substitution of a sister for the brother, George, who died in 1902 of peritonitis is curious.52 Joyce was, it is true, very disturbed by his brother’s death. But why did he change a brother into a sister? We can read Isabel additionally as a screen for his mother. Stephen himself in Stephen Hero links mother and daughter as religious. Stephen “felt very acutely the futility of his sister’s life,” wasted not only by death but also by her devotion to the church (SH, 165). A “stranger to him,” she “had acquiesced in the religion of her mother; she had accepted everything that had been proposed to her. If she lived she had exactly the temper for a Catholic wife of limited intelligence and of pious docility” (SH, 126). From Stephen’s perspective, the church had stolen her freedom, just as it had his mother’s.
In metonymic terms, the connection between Stephen’s mother and Isabel lies even deeper. The odd emphasis on Isabel’s “hole” in the exchange between Stephen and his mother—heightened further by the repetition of ellipses in the text—suggests the vaginal “hole” of the female body as well, a “hole” or “lack” that mother and daughter share. This links up with an equally odd passage describing Lynch, who prides himself on calling “the hymeneal tract” by the term “oracle” (SH, 136).53 Stephen later uses “oracle” to mean a woman’s invitation to sex by which she tantalizes men (SH, 191). In Lacanian terms, woman’s “hole” or “lack” (state of castration) is an “oracle” that speaks in the cryptic, disguised grammar of the unconscious. Isabel’s “hole,” out of which the mark of her death oozes, signifies the constellation of death, birth, and sexuality that Stephen associates with the maternal body. In Stephen Hero, these associations exist only in a highly disguised form, but in Joyce’s later texts these links are explored with increasing directness.
Portrait is no more direct than Stephen Hero in presenting the mother’s dying or the son’s denying. But while this memory remains in the textual unconscious of Portrait, the later text does come closer than Stephen Hero to characterizing the “curve” of Joyce’s emotion in the months before his mother’s death. The final chapter of Portrait contains puzzling contradictions in tone. On the one hand, it includes Stephen’s expositions of his aesthetic theory, the production of his villanelle, and the ringing non serviam announced to Cranly. In terms of structure, these actions lead in a linear direction toward the climactic escape from the labyrinth of Dublin for artistic freedom in Paris. But Stephen’s affect is increasingly at odds with the narrative. Instead of tasting his coming freedom and power, Stephen wanders in weariness. Listening one night to the whirring flight and sharp cry of the swallows, Stephen is “jaded,” “leaning wearily on his ashplant” (P, 226, 224): “A sense of fear of the unknown moved in the heart of his weariness, a fear of symbols and portents, of the hawklike man whose name he bore soaring out of his captivity on osierwoven wings” (P, 225). The final diary section shows him all the more trapped in Emma’s net, as he records each glimpse he has of her. The truncated, near-inarticulate prose suggests more the discourse of illness than the prose of a poet-to-be. The final three diary entries reveal Stephen ready for flight, but the weary tone of the last chapter gives Stephen’s “Welcome, O life!” a hollow sound. Freud’s analysis of contradictory affect and story in a dream-text is perhaps relevant here (ID, 497–525). He argues that the affect of the dreamer’s persona is the key to the latent content, which is distorted in the dream’s narrative line. The Stephen who wanders Dublin wearily before his flight to Paris in Portrait parallels the Joyce who wandered those same streets as he waited for his mother to die.
The Stephen of Chapter 5 in Portrait is also akin in spirit to the Stephen of Ulysses. What separates them is the open discussion of the mother’s death in the later text. In Ulysses’ repetition of Stephen’s story, the dying and reproachful mother who has been repressed in prior texts returns in a rectified sequence. Gone is the pretense that the request to perform his Easter duties came before he went to Paris. Ulysses is instead quite direct in its portrait of Stephen’s obsession with his mother’s death and the suffering his refusal caused her. The story of the son in Ulysses is the narrative of the son’s guilt—“Agenbite of inwit. Conscience” (U, 1.481–82). Underlying that is the story of the son’s ambivalent longing for and repulsion from the maternal body he has renounced and lost.54 The ooze of death from Isabel’s hole in Stephen Hero reappears in Ulysses as the bile vomited by Stephen’s mother.
In the first episode of Ulysses the irreverent and heretical Buck Mulligan initiates the chain of accusations that centrally occupy Stephen’s thoughts throughout the day and night. As if he were the impresario of Stephen’s unconscious, Mulligan points to the nickname he has given Stephen (“O, my name for you is the best: Kinch, the knifeblade”), invites Stephen to look at the sea (“A great sweet mother? The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea. … She is our great sweet mother. Come and look”), identifies their tower as the “omphalos” (the navel), and accuses Stephen directly of responsibility for his mother’s death: “—The aunt thinks you killed your mother, he said. That’s why she won’t let me have anything to do with you. … You wouldn’t kneel down to pray for your mother on her deathbed when she asked you. … You crossed her last wish in death” (U, 1.78–80, 88–89, 207–9, 212). The image of his dying mother wells up in Stephen’s mind like the ghost that Hamlet sees and recapitulates the themes Mulligan introduced:
Silently, in a dream she had come to him after her death, her wasted body within its loose brown graveclothes giving off an odour of wax and rosewood, her breath, that had bent upon him, mute, reproachful, a faint odour of wetted ashes. Across the threadbare cuffedge he saw the sea hailed as a great sweet mother by the wellfed voice beside him. The ring of bay and skyline held a dull green mass of liquid. A bowl of white china had stood beside her deathbed holding the green sluggish bile which she had torn up from her rotting liver by fits of loud groaning vomiting. (U, 1, 102–10)
For Stephen, the sea images the dual aspect of his mother as “a great sweet mother” and the green bile she vomits. Her arms enfold and suffocate. She is the place of life and death, the site of origin and end, the omphalos of his existence. She is the body that is both pure and polluted, a matrix of what is taboo—both desired and feared by the son. During the “history” lesson in the second episode (“Nestor”), amor matris is bedrock, the real (U, 2.165–66). But the “history” which constitutes “the nightmare from which I am trying to awake” is personal—the “history” of his mother’s request, his refusal, her dying (U 2.371). As Stephen wanders on Sandycove in the third episode (“Proteus”), he borders the sea, the maternal body. The sight of a drowned dog reminds him of a drowned man who is like a projection of himself, a man drowned in the snotgreen sea of a great sweet mother. In Stephen’s Protean thoughts, the womb/ tomb of the “unspeeched” maternal body calls him to kiss—forever fusing love and death, desire and loathing, in a mother-son knot that bonds and binds:
Bridebed, childbed, bed of death, ghostcandled. Omnis caro ad te ven-iet. He comes, pale vampire, through storm his eyes, his bat sails bloodying the sea, mouth to her mouth’s kiss. … Mouth to her kiss. … Mouth to her mouth’s kiss.
His lips lipped and mouthed fleshless lips of air: mouth to her moomb. Oomb, allwombing tomb. His mouth moulded issuing breath, unspeeched: ooeeehah: roar of cataractic planets, globed, blazing, roaring wayawayawayawayaway. (U, 3.396–404)
Stephen’s theory about Hamlet is often read in relation to the theme of paternity, but this emphasis on the father-son relationship can also be interpreted as a screen for an underlying incestuous mother-son matrix. “A side eye at my Hamlet hat,” Stephen thinks in the passage that ends with his “mouth to her mouth’s kiss” (U, 3–390, 399). Like Jesus to the rabbis in the temple, Stephen in the library expounds to Dublin’s learned about how Shakespeare really identified with the cuckolded king in Hamlet, not with the son. This theory, based on a biographical reading, throws up an elaborate smokescreen, obscuring what Stephen shares with Hamlet: both are haunted by ghosts, both (according to a psychoanalytic reading which Joyce must have known) loved the forbidden flesh of their mothers.55 Stephen concludes his intellectual tour de force by stating that he does not believe a word of it, but this denial is in turn a clever deflection of a biographical reading of his own dream-texts. Like Shakespeare, he has displaced and distorted what bothers him, what he wants to repress.56
In the Nighttown episode (“Circe”), the nightmare of Stephen’s history returns yet again, this time without protective screens. Curiously, the dream sequence in which Stephen’s mother appears to him shows the least evidence of dream-work distortions. Once more his mother makes her request, once more he refuses, and once more he “kills” her by declaring “Non serviam!” and swinging in a blind drunk with his ashplant at the chandelier (U, 15.4172–4245). Stephen declares his independence from the church—“The intellectual imagination! With me all or not at all. … No! No! No! Break my spirit, all of you, if you can! I’ll bring you all to heel!” (U, 15.4227–36). But the dramatic confrontation between mother and son suggests that it is at base his mother, not religion, that he must deny. Stephen’s refusal of the Irish church and state in Portrait and Ulysses is unveiled in “Circe” as a flight from the maternal. To be an artist, Stephen must repress the mother. This he cannot do. Caught in the cycle of repetition, Stephen can only play out in symbolic terms the game Freud used to describe the repetition compulsion, the child’s endless enactment in “fort/da” of the separation from and return to the maternal body.
In relation to all the prior Stephen texts, Ulysses appears to accomplish for Joyce what Stephen within the narrative of the novel could not. It “remembers” what Stephen Hero and Portrait disguised and “forgot.” It names the pattern of repetition and confronts head-on the medusa of longing, loathing, and guilt. In the transferential scene of writing, Joyce works through his repetitions to remember what Stephen can only repeat. At the close of the novel, Stephen remains caught in his paralysis, with only the faintest suggestion that his welcome in the home of Bloom and Molly as surrogate parents might foreshadow a fertile reconciliation with his own family ghosts. But as Stephen’s creator, Joyce is not trapped in the same position as his character. Stephen in “Circe” tells his mother, “(choking with fright, remorse and horror) They say I killed you, mother. … Cancer did it, not I” (U, 15.4185–86). But in his selfconfession letter to Nora of August 29, 1904, Joyce accepted what Stephen denies—his own complicity in his mother’s death: “My mother was slowly killed, I think, by my father’s ill-treatment, by years of trouble, and by my cynical frankness of conduct.”57
The irony so characteristic of modernist texts distances Joyce from his portrait of his younger self and suggests that he sees himself as having moved beyond the psychic knot which tightens around Stephen. Bloom prophetically points to what might loosen the knot: “A girl. Some girl. Best thing could happen to him” (U, 15.4951). The way Joyce frames the autobiographical Stephen sequences is significant. Joyce cuts off his life story just at the point when he was about to meet Nora Barnacle on June 16, 1904. The day Ulysses takes place is the day Joyce’s life changed dramatically, but the event that was to have such consequences is suppressed in the novel. Ulysses bears witness to the influence Nora had on Joyce, but the meeting itself and the courtship that ensued exist only in the textual unconscious of the date, although it may also be present in displaced form in the memories of Bloom and Molly about their epiphanic moment in Gibraltar.58
It is curious that Joyce chose not to portray directly the love that helped him untie the knot of his own paralysis. We can only speculate why. But one reason might well be the unconscious incestuous nature of that relationship for Joyce. Joyce sometimes called Nora “Ireland,” and his letters to her in 1909 project onto her the same conflation of purity and pollution evident in Stephen’s images of the maternal body as both virgin and whore in Portrait and Ulysses. On September 2, 1909, for example, Joyce wrote Nora: “I wonder is there some madness in me. Or is love madness? One moment I see you like a virgin or madonna the next moment I see you shameless, insolent, half naked and obscene!”59 As a relatively uneducated woman of a class different from the middle-class circles in which the student Joyce traveled, Nora was markedly different from the educated, often self-identified feminist avatars of the “new woman” whom Joyce knew. Did Joyce project onto Nora the fantasies that he could not connect with women educated like himself? With Nora, did Joyce consciously or unconsciously hope to possess the maternal body of his fantasy, the womanly woman, the m/other without agency? Perhaps some of his anguish in his marriage related to his discovery that Nora, like his mother, like Emma Clery, could at times have a mind of her own. The story of Bloom is the serial to the story of Stephen. Like the ultimate indeterminacy of the dream-text, like the interminability of analysis in Freud’s schema, Ulysses only appears to “cure” the symptomatic complexes of its precursors. Ulysses and, after it, Finnegans Wake displace the problematics of male desire into new scenes of writing and reading.
“Reading both ways” with Joyce’s various presentations of Stephen D(a)edalus appears to suggest two opposing views. From one perspective, Portrait and Ulysses are more repressed texts than Stephen Hero because in the later texts, woman-as-subject has been erased and replaced by the woman who exists for the male subject as a crucial signifier in the chain of signification. In Portrait the mother and E.C. are projections of Stephen’s longing and loathing in a narrative of male individuation. In Ulysses Molly is not just Bloom’s fantasy, but she speaks only in the discourse of the Other, a pole within the binary that still privileges male subjectivity.60 And Stephen’s mother in Ulysses is no longer the mother who reads Ibsen but only the mother who embodies the net of Irish church and state. From this perspective Stephen Hero is the textual and political unconscious of Portrait and Ulysses. But from the perspective of writing as a scene of transference and potential “cure,” Stephen Hero (and the other early Stephen texts) is more repressed than the later versions, especially Ulysses. As early attempts to deal with Joyce’s feelings about his mother’s death, Stephen Hero and Portrait are more “timid” and distorted than Ulysses. Only after a series of textual repetitions can Joyce create a self-portrait that confronts the remorse, desire, and fear he repressed after his mother’s dying.
What remains constant, however, in reading the process of censorship both ways is the centrality of the mother. In both cases the creation of Joyce’s modernist masterpieces depends on the censorship of the mother who speaks and acts, the mother who negotiates some sort of agency in spite of and within the confinements of patriarchy. What MacCabe calls Joyce’s increasing renunciation of “classic realism” carries with it a disturbing suppression of the mother’s speech. For MacCabe, we recall, Joyce’s modernity “attempts to evade paternal identification and, in that evasion, to let the desire of the mother speak.” But for me, Joyce’s modernity has put into play the son’s oedipal longing and Oresteian loathing for the mother. The price of the son’s speech is the mother’s silence.
MacCabe’s formulation of Joyce’s move from a regressive realism to a revolutionary modernism anticipates Alice Jardine’s latter concept of gynesis. She defines gynesis as “the putting into discourse of ‘woman’ as that process diagnosed in France as intrinsic to the condition of modernity; indeed, the valorization of the feminine, woman, and her obligatory, that is, historical connotations, as somehow intrinsic to new and necesssary modes of thinking, writing, speaking.”61 The epistemological crisis of modernity, Jardine argues, involves the dissolution of the unitary Cartesian subject fully known to itself. The subject of modernity, in contrast, pushes at the boundaries of the Other, the feminine, the unconscious, as Joyce’s texts increasingly do. This process, Jardine implicitly suggests, is largely found in male writing and has little to do with “real” women. Although Jardine’s Gynesis is in fundamental sympathy with MacCabe’s view of the revolutionary potential of modernity, she wonders momentarily what “the putting into discourse of woman” means for women:
It is always a bit of a shock to the feminist theorist when she recognizes that the repeated and infinitely expanded “feminine” in these theoretical systems often has very little, if anything to do with women. If everyone and everything becomes Woman—as a culture obsessively turns itself inside out—where does that leave women, especially if, in the same atmosphere, feminism is dismissed as anachronistic along with Man and History? … The problem is that within this ever-increasing inflation of quotation marks around the word “woman,” women as thinking, writing subjects are placed in the position of constantly wondering whether it is a question of women or woman, their written bodies or their written bodies.62
Within Jardine’s framework, Joyce’s texts about Stephen and his oeuvre in general increasingly perform “gynesis.” But as these texts progressively appropriate or, in Frances Restuccia’s terms, “ventriloquize” the feminine as a necessary enactment of his modernism (and postmodernism), they show an increasing inability to imagine “women as thinking, writing subjects.” This economy raises the questions with which I conclude. Is the making of Joyce’s modernism paradigmatic of male modernism in general? Is the silencing of women as subjects the linchpin to the production of the ever more artful voices of the men? Is the dominant literary history of modernism a “case history” of (male) readers who have been transferentially captured by the complexes of texts such as Joyce’s Portrait and Ulysses in which women as subjects have been swallowed up into the productions and representations of male modernists?63 Does male modernism, like Joyce’s Stephen texts, have a textual and political unconscious censored by the censor that Joyce himself censored out of his premodernist work in the making of modernism?
A short version of this essay was presented at the 1988 International Symposium on Joyce in Venice and published in the conference volume, The Languages of Joyce, ed. Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli, Carla Marengo, and Christine van Boheemen (Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 1992). For their suggestions I am grateful to my co-panelists in Venice, Jane Marcus and Daniel Ferrer, to Marilyn L. Brownstein, Robert Spoo, and my colleagues in the Draft Group at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, especially Phillip Herring, Cyrena Pondrom, Eric Rothstein, and Larry Scanlon.
1. See James Joyce, Stephen Hero, ed. John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon (New York: New Directions, 1963), 89–98, 181–82; hereafter cited in the text as SH.
2. James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: Text, Criticism, and Notes, ed. Chester G. Anderson (New York: Viking Press, 1968); hereafter cited in the text as P.
3. I first developed this approach in Penelope’s Web: Gender, Modernity, H.D.’s Fiction (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990); “The Return of the Repressed in Women’s Narrative,” Journal of Narrative Technique 19 (Winter 1989): 141–56; and “Hysteria, Dreams, and Modernity: A Reading of the Origins of Psychoanalysis in Freud’s Early Corpus,” in Reading the New, ed. Kevin Dettmar (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1992). After drafting this essay, I saw Margot Norris’s “Portraits of the Artist as a Young Lover,” in New Alliances in Joyce Criticism: “When It’s Aped to Foul a Delivery,” ed. Bonnie Kime Scott (Newark: University of Delaware Press, 1988), 144–52. Norris also reads Joyce’s Stephen texts as a palimpsestic, composite text; she includes Finnegans Wake in the series and sees the portrait of the artist in Joyce’s final text as an expose of Portrait’s “dead subject” (144).
4. Sigmund Freud, The Interpretation of Dreams (1900), trans. James Strachey (New York: Avon, 1965), 175–78, 543–44; hereafter cited in the text as ID. The censor in this early text is a precursor of the superego introduced in 1923 in The Ego and the Id, trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1961).
5. For Freud’s description of the dream-work, see Interpretation of Dreams, 311–546. Only in his so-called speculative writing, in which he theorized about the connection between the psyche and society—about, in other words, the psychological dimensions of social contract—did Freud seriously consider the significance of his comparison between state censorship and the internal censor. See especially Totem and Taboo (1913), trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1950), and Civilization and Its Discontents (1930), trans. James Strachey (New York: Norton, 1961).
6. For a discussion of narrative in the analytic situation, see Roy Shafer, “Narration in the Psychoanalytic Dialogue,” in On Narrative, ed. W. J. T. Mitchell (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981), 25–50.
7. See especially Freud, “The Dynamics of the Transference” (1912) and “Further Recommendations in the Technique of Psychoanalysis: Recollection, Repetition, and Working Through” (1914), both in his Therapy and Technique, ed. Philip Rieff (New York: Collier Books, 1963), 105–16, 157–66.
8. Colin MacCabe, James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word (London: Macmillan, 1978), 11.
9. Jonathan Culler, “Textual Self-Consciousness and the Textual Unconscious,” Style 18 (Summer 1984): 369–76; Shoshana Felman, “Turning the Screw of Interpretation,” Yale French Studies 55/56 (1977): 94–207.
10. Michael Riffaterre, “The Intertextual Unconscious,” Critical Inquiry 13 (Winter 1987): 385.
11. Fredric Jameson, The Political Unconscious: Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1981), 20.
12. Culler, “Textual Self-Consciousness,” 369.
13. See my Penelope’s Web, 136–214, for an analysis of how this process works in H.D.’s Paint It To-Day, Asphodel, and Bid Me to Live (A Madrigal). For an analysis of writing as transference, see Penelope’s Web, 281–354.
14. For a critique of the teleological attempt to find the “true” text in much textual criticism, see Jerome McGann, A Critique of Modern Textual Criticism (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983).
15. John Paul Riquelme, Teller and Tale in Joyce’s Fiction: Oscillating Perspectives (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1983), 94.
16. For discussions of the differences between Stephen Hero and Portrait, see, for example, Riquelme, Teller and Tale, 48–55, 86–97; Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 296–99; Bonnie Kime Scott, Joyce and Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984), 15–17, 29–33, 48–53, 133–55; MacCabe, James Joyce, 39–68; Norris, “Portraits”; William York Tindall, A Reader’s Guide to James Joyce (New York: Noonday Press, 1959), 101–3; James R. Sosnowski, “Reading Acts and Reading Warrants: Some Implication for Readers Responding to Joyce’s Portrait of Stephen,” James Joyce Quarterly 16 (1979): 43–63.
17. For examples of critics who read Joyce’s development from Stephen Hero to Portrait, from Portrait to Ulysses, from the first (stylistic) part to the second part of Ulysses, or from Ulysses to Finnegans Wake in terms of a progressive metanarrative (from realism/ naturalism to modernism or from modernism to postmodernism), see, for example, Riquelme, Teller and Tale; MacCabe, James Joyce; Frances Restuccia, Joyce and the Law of the Father (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988); Patrick McGee, Paperspace: Style as Ideology in Joyce’s Ulysses (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1988); Sheldon Brivic, Joyce between Freud and Jung (Port Washington, N.Y.: Kinnikat Press, 1980); Karen Lawrence, The Odyssey of Style in Ulysses (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1981); Brook Thomas, Ulysses: The Book of Many Happy Returns (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1982).
18. Joyce’s pronunciation of both Daedalus and Dedalus was “Deedalus,” according to Phillip Herring, a fact that might argue against a pun with “dead” in Dedalus. Herring suggests that the change might reflect Stephen’s insistence that his name is Irish, not Greek (conversation with author). However Joyce pronounced the names, the fluidity and multilayered play with words that characterize his work suggest the possibility of a pun in Dedalus. The missing a in Portrait may have migrated to the name of Stephen’s feminist friend, named McCann in Stephen Hero and MacCann in Portrait.
19. James Joyce, Ulysses, ed. Hans Walter Gabler et al. (New York: Random House, 1986), 9.901; hereafter cited in the text as U with episode and line numbers.
20. Although without reference to Stephen Hero, Maud Ellmann argues for Portrait’s modernity by demonstrating its synedochal economy and its radical transformation of “the tradition of the human subject” in “Disremembering Dedalus: ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,’” in Untying the Text: A Poststructuralist Reader, ed. Robert Young (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1981), 197.
21. For the history of Stephen Hero’s composition and the fate of the manuscript, see Theodore Spencer’s introduction to Stephen Hero, 7–17.
22. See Scott, Joyce and Feminism, 133–55.
23. Dropped from Portrait, Isabel may well have returned as Isabel in Finnegans Wake; but as Norris demonstrates, the Wake’s Isabel can also be read as a return of Stephen Hero’s Emma Clery (“Portraits,” 149).
24. The discursive narrator in Stephen Hero, rooted in the ethical and aesthetic commentaries of narrators in the works of giants such as William Makepeace Thackaray, Charles Dickens, and George Eliot, is also a carryover from Stephen Hero’s 1904 precursor, “A Portrait of the Artist” [P, 257–60), the text that Richard Ellmann calls a “narrative/ essay” (James Joyce, 147). For Freud’s discussion of egotism in dreams, see Interpretation of Dreams, 3o1ff., 407. In Stephen Hero, Stephen is frequently the center of consciousness, but the narrator often adopts a discursive role, and Cranly at one point is the center of consciousness for a sustained episode (SH, 123–25). For John Riquelme, the invisibility of the narrator in Portrait represents a merger of narrator and Stephen that is a mark of the text’s modernist narrative point of view (Teller and Tale, 54). Sheldon Brivic writes: “Joyce, rewriting Portrait to see his mental struggle as central to his age, was first to build an understanding of neurosis as the force of culture (Joyce between Freud to Jung, 52).
25. Julia Kristeva, Revolution in Poetic Language, trans. Margaret Waller (New York: Columbia University Press, 1984), 23–24.
26. While Joyce was writing Stephen Hero, he was also seriously engaged in writing lyrics, ultimately published as Chamber Music. By the time he wrote Portrait, he had largely abandoned poetry in verse, but instead introduced the lyric mode into his fiction. The semiotic continues to intensify in Joyce’s writing after Portrait. Portrait has a greater degree of the symbolic mode than Ulysses; the same is true of Ulysses in relation to Finnegans Wake.
27. MacCabe, James Joyce, 64.
28. See, for example, Sheldon Brivic, The Veil of Signs: Joyce, Lacan, and Perception (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1991), 23–29; Vicki Mahaffey, Reauthorizing Joyce (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 1–19; Suzette A. Henke, James Joyce and the Politics of Desire (New York: Routledge, 1990), 1–11, 126–63, 205–12. McGee in Paperspace and Restuccia in Joyce and the Law of the Fathers also see the transition from Joyce’s early realism to (post) modernism as a resistance to patriarchal authority and an attempt to put himself in the place of a woman. But Restuccia warns that not all antipatriarchalism is feminist and argues that Joyce does not speak as the feminine Other but rather “ventriloquizes” it as a symptom of his compensatory masochism (156–58). McGee sees Joyce’s resistance to the symbolic as symptomatic of the “repressed desire animating patriarchal ideology: man’s desire to be other, to be what he imagines a woman to be” (187); but he cautions: “Certainly, after feminism it is not in any simple sense woman’s desire” that Joyce speaks (187).
29. See Maud Ellmann’s discussion of Freud’s metaphor in relation to Portrait in “Disre-membering Dedalus,” in which she reads the text as “omphalocentric,” emphasizing the dissolution of identity (203–4). See also MacCabe, James Joyce (39–68), for a Lacanian reading of the move from the father to the mother in the two texts.
30. The point Joyce makes here is similar to the one Virginia Woolf makes in A Room of One’s Own (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1957) after she was locked out of the library at Oxbridge: “And I thought how unpleasant it is perhaps to be locked out; and I thought how it is worse perhaps to be locked in” (24).
31. James Joyce, The Critical Writings of James Joyce, ed. Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann (New York: Viking Press, 1959), 64. Vicki Mahaffey also stresses the importance of this essay, but in contrast to my emphasis on Ibsen as a writer whose use of realist conventions fostered his representations of female subjectivity, she argues that “Ibsen’s last play is a relentless inquest into the implications of realist representation” and became the starting point of Joyce’s “lifelong search for alternative means of producing and reproducing human experience” (Reauthorizing Joyce, 196); this reading of the signifiance of Ibsen for Joyce ignores Joyce’s praise for Ibsen’s realism in his essay.
32. Ellmann, James Joyce, 287.
33. Arthur Power, Conversations with James Joyce, ed. Clive Hart (New York: Barnes-Harper, 1974), 35. In “Stifled Back Answers: The Gender Politics of Art in Joyce’s ‘The Dead,”’ Modern Fiction Studies 35 (Autumn 1989): 479–506, Margot Norris argues that the political, socialist, and feminist Ibsen deeply influenced Joyce and contributed to Joyce’s later ironic exposure of aestheticism as antifeminist in such texts as “The Dead” and Portrait. Although she offers a powerful reading of “The Dead” in conjunction with When We Dead Awaken and The Doll’s House, I am not convinced that Joyce made the feminist critique she finds in the text and attributes to his conscious intention. The praise the eighteen-year-old Joyce heaped on Ibsen in “Ibsen’s New Drama” mentions nothing political and centers on the extraordinary “genius” Joyce saw in him and his powerful representations of bourgeois life rendered with such “accuracy.” Joyce’s admiration for Ibsen’s feminism expressed to Power does support Norris’s reading. But I would suggest that Joyce’s stance toward feminism was far more ambivalent than this statement allows. Norris’s belief that Joyce retained an unchanging admiration for a feminist and political Ibsen throughout his life does not take into account how Ibsen drops out of Stephen Hero in the construction of Portrait. Similarly, Norris uses her reading of Joyce’s feminist critique in “The Dead” as evidence that this critique is continuously present in Portrait and Ulysses, an assumption that ignores the development of Joyce’s oeuvre from the social and psychological realism of Dubliners and Stephen Hero to the modernism of Portrait and Ulysses.
34. Hélène Cixous, “Reaching the Point of Wheat, or A Portrait of the Artist as a Maturing Woman,” New Literary History 19 (Autumn 1987): 1–23. See also MacCabe, James Joyce, 56; and Christine Froula, “Gender and the Law of Genre: Joyce, Woolf, and the Autobiographical Artist-Novel,” in Scott, New Alliances, 155–64. Froula argues that as an autobiographical artist novel Portrait “represents its own origins not as a birth from a mother but as a triumphant self-fathering. … [I]n Portrait Stephen/Joyce’s actual maternal origin is strenuously overwritten by a symbolic paternal origin” (157).
35. Suzette A. Henke, “Stephen Dedalus and Women: A Portrait of the Artist as Young Misogynist,” in Women in Joyce, ed. Suzette A. Henke and Elaine Unkeless (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1982), 87–88, 101–2. See also Restuccia’s discussion of the Eucharist in Ulysses as a parody of the religious Law of the Father that Joyce invokes and then subverts through exaggeration [Joyce, 20–72).
36. See, for example, Jacques Lacan, “Seminar on The Purloined Letter,’” in The Purloined Poe: Lacan, Derrida, and Psychoanalytic Reading, ed. John P. Muller and William J. Richardson (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1988), 55–76; “The Signification of the Phallus,” in Ecrits: A Selection, trans. Alan Sheridan (New York: Norton, 1977), 281–90. Mahaffey also associates the Stephen of Portrait and Ulysses with a “monological” and “transcendent” authority that originates in the Law of the Father (Reauthorizing Joyce, 1–63); Restuccia, however, believes, along with Margot Norris (“Portraits”), that Joyce intentionally subverts Stephen’s association with the Law of the Father through parody and irony (Joyce, esp. 16, 137). I agree that in Portrait Stephen is already subject to irony, but in reading Portrait in relation to Stephen Hero, I am not convinced that Joyce’s oedipal patterning of Stephen’s Bildung in his revision represents a critique of that pattern. For a discussion of how Freud’s Interpretation of Dreams represents a related oedipalization of desire and suppression of female subjectivity, see my “Hysteria, Dreams, and Modernity.”
37. Stephen’s mother speaks one brief sentence at four other points in the novel: three times during the fight at the Christmas dinner, when she asks for peace (P, 31, 32) and when she tells Simon not to speak coarsely before Stephen (P, 33); and once to Simon, when she says about Stephen’s schooling, “I never liked the idea of sending him to the Christian brothers myself” (P, 71).
38. One reference to Ireland as “mother-country” does appear in Stephen Hero, when the nationalist in Mullingar, Mr. Heffenan, asks Stephen if he doesn’t feel any “duty to your mother-country, [any] love for her” (SH, 247). But unlike Portrait and Ulysses, Stephen Hero does not regularly make use of the conventional association of Ireland with a poor old woman.
39. For further discussion, see Henke, “Stephen Dedalus and Women,” on E.C. and Scott in Joyce and Feminism on Emma (133–55). Henke’s article is reprinted in her James Joyce and the Politics of Desire, which also includes additional analysis of Joyce’s maternal longings and loathings.
40. In various ways other critics have discussed the importance of woman-as-signifier in the development of (male) modernism and postmodernism. See, for example, Alice Jardine, Gynesis: Configurations of Woman and Modernity (New York: Columbia University Press, 1985); Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, No Man’s Land: The War of the Words (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1987); Teresa de Lauretis, Alice Doesn’t: Feminism, Semiotics, Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1984); and Christine van Boheemen, The Novel as Family Romance: Language, Gender, and Authority from Fielding to Joyce (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1987).
41. See Scott, Joyce and Feminism (30–44), for a discussion of the model for McCann—Francis J. C. Skeffington, Joyce’s close friend, a feminist who married another feminist friend of Joyce’s, Hanna Sheehy. The Sheehy family served as the model for the Danielses in Stephen Hero.
42. In “Stifled Back Answers,” Norris presents a different reading of Joyce’s censorship of female subjectivity and feminism. She sees this erasure as itself the subject of Joyce’s conscious critique. In her recuperation of Joyce for feminism, Norris reads Portrait and Stephen’s aestheticism as “systematically ironized” (482). In “The Dead,” she argues, Joyce’s point is “that when a woman is transformed into a symbol by man, woman becomes a symbol of her social decontextualization, her silencing, the occlusion of her suffering, the suppression of her feeling” (483). Through Stephen’s aestheticism in Portrait and Ulysses, “Joyce is able to critique art’s own oppressive practices. … Joyce stages art’s censorship of its own oppressiveness” by disrupting the text’s “faith in an essentialist aesthetics” with incidents that reveal art as a “product of social forces” (502). I would counter that irony is often in the eye of the beholder and is notoriously difficult to locate in a text. I agree with the readings of Portrait (and Ulysses) that see the heroic and ironic in a perpetual state of contradiction; Norris too easily sees Joyce staging a deconstruction which her own deconstructive strategies have accomplished in unraveling the cultural and literary scripts of patriarchy to which Joyce himself powerfully, if ambivalently, contributes.
43. Rachel Blau DuPlessis, “Modernism: Agendas and Genders,” paper delivered at the Modern Language Association Convention, December 1984.
44. For discussions of Marsden, see Scott, Joyce and Feminism, 85–88, 90–93; Gillian Hanscombe and Virginia Smyers, Writing for Their Lives: The Modernist Women, 1910–1940 (Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1987), 129–77; Jane Lidderdale and Mary Nicholson, Dear Miss Weaver: Harriet Shaw Weaver, 1876–1961 (New York: Viking, 1970). Harriet Shaw Weaver believed in and supported two people whom she regarded as geniuses: James Joyce and Dora Marsden.
45. Ellmann, James Joyce, 164.
46. I posit the notion of an Orestes complex somewhat facetiously to counter the totalizing impact of the Oedipus complex as the explanatory myth of the human psyche in both psychoanalytic and literary discourse, as well as in much Joyce criticism. The Orestes narrative doubly complements the Oedipus story because (especially in the form Aeschylus gives it) it records the displacement of matricide as a punishable crime and the institution of the Law of the Father.
47. Byrne’s statement is quoted in Ellmann, James Joyce, 130–31; for an account of May Joyce’s death and its impact on Joyce, see ibid., 129–30, 134–37, 143–44.
48. Ibid., 136.
49. Ibid., 169.
50. For the text of the poem and discussion of its history, see ibid., 136–37.
51. In quoting Stephen’s aesthetic for drama in Portrait in reference to the impersonalism of “Tilly” as a lyric poem, I realize that I am conflating two genres here; but I do so because Joyce’s poem and Stephen’s description of the personal made invisible in drama anticipate T. S. Eliot’s 1919 formulation of impersonalism in lyric poetry in “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” in Selected Prose, ed. Frank Kermode (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1975), 37–44.
52. See Ellmann, James Joyce, 93–94, in which he notes the displacement of George’s death onto the death of Isabel in Stephen Hero. Joyce’s feelings about his brother surfaced, according to Ellmann, in his decision in 1905 to name his son after his brother (94). Two of the “epiphanies” about his brother’s death that Joyce recorded in his notebooks were later incorporated into Stephen Hero in relation to Isabel. See ibid., 94; Robert Scholes and Richard M. Kain, The Workshop of Daedalus: James Joyce and the Raw Materials for “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 1965), 29.
53. Robert Spoo has pointed out to me that Ian MacArthur, in “Stephen’s Sexual Aesthetics,” James Joyce Quarterly 25 (Winter 1988): 268–69, discusses Lynch’s play on vagina when he responds to Stephen’s aesthetic exposition with the expletive “Bullseye,” slang for vagina (P, 212).
54. For other discussions of the repression and return of the mother and Stephen’s guilty longing for her in Ulysses, see especially Daniel Ferrer, “Circe, Regret and Regression,” in Post-Structuralist Joyce: Essays from the French, ed. Derek Attridge and Daniel Ferrer (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), 127–44; van Boheemen, The Novel as Family Romance; McGee, Paperspace, 37–68, 115–49; Restuccia, Joyce, 92. For related discussions of Stephen’s ambivalent desire for the maternal body in Portrait, see especially Brivic, Joyce, 17–86; Henke, James Joyce, 5–84.
55. For a related reading, see McGee, Paperspace, in which he argues that Stephen’s mourning for his mother leads him to read Shakespeare’s identification of Ann Hathaway with the maternal, with “the woman [as adulteress] who refuses to be the patriarch’s other, who refuses to obey the law of the the father and support the symbolic rule of his name. Hers is the original sin against patriarchy and the original sin structuring Shakespeare’s (and Stephen’s) desire” (50–51).
56. For the connection between Hamlet and Stephen’s thoughts about his mother, see also U, 9.800–57. In “Flesh and Blood and Love of Words: Lily Briscoe, Stephen Dedalus, and the Aesthetics of Emotional Quest,” Jane Lilienfeld argues that “incest in A Portrait appears as a gap, an absence, an unmentionable arena of longing” which takes the form of Stephen’s desire for “pure” women and revulsion from “impure” women (in Scott, New Alliances, 170–72). This gap in Portrait, I would argue, becomes the central narrative of Stephen’s story in Ulysses.
57. Quoted in Ellmann, James Joyce, 169.
58. Further evidence for the suppression of his courtship lies in the date of Joyce’s brief residence in the Martello tower. Ulysses shows Stephen living in the tower when he had no attachment to any woman. But Joyce actually lived in the tower in September 1904, three months after he had met Nora and at a time when he was already deeply involved with her (Ellmann, James Joyce, 171–72).
59. Ibid., 287.
60. Whether or not Molly’s monologue represents female subjectivity, l’écriture féminine, woman-as-Other, ventriloquized femininity, stereotypical femininity, and/or a male fantasy of femininity has of course been hotly contested in Joyce studies for decades. For some recent views, see for example the essays in this volume by Joseph Boone and Ellen Carol Jones; Restuccia, Joyce, 158; McGee, Paperspace, 187; Brivic, Veil of Signs, 23, 27–29; MacCabe, James Joyce; Henke, James Joyce, 126–63; Derek Attridge, “Molly’s Flow: The Writing of ‘Penelope’ and the Question of Women’s Language,” Modem Fiction Studies 35 (Autumn 1989): 543–68; Annette Shandler Levitt, “The Pattern Out of the Wallpaper: Luce Irigaray and Molly Bloom,” Modern Fiction Studies 35 (Autumn 1989): 507–16; Diana E. Henderson, “Joyce’s Modernist Woman: Whose Last Word?” Modern Fiction Studies 35 (Autumn 1989): 517–28.
61. Jardine, Gynesis, 27.
62. Ibid., 35–37.
63. In reading literary history as “case history” in a scene of transference, I am borrowing from Shoshana Felman’s “Turning the Screw of Interpretation” and “The Case of Poe,” in Lacan and the Adventure of Insight: Psychoanalysis in Contemporary Culture (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1987), 27–51.