Joyce Effects on Language, Theory, and History

Joyce Effects on Language, Theory, and History

Joyce Effects on Language, Theory, and History

Joyce Effects on Language, Theory, and History

Synopsis

Joyce Effects is a collection of essays by a leading commentator on James Joyce. Joyce's books, Derek Attridge argues, go off like fireworks, and one of this book's aims is to enhance the reader's enjoyment of these special effects. He examines the way Joyce's writing challenges and transforms our understanding of language, literature, and history and offers in-depth analysis of Joyce's major works. This collection represents fifteen years of close engagement with Joyce by Derek Attridge and reflects the changing course of Joyce criticism during this period.

Excerpt

A lambskip for the marines! Paronama! The entire horizon cloth! All effects in their joints caused ways. Raindrum, windmachine, snowbox.

(FW 502.36)

Joyce's four major books, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake, all go off like inventive and spectacular fireworks, and one response is to sit back and enjoy them – enjoy their intricate construction, their subtle phrasings, their play with conventions and expectations, their engagement with the twists and turns of history, their often hilarious exposure of prejudice and pomposity. Joyce effects are dazzling, funny, sometimes disconcerting, occasionally astringent or even lethal. Like the special effects of the pantomime tradition, or those of which Hollywood is currently so enamoured, Joyce effects, while they amaze or entrance the audience, openly invite admiration for the skill of the artificer. Whatever argument I pursue in the different parts of this book, I try always to reflect my own pleasure in these effects and to do them some kind of critical justice. Although I have been able to touch on only a few textual moments in Joyce's writing, examined in the light of wider concerns, my hope is that the reader's enjoyment of his œuvre as a whole will be enhanced and some of the characteristic effects of each of the four works given renewed power to awe and entertain.

The Joyce effects that form the main focus of my attention, however, are of a different kind. These are the effects produced by his work, when it is read with the attention and commitment it demands – effects upon the way we thinkabout a number of signi ficant topics, and upon our involvement in other cultural (and more than cultural) activities. Readers of all sorts have testified to the transformative power of Joyce's writing; perhaps more than any other twentieth-century author he has . . .

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