James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism

James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism

James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism

James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism

Synopsis

In James Joyce and the Politics of Egoism a leading scholar approaches the entire Joycean canon through the concept of "egoism". This concept, Jean-Michel Rabat¿ argues, runs throughout Joyce's work, and involves and incorporates its opposite, "hospitality", a term Rabat¿ understands as meaning an ethical and linguistic opening to "the other". Rabat¿ explores Joyce's complex negotiation between these two poles in a study of interest to all scholars of modernism.

Excerpt

This is a book without an Introduction or a Conclusion. Just twelve chapters in an order which, although not random, will not be immediately perceptible. It should look like a dodecaphonic series harping on a handful of key motifs – the ego as symptom of literary modernity; the pervasive tension between egoism and hospitality; late Modernism defined less by formal innovation than by an emphasis on a new reader; the curious interactions, antagonistic and yet parallel, between Joyce's esthetic program and the emergence of Irish nationalism, to name but a few.

Thanks to the old rhetorical rule of post hoc, propter hoc, and also to excellent editorial advice provided by the anonymous readers who considered an earlier version of these chapters, they now follow each other in some kind of narrative. the foundations for this book were laid in the summer of 1996, when I was asked simultaneously to give two plenary addresses at different Joyce conferences. First, I opened the Zurich James Joyce Symposium at Fritz Senn's kind invitation (as I read “Joyce the egoist” with a bottle of Chanel's Egoïste after-shave on my lectern, this gave rise to entirely unfounded rumors that I was being sponsored by the French brand). Then I was asked by Julian Wolfreys to close the International Conference on Joyce and Theory at Dundee (at which I spoke on lice and fleas, and as this time I had refrained from bringing along any toiletries, when people in the audience started scratching their heads, pensively I hope, I was pleased to think that they were distracted from previous heated controversies on Irish politics). in between, I had gone to Dublin to give a talk at the James Joyce Summer School, and I presented on Joyce's concept of hospitality. I had three major concepts to work from, first egoism, then hospitality, and finally the concept of a self-generating and organic language that found in lice a perfect emblem.

It was only after another conference at Yale University in September . . .

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