Renascent Joyce

Renascent Joyce

Renascent Joyce

Renascent Joyce

Synopsis

Revival, reinvention, and regeneration: the concept of renascence pervades Joyce's work through the inescapable presence of his literary forebears. By persistently reexamining tradition, reinterpreting his literary heritage in light of the present, and translating and re-translating from one system of signs to another, Joyce exhibits the spirit of the greatest of Renaissance writers and artists.

In fact, his writing derives some of its most important characteristics from Renaissance authors, as this collection of essays shows. Though critical work has often focused on Joyce's relationship to medieval thinkers like Thomas Aquinas and Dante, Renascent Joyce examines Joyce's connection to the Renaissance in such figures as Shakespeare, Rabelais, and Bruno.

Joyce's own writing can itself be viewed through the rubric of renascence with the tools of genetic criticism and the many insights afforded by the translation process. Several essays in this volume examine this broader idea, investigating the rebirth and reinterpretation of Joyce's texts. Topics include literary historiography, Joyce's early twentieth-century French cultural contexts, and the French translation of Ulysses. Attentive to the current state of Joyce studies, the writers of these extensively researched essays investigate the Renaissance spirit in Joyce to offer a volume at once historically informed and innovative.

Excerpt

In their admirable introduction to this volume, Messrs. Ferrer, Slote, and Topia lay out the broadest definition of Renaissance writing “immarginable” for the enterprise at hand. As the essays progress, the question becomes one of writing across periods: how the modern engages with the Renaissance, a period that was itself engaged with an early classical period, and how that engagement lends itself to dialectics and dynamism, to reflection and renewal. For many authors in this volume, the Renaissance returns as play, as farce, or even as hoax: neither Pantheon nor pantomime but “Pantheomime.” Joyce’s writing has its own periodicity, and the central question grows to include Joyce’s revisions of his own work as well as the work of others, whether as avant-texte (for Saint-Amour and Froula) or as après-texte (for Rodriguez and Byrnes). From an engagement with Joyce’s critical pasts, the book moves to an engagement with what Saint-Amour calls Joyce’s “critical futurities”: a Renaissance that is a looking forward as well as a looking back, both a reconciliation and a sundering. What the future holds—the “imprevidibility of the future”—is the crucial uncertainty in all of Joyce’s work, and the only way to know that future is to return, again and again, to the past. Renascent Joyce, in retracing so many pathways to the lost worlds of Lucretius, Giordano Bruno, the missing Hamlet lectures, and what Christine Froula beautifully calls “these whimsical lost umbrellas and blossoming girls of Proyce and Joust,” has opened limitless possibilities for future study. It is not for nothing that “Proteus” contains all the letters in “Proust” (to say nothing of all of the letters in “Stupor”): Froula shows, as Van Hulle has before her in this series, that Proust and Joyce share an eddying relation with their past writing. This volume establishes a link between the idea of Renaissance writing and genetic criticism, in the use of a writer’s own past (“who will read these written words?”). Renaissance as release, as . . .

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