Odyssey of the Psyche: Jungian Patterns in Joyce's Ulysses

Odyssey of the Psyche: Jungian Patterns in Joyce's Ulysses

Odyssey of the Psyche: Jungian Patterns in Joyce's Ulysses

Odyssey of the Psyche: Jungian Patterns in Joyce's Ulysses

Synopsis

In Jean Kimball's Jungian reading of Ulysses, Joyce's artist-hero Stephen Dedalus confronts in Leopold Bloom a hitherto unconscious aspect of his personality. The result of this confrontation, Kimball argues as a central tenet in her unique reading of Ulysses, is the gradual development of a relationship between the two protagonists that parallels C. G. Jung's descriptions of the encounter between the Ego and the Shadow in that stage of his theoretical individuation process called "the realization of the shadow". These parallels form a unifying strand of meaning that runs throughout this multidimensional novel and is supported by the text and contexts of Ulysses. Kimball has provided here the first comprehensive study of the relationship between Jungian psychology and Joyce's Ulysses. Bucking critical trends, she focuses on Stephen rather than Bloom. She also notes certain parallels - synchronicity - in the lives of both Jung and Joyce, not because the men influenced one another but because they speculated about personality at the same historical time. Finally, noting that both Jung and Joyce came from strong Christian backgrounds, she asserts that the doubleness of the human personality fundamental to Christian theology is carried over into Jung's psychology and Joyce's fiction.

Excerpt

This study addresses the most obvious, and possibly the most fundamental, question that most readers have asked about Ulysses: just what is the relationship between Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, and what does it mean? This is a two-part question, of course, and the answer to the question of meaning depends on what a reader decides about how the two protagonists are related to each other. The obvious difference in age, for example, has led interpreters to the father-son paradigm as determining the nature of the relationship, as well as suggesting the simple relation of youth to maturity as a guide to meaning. The action of the novel appears to insist on the importance of the meeting of the older and younger man, and even if we bow to a contemporary suspicion of the search for meaning and ask instead, "How does it work?," the nature of the relationship between the protagonists remains central.

The earliest identification, somewhat more unequivocal than later interpretations tended to be, was offered by Valéry Larbaud in a lecture at the 7 December 1921 "séance" sponsored by Sylvia Beach to promote Joyce's novel before its publication (JJ 519). Larbaud assured the soon-to-be-confused reader of Ulysses that the "key" to the relationship was the title and advised him or her that "Stephen Dedalus is Telemachus, and Bloom is Ulysses." This tidy equation has served as an underpinning for the enduring father-son identification, enhanced by the casting of Bloom as Stephen's "spiritual father," a role suggested by Larbaud and endorsed by Stuart Gilbert, though vehemently rejected by Joyce's friend John Francis Byrne, who claimed that "St. Thomas takes his besom. and sweeps into the discard the notion of the human 'spiritual father.' "

Early in the 1970s, Edmund Epstein, interpreting Bloom's "fatherly" moves as a threat to Stephen's "becoming an independent creator," denied that Stephen was searching for a father and pointed to the evidence in the novel that the young artist, "no longer a son," was instead "striving to become a father." By 1980, Sheldon Brivic, though mentioning Bloom's "spiritual father[ing]" of Stephen and . . .

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