The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

The Art of James Joyce: Method and Design in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake

Excerpt

When I first undertook this investigation of Joyce's methods of composition, and began to examine the drafts and proof-sheets of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, I was confident that these sources would ultimately provide me with a thread for the labyrinth. Like most critics of Joyce, I had been lured by the multiple designs of his art into believing that somewhere there existed one controlling design which contained and clarified all the others. For a time it seemed as if this might be true. Joyce's incessant revisions present a clear record of his evolving artistic aims, as well as incidental clues to the meaning of specific passages; and in the case of Finnegans Wake the early drafts are often the best running commentary on the finished work. But somehow the controlling design that I sought eluded me, and I have long since relinquished the comforting belief that access to an author's workshop provides insights of greater authority than those produced by other kinds of criticism. The irreducible gap between the creator and his work faces one at every turn. Indeed it now seems to me that the controlling design--the 'figure in the carpet'--lies always in plain view, not in the dark corners explored by the genetic or biographical critic. Therefore I claim no special authority for this study, although I have tried to found my conclusions on a factual survey of the manner in which Ulysses and Finnegans Wake achieved their final forms.

The obvious limitations of the present study were inherent in my purpose. It was my intention to write a 'biography' of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, tracing the growth of each work and using this evidence to document Joyce's shifting artistic ideals. My main interest was in technique, and I sought to discover how the methods of the Wake developed out of those of Ulysses. During the seven years he spent in writing Ulysses and the sixteen . . .

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