Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation

Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation

Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation

Joyce, Joyceans, and the Rhetoric of Citation

Synopsis

The author explains all of Joyce's writing in terms of music & evaluates the music - its form, kind, & technique - in each work. Using Joyce's own rhetoric of theme & variation, the author moves from one character to another, through the poems, fiction, & drama, noting improvisations & finding intricate musical patterns throughout the canon. As Joyce's work grows in philosophical complexiity, the author says, its music becomes more recognizable. In Chamber Music & part of Dublines, Joyce at first merely mentions musical titles, instruments, & forms. In other stories in Dubliners, he alludes to them. His writing in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man begins to approximate musical techniques, & music reflects & dominates its story & characters. By the time of Finnegans Wake, it replaces both. Within the works, the author cites examples of musical augmentation, diminution, harmony, counterpoint, & key signatures, showing how the works become more experimental & increasingly dissonant in the manner of avant-garde composers. Exploring fresh territory in the study of Joyce & music & of music & literature, the author argues that Joyce's characters & works operate between the extremes of order & disorder, harmony & chaos, music & noise, & that these polarities both signal & contribute to the rhetoric within the texts. Finally, he says, Joyce's rhetoric itself becomes music.

Excerpt

Knowlton's book deals with textual authority, and especially the rhetoric of quotation in all its forms. the issues treated include such aspects as the nature of written versus oral signification, problems of authorship, fluidity of meaning, feminism, historiography, definitions of modernity, and the way Joyce provides a transition between modernity and postmodernism. No one with a formalist rhetorical perspective on the overarching issues has treated them so extensively in relation to modernism and how it applies to Joyce criticism.

The work is approximately two-thirds theoretical. It deals with the nature of history and its inscription in literature, with particular attention to the actual as reflected in quotations that date and record specific moments of history as quoted from people then living, to be read by readers from another vantage point on the historical continuum. Thus the modernist writer, like Joyce, draws upon the seeming verisimilitude of history, which is interpreted not only by a modern writer to be incorporated into his text with all of its anxiety-of-influence and artistic concerns, but also by contemporary readers with their own mental sets and ambitions.

The study is critically informed by such varied writers as Plato, Kant, Leavis, Foucault, Barthes, Derrida, Irigaray, Bloom, Benstock, and Kenner, presenting the multiple problems every thinking reader encounters in trying to make coherent patterns of the text; and it does so with an ease and seamless understanding of what genuinely matters presented in a language that is clear and precise. Thus quotation becomes metaphorized in its attempts at capturing an actuality both inside and outside a historical context. Besides the insights of the thesis itself, the book provides some remarkable new readings of Joyce's texts involving women.

Zack Bowen
Series Editor . . .

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