The purpose of this book is twofold: to set out and illustrate a theory of influence and to explore the ill-understood relationship between James Joyce and John Milton, not merely as an exercise in literary history and the psychology of creation but as a way of understanding Joyce's literary works, especially his most difficult and rewarding works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. I undertook the former task as previous theories of influence appeared to me lacking in one of two ways. Some have sought deep explanations of influence, but have failed to make clear arguments, or even very clear generalizations; others have limited themselves to description, which has made their analyses clearer but often has rendered them superficial. In addition, writers on this topic have tended to focus on social aspects of influence to the exclusion of psychological aspects, or vice versa. In the opening chapter, I undertake to present a clear descriptive and explanatory account of influence, including both social and psychological factors. Moreover, in connection with the latter, I seek to articulate an understanding of influence that is coherent with recent developments in cognitive science as well as psychoanalysis.
Following some general remarks on Joyce's relation to precursors, the second chapter takes up Joyce's troubled relation to Milton, isolating some of the important political, psychological, and literary factors that entered into this complex influence, and emphasizing the ways in which the influence of one precursor is bound up with the influences of other precursors, events in the author's life, and so on. The third chapter concerns the less