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

By A. Walton Litz | Go to book overview

I
THE DESIGN OF ULYSSES

1. GROWTH OF A MASTERPIECE

ALTHOUGH Ulysses bears the date-line ' Trieste-Zürich- Paris, 1914-1921' its origin lies in Joyce's early experiences, and a full history of its development would be a history of his artistic career to the age of forty. In 1917, with the novel well under way, Joyce told a Zürich friend, Georges Borach, of his early fascination with the Odyssey:

I was twelve years old when we dealt with the Trojan War at school; only the Odyssey stuck in my memory. I want to be candid: at twelve I liked the mysticism in Ulysses. When I was writing Dubliners, I first wished to choose the title Ulysses in Dublin, but gave up the idea. In Rome, when I had finished about half of the Portrait, I realized that the Odyssey had to be the sequel, and I began to write Ulysses.1

The version of the Odyssey Joyce encountered at the age of twelve was Charles Lamb Adventures of Ulysses, and the 'mysticism' that he liked was probably Lamb's fusing of realistic action and symbolism, his attempt--announced in the Preface--to make the characters both human figures and figures denoting 'external force or internal temptations'.2 Lamb's 'mystical' view of the Odyssey, so unlike that of most nineteenth-century translators and critics, had a lasting influence on Joyce's imagination, proving to him that the Homeric plot could be recreated in the language of contemporary life and used as a foundation for symbolic actions. In 1922, shortly after the publication of Ulysses, he recommended that his Aunt Josephine (Mrs. William Murray) buy Lamb's Adventures as a guide to the novel, and every reader can profit from this advice.3 In contrast to the Victorian Odyssey of Butcher and Lang, Lamb's version helps us to understand the many

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

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Preface v
  • Abbreviations ix
  • Contents xi
  • I- The Design of Ulysses 1
  • Notes for Section I 40
  • II- New Bearings 44
  • III- Work in Progress 76
  • Notes for Section III 115
  • IV- The Whole Journey 121
  • Notes for Section IV 127
  • Appendix A- Manuscripts Consulted 129
  • Appendix B- Early Vestiges of Ulysses 132
  • Notes for Appendix B 140
  • Appendix C- A Chronology of Joyce''s Work in Progress, 1914-1939 142
  • Index 151
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