James Joyce And The Exilic Imagination by Michael Patrick Gillespie


James-Joyce-And-The-Exilic-Imagination.jpg Author Michael Patrick Gillespie
Isbn 9780813060651
File size 823.1 KB
Year 2015
Pages 192
Language English
File format PDF
Category history


 

James Joyce and the Exilic Imagination The Florida James Joyce Series University Press of Florida Florida A&M University, Tallahassee Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton Florida Gulf Coast University, Ft. Myers Florida International University, Miami Florida State University, Tallahassee New College of Florida, Sarasota University of Central Florida, Orlando University of Florida, Gainesville University of North Florida, Jacksonville University of South Florida, Tampa University of West Florida, Pensacola This page intentionally left blank James Joyce and the Exilic Imagination  Michael Patrick Gillespie Foreword by Sebastian D. G. Knowles, Series Editor University Press of Florida Gainesville · Tallahassee · Tampa · Boca Raton Pensacola · Orlando · Miami · Jacksonville · Ft. Myers · Sarasota Copyright 2015 by Michael Patrick Gillespie All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America on acid-free paper This book may be available in an electronic edition. 20 19 18 17 16 15 6 5 4 3 2 1 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Gillespie, Michael Patrick, author. James Joyce and the exilic imagination / Michael Patrick Gillespie. pages cm — (The Florida James Joyce series) Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-8130-6065-1 1. Joyce, James, 1882-1941—Criticism and interpretation. 2. Authors, Exiled. 3. Exiles’ writings. I. Title. II. Series: Florida James Joyce series. PR6019.O9Z533575 2015 823'.912—dc23 2014043922 The University Press of Florida is the scholarly publishing agency for the State University System of Florida, comprising Florida A&M University, Florida Atlantic University, Florida Gulf Coast University, Florida International University, Florida State University, New College of Florida, University of Central Florida, University of Florida, University of North Florida, University of South Florida, and University of West Florida. University Press of Florida 15 Northwest 15th Street Gainesville, FL 32611-2079 http://www.upf.com For Asher Z. Milbauer whose insight inspired and guided this work and whose friendship made it possible Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, And say my glory was I had such friends. W. B. Yeats, “The Municipal Gallery Revisited” This page intentionally left blank Contents Foreword . . . . Acknowledgments . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix xi The Context of Exile: A Critical Introduction . . . . . 1 1. Joyce’s Exilic Self-Conception . . . . . 20 2. Dubliners: The First Glimpse of Ireland from Abroad . . . 35 3. Stephen Dedalus’s Lifelong Exile . . . . . . . . 58 4. Re-Viewing Richard: Nostalgia and Rancor in Exiles . . . 86 5. Ulysses: Exiles on Main Street . 101 . . . . . . . . . . . 6. Finnegans Wake and the Exile’s Return . . . . . . 135 Notes . . . . . . 153 . . Bibliography . Index . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 165 173 This page intentionally left blank Foreword “Each exilic experience is as unique as the experience of any human life.” Perhaps this is obvious, but sometimes it takes a critic with the special gifts of Michael Gillespie to hit what Lynch would call the “Bull’s eye!” I have some personal interest in the subject, having left England at thirteen for the brave new world across the Atlantic, and so does Gillespie, who glances beautifully at his own family’s part in the Irish diaspora (“when my grandfather left Achill Island”). So does Bloom, of course, and so does Joyce, and so do all of us. As the introduction shows, in a far-ranging study of the exile theme from Émile Zola to John Ford, from Joseph Conrad to Thomas Mann, exile is a “word known to all men.” What Michael Gillespie brings to the long-worn subject of modernist exile is a double vision of sharpness and sensitivity, which is at once unafraid to take on the foolishness of received critical opinion and deeply attuned to the folly of the human heart. Time and again Gillespie gives us a less cynical, less hierarchical reading of the text, whether it is in a new validation of the intensity of Mr. Duffy’s mourning, a new appreciation of the solicitude of the sisters of Reverend Flynn, or a new and warmer light shone on the machinations of Mrs. Mooney and Mrs. Kearney. This is a deeply sympathetic reading, but it is also coldly unafraid to tackle the prescriptive tenets of Joycean criticism, from the literary bases for Ellmann’s biographical pronouncements to the standard readings of Stephen’s encounter with Cyril Sargent in “Nestor.” With this book, Michael Gillespie returns empathy to the center of Joyce’s world, as any reader of Ulysses comes to understand is its rightful place. The idea of the book, that Joyce’s personal experience of exile was shot through with ambivalence about his native Ireland, an ambivalence that expresses itself in both his life and his work as hostility and sentimentality in equal measure, is everywhere compelling. The oscillating perspectives x · Foreword (Gillespie borrows the term from Riquelme) of rancor and nostalgia perfectly map onto the exilic authors and characters that Gillespie discusses, and provide the reader with a clear path right to Joyce’s doubled heart. This book is written clearly and sensibly, unblinkered by theoretical commitments, and achieves exactly what it intends in providing a timely and useful intervention in Joyce studies. This is an open work in the best sense: welcoming, evenhanded, and open-minded. What results is nothing less than a vital regeneration of Joyce’s prose work. Sebastian D. G. Knowles Series Editor Acknowledgments In addition to the debt of gratitude I have toward Asher Milbauer, to whom this book is dedicated, I feel most grateful to my wife Paula and to our daughters Karen, Leigh, and Ann. Their support has sustained and made meaningful all that I have done as an academic. I am grateful to a number of people at Florida International University. Deans Kenneth Furton, Meredith Newman, Gisela Casines, and Michael Heithaus have been constant in their encouragement. I have benefited greatly from the insights of colleagues in the English Department including Debra Dean, Ginny Gathercote, Paula Gillespie, Kenneth Johnson, Phillip Marcus, James Sutton, and Feryal Yavas. I have also benefited from the support of colleagues elsewhere including Nancy Curtin (Fordham University), James Doan (Nova Southeastern University), James Fairhall (DePaul University), A. Nicholas Fargnoli (Molloy College), Anne Fogarty (University College Dublin), Andrew Gibson (University of London), Thomas Hachey (Boston College), Sean Latham (University of Tulsa), Vicki Mahaffey (University of Illinois), Timothy McMahon (Marquette University), James Rogers (St. Thomas University), and David Rose (Paris). Finally, I am deeply indebted to my readers, Patrick McCarthy and John Paul Riquelme, for their rigorous, insightful, and generous assessment of my manuscript. I am also most grateful to Sebastian Knowles, series editor, who is simply the best book manuscript editor with whom I have ever worked, to Shannon McCarthy, assistant editor at the University Press of Florida, who is both insightful and patient. Finally, project editor Nevil Parker and copy editor Ann Marlowe provided crucial insights during the concluding stages of the project. The chapter on Dubliners appeared in an earlier form in New Hibernia Review. The one on Exiles has previously appeared in James Joyce Quarterly. I am grateful to the editors of both journals for permission to reprint them here. This page intentionally left blank The Context of Exile A Critical Introduction We live in an aesthetic world where comprehension of any form of art cannot avoid inflection by attitudes that emphasize subjectivity, immediacy, and materialism—in short, in a world conceived as operating without elements that would clearly define a center or its periphery. From that perspective, any term seeking to encompass a concept that goes beyond describing an individual’s feelings during a self-contained moment might seem to overreach. Conventional political, cultural, and social designations may seem at best arbitrary. The boundaries they asserted that made it possible in earlier eras to distinguish the exile from the society from which he or she had been cut off no longer enjoy the same legitimacy that gave them credence in a premodernist society.1 At the same time, ample evidence exists that fundamental issues of the exilic experience continue to resonate strongly within the postmodern world. One need only look to scenes in Samuel Beckett’s drama Waiting for Godot, the literary paradigm of twentieth-century alienation, for an illustration of the continuing power of the exilic condition over individuals in our society. As Beckett’s protagonists show throughout the play, alienation is inescapable for even the most solitary individuals surrounded by a void. From the bleak opening—“Nothing to be done”—through their repeated references to the pain of being alone, Vladimir and Estragon reiterate how the absence of a larger community, beyond that formed by their mutual dependence, scars the individual.2 The postmodern way of thinking does not banish exile but rather extends its definition to cover us all. Like the numerous epistemologies that have preceded it, postmodern thinking sees attitudes of isolation and alienation as inherent features in the natures of contemporary individu- 2 · James Joyce and the Exilic Imagination als. More to the point, it sees those feelings coming directly out of a need for connection with a large social entity. However one describes that condition, the trauma that comes from separation from community, concern for the consequences of such marginalization repeats itself in public commentaries from generation to generation, with little variation over changing social contexts. This makes the impact of liminality on creativity a force to consider as formidable in any artistic period and no matter what our own interpretive perspective, for no matter when it occurs—from Oedipus Rex to Lord Jim—exilic images in literature retain a consistent and powerful influence upon how the reader sees and understands the world surrounding him or her. Admittedly, some argument is necessary to make the case for reading Joyce’s works as the product of an exilic experience. He was not a victim of political persecution, expelled from his native country and barred from return by threats of death or imprisonment. Nor was he, like many rural Irish who a half century earlier endured the Great Famine, an economic exile whose alternative to departure was starvation. Instead, Joyce quite simply was a displaced artist who left the land of his birth of his own volition because he felt that he could neither live nor create as he wished in Ireland. For many readers, this decision may seem indistinguishable from those made by any number of emigrants who departed from their homelands at the beginning of the twentieth century and who are not commonly labeled as exiles, but in terms of a critical understanding of the canon, that seems to me very much beside the point. Charting creative influences always proves to be a problematic endeavor, for it rests upon subjective views that do not always carry conviction across a range of readers. One can shore up such an argument if one keeps the artist’s state of mind in the forefront of all considerations. Evidence as to the artist’s self-image stands as a far more significant determinant of the applicability of a particular condition than does any other measure of it. That becomes a key feature to understanding Joyce’s relation to his Irish heritage and the motivations that shaped its depictions in his writings. Biographical details and direct statements made by the author in letters and conversations make a strong case for labeling him an exile. In the end the most convincing reason for seeing Joyce as an exile writer comes not because he fits any received view of the term but because events in his life made it possible for him plausibly to see himself as one. The Context of Exile: A Critical Introduction · 3 In the next chapter I will take up in greater detail Joyce’s connection to the exilic experience. Before exploring the implications of that perspective, however, it is useful to step back and go over the features delineating the concept of exile as I apply it throughout this study. Establishing the specificity of my language stands as an important step in justifying the logic of my approach. I understand that not every departure from one’s native country is a movement into exile, nor do all exiles view their native countries in the same way. However, exiles do share certain broad tendencies, and keeping these in mind while reading Joyce’s works can greatly enhance our comprehension. First, let me clarify what distinguishes exile from other forms of separation from one’s country. The clearest illustration of the features of exile emerges in contrasting it with emigration, a related but distinctly different condition. Overt agency, though a crucial determinant in a narrow understanding of these terms, does not strike me as a definitive feature of the concept that I am applying in this study to Joyce and to his writings. Indeed, identifying the articulator of the judgment that a person must leave the country—whether it come as a governmental decision, an economic exigency, or an individual’s judgment—has less interpretive significance here than does the individual’s perception of that determination. For that reason, the psychological, emotional, and even instinctive responses one makes to the severance of ties with one’s native land stand for me as the essential components that distinguish the exilic experience. An external entity may impose the condition that a person’s life in his or her native country has become insupportable, or the individual may come to that sense of intolerability from within. In either case, it is the conditions and one’s perception of them, and not their source, that form one’s sense of being an exile. This brings me back to the function of subjectivity in delineating the process, for it stands as the initial determinant that informs all of the conclusions that follow. Throughout this study, I read Joyce’s works from the presumption that individual perception defines to a large degree the broader context in which the person exists. This point of view implicitly colors all of the attitudes that Joyce took throughout his writings, and it becomes an explicit feature informing the narrative, as Joyce’s own discourse makes clear in the initial musings of Stephen Dedalus as he walks on Sandymount Strand at the opening of the Proteus chapter of Ulysses: “Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought 4 · James Joyce and the Exilic Imagination through my eyes. Signatures of all things I am here to read” (U 3.1–2). The passage offers a compact illustration not simply of Stephen’s efforts to understand the relationship of imagination and perception but, more broadly, of how disposition can reshape context in Joyce’s process of creativity. As Stephen aptly demonstrates, interpretation rather than initiation is the key factor in bringing art into existence. More than whoever initiates a physical change, it is the perceiver of that change—the one who gives it meaning—who imposes meaning on the environment. This means that for any understanding of the way exile works in Joyce’s writing, the most important consideration is that Joyce left Ireland because he felt he was compelled to do so. He became an exile because he saw himself as such. He defined himself in just the way that Stephen Dedalus attempted to piece together the world he ran up against. The “seaspawn and seawrack, the nearing tide, that rusty boot” (U 3.2–3) are the artifacts jumbled together that inhabit the world that Stephen encounters. As he comes to understand on his walk, it is his imagination that has the power to identify, classify, and unify them.3 This makes the need to understand the orientation of imaginative power, not just in Stephen but in his creator as well, a primary function in any interpretive process. Understanding the influence of the exilic experience in turn provides important insights for discerning that orientation. In keeping with my view that the essence of the exilic experience is essentially psychological rather than physical, I believe that in any analysis the traumatic elements of this condition need to be emphasized to distinguish it from other circumstances in which individuals leave their countries of origin. Emigration, though often materially similar to exile, has transcendent components that clearly distinguish it from exile. The emigrant, voluntarily and often eagerly, leaves his or her native home seeking an alternative situation. A young clerk in Manchester in 1845, for example, might have chosen to leave Britain to go to America seeking a better life, but the clerk would have made the decision knowing full well that it would be possible to remain in England in expectation of a reasonably comfortable situation, and that it would be possible to return home should prospects abroad prove disappointing. In direct contrast, exile replaces inclination with compulsion, an animating force that violently initiates the condition and remains an influence on all subsequent actions. In this manner a young farmworker living on Achill Island in rural Ireland in the same year as the Manchester clerk, The Context of Exile: A Critical Introduction · 5 seeing widespread starvation after the country’s potato crops had been devastated by blight, would have been faced with the choice of leaving to find sustenance in another country or remaining to face dying of hunger. Either course of action would have been irreversible. Comparing the two cases makes the distinction between emigration and exile exceedingly clear despite any similarities in the actual displacement. Whatever the circumstances surrounding a specific decision to leave, the reality at the heart of the matter is that exile is thrust upon individuals who can no longer sustain themselves in the lands that they have considered their homes. Exile may be actively forced on a person, like Ovid’s expulsion from Rome, or it may be the result of an individual’s self-imposition when no alternatives seem to exist, like Lord Byron’s departure from England. In every case a perceived threat to one’s existence, defined in a variety of ways, propels one from one’s country, and the consequences of displacement—a traumatic separation from the political, cultural, and social environment—radically reconfigure the way that the individual conceives his or her public identity. It is this metaphysical impact of exile on the individual’s consciousness, considered both in its immediacy and in its long term, that is the most important feature distinguishing the experience. Exile stands as a traumatic event whose duration and repercussions can hardly be overstated. Not just the act of being exiled but the enduring experience that unfolds as a consequence of being forced to leave one’s home leads to visceral, emotional responses at the most fundamental level of understanding and comprehension, evoking sensations of expulsion, sundering, and alienation. An aura of violation—physical, emotional, and spiritual—surrounds the exile and inflects impressions of the exilic experience as profoundly as does the sorrow of separation. Exile quite simply is an event that fundamentally alters one’s psyche, and its repercussions remain within the individual’s consciousness for life. At its heart, exile challenges identity. It does so by altering the individual’s relationship to the cultural context against which the self has been measured. Exile redefines one’s sense of the world from which one came. In the process it makes the individual far more deeply aware of dependence upon that world, and it creates sometimes sentimental and sometimes bitter feelings toward that now lost world. This feeling is particularly evident in a number of writers whose postcolonial views are strongly influenced by postmodern thinking. It is a 6 · James Joyce and the Exilic Imagination point well worth emphasizing, for it underscores how fundamental human feelings repeatedly trump ideological commitments. Even Edward Said, whose writings would seem to place him fiercely at odds with sentimentality, presents a softer version of the experience than one might expect: In a secular and contingent world, homes are always provisional. Borders and barriers, which enclose us within the safety of familiar territory, can also become prisons, and are often defended beyond reason or necessity. Exiles cross borders, break barriers of thought and experience.4 Said’s prose does not succumb to the sentimentality that shades many exilic recollections, and his emphasis in the first two sentences focuses squarely on the claustrophobic qualities of nationhood. However, when he turns to the experience of exile, his language becomes more lyrical and a touch of romanticism tinges the exposition that follows. In this stylistic shift, the description of exile emphasizes it as more emotionally rewarding and more complex than one might expect in a mere materialist recapitulation of the events and the consequences of displacement. There is an understated but nonetheless powerful heroic element in Said’s account that presents exile as a transformative and even enhancing condition. In an essay published in the same year as the article quoted above, Said reiterates a commitment to this point of view. He comes back to the topic of displacement as a way of underscoring the deep-rooted, multifaceted influence of the exilic experience on every aspect of our lives. Said’s description presents exile as anything but a crippling condition. Quite the contrary, he foregrounds it as an experience that reconfigures individuals and that leads to broad transformations of their environment. Said goes on to state unambiguously and perhaps, seeing himself also as a displaced person, with a sense of self-reflected pride: “Modern Western culture is in large part the work of exiles, émigrés, refugees.”5 None of these observations can diminish the corrosive impact that exile exerts, nor are they intended to do such a thing. It is important to keep in mind that the experience of exile almost always has a profoundly traumatic or at the very least an insistently funereal quality to it. As Said himself knew, suffering starkly delineates the separation between theory and practice: The Context of Exile: A Critical Introduction · 7 Exile is strangely compelling to think about but terrible to experience. It is the unhealable rift forced between a human being and a native place, between the self and its true home: its essential sadness can never be surmounted.6 For Said, unique pain that one must endure, more than anything else, sets apart the exilic experience. That, however, is not a sufficient summary of the exilic condition. Despite the directness and the confidence of statements by Said and others who have commented on the impact—psychological, spiritual, and creative—of the exilic experience, a great deal remains to be engaged when one takes up the issue of exile and art. Particularly in discussions of the impact of exile on creative expression, the point on how to understand expressions of exile embedded in authors’ works remains open to debate. This is due in no small part to the fact that the conditions that precipitate writers’ exiles and their consequent responses to their displacements cover a wide spectrum of possibilities. Even the broadest of categorizations regarding the displacement and its aftermath almost immediately suggest exceptions and provoke qualifications. The challenge to interpretive engagement comes from the diversity of experiences across the lives of different authors. These transformative consequences of exile make it inevitable that the creations of artists who are compelled, for whatever reason, to leave their native countries will be informed by this condition. At the same time, the impact of the exilic experience is never simply apprehended by the individual who undergoes it or predictably discerned by others who observe it. Ann C. Colley, writing about Robert Louis Stevenson’s separation from Scotland when his health forced him abroad, describes that author’s complex and conflicted attitudes toward the country he left and by implication hints at its impact on the works he would produce. Stevenson’s longing for Scotland is especially circumscribed by inversions and oppositions. Pride and mockery, admiration and deprecation permeated his commentary so that he alternately abhorred and respected, for instance the Victorian gentility of Edinburgh, and simultaneously esteemed and ridiculed the Scots dialect.7 Considering the life and writings of authors like Stevenson shows that the emotional, psychological, and spiritual duality that comes out of the

Author Michael Patrick Gillespie Isbn 9780813060651 File size 823.1 KB Year 2015 Pages 192 Language English File format PDF Category History Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare Casts significant new light on Joyce’s writings by bringing out memorable ways in which the literal experience of exile enabled Joyce to recast retrospectively the exilic quality of living in Ireland, not simply as alienation but as a mixture of rancor and affection that colors the lives in all his fiction.     Download (823.1 KB) Joyce And Militarism Medieval Ireland: An Encyclopedia Tense Future: Modernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form Rewriting Shangri-La: Tibetan Youth, Migrations and Literacies in McLeod Ganj, India The Facts on File Companion to the British Short Story Load more posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *