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Wednesday, November 11, 2009; 04:34 pm Leave a comment Go to comments

Rado, Lisa. “Hypsos’ or ‘Spadia’? Rethinking Androgyny in Ulysses with Help for Sacher-Masoch.” Twentieth Century Literature. 42.2 (1996): 193-207. Electronic.


Despite the age of this article, Lisa Rado makes an interesting argument about Joyce’s use of androgyny to critique gender hierarchy. She focuses specifically on the last four chapters of the Novel and particularly on the Bello episode in Circe. As her title suggests, Rado enlists Sacher- Masoch’s Venus of the Furs to aid her analysis (an idea we talked about in class last week.) She spends much of the first part of her paper explaining the analogy to Venus in the Bloom/Bello relationship. According to Rado, Joyce critiques Bloom’s “fetishistic and masochistic” reversal of gender roles in Circe by “comparing it to the transcendental experience of the sublime” (200.) Rado describes “dynamic parallels between the two experiences: the perilous confrontation with an all-powerful and transcendent other; the wish to merge with that other; the terror of being overcome and inundated; and the pleasure associated with the knowledge that utter annihilation with not occur” (200.) She argues that Joyce views “ hierarchy and domination” as a never-ending cycle that perpetuates “ rebellion and reversal” not enlightened equality (202.) Bloom leaves Bello’s grasp and almost immediately finds himself in another masochistic situation, peeping on Molly and Boylan through a keyhole. Bloom’s inability to escape this cycle points to the societal pressures that make escape nearly impossible. Rado concludes that this fact points to Joyce’s own inability to “come to terms with” the “radical cultural change” surrounding him while he wrote Circe (205.)

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