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Did Joyce Write Hamlet? Maybe not, but Stephen wants to.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009; 02:02 pm 1 comment

Peterson, Richard F. “Did Joyce Write Hamlet?” James Joyce Quarterly 27 (1990): 365-372.

 

            This article was significantly better, both in quality of writing and strength of argument, than the last one I read.  By looking closely at Stephen’s argument concerning the correlation between Shakespeare’s life and Hamlet, Peterson extrapolates Stephen’s points to the artist’s own life as he searches “for a way of expressing himself” (365). Peterson sees Stephen as identifying with Shakespeare’s struggles as an artist, admires how he “transformed a personal sea of troubles into a radiant, universal, dramatic form of life” (366). Stephen also identifies with Shakespeare’s fleeing of his birthplace, seeking instead a large city to nurture his artistic growth. In order to deal with his own issues of being an artist trapped within the baseness of life, he transfers his pain onto Shakespeare, constructing a rather tenuous back story for the Bard, “reinvent[ing] the life of Shakespeare to fit his own personal and artistic struggle” (366).

            Just as Stephen draws details of Shakespeare’s life out of his work, Peterson interprets Stephen’s analysis to be representative of the poet’s life. Peterson argues that Ann Hathaway represents Stephen’s mother in his emotional development. Luckily, however, Stephen’s Ann is two fold (otherwise that would be weird). Stephen’s mother represents the force stunting his development; just as Hamlet must cope with his (as Stephen sees it) premature entrance to the adult world, so must Stephen defeat the haunting image of his mother’s ghost in order to continue to progress as an artist (369). As I said, the representation is twofold: on the other side is, oh yes, the church. Stephen “sees the Church mortally wounding his youth,” just as Ann did to Shakespeare, giving him a “terrifying fear of death” that he must overcome, and “create, like his Shakespeare counterpart…a new world out of his own spiritual and emotional void” (369, 370). Thus, Stephen transfers his own emotionally scarring experiences, and their effect on him, onto Shakespeare. All told, Peterson’s argument is interesting and well-expressed, using excellent textual references and very focused analysis.

Structure of Fatherhood and Authorship

Wednesday, October 7, 2009; 03:16 am Leave a comment

“Making a Name for Himself: Paternity, Joyce, and Stephen’s Adolescent Identity Crisis” by Kent Baxter

This essay has a first section entitled “What’s in a Name” dedicated to discussing the relationship Joyce had with his own name, and the relationship  the modernist perspective perceives adolescents have with their surname.  To make it quick, since it has little to do with Ulysses and less to do with what I would like to focus on regarding my obsession of Paternity: Adolescents are striving to “make a name” for themselves and there’s a conundrum because they want to distinguish themselves within society using their name, but their name stems from their fathers’s and they struggle to separate themselves from the father as well.

The next section in the essay is “The Name Game.”  Baxter describes Stephen’s dissection of his name and multiple possible fathers in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Stephen renounces his biological father, Simon, then renounces the Church fathers because he does want to become one of a mass of priests, and at the end of Portrait he remakes his name anew, a morphed version of his father-given name, but it is his own because he was reworked.

In “The Sons of Shakespeare,” Baxter refers to the Scylla and Charybdis episode where Stephen contemplates what he had done with his name in Portrait.  Baxter emphasizes that the Scylla and Charybdis episode is where Stephen is at his most creative, producing his individualized thoughts and as Baxter says: “mak[ing] a name for himself.”   At the same time, Stephen “debunks” the names of the fathers through the “legal fiction” of Shakespeare’s writing himself a son in Hamlet, and writing himself into Hamlet as a father, and, as Baxter notes, “bastardizing” the men’s surnames who are listening to his theory on Hamlet.  In Scylla and Charybidis, Stephen is upending the whole idea of fatherhood, causing it to be a fluctuating, unstable category.  According to Baxter, this is the way Stephen is renouncing his literary fathers.  Baxter then goes on to say something that I find pushing it a little too far.  And by a little, I mean a lot!  I like tangible reality and space and time as concrete things in discourse at least, because how are we going to have a conversation without those things!?   So Baxter says:

what Stephen does …is even more radical than a new way to theorize Shakespeare.  Stephen questions the linearity of time, the                          notion that something always comes before.  And by questioning the linearity of time, he casts doubt on the belief that                                          Shakespeare came before his texts… that there is a literary tradition that comes before and defines what makes a legitimate                                  artist.

He continues saying that through the episode, Joyce is using Stephen to “debunk the notion that… a literary tradition comes before its artists” and therefore attempt to become a legitimate individual artist.  I would like to think that Joyce WISHES he could turn time and space topsy-turvy and not have the literary tradition behind him, pressuring him, molding him, but I just don’t think it’s possible.  Luckily for me, Baxter addresses this.  He goes on to say that the very act of attempting to overthrow the father is something that fathers have done, and therefore is within tradition, literary or otherwise.  Adolescents have attempted to escape the father’s influence and in doing so have completed an act which the father has already done, thus they become the fathers.

Baxter’s best sentence summarizing this cyclical conundrum would be: “the ultimate irony inherent in Stephen and Joyce’s attempt to overthrow the father arises because to make a name for oneself means both to make a name represent oneself as an individual and to affirm the impossibility of this very individuality. ”  Ultimately, Baxter argues that Stephen, in a step between childhood and adulthood, ends up exposing the structure of authorship and fatherhood and this allows Joycean followers to see that structure and work off it.

Baxter, Kent. “Making a Name for Himself: Paternity, Joyce, and Stephen’s Adolescent Identity Crisis” Naming the Father edited by Eva Paulino Bueno et. al.

Telemachiad Paternity

Wednesday, September 9, 2009; 02:12 am Leave a comment

From reading the first 3 episodes of Ulysses, I think I’ll be following ideas of fatherhood, the analogies and their links to fatherhood (Hamlet and the Odyssey, mainly), and the creation of word/poetry (for Stephen).

Episode 1: Telemachus

There’s the initial father/son Ghost/Hamlet relationship which sets the scene on Martello Tower. The top of the battlements scene, aside from being Hamletonian is also connected to the Trinity, Father Son and the Holy Ghost because of Buck Mulligan’s “black mass.”

I saw Buck Mulligan as a kind of parent for Stephen in this section. Buck starts the episode shaving in front of Stephen Dedalus, reminiscent of a boy’s first time watching his dad shave, or learning how to shave by watching his father in the mirror. Buck cooks breakfast, very responsible. He also rags on Stephen to wash more often. These are stereotypical actions of caring, fretful parents, and Stephen comes off much like the brooding teenage, sloppy, mopey, angsty, narcissistic.
When Mulligan describes the sea to Stephen as the “mother,” he sound like a patriarch telling his eldest son to take care of his mom while showing off the kingdom he will inherit, much like in The Lion King when Mufasa shows Simba the kingdom.

I think something else that’s really important in the first episode is that we’re shown what type of literary man Stephen is in public.
This relates to the Trinity because: Jesus was the Son of God and therefore, he was the Word of God. Therefore, the Father creates the Word which is also the Son. Therefore, Stephen, who creates words, is a Father-figure, while his words are his Creation.

Episode 2: Nestor

The main idea that cropped up in this chapter in relation to Paternity would be Patriotism.

It’s definitely more unspoken though, and Ireland is more of a “Mother” in Ulysses than a father.

I know that Sargent represents Nestor’s son in this chapter, but I don’t think this has to do with the main ideas of Paternity.

However, the way Stephen reacts to Sargent in interesting.  Stephen looks at Sargent in a very fatherly way.  “I was like him when I was younger, I sat like that, I brooded like that.”

I’m wondering what else Stephen will feel paternal towards in the rest of the book.

Episode 3: Proteus

I found a very small amount of Paternity in this chapter.  When Stephen says he is “made not begotten” he recognizes he is not Jesus, not begotten from God, but made from human flesh.  Jesus was begotten out of the stuff God is made out of.  Jesus is God.   The stuff fathers use to make their children makes them in their image, but not out of the same physical material.

There’s also a lot of phallic and productive imagery in this section.  Not only phallic, but things related to the phallus. Semen imagery in the sea, a masculinized sea.  However,  Stephen doesn’t produce much out of all of this supposed fatherly productive imagery.  He creates one poem which doesn’t seem that good.  it might be enough however to ensure that all this semen is not a masturbatory event, but instead a conceptionary event.