Characters’ Lapses and Language’s Past: Etymology as Cognitive Tool in Joyce’s Fiction

  • Sylvain Belluc
Part of the Cognitive Studies in Literature and Performance book series (CSLP)


This paper aims at showing the cognitive value of Joyce’s use of etymology in Dubliners. Joyce’s reading of Richard Trench’s works led him to resort to words’ previous meanings to denounce the moral and spiritual paralysis from which Dubliners, in his view, suffered. In that regard, etymology can be said to have a truly cognitive value, since it provides the reader with knowledge of certain hidden meanings. But it can also work as a cognitive tool through the different associations words set off in readers’ minds. Etymology thus sheds light on each reader’s individual store of knowledge, making the text’s appeal more universal while at the same time more personal.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvain Belluc
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Nîmes / Paul-Valéry Montpellier 3 (EMMA)MontpellierFrance

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