Symbolic Systems: Correspondences in the Tales

  • Bernard Benstock


The distance between Stephen Dedalus, reconstituting an aesthetics based on Aquinas for an indifferent Lynch, and Gabriel Conroy, experiencing an aesthetic moment confused with sexual adoration of the entranced Gretta, is allied to the distance between literature and the market-place, both of which Stephen is aware of and Gabriel involved with. Stephen concedes that his definitions are in the realm of “literary talk”, and differentiates “beauty” (“in the sense which the word has in literary tradition”) from that of “the marketplace”, where “it has another sense” (AP 213). For Gabriel the apprehension of beauty leads also into the aesthetic realm, positing a symbolic painting of that which he immediately perceives, but a work of art that he has no intention of undertaking, never having adequately interpreted the symbolic significance. In giving the painting a title, “Distant Music”, he translates the experience into a potential commodity that would have relevance within the market-place. Although a teacher of literature and a reviewer of books, Gabriel has moved his aesthetics outside the area of language, whereas Stephen is especially specific in establishing the distance between words “used according to the literary tradition” and “according to the tradition of the marketplace” (AP 188).


Symbolic System Voice Call Literary Tradition Holy Ghost National Spirit 
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Copyright information

© Bernard Benstock 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bernard Benstock
    • 1
  1. 1.University of MiamiUSA

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