The Odyssey of Reading Ulysses

  • Daniel R. Schwarz


In his quest for meaning, the fictionalized Joyce — the speaker and writer of the events within the imagined world — becomes an Odysseus figure within the novel. While Odysseus goes from place to place, Joyce goes from style to style. By temporarily assigning characters to a position of marginality, Joyce is calling attention to himself as creative presence and showing how the imagined world is dependent upon his language. Moreover, he is implying that, because the modern, urban post-Christian world lacks order and coherence, his modern epic must not only be somewhat incomplete and inconclusive, but must present indeterminate and ambiguous passages to the reader.


External Reality Traditional Criticism Normative Style Dramatic Action Holy Ghost 
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  1. 2.
    Wolfgang Iser, The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974) p. 192.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Karen Lawrence, The Odyssey of Style in ‘Ulysses’ (Princeton University Press, 1981) p. 14. In the next several paragraphs, I quote Lawrence frequently because her position is representative of views I wish to refute.Google Scholar
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    Quoted in Lawrence p. 11; originally quoted in Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of’Ulysses’ (1934), repr. Indiana University Press, 1960, pp. 67–8.Google Scholar
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    Stephen Jay Gould, review essay of Evelyn Fox Feller, “A Feeling for Organism: The Life and Work of Barbara McClintock”, New York Review of Books, 31:5, 20 March 1984, pp. 3–6.Google Scholar
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    Quoted by Mary Reynolds, Dante and Joyce, Princeton University Press, 1981, pp. 220.Google Scholar
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    Ted Cohen, “Metaphor and the Cultivation of Intimacy”, in On Metaphor, ed. Sheldon Sacks (University of Chicago Press, 1978) p. 6.Google Scholar
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    Johnathan Culler, On Deconstruction: Theory and Criticism after Structuralism (Ithaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1982) p. 270.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Daniel R. Schwarz 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Daniel R. Schwarz
    • 1
  1. 1.Cornell UniversityUSA

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