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Protean Mutations: James Joyce’s Ulysses

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Abstract

All of the fiction that we have examined so far uses languages primarily as a means of representing a polylingual reality. Even in Rhys’s fiction, where processes of translational mimesis are intrinsic to her modernist style, that stylisation nonetheless finds its basis in the specific cultural and linguistic reality that is represented. A translational style, in Rhys, corresponds to a ‘translational’ reality as experienced by the colonial migrant in Europe. James Joyce, on the other hand, though writing from the vantage point of his chosen exile from Ireland, produces work that is multilingual to a degree that is completely out of proportion with the (not especially cosmopolitan) Dublin that forms the consistent focus of his work. In that sense, Joyce’s texts fit Sternberg’s definition of ‘gratuitous’ multilingualism (although, to the extent that Joyce’s work is about language itself and linguistic plurality in the broader sense, its polyglot play is not gratuitous).1 Degrees of defamiliarisation in Joyce are directly linked to degrees of multilingualism: the largely monolingual style of ‘scrupulous meanness’ in Dubliners is characterised by a certain mimetic clarity; the much stranger styles of Portrait are matched by a certain degree of multilingualism; the ‘cracked looking glass’ (U 1.146) of Ulysses, with its astonishing range of different forms of defamiliarisation, is a highly multilingual text; and Finnegans Wake, the extreme culmination of Joycean defamiliarisation, is a novel of Babelian excess, containing between seventy and eighty different languages.2

Keywords

Foreign Language Semantic Ambiguity Stylistic Diversity Foreign Word Indefinite Article 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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Notes

  1. 1.
    Meir Sternberg, ‘Polylingualism as Reality and Translation as Mimesis’, Poetics Today, 2 (1981), 221–39 (p. 222).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Laurent Milesi, ‘L’idiome babelien de Finnegans Wake: recherches thématiques dans une perspective génétique’, in Genèse de Babel: Joyce et la Création, ed. Claude Jacquet (Paris: Éditions du CNRS, 1985), pp. 155–213 (p. 173).Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    F. R. Leavis, ‘Joyce and “the Revolution of the Word”’, Scrutiny, 2 (1933), 193–201 (pp. 199–200).Google Scholar
  4. 5.
    James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 159.Google Scholar
  5. 6.
    Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, rev. edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1982), p. 397.Google Scholar
  6. 9.
    See especially Laurent Milesi, ‘Introduction: Language(s) with a Difference’, in James Joyce and the Difference of Language, ed. Laurent Milesi (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), pp. 1–27; ‘Joyce, Language and Languages’, in Palgrave Advances in James Joyce Studies, ed. Jean-Michel Rabaté (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), pp. 144–61; ‘L’idiome babelien de Finnegans Wake: recherches thématiques dans une perspective génétique’; ‘Finnegans Wake: The Obliquity of Translations’, in Joyce in the Hibernian Metropolis: Essays, ed. Morris Beja and David Norris (Columbus: Ohio State University Press, 1996), pp. 279–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 11.
    Stephen G. Yao, Translation and the Languages of Modernism: Gender, Politics, Language (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2002), p. 201.Google Scholar
  8. 12.
    The exact extent of Joyce’s influence on Rhys is uncertain, but earlier assumptions of Rhys’s ignorance of modernist writers (she is reported to have ‘admitted, with no sign of great regret, that she hadn’t read Balzac, Proust, Fielding, Trollope, George Eliot, James, Conrad, Joyce’ [cited in Veronica Marie Gregg, Jean Rhys’s Historical Imagination: Reading and Writing the Creole (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1995), p. 59]) have been resolutely challenged in later critical assessments of the literary allusiveness of Rhys’s texts, and especially Good Morning, Midnight, whose ending, for example, is now recognised to be a response to Molly Bloom’s final words in Ulysses. See Judith Kegan Gardiner, ‘Good Morning, Midnight; Good Night, Modernism’, Boundary 2: A Journal of Postmodern Literature and Culture, 11 (1982), 233–51 and Helen Carr, ‘Jean Rhys: West Indian Intellectual’, in West Indian Intellectuals in Britain, ed. Bill Schwarz (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2003), pp. 93–113.Google Scholar
  9. 13.
    Stéphane Mallarmé, ‘Crise de vers’, in Igitur, Divagations, Un coup de dés (Paris: Gallimard, 1976), pp. 239–52 (p. 239).Google Scholar
  10. 15.
    Eric Bulson, ‘An Italian Tongue in an Irish Mouth: Joyce, Politics, and the Franca Lingua’, Journal of Modern Literature, 24 (2000), 63–79 (p. 68).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 16.
    Ferenc Takács, ‘“Impulsory Irelitz”: James Joyce, the Berlitz School, and the Unlearning of the English Language’, in Építész a köfejtöben: Dávidházi Péter hatvanadik születésnapjára—Architect in the Quarry: Studies Presented to Péter Dávidházi on his Sixtieth Birthday, ed. Sándor Hites and Zsuzsa Török (Budapest: rec-iti, 2010), pp. 546–55 (p. 555).Google Scholar
  12. 17.
    Claire Kramsch, The Multilingual Subject: What Foreign Language Learners Say About Their Experience and Why It Matters (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009), pp. 13, 27–44.Google Scholar
  13. 18.
    Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli, ‘Joyce Slipping Across the Borders of English: The Stranger in Language’, James Joyce Quarterly, 38 (2001), 395–409 (p. 396).Google Scholar
  14. 19.
    Fritz Senn, Joyce’s Dislocutions: Essays on Reading as Translation, ed. John Paul Riquelme (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1984), p. 49.Google Scholar
  15. 21.
    See Lawrence Venuti, The Translator’s Invisibility: A History of Translation (London: Routledge, 1995) for a critique of ‘the illusion of transparency’ in Anglo-American translation culture.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 23.
    A full translation of ‘Agenbite of inwit’ is ‘remorse of conscience’. Don Gifford and Robert J. Seidman, Ulysses Annotated: Notes for James Joyce’s Ulysses (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1988), p. 22.Google Scholar
  17. 25.
    Roman Jakobson, ‘On Linguistic Aspects of Translation’, in Selected Writings Volume II: Word and Language (The Hague: Mouton, 1971), pp. 260–6.Google Scholar
  18. 27.
    Katie Wales, The Language of James Joyce (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1992), pp. 7–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 29.
    Stuart Gilbert, James Joyce’s Ulysses: A Study (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1969), p. 38.Google Scholar
  20. 31.
    As Cronin explains, ‘A certain translation tradition in Celtic scholarship in the nineteenth century prided itself on a forbidding literalism that saw exactness, not felicity, as the reward of erudition.’ In such translations, ‘[t]he original is sacrosanct, and deviation in matters of translation or orthography is suspect. The scholarly attention that was brought to bear on the original in the translated texts of the period was formidable. In John O’Donovan’s seven-volume translation of the Annals of the Four Masters published in 1851, many footnotes run on for pages, dwarfing the text and its translation on the printed page.’ Translating Ireland: Translation, Languages, Cultures (Cork: Cork University Press, 1996), pp. 133, 135, 136.Google Scholar
  21. 34.
    James H. Maddox Jr., Joyce’s Ulysses and the Assault Upon Character (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1978), p. 173.Google Scholar
  22. 35.
    See, for example, Marc A. Mamigonian and John Noel Turner, ‘A Parallel Paraphrase of the Opening of “Oxen of the Sun”’, James Joyce Quarterly, 39 (2002), 337–45, and John Noel Turner, ‘A Commentary on the Closing of “Oxen of the Sun”’, James Joyce Quarterly, 35 (1997), 83–111. Harry Blamires, The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through Ulysses, 3rd edn. (London: Routledge, 1996), also provides a ‘translation’ of sorts with its commentary on ‘what happens’ over the novel as a whole — the very existence of this useful guide indicates that Maddox’s comments about ‘Oxen’ are also to some degree applicable to the whole novel.Google Scholar
  23. 37.
    James Joyce, Letters of James Joyce Volume III, ed. Stuart Gilbert and Richard Ellmann (London: Faber, 1966), p. 16.Google Scholar
  24. 40.
    James Joyce, Letters of James Joyce Volume I, ed. Stuart Gilbert, rev. edn. (New York: Viking Press, 1966), pp. 138–9.Google Scholar
  25. 46.
    Michael North, The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth-Century Literature (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994), p. 32.Google Scholar
  26. 47.
    Translators of Joyce need to strive in particular against two tendencies that are apparent in the process of translation: the tendency to homogenise the source text, especially where the target language is present as an embedded language within the source text (see Rainier Grutman, ‘Multilingualism and Translation’, in Routledge Encyclopedia of Translation Studies, ed. Mona Baker and Kirsten Malmkjaer [London: Routledge, 1998], pp. 157–60 [p. 160]), and the tendency to correct ‘errors’ in the source text. As Fritz Senn notes, ‘[a]pparent flaws are ironed out in translations; arrangements become more orderly. […] Errors are prone to being inertly rectified.’ Fritz Senn, ‘Transmutation in Digress’, James Joyce Quarterly, 47 (2010), 537–52 (p. 537). Where ‘error’ and/or linguistic deviation in Joyce derive specifically from interlingual effects, as in many of the passages examined in this chapter, the two tendencies are related: to correct is to homogenise.Google Scholar
  27. 48.
    Bosinelli, for example, argues for the importance of studies of Joyce and translation in the context of the developing discipline of translation studies. Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli, ‘From Translation Issues to Metaphors of Translation’, James Joyce Quarterly, 41 (2003), 47–56 (pp. 48–50). Fritz Senn and Bosinelli have both written frequently on the topic of Joyce and translation. See also: Rosa Maria Bollettieri Bosinelli and Ira Torresi (eds.), Joyce and/in Translation, Joyce Studies in Italy (Rome: Bulzoni, 2007), and the following journal issues, which are focused on Joyce and translation: James Joyce Quarterly, 41 (2003), James Joyce Quarterly, 47 (2010), and Scientia Traductionis, 8 (2010). Patrick O’Neill develops a ‘macrotextual’ approach to translations of Joyce, which views all the translations of a work that exist in all languages as part of a constantly shifting system that constitutes a ‘single and coherent object of study’, effectively viewing translations of Joyce as part of an evolving work in progress. Patrick O’Neill, Polyglot Joyce: Fictions of Translation (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2005).Google Scholar
  28. 49.
    As Steiner writes: ‘The teeming plurality of languages […] embodies a move away from unison and acceptance — the Gregorian homophonic — to the polyphonic, ultimately divergent fascination of manifold specificity. Each different tongue offers its own denial of determinism. “The world”, it says, “can be other.” Ambiguity, polysemy, opaqueness, the violation of grammatical and logical sequences, reciprocal incomprehensions, the capacity to lie — these are not pathologies of language but the roots of its genius.’ George Steiner, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation, 3rd edn. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 234–5.Google Scholar
  29. 50.
    John McCourt, The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904–1920 (Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2000), p. 54.Google Scholar
  30. 53.
    As Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael P. Gillespie point out, ‘[f]or some years it has been a critical commonplace that the Eumaeus episode, with its emphasis on clichés and exhausted language, reflected the fatigue that Joyce must have felt after the enormous effort of composing the Circe episode’. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael P. Gillespie, James Joyce A–Z: An Encyclopedic Guide to His Life and Work (London: Bloomsbury, 1995), p. 68.Google Scholar
  31. 54.
    Marisa Gatti-Taylor points out some inaccuracies in Gifford and Seidman’s translation of this passage, and offers the following translation: ‘Whore of a Blessed Virgin, let him give us the money! Am I right? Degenerate opportunist, literally, broken arse!’ / ‘Let’s understand each other. Half a sovereign more …’ / ‘So he says, however’ / ‘Scoundrel! Damn his dead! literally, His evil dead ones!’. As she comments, such language still ‘elicits shock among most Italians’. Marisa Gatti-Taylor, ‘It Loses Something in Translation: Italian and French Profanity in Joyce’s Ulysses’, in Joyce, Modernity, and Its Mediation, ed. Christine van Boheemen, European Joyce Studies, 1 (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1989), pp. 141–9 (p. 142).Google Scholar
  32. 57.
    This is Hugh Kenner’s argument in Joyce’s Voices (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978), pp. 130–1. Derek Attridge argues, however, that this notion ‘has always seemed to me to attribute both too little and too much to him (he would be capable neither of the dreadful pomposity on the surface nor of the brilliant parody and verbal play that underlies it)’. Derek Attridge, Peculiar Language: Literature as Difference from the Renaissance to James Joyce (London: Routledge, 2004), p. 174. Although I agree with Attridge’s judgement, it is worth noting that as far as the use of foreign languages is concerned, there are notable similarities between the narrator’s style and Bloom’s represented dialogue in the chapter.Google Scholar
  33. 59.
    Onno Kosters, ‘“Getting Rid of Voluble Expressions”: Eumaeun Language in Dispute’, in English Literature and the Other Languages, ed. Ton Hoenselaars and Marius Buning (Amsterdam: Rodopi, 1999), pp. 145–56 (p. 149). Kosters’s article usefully documents the use of foreign words and the issue of italicisation in ‘Eumaeus’ in some detail.Google Scholar
  34. 66.
    Frank Budgen, James Joyce and the Making of Ulysses (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1960), p. 55.Google Scholar
  35. 72.
    Sebastian D. G. Knowles (ed.), Bronze by Gold: The Music of Joyce (New York: Garland, 1999), p. xxvii.Google Scholar
  36. 74.
    Roman Jakobson, ‘Linguistics and Poetics’, in Selected Writings Volume III: Poetry of Grammar and Grammar of Poetry, ed. Stephen Rudy (The Hague: Mouton, 1981), pp. 18–51 (p. 43).CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Juliette Taylor-Batty 2013

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