Language/History: Formation of a Nation in James Joyce's Ulysses
This thesis investigates how Joyce achieves the formation of a nation in Ulysses with his handling of language and history. The first chapter offers a background survey of Irish cultural nationalism in Joyce’s time and his responses to it in his earlier works. Joyce repudiates his contemporary cultural nationalism for its tendency toward division and oppression, and seeks to create an alternative notion of nation which is able to accommodate the heterogeneous Irish reality. Chapter two examines how Joyce appropriates English and makes it speak in an Irish voice through his “mimicry” and “adulteration” of the colonizer’s language. Counter-teleological, de-centered, and rich in possibilities, the “Joycean English” is just the medium through which Ulysses engenders the “imagination” of an Irish nation. The third chapter begins with discussions on Stephen’s gradual realization and adoption of the “Contextualist” mode of history as a way out of the nightmare imposed by the “Organicist” historiography. Stephen’s strategy of narrative as counter-history is then complemented by Bloom, who with his inbetween and hybrid status is portrayed as the embodiment of possibilities and the hope for national liberation. Finally, with the infinite possibilities generated in Ulysses, Joyce is able to break away from the confinements of colonialism and give a close representation of the truly existent, hybrid Ireland. Ulysses is thus the novel that contributes to the formation of the Irish nation.
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