Joyce, philosophy and the drama of authorship
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This thesis will examine the representation, consequence and transformation of the idea of authorship in the work of James Joyce and suggest a way of re-addressing the contentious question of authorship. While postmodern criticism has emphasised the “revolutionary” cultural and political ramifications of Joyce’s response and the ways that his work has helped to deconstruct this question for modernity and postmodernity, this thesis will trace the ideas and ideologies, individuals and characters, historical, cultural and biographical circumstances that contributed to both the prominence and the hermeneutical consequence of the question of authorship in Joyce’s work. Highlighting Joyce’s awareness of and fascination with the multivalency of a question shaped by theological, historical, political, philosophical, philological, epistemological, methodological and hermeneutical ideas as well as literary representations, it will examine Joyce’s reformulation and response to this question through four pervasive models of authorship in his work: critic, philosopher, bard and theologian. While each chapter will make a distinction between these models in order to analyse their characteristics and significance, as a way of tracing not only the evolution of these models but also the complex network of interrelation that is established between these distinctive but also intertwining ideas of authorship, the thesis will be structured historically, biographically and “ergographically” (in Barthes’ definition of an ‘ergography’) as well as thematically. As a way of approaching the ideologically overdetermined concept of authorship, but also avoiding another postmodern “renaming” of this concept, these models will be proffered in order to examine the construction, fabrication and invention as well as the deconstruction of the idea of authorship and the representation of the role of the author in fiction, culture, society and history in the work of Joyce. The “drama” of authorship will be interpreted in terms of Joyce’s fictional and hermeneutic dramatisation of the role and idea of the author, but also in terms of the consequence of Joyce’s interest in and early idealisation of the genre of drama. This thesis will finally suggest that Joyce’s “failure” to become a dramatist and engagement with philosophical analyses of this genre contributed significantly to his deconstruction, reconstruction and dramatisation of the role and “exagmination” of the author. The thesis as a whole will delineate how each of these four models gradually becomes more distinctive but simultaneously also inextricable from a variegated template that is only methodologically divided into four parts; the four exegetes in Finnegans Wake inconspicuously multiply. The first three chapters will follow the attempt outlined in Joyce’s early draft of the Portrait ‘to liberate from the personalised lumps of matter that which is their individuating rhythm, the first or formal relation of their parts’- the growing self-consciousness of the artist’s understanding of his role(s) as an artist and of the idea(s) of authorship. In the last two chapters that will look at Ulysses and Finnegans Wake these four models will be more clearly differentiated although the growing theatricality in their portrayal and widening nexus of relations will complicate and indeed undermine the idea of a “model”.