Tag Archives: Joyce

akroeps on Lukács/Joyce

I appreciate that Lukács points out the importance of Joyce’s style at the start of his essay. He notes that [Joyce’s] ‘stream-of-consciousness technique is no mere stylistic device; it is itself the formative principle governing the narrative pattern and the presentation of character’ (1218).

Many people reading Joyce may argue that his stream-of-consciousness writing is annoying and hard to follow, and therefore a distraction to the story Joyce is telling rather than a helpful device. Lukács points out, though, that this device is just as important to the story as the plot-line itself. I agree with this sentiment, especially since there are numerous times in which it does not feel as though a plot exists, so navigating the story deep inside a narrator’s head is very important when it comes to understanding the reason behind the telling of the story in the first place.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Edited by Jeri Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Lukacs, Georg. ‘The Ideology of Modernism,’ The Critical Tradition. 3rd ed. Richter, H. David. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2007. 1218. Print.

[posted for akroeps by AG since she’s having trouble logging in]

Affirmation that Class Work is Important

What I found most stimulating throughout the readings was the extent to which our last class on Joyce had hit upon a crucial theme: the problem of paradigms/structures that stunt human development. Although this is not the exclusive argument of Lukacs, he does appear to develop his opinion of Joyce-esque literature from that seed. He claims “man . . . is by nature solitary, asocial, unable to enter into relationships with other human beings” (1219 Luksas). A  great part of me agreed with him here because I sympathized that the inability to develop relationships with other human beings is largely due to (as we contended in class) the structures in society that restrict them. And there’s a lot of evidence for this in Dubliners; take “The Sisters” for one. The speaker was limited or otherwise restricted from developing his friendship with the priest because the family structure ruled against it: “I wouldn’t let children of mine,” [Mr. Cotter] finally said, “to have too much to say to a man like that. . . . What I mean is,” said old Cotter, “it’s bad for children. My idea is: let a young lad run about and play with young lads of his own age and not be…Am I right, Jack?” “That’s my principle, too,” said my uncle” (2 Joyce).

 

However, there are also characters that depend on the social structure, and are considered simultaneously a vital and repulsive character by it. Specifically, Maria from “Clay.” This particular passage intrigued me: “They led [Maria] up to the table amid laughing and joking and she put her hand out in the air as she was told to do. . . . She felt a soft wet substance with her fingers and was surprised that nobody spoke or took off her bandage. There was a pause for a few seconds; and then a great deal of scuffling and whispering. . . . Maria understood that it was wrong that time and so she had to do it over again: and this time she got the prayer-book” (68 Joyce). While Maria is a celebrated character in her social circle, when she breaks the social code unconsciously, the social embarrassment she causes is heightened, possibly as a result to her grotesque appearance. While I believe it’s true that “[the hero] does not develop through contact with the world; he neither forms nor is formed by it” and that “the only “development” in this literature is the gradual revelation of the human condition,” I believe the placement of characters within/without history and their relationship with social order is more complex than Luckas is willing to credit (1220 Lukacs).

 


Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Dover Publications, 1991. Print.

Lukacs, Georg. “The Ideology of Modernism” The Critical Tradition. 3rd ed. Richter, H.
David. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2007. 1218. Print.

The Static Structure

“The perpetually oscillating patterns of sense- and memory-data, their powerfully charged -but aimless and directionless- fields of force, give rise to an epic structure which is static, reflecting a belief in the basically static character of events”  (Lukacs 1218).

What Lukacs seems to be arguing here, is the use of extraneous detail, which is usually found throughout Joyce’s work, as static. Static meaning a lack in movement, action, or change. One can even go so far as to say uninteresting (Google). But I disagree with this statement, as I think these additional details add/ build upon the characters of the story. It doesn’t just put the story on hold, nor does it seem to go on and on. For example Old Cotter’s caricature, “He began to puff at his pipe, no doubt arranging his opinion in his mind. Tiresome old fool! When we knew him first he used to be rather interesting, talking of faints and worms; but I soon grew tired of him and his endless stories about the distillery” (Joyce 3). The bashing of Old Cotter brings to mind what Dubliners is all about. If this extra detail isn’t layered on, such as the “interesting talk of faints and worms”, then what is the point of writing a story that is supposed to  exemplify life in Dublin?

Joyce, James. Dubliners. Edited by Jeri Johnson. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.
Lukacs, Georg. “The Ideology of Modernism” The Critical Tradition. 3rd ed. Richter, H.
David. Boston: Bedford/ St. Martin’s, 2007. 1218. Print.