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How different are the words home, Christ, ale, master, on his lips and on mine! I cannot speak or write these words without unrest of spirit. His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech. I have not made or accepted its words. My voice holds them at bay. My soul frets in the shadow of his language. Still later Stephen acknowledges to Davin , "My ancestors threw off their language and took another.

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They allowed a handful of foreigners. Throughout the following discussions I assume an awareness of Ireland's divided literary tradition that involves making the distinction between an Irish literature in the national sense that originated in and was recorded in Irish in the linguistic sense , and an Irish literature in the national sense that originated in and was recorded in English.

Irish in the national sense literature in the Irish language naturally grows out of the Irish in the linguistic sense literary system, just as Irish in the national sense literature in English grows out of the English in the linguistic sense literary system. The former Irish literature in the Irish language is frequently referred to as "Gaelic" in the critical literature; but as I am dealing with early Irish literature as well as Modern Irish literature, and referring primarily to texts in Old Irish and Middle Irish, Gaelic will not do, since that is a term for Modern Irish not to mention Scottish Gaelic.

Thus, of necessity, here I am using the term Irish as the linguistic referent for literature in the various stages of the Irish language, and Anglo-Irish is used to denote Irish in the national sense literary texts and traditions in the English language. The term Anglo-Irish is not to be construed here as in any way pejorative or as carrying with it invidious ideological or sectarian connotations.


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Mercier, in discussing Anglo-Irish literature using Anglo-Irish as I am here , has speculated on the vigor of this literature and traced it to the archaism of Irish literature in both languages. For all the limitations which it imposes, archaism must be acknowledged as chiefly responsible for the vigour not only of Anglo-Irish comic literature but of Anglo-Irish literature as a whole. Whereas the writers of other Western countries have lately striven to re-establish contact with primitive modes of thought and feeling through the study of mythology, anthropology, and psychoanalysis, the Anglo-Irish writer has the past always at his elbow—in cold storage, so to speak—preserved in the Gaelic language and literature, in bi-.

In opting for the use of "Anglo-Irish," Wall notes that this was also the term used by Joyce 9. Irish Comic Tradition Mercier continues with a discussion of the strengths of Anglo-Irish literature, deriving them from the contact with Irish tradition:. Colleagues and students frequently ask me, in jest or in earnest, why the greatest figures in twentieth-century "English" literature are Irishmen, meaning usually Joyce and Yeats. I can suggest at least four reasons to those who are in earnest.

Guide Into the West: Joyce, Friel and Walsh on Death in Irish Literature

Their Irish background gave or at any rate offered Joyce and Yeats these four priceless gifts: contact with a living folklore and thus with myth; contact with a living folk speech; a traditional sense of the professional, almost sacred prestige of poetry and learning; a traditional sense of the supreme importance of technique to a writer, coupled with the realization that technique must be learnt, by imitation, study, and practice. Irish Comic Tradition — These strengths of Anglo-Irish literature are a leitmotif in this book, and parts of this discussion are in ways an expansion of Mercier's generalized observations as they apply specifically to Ulysses.

The appearance of a study of this sort in which are unveiled Irish literary parallels to and sources of some of Joyce's architectonics, generic conventions, and styles in Ulysses should not really be surprising. Gilbert and qtd. Within Ulysses Joyce has left many clues about the Irish literary elements that he has arranged and rewritten; at the same time he has mainly left a deceptive silence about the Irish intertextuality external to the text.

Selected Criticism

Deception is a theme threaded through all of Joyce's work, as Kenner has noted:. Deceiving the reader becomes. For we are deceived, rather frequently, and there have even been canonical deceptions the righting of which constitutes much of the history of Ulysses criticism. Joyce's Voices Kenner: "Joyce writes nothing that is not already written. Like the Homer of Samuel Butler's imagination he does not like inventing, chiefly because he thinks human beings seldom invent" "Ulysses" I couldn't have believed there was a builder in the whole world that could have built such a tremendously high tower.

And then, that you yourself should stand at the very top of it, as large as life! And that you shouldn't be the least bit dizzy!. Most of what I know, I've found out for myself. Symbolic structures in Ulysses —the phrase conjures up images of a wily, battle-scarred veteran of Troy afoot in Dublin, a woman weaving and unweaving a tapestry of thoughts, a son looking for or perhaps not looking for a father, bronze-by-gold sirens, a surly nationalist of a cyclops, and all the rest of those determinations that go back to Joyce's old chapter headings for Ulysses and Stuart Gilbert's study, symbolic elements linked.

The Homeric parallels popularized by Gilbert have served to restrict critical reception of Ulysses in no area more than that of its symbolic structures and its architectonics. The commonly accepted symbolic values for Bloom, Stephen, and Molly all come from European tradition as a whole: there is nothing particularly Irish about them. The established approach to the symbolism and architectonics of Ulysses reflects the predilection of the critical establishment to see Joyce as a European writer rather than an Irish one; accordingly, his cosmopolitan spirit is stressed, his disdain for the Anglo-Irish literary revival and Irish nationalism celebrated.

I do not wish to dispute Joyce's cosmopolitan spirit or the established symbolic interpretations of Bloom, Stephen, or Molly; instead, I would like to suggest that these values are incomplete. We must reconsider the notion that Joyce's books are not "for Irishmen," particularly in light of the advice Joyce gave Arthur Power in while finishing Ulysses: "You are an Irishman and you must write in your own tradition. Borrowed styles are no good.

You must write what is in your blood and not what is in your brain. JJ 2 European elements of Joyce's symbolism and architectonics in Ulysses are correct so far as they go, but the European values for Leopold Bloom, Stephen Dedalus, and Molly Tweedy Bloom are harmonics. The dominant of the symbolism behind their identities and their relationships is Irish and comes from Irish tradition.

Irish Literature in English : The Year's Work, Autumn 1991 - Autumn 1992

It has become a somewhat procrustean commonplace to observe that Joyce's writings meld nineteenth-century realism and the symbolist re-. To generalize somewhat, if we accept the prevailing critical view that the symbolism in Ulysses is European, particularly Greek, then the Irish elements in the book presumably must be naturalistic. But if Joyce's writings are to be set in the context of Irish tradition, the question of this balance of symbolism and realism in Ulysses must be reopened. Why is his "son" a Greek named Stephen Dedalus? Why is his wife, Molly, from Gibraltar? In what sense are these three characters in James Joyce's tradition, of his "blood" rather than his "brain"?

The explanations of these apparent anomalies not covered by the Homeric parallels are also commonly made in terms of European symbol systems or an ingenuous realism. It is said that Bloom was modeled on specific Jews whom Joyce had met in Dublin or elsewhere JJ 2 , , —75, ; Hyman —92 , and critics point out that the character evokes the legend of the Wandering Jew.

Stephen Dedalus, by contrast, is at once rational Greek, master artisan, Christian martyr, and emblem of Dublin. His name is "the wedge by which symbolism enters" A Portrait of the Artist Levin, James Joyce 46 , and that symbolism carries over into Ulysses as well. Finally, Molly's youth in Gibraltar captures the ironic Irish presence in the British army; her Mediterranean origin infuses passion and profusion, fertility and sensuality, into the clammy climate of Dublin.

Let us consider the realism in all this. Why is each alienated in some way from Irish culture? Hugh Kenner notes the incongruity in Bloom's coming from an immigrant family in a "country whose. Maturin, a relative of Speranza and Oscar Wilde, was curate of St. Peter's, Dublin. An edition of Melmoth with a biographical essay about the author appeared in , and Joyce refers to Maturin in Finnegans Wake Hyman In the text of Ulysses Joyce even signals the difficulty of accepting Leopold Bloom as an immigrant and a Jew in a realistic sense with Deasy's bigoted joke that Ireland is the only country never to have persecuted the Jews "because she never let them in" 2.

We might pursue this problem by asking why Bloom's "Jewishness" causes relatively little comment within the framework of the book, the scene with the Citizen notwithstanding, and why Bloom knows relatively little about Jewish culture.

Indeed, Bloom is so ignorant about "the faith of his fathers" that Jewishness becomes the decor rather than the substance of his world. These are some of the problems of the "realism" of Ulysses, particularly if it is to be viewed as the Irish element of the book. The fact that these questions are so seldom raised should remind us of how strongly readers and critics of Joyce's work are influenced by the prevailing European symbolic interpretations of the identities of the main characters of Ulysses even when the symbolic values contravene naturalism.

If Joyce is to be taken seriously as an Irishman, the possibility that his primal symbol systems may be Irish must be considered. In particular, we must examine native Irish literature for correlates to his work when realism breaks down, as it does in the case of the configuration of the main characters in Ulysses.

Taken one by one, Joyce's main characters in Ulysses are plausibly explained in terms of the shared symbolism of European literary tradition. As a system, however, Joyce's characters have no parallel in European literature; taken together, the three main characters point to a more unified source than European literature can provide. The Book of Invasions contains the pseudohistory of Ireland: the traditional history of Ireland before A.

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Its prototype was probably composed in the seventh century to fill in the gap for Ireland in such standard late Roman universal histories as those by Origen and Eusebius. Though the story apparently was originally restricted to the account of the postdiluvian history of the Milesians, supposed ancestors of the Goidelic stock in Ireland, it was opened up at an early period to include bits of cosmogony and old myth.

Eventually it came to contain the "history" of Ireland since the Creation, giving accounts of several conquests of Ireland before and after the Flood and culminating in the invasion of the sons of Mil. The Book of Invasions and its associated kinglist became the matrix for the rest of Irish history and literature; and as the organizing referent for Irish tradition, it stands in initial position in the great twelfth-century manuscript the Book of Leinster, a compendium of Irish narratives and histories, genealogies, and learned poetry.

By the seventeenth century the contents of The Book of Invasions were presupposed or distilled in most native Irish historical materials from the Annals of the Four Masters to Geoffrey Keating's History of Ireland.