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Joyces Mistakes

Joyces Mistakes: Problems of Intention, Irony, and Interpretation

Tim Conley
  • Book Info
    Joyces Mistakes
    Book Description:

    Joyces Mistakesis an absorbing and sophisticated work, a portal of discovery in its own right.

    eISBN: 978-1-4426-7644-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Figures
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  5. A Note on Texts
    (pp. xi-2)

    • CHAPTER ONE Re: Cognizing Error
      (pp. 5-13)

      There is a standard joke about modern art in which an abstract painting is incorrectly hung, usually upside down. As stale as the gag is, the persistence with which it is adapted in films, television, homogeneousNew Yorkercartoons, and so on connotes more than simply a perceived schism between lowbrow gallery groupies and untalented but high-priced hucksters (depending on the side of the divide from which one elects to view it). Can ʹartʹ be ʹwrongʹ? Can even the quotation marks in this question be removed? Pity the curious philistines, coax those who will not face the question: they know...

    • CHAPTER TWO The true scholastic stink
      (pp. 14-20)

      For all of his Aquinan schemas, Stephen Dedalus has a problem:

      –If a man hacking at a block of wood,Stephen continued, make there an image of a cow, is that image a work of art? If not, why not?

      –Thatʹs a lovely one, said Lynch, laughing again. That has the true scholastic stink.


      By June 1904, though, he seems decided upon the point:

      –The world believes that Shakespeare made a mistake, [Eglinton] said, and got out of it as quickly and as best he could.

      –Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His...


    • CHAPTER THREE Fault Lines: Representing Modernismʹs Errors
      (pp. 23-39)

      In his thoughtful and cogentPreface to Modernism, Art Berman posits the aesthetic movement as a wide-ranging critique of modernityʹs failure to live up to its Utopian, ʹprogressiveʹ promises, particularly those engineered by empiricism. Appositely, I argue, the most rigorous and stylish of these forms of critique pursue failure as an application and sometimes, as in the notable cases of BrochʹsDer Tod des Vergiland JoyceʹsFinnegans Wake, as subject for protracted, highly style-conscious meditation. As thetelosof being seems to recede faster and faster – in tandem, in fact, with the retreat of mythic moments of origin...

    • CHAPTER FOUR Multiple Joyce Questions
      (pp. 40-58)

      ʹPosterity,ʹ such as it is, has had other ideas. The customary portrait of the artist as a monomaniacal auteur is, unfortunately, the most reproduced, especially when it comes to Joyce. I draw here from the materialist-historicist work of Lawrence Rainey as representative example: ʹJoyce controlled every aspect of [Ulyssesʹs] production: his approval was required for decisions about paper, typography, cover design, color, even the choice of printing inks. The book was no longer an industrial product shaped by publisherʹs [sic] conventions and production considerations; it was a token of the authorial selfʹ (ʹThe cultural economy of Modernismʹ 58–9).¹ In...

    • CHAPTER FIVE Fickling Intentions (I)
      (pp. 59-80)

      Any expression of the notion that ʹexamination of the three termsfinal,authorial, andintentionwill frequently lead us away from an ahistorical conception of the art work toward one of its historical situation and contingencyʹ (Bornstein 8) only means, of course, that much depends upon the terms of that examination. Intentionalism, the interest in an authorʹs conscious and perhaps articulated purpose or design, is a swirling aporia as old as expression. Or very nearly as old, since it is the reaction, the afterthought, the expression of impression. It is criticismʹs inevitable struggle with determinism and empiricism, in whatever guises...

    • CHAPTER SIX (Sic) of irony
      (pp. 81-94)

      The present makes it difficult to examine irony with either concision or conviction. I mean this in both a particular and general sense. In particular, todayʹs Zeitgeist (a tired and dislikable word reluctantly reyoked for short, symbolic duty here) eschews almost any degree of genuflection and wonder, and the almost inevitable tone of public exchange of information or ideas, from the academic essay to the most popular mass media, is one of virtually automated cynicism. As an ironist, Stephen Dedalus has nothing on the youth of the century after him. ʹIronicʹ has become a byword of our age, either despite...

  8. Intermittences of sullemn fulminance
    (pp. 95-98)

    Temporality and text have a bumpy relationship: this is something suggested by the preceding chapters (Part I as a whole, in fact), and it is the notion of ʹnowʹ or ʹthe presentʹ or being ʹmodernʹ which is specifically the trouble. The interloopings which follow represent a meditative experiment of sorts, in which this text itself is both the subject and the analyst.

    It is a sumnny afternoon in April – yes,thatmonth – and I am ignoring the flashes of red underkline which appear when I hit the space bar after finishing typing a word: this, obviously, is the...


    • CHAPTER SEVEN Performance Anxieties
      (pp. 101-117)

      Preparatory to anything else, I submit Jorge Luis Borgesʹs definition of reading as ʹan activity subsequent to writing – more resigned, more civil, more intellectualʹ (ʹuna actividad posteror a la de escribir: más resignada, más civil, más intellectualʹ [Historia universal8; translation inCollected Fictions3]) as a succinct expression of my own conviction. Reading as a verb has been treated elastically to denote interpretation of various kinds (ʹMission Control, do you read?ʹ; ʹI can read you like a bookʹ; ʹhow one ʺreadsʺ a paintingʹ), to the diminution of an appreciative understanding of this unique and special activity of interaction...

    • CHAPTER EIGHT Fickling Intentions (II)
      (pp. 118-133)

      ʹMisreadings,ʹ by virtue of being interpretations, can cast as potent a charm – or as sinister a curse – as any other (more readily arguable or academically or authorially sanctioned) interpretations upon the idea of a text. Encountering now the bitter epithet ʹphonyʹ inThe Catcher in the Rye, for instance, may well produce an irresistible echo of a 1980 gunshot in wintry New York, even though Salingerʹs novel can nevertheless be understood as anything but a programmatic directive for celebrity assassination. Only very recently has the music of Wagner been given its first public performance in the state of...

    • CHAPTER NINE The allriddle of it
      (pp. 134-148)

      Let me come to the ʹPunktʹ (U261) by way of punctuation; as many questions as a given reader of any experience withUlyssesorFinnegans Wakemay have of these books, the books themselves have more. There are 535 question marks inA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 1,510 inFinnegans Wake, a whopping 2,235 inUlysses. In each case the average number of question marks is just over two per page.¹ The number and pace of this stunning Irish Inquisition (as the act of counting has led me to think of theWake, in particular)...

  10. Erroneous Conclusions
    (pp. 149-152)

    Having now been ʹsubjected to the horrors of the premier terror of Errorland,ʹ my reader may ʹ(perorhaps!)ʹ (FW62.24–5) wonder whether a textʹs reader or its author has a greater potential – or more right – to be dissatisfied with it. Ten years after the publication ofFinnegans Wake, Samuel Beckett submitted to Georges Duthuit that ʹto be an artist is to failʹ: ʹI know that all that is required now, in order to bring even this horrible matter to an acceptable conclusion, is to make of this submission, this admission, this fidelity to failure, a new occasion, a...

  11. APPENDIX: Quashed Quotatoes
    (pp. 153-156)
  12. Notes
    (pp. 157-174)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 175-186)
  14. Index
    (pp. 187-192)