Assassinating William Shakespeare

Joyce's Ulysses Is an Act of Terrorism Against the English


What seems to be your main thesis, that Ulysses "happens not at the level of the story but at the level of words, sentences, syntax," is wholly unsupported. There is not one example of syntax or diction given.

You do discuss interpretations of the words that describe attitudes of the fictional Dedalus and Haines, but those interpretations are entirely, as you might put it, "at the level of" semantics---and a wholly literal and facile semantics at that. I don't think you've really gotten close enough to the words in order to see them separately from literal interpretation, though your thesis at least acknowledges such a thing is possible.

Additional comments: Do texts have "levels?" Is "dark side" anything more than a folk cliche, and why have you deployed it here? A comma is not a syllogism; "words, sentences, syntax" is not a well supported logical progression.

Grade: D

Your actual abilities do not match your imagined ones. Next time get closer to the text, work within your limits, and if you are confused about the distinction between syntax and semantics please come to office hours.
Interesting take, Charles... I've never considered Joyce from this perspective. This is a very interesting lens through which to view ALL of his works, culminating in the 'scorched earth' of Finnegan's Wake...

I believe "YourTA" has graded you too harshly here, I myself would give you a B+.

"The "re-Joyce-ers" do not realize they are toasting an attack on English—the very language they are using to celebrate."

At last year's Bloomsday in Dublin, ambassadors from all over the world read excerpts from the novel in their own languages. I heard entire episodes in Korean, Spanish, French, Japanese, among others. The ambassador of Finland was read the entirety of Episode 18 in Finnish, barely pausing for breath.

What was interesting was the celebration of translation of Joyce's work. It wasn't about Dublin itself (as most think Ulysses is a love letter to the city), plot was entirely absent, and readers most often did not differentiate between characters in their voices. It was about language, but more about the fluidity of Joyce's use of language.

I've never heard an argument contrary to the one above. Formalist readings of Ulysses are popular, and make much more sense than allegorical ones. However, despite Joyce's disdain for his home country and the English-speaking world, I don't think he used the language as a weapon. He pushed the language forward, not backwards for the purpose of denigrating his predecessors. He thought himself above that. He wouldn't take the time to spit on Shakespeare's grave. I don't see any malice in his experiments.
I, too, wish you had given more evidence to support your argument. Without it, this piece doesn't amount to much. Which is a shame, because the premise is certainly interesting.
"true literature is the destruction of literature." -maurice blanchot

FUCK, YES, MUDEDE...but i do agree that i'd enjoy a more lengthy dissection. maybe the stranger is not the appropriate place, though?
A problem with your argument is that Shakespeare could easily to be said to have done the exact same thing three centuries before.

ANY piece of great literature destroys and recreates the language in complex, emergent ways. That's what makes it great: canonicity is not inherent in anything, but follows from the influence of a work on the language, culture, and future writers.

Or are you saying that Joyce is attacking the ideological Shakespeare that existed in his time, not the historical man and writer?

Not a terribly convincing argument either way. I think H. Bloom's argument that Joyce was trying to out-Shakespeare Shakespeare (Joyce's agon with Shakespeare) holds a lot more weight. And it carries back to Joyce's earliest short stories and forward to Wake.

Regardless, happy Bloom Day everyone! Drink a pint and insist Hamlet was his own grandfather.
Post-mod lit-crit twaddle. Exactly the kind of strained, narrow reading to be expected of the effete critic--and the kind of furrowed-brow, constipated musing that Joyce, a great literary trickster and agitator, predicted would ensue for, as I recall, about 300 years.

I agree with YourTA; 'D'.

I also mostly agree with Lilting Missive: Have twopints and a Happy Bloomsday!
@1 & @7 That POV is why lots o' talented writers never pan out. the academic echo chamber rewards conservative formalities at the deep expense of insightful instincts this this piece definitely has. Their writers figure they're rubes and shuffle off. Only the truly great ones, like Joyce, have the cojones to tell the ivories that their focus on structure is intellectually selfish.
Dear Montdidier: Hmmmm??

I have tried and tried to read "Ulysses" but I always end up with my nose in buried in an E.R.Burroughs' "Barsoom" novel. What's with that?

By the way, if one wants to "...use the language of Giambattista Vico...," one should write in eighteenth century Italian.

@8 You've exceeded your daily allowed count of adjectives and alliteration. "...conservative formalities at the deep expense of insightful instincts..." Didn't Batman say that?
This article blows my mind.