Spring 1988 • Vol. X No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1988 |

Joyce: Autobiography, History, Narrative

It has long been recognized that the writing of the century's premier prose fictionist is largely indifferent to the interests of "story," action, plot, events, things happening. Joyce acknowledged as much himself, in his last, most unreadable book, when Shaun the Post, fuming in behalf of common-reader values ("the whacker his word the weaker our ears"), indicts his highbrow, Joyce-like brother Shem the Penman for his "sin against the past participle" (Finnegans Wake, p. 467),1 that is, against the sine qua non of narrative. Joyce is the least narrative of novelists, so much so that it is arguable whether he is a "novelist" at all. His first literary efforts were with the short, songlike lyric, and when the conventional constraints of that genre became too confining he moved into prose with the "epiphany," a nonnarrative genre more or less his own, registering a sudden heightened awareness, a moment of revelation, seemingly discontinuous with the rest of time, that is, with any "na

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Twilight of the Idols

By Steven Helmling

It has long been recognized that the writing of the century's premier prose fictionist is largely indifferent to the interests of "story," action, plot, events, things happening. Joyce acknowledged as […]

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