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Watery words : language, sexuality,and motherhood in Joyce's fiction

Splitter, Randolph N. (1980) Watery words : language, sexuality,and motherhood in Joyce's fiction. Humanities Working Paper, 46. California Institute of Technology , Pasadena, CA.

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The idea of a dangerous, dirty, or lifegiving stream of water, bodily fluids, or even words -- as if words were the essence of life itself -- recurs throughout Joyce's work and becomes the prevailing, dominant metaphor of Finnegans Wake. Indeed, the maternal sea in which Stephen Dedalus fears he may drown is also the sordid, seductive, sustaining tide of life or language which the Joycean artist, absorbing it into himself, penetrated by it, transforms into art. In a sense, Joyce'.s selfconscious emphasis, in ° Finnegans Wake, on the "literalness" of language and the Itmetaphoricity" of relations between things is both "logocentric" and "deconstructive," preserving a delicate balance between the knowledge that words are signs which need to be interpreted (in the context, it would seem, of childhood relationships) and the fantasy that they are a magical essence which one needs, simply, to possess. What may disappoint us, however, is that Joyce's preoccupation both with language and with infantile fantasy is so repetitive, so monotonous, so obsessive. In attempting to deal with personal relationships and personal conflicts by these means, he also to some extent avoids them. This may be the legacy of a shame-ridden, sexually confused culture, whose fathers were often unable to be adequate fathers and whose mothers -- in carrying out the role of what they believed a "good mother" to be -- may not have been so good for their children after all.

Item Type:Report or Paper (Working Paper)
Group:Humanities Working Papers
Series Name:Humanities Working Paper
Issue or Number:46
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20090807-150819116
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Official Citation:Splitter, Randolph N. Watery words: language, sexuality,and motherhood in Joyce's fiction. Pasadena, CA: California Institute of Technology, 1980. Humanities Working Paper, No. 46.
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:14876
Deposited By: Lindsay Cleary
Deposited On:10 Aug 2009 23:20
Last Modified:03 Oct 2019 00:53

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