Post-colonialism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations

Abstract

‘musics of the futures’ (FW 407.32–3) When Joyce wrote A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, he left behind a first draft, Stephen Hero. In that earlier text, the protagonist, Stephen Daedalus, muses on the ‘Mongolian types’ of the Irish peasantry. In A Portrait, however, these musings no longer appear. In this revision of an earlier error, Joyce recognises what his protagonist had missed: that the colonised, who feels superior because of his ‘metropolitan features’ (SH 244), has ‘disappeared’ into the person of the coloniser. By virtue of this recognition, A Portrait becomes transferential in Slavoj Žižek’s sense of the word: it serves as a pedagogical site in which the erroneous perceptions of the past (about tradition, nationalism, authenticity) are revealed as the necessary illusions that ultimately constitute the ‘truth’ of colonial Ireland. For Žižek, social events are often not recognised as essential to historical development because they appear as aberrations; only later can a ‘true’ recognition of their importance occur, a recognition grounded necessarily in the initial misrecognition. Joyce’s Portrait thus constitutes a repetition of a ‘failed’ past, a textual event that serves as ‘repayment of the symbolic debt’ of that past, the ‘final recognition’ of its historical ‘truth’. As Stephen notes in Ulysses, ‘errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery’ (U 9.229). Sheldon Brivic, referring to Joyce’s use of language as error, neatly restates Žižek’s point: ‘There is a recognition that cannot be reached without error, the recognition of change.’

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationJames Joyce in Context
PublisherCambridge University Press
Pages99-111
Number of pages13
ISBN (Electronic)9780511576072
ISBN (Print)9780521886628
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2009

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)

Cite this

Castle, G. (2009). Post-colonialism. In James Joyce in Context (pp. 99-111). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511576072.010