Author Topic: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?  (Read 1669 times)

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #30 on: April 01, 2021, 01:41:18 PM »
At the time Joyce was condemned by people for refusing to accept that Lucia was 'insane' and instead encouraging her artistic pursuits no matter what her health or state of mind was. For a while this was one of the worst things ever said about him: it was interpretted as him being so arrogant, he thought his daughter shared the same 'fire' as him and refused to see that she was insane. And a big part of the more unsavory gossip about Lucia comes from this.

In hindsight, he looks a lot better. The idea that a woman is either an artist or has a mental illness , but not both, is now is rightly seen as barbaric and Joyce's insistence that his daughter's creative pursuits be taken seriously doesn't seem so arrogant. It seems his one mistake was encouraging her towards visual arts and away from choreography. He was no saint but in the 21st century no one would say it was just artistic vanity that he thought he daughter could be troubled and have an independent creative life at the same time.

A lot of awful stuff has been written about Lucia its true. It is very uncomfortable and unfortunately widespread.

That said, there's clear resonances of her in Finnegans Wake (which was completed as she disintegrated, and while Joyce was gravely worried about her), and things which explore that can be interesting.

I'm very persuaded by the idea that Finnegans Wake style is at least partly inspired by her multilingual way of speaking and love of dances and disguises, and the letters between her and her father. Some have gone as far to suggest that it is not really about dreaming so much as motion and dancing. But as Stephen Joyce has intervened on publishing or preserving correspondences, we'll never know for sure.

Said grandson's excuse that he did it to quell speculation implies that there was nothing to hide in those documents, but he destroyed them anyway, which is a strange thing to do given the value of those documents - sentimental value, monetary value and value to literary history.

That's not really true. He was indiscriminant in his obstructing scholars. The two stories that get told - that there is something 'untoward' in either Joyce or his son's letters to Lucia in the mid-30s or that there is some secret relationship between Beckett and her after their official break up, mostly come from exaggerations. Nobody could know about this even if it was true. Stephen Joyce has reacted in the same way over some totally innocuous scholarship so I wouldn't take anything from his obstruction of researchers looking for insight on Lucia or Beckett scholars.

The real question for me is whether Joyce and his daughter did experiment with language and style together in the letters, even if it was just jokes. How seriously can we take the hints that she was 'collaborating' with him.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 02:53:14 PM by Video Game Fan 2000 »

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #31 on: April 01, 2021, 02:03:44 PM »
That's not really true. He was indiscriminant in his obstructing scholars. The two stories that get told - that there is something 'untoward' in either Joyce or his son's letters to Lucia in the mid-30s or that there is some secret relationship between Beckett and her after their official break up, mostly come from exaggerations. Nobody could know about this even if it was true. Stephen Joyce has reacted in the same way over some totally innocuous scholarship so I wouldn't take anything from his obstruction of researchers looking for insight on Lucia or Beckett scholars.

Ah, but I didn't say anything happened. I said that it was strange that Stephen Joyce burned the only evidence that would settle the matter. Sneaky?

Adding the context of his other battles with scholars only shows that he views the investigations of scholars, even if they only stick to the published works of fiction for citation, as threats. He would probably characterize his feeling towards scholars as a high-minded contempt for hangers-on, but so you would if they were probing into your difficult family history and declaring it "public interest". I would do the same.

What is the likelihood that, what with the current impoverished mass of primary evidence regarding the Joyces, that we have heard the worst there is to know? I'm not saying he definitely sexually abused his daughter (I can't know that). I am just saying that the grandson acts like there is something to hide. I would assume something more than nothing.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #32 on: April 01, 2021, 02:24:02 PM »
no one in their right mind would want those vultures to poke their noses into your private family writings. it doesn't necessarily means that there is something to hide. and sadly burning them is the right course of action because writers' wishes tend to be betrayed.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #33 on: April 01, 2021, 02:24:29 PM »
I think you're under estimating how obstructionist Stephen Joyce was. He was notoriously arbitrary in what made him hostile. People who have claimed there was something suspicious about how he acted or that he was trying to hide something in particular don't know what they're talking about - there was no obvious rhyme or reason for his actions and it was happening years before public interest in Lucia made him burn the letters. An academic or the city of Dublin or a website could do something Joyce related and suddenly find themselves in a spurious legal battle. If there was a plan behind it all it was all his own and his standards were totally inscrutible, he didn't even seem to be making money out of it beyond the fees he'd get sometimes. He'd perceive something as a slight against the Joyce family and he'd get litagious, that was it.

The one exception I can think of is the Lucia novel, where he did seem to have a case but even then...

I said that it was strange that Stephen Joyce burned the only evidence that would settle the matter. Sneaky?

He destroyed a whole bunch of stuff, the Lucia and Beckett letters were only a part of it apparently.

Considering the hooplah over Joyce's other letters, he might have been afraid that people would try to publish things. If Lucia had included anything of the 'novel' she claimed to be writing, you can bet someone would try to publish it.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #34 on: April 01, 2021, 02:32:50 PM »
The allegedly 'credible' incest claim concerns Lucia and her brother, not Joyce himself, btw. And it comes from letters or remarks from family friends about them sharing beds when they were very young. Its was a prominent feature of one of the biographies and has been recycled numerous times after that.

But they were incredibly poor at the time and Lucia had a troubled childhood, showing signs of her later illness and struggling to fit in as the family moved around. I find it very distasteful to connect this to the incest theme in Finnegans Wake, which is sadly pretty common. I think Anthony Burgess might be the source for a lot of it? But he certainly didn't have any new information. There is volumes of speculation but very little evidence - a lot of the incriminating material that the innuendo came from now looks a lot different. Its really hard to read anything especially nefarious in Joyce insisting that his daughter was a promising artist and it might help her mental state if she was allowed to pursue her ideas as people did at the time. Its pretty gross thinking that this was routinely characterised as 'erotic' interest or a 'fixation' by 20th century critics. It now reads more like a guy who saw his daughters distress being amplified by fears she would be taken away from things she loved more than a folie à deux.

He was clearly a selfish man but the extent that people want there to be some elaborate psychoanalytic structure in action here is definitely unsavoury.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 02:51:53 PM by Video Game Fan 2000 »

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #35 on: April 01, 2021, 02:54:39 PM »
Perhaps the truth is that they contained mere dull information of no interest to anyone. Could be.

But they were incredibly poor at the time and Lucia had a troubled childhood, showing signs of her later illness and struggling to fit in as the family moved around. I find it very distasteful to connect this to the incest theme in Finnegans Wake, which is sadly pretty common.

I would also discount it as evidence. I'm sure Buttgammon agrees. I am undecided whether Nabokov was a real pedophile, because the metaphor behind pedophilia resonated so much with his general preoccupation with coming of age, and attachment to things past. Ultimately, if Joyce used the image of incest, he did it for broader purposes, for lack of a better phrase. Unlike Joyce's preoccupation with his own life, incest is hardly a pervasive theme in his body of work.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2021, 03:09:05 PM »
. Unlike Joyce's preoccupation with his own life, incest is hardly a pervasive theme in his body of work.

There are also the dodgy thoughts Bloom has about his daughter in Ulysses. Which are perhaps an element of what is being repeated in Finnegans Wake. Joyce was preoccupied with sameness and similarity, he often saw differences as only ever forming from repeated instances of the same thing ("I am other I now"), which leads to some pretty bizarre erotic ideas. And if he liked someone, he often tried to work out ways in which they were technically Irish. All this gets very negative association if you think of the context of psychoanalysis at the time.

But some of the stuff about Lucia really gets into Davinci Code territory. Earwig = Insect = anagram of incest. Codebreaker stuff.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #37 on: April 01, 2021, 04:38:08 PM »
Yes, I wouldn't read too much into Joyce's own character in terms of how he wrote about these things. The strongest suggestions we have of his sexuality are in the notorious letters to Nora, which were published in his grandson's lifetime (but not in the any of the original volumes of letters; I get the feeling Richard Ellmann knew about them but was understandably squeamish and changed his mind when he had the opportunity). They're smutty and a bit weird but I don't find them that interesting. At the same time, Ellmann also published some more prosaic letters that weren't previously available for some legal reason or other. These are mostly just explaining allusions in passages of Finnegans Wake.

There are also the dodgy thoughts Bloom has about his daughter in Ulysses. Which are perhaps an element of what is being repeated in Finnegans Wake. Joyce was preoccupied with sameness and similarity, he often saw differences as only ever forming from repeated instances of the same thing ("I am other I now"), which leads to some pretty bizarre erotic ideas. And if he liked someone, he often tried to work out ways in which they were technically Irish. All this gets very negative association if you think of the context of psychoanalysis at the time.

But some of the stuff about Lucia really gets into Davinci Code territory. Earwig = Insect = anagram of incest. Codebreaker stuff.

One of the letters I've just mentioned helpfully decodes "commence insects" as "commits incest", so even Joyce engaged in a degree of the codebreaking you've mentioned!

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #38 on: April 01, 2021, 04:56:10 PM »

One of the letters I've just mentioned helpfully decodes "commence insects" as "commits incest", so even Joyce engaged in a degree of the codebreaking you've mentioned!

Fair but if you're talking about the Weaver letters one of them contains two entire pages of mostly insect puns, where 'incest' appears alongside the other crimes that appear in the book. The accusation of incest is there, but its not seperable from the other accusations. The argument I've seen is that because incest/insect is an anagram, not a pun, it means something unique that the others don't. Its not convincing. The issue is critics cherrypicking one or two examples out of hundreds of possible or intentional codings and building a 'real narrative of finnegans wake' out of it, which used to be a small industry to itself. Before Ellman published the letters it was very very easy to build a compelling explanation out of the book by discovering codes in the pun and saying one particular theme had a special prominence over all others. Which you used to see in claims of people who thought they'd discovered 'the real protagonist' of Finnegans Wake.

buttgammon

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #39 on: April 01, 2021, 06:06:34 PM »
Fair but if you're talking about the Weaver letters one of them contains two entire pages of mostly insect puns, where 'incest' appears alongside the other crimes that appear in the book. The accusation of incest is there, but its not seperable from the other accusations. The argument I've seen is that because incest/insect is an anagram, not a pun, it means something unique that the others don't. Its not convincing. The issue is critics cherrypicking one or two examples out of hundreds of possible or intentional codings and building a 'real narrative of finnegans wake' out of it, which used to be a small industry to itself. Before Ellman published the letters it was very very easy to build a compelling explanation out of the book by discovering codes in the pun and saying one particular theme had a special prominence over all others. Which you used to see in claims of people who thought they'd discovered 'the real protagonist' of Finnegans Wake.


Oh, I agree - I think it's worth discussing in relation to HCE (and in this case Shem and Shaun) because it gets mentioned enough times, but in things like letters it's needle in a haystack territory. That's the point I was trying to make with the letter but on re-reading the last post I made, that didn't come across as clearly as intended.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #40 on: April 01, 2021, 06:33:50 PM »
Oh, I agree - I think it's worth discussing in relation to HCE (and in this case Shem and Shaun) because it gets mentioned enough times, but in things like letters it's needle in a haystack territory. That's the point I was trying to make with the letter but on re-reading the last post I made, that didn't come across as clearly as intended.

Yeah! This gets into the other thing - a lot of the incest references in the book inc "commence insects with him" happen between Shem and Shaun, they're not said about HCE, and perhaps the homosocial nature of their conflict. Which scotches the idea that its in specific reference to a 'real' sin that a specific dreaming person is guilty of. The specific thing with "insect"/"incest" was that something coming out in anagram form suggested it meant something someone was purposefully trying to hide from himself, rather than open connections between different words, which is implausible considering anagrams are found elsewhere in a way that doesnt suggest repression. And its a Jeremy's Iron level anagram do try harder Joyce.
« Last Edit: April 01, 2021, 06:49:08 PM by Video Game Fan 2000 »

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #41 on: April 01, 2021, 07:38:53 PM »


Also, with James Joyce you had cinema; it was an emerging new art form; James Joyce actually opened up the first cinema in Ireland.[1]
 1. I never knew this, is it true?

Indeed,

https://www.thejournal.ie/volta-cinema-4634482-May2019/
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Volta_Cinematograph


But they were incredibly poor at the time and Lucia had a troubled childhood, showing signs of her later illness and struggling to fit in as the family moved around. I find it very distasteful to connect this to the incest theme in Finnegans Wake, which is sadly pretty common. I think Anthony Burgess might be the source for a lot of it?

I don't think so, he was an enormous admirer of Joyce and I can't recall anything he wrote that makes any kind of direct link of this nature. For example, his main work on Joyce Here Comes Everybody mentions Lucia once in a context of Joyce's family and is tinged with sadness at her fate. When he gets to Finnegans Wake the incest theme is treated solely within the work itself and related to the grander themes of the book, the cycle of history with its rises and falls and the fall of man, original sin, etc.

Incest, riddles, wordplay and metamorphising can also be found in Burgess' own M/F based on an legend of the Algonquin tribe which he claims to have first heard of in a lecture by the structuralist Claude Levi-Strauss.

Talulah! Great to see you.

It's me, none other than The Boston Crab.

*Waves*

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #42 on: April 01, 2021, 08:02:49 PM »
I never realized he liked film so much. I'll have to reread him in that light. I read the famous biography of him but I missed that detail.

Incest, riddles, wordplay and metamorphising can also be found in Burgess' own M/F based on an legend of the Algonquin tribe which he claims to have first heard of in a lecture by the structuralist Claude Levi-Strauss.

Oh look, full circle.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #43 on: April 01, 2021, 08:16:42 PM »
I don't think so, he was an enormous admirer of Joyce and I can't recall anything he wrote that makes any kind of direct link of this nature. For example, his main work on Joyce Here Comes Everybody mentions Lucia once in a context of Joyce's family and is tinged with sadness at her fate. When he gets to Finnegans Wake the incest theme is treated solely within the work itself and related to the grander themes of the book, the cycle of history with its rises and falls and the fall of man, original sin, etc.

I was thinking of the section on incest in Joysprick, which I think did popularise the idea that the characters in the penultimate chapter of Finnegans Wake are the 'real' characters. Its a frequently quoted passage, or at least it used to. Joysprick was one of the first close reads of Joyce I ever read, and I didn't question Burgess on this: he is very persuasive and astute about Joyce's intentions. But he's probably wrong on this point.

He doesn't go out of his way to connect the specifics of the chapter to Joyce's own life, but there is some innuendo in the passage and he does map the family structure on Joyce's own family and connect it (tenuously) to Ulysses, and I think this is the origin for a lot of the assumptions that Joyce was describing his own relationship with his children in Finnegans Wake. Particularly the stuff about Nora Barnacle being the faithful Penelope who never wavered when Joyce was tempted by others, etc.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #44 on: April 01, 2021, 08:31:00 PM »

Thomas

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #45 on: April 02, 2021, 11:51:21 AM »
I'm pleased that my thread has sprung such interesting Joyce chat. I've just started reading William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, but after that I'd like to finally tackle that other modernist giant, Ulysses.

Since you're all clearly Joyced up, can anybody recommend a particularly good version of the text? One with all annotations and context and that tucked away at the back. I've read Dubliners and Portrait, but I've left the more infamously difficult novels till last.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #46 on: April 02, 2021, 12:07:51 PM »
I'm pleased that my thread has sprung such interesting Joyce chat. I've just started reading William Faulkner's The Sound and the Fury, but after that I'd like to finally tackle that other modernist giant, Ulysses.

Since you're all clearly Joyced up, can anybody recommend a particularly good version of the text? One with all annotations and context and that tucked away at the back. I've read Dubliners and Portrait, but I've left the more infamously difficult novels till last.

Because of the size, there arent that many fully annotated ones. Penguin have one but I've never looked at it. One that is good is the Alma Classics edition, which has tiny text but is very comprehensive, and it's the one I'd go for.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #47 on: April 02, 2021, 12:08:26 PM »
Oxford Univ Press edition of Ulysses (ed. Jeri Johnson), has great endnotes IIRC, and there's also Gifford's Ulysses Annotated, though that's a whole separate book for your money.

I do think, however, there's a case to be made for just getting a nice old non-annotated version of Ulysses, diving straight in, surfing the waves of the language and seeing what it throws up for you. And - before buttgammon beats me to it - I'd recommend reading chapters 3, 4 and 5 first and then doubling back.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #48 on: April 02, 2021, 02:30:37 PM »
Art is shit, but I do like realism.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #49 on: April 02, 2021, 04:23:53 PM »
and there's also Gifford's Ulysses Annotated, though that's a whole separate book for your money.


This. I'd recommend it because most other annotations or 'guides' will be using the same material or even reading directly from it. I'm probably cheaper than getting a special edition of Ulysses.

There's also the advantage of having a book for annotations seperate so you can keep track of the patterns or allusions you find interesting for yourself rather than trying to juggle everything at once. The most important part of annotations is having on your terms. Being able to close them and put them away, out of sight out of mind.

You know what, I wouldn't even worry about corrections in Ulysses editions. I go back to an uncorrected 60s version for literally no reason other than I like it.

buttgammon

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #50 on: April 02, 2021, 04:45:12 PM »
Not annotations exactly but Ulysses Unbound by Terence Killeen is a good guide to read alongside it.

OUP have another book of separate annotations in the pipeline but it won't be out for a while.

Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #51 on: April 02, 2021, 06:09:20 PM »
The Stuart Gilbert book is still one of the best reader's guides for Ulysses, too.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #52 on: April 03, 2021, 01:59:17 PM »
It'll require a little legwork in downloading them, but you might want to consider reading Ulysses as it was first published: in instalments of a highbrow literary magazine:

https://www.cookdandbombd.co.uk/forums/index.php/topic,81033.msg4242809.html#msg4242809
Topic: The Little Review (or "Literary Life 100 Years Ago")

Thomas

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #53 on: April 04, 2021, 11:54:22 AM »
Thanks, everyone.

100 pages of The Sound and the Fury have reminded me what modernism is, employing its traits to disorienting effect. I'd say 'immersive', too, only I don't know how well I'd be following it without a couple of pages of analytical notes at my side.

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Re: Intimidated by art: where to (re)start?
« Reply #54 on: April 06, 2021, 07:34:29 AM »
I've been lucky enough over the past year to have several short stories published.

Hang on a sec Thomas - how did we not know about this (maybe I missed it) - congrats! Where can we read these? I hope one of them contains the term 'medically a goblin.'

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