Too Fine a Point

21,50 €
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Christine O'Neill

Too Fine a Point. A Stylistic Analysis of the Eumaeus Episode in James Joyce's Ulysses

ISBN 978-3-88476-171-7, ISBN 3-88476-171-4, 180 S., kt., € 21,50 (1996)

(Horizonte - Studien zu Texten und Ideen der europäischen Moderne, Bd. 20)

EUMAEUS tends to be a neglected chapter in Joycean criticism. Unlike most episodes in Ulysses, it has only rarely sparked off perceptive comment. Although anticlimactic from the viewpoint of story, stylistically Eumaeus is anything but dull: heterogeneous and wily, it resists fixation. The episode's theme and style are Homeric in inspiration as it enacts linguistically the role of impostor. After a comprehensive review of the existing criticism, this study offers detailed linguistic and stylistic description tracing the dissonant urges and elusive impulses of Eumaeus. It does not aim at an orderly and static image, but provides converging perspectives which reflect the dynamics at play. There is a discussion of the episode's genesis and an investigation of its narrative subtleties. Its uneasy combination of oral and written properties is analysed; prescriptive grammars and contemporary provincial newspapers are considered as stylistic models and inspirations. Some of Mikhail Bakhtin's concepts, especially those concerning dialogue, polyphony and heteroglossia, help elucidate the chameleonic nature of the episode. Eumaeus, maliciously humorous and charmingly gauche, has a disruptive lexical and grammatical texture. Made of dialogical relations which subvert self-confident authority, it is essentially protean.