UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exilic and national consciousness in Ulysses Barth, Charles


In the past forty years, many critics have increasingly read James Joyce’s Ulysses through attention to the author’s subtle political attachments, focusing particularly on his parodies of Irish nationalism and his anti-colonial commitments. I continue this discussion by examining the novel in conversation with Edward Said’s writings on “exilic consciousness” and “secular critical consciousness,” arguing Leopold Bloom exhibits both through his ability to criticize the Dublin environment he finds himself enmeshed within. He separates himself from his surrounding cultures while still integrating his external environment into his understanding of reality. Conversely, Stephen Dedalus, ostensibly an exilic figure due to his departure from and return to Ireland, fails in establishing an exilic consciousness, as he does not liberate his mind from a subservient, colonized positionality, rather seeking escape in aestheticism, isolation, and material concerns. I particularly examine these two characters in the “Telemachus,” “Nestor,” and “Calypso” chapters in relation to the nationalist forces (Irish, British, and Zionist) prevalent at the time. Then, through application of Frantz Fanon’s post-colonial writings and discussions of national consciousness, in contrast to nationalism, I demonstrate how the novel mocks Irish Nationalist rhetoric without denying its anti-colonial basis. Through a stylistic examination of the “Cyclops” chapter inspired by Roland Barthes Mythologies, I argue that the nameless first-person narrator, antisemitic Citizen, and omnific arranger exhibit similar cyclopean drives for hostile mockery, in contrast to Bloom’s parallactic vision of empathetic love and compassion. Through this vision, Bloom finds a means of resistance even within the hostile Dublin environment that ostracizes him based on essentialized notions of Irish purity, establishing the basis for a national consciousness that can lead into an international consciousness of solidarity among marginalized peoples and groups.

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