Joyce'S GhostsIreland, Modernism, and Memory

Joyce'S GhostsIreland, Modernism, and Memory

Luke Gibbons

Print publication date: 2016

ISBN: 9780226236179

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

Joyce's Ghosts realigns haunting from the romantic Gothic genre to the spectral forms of Ireland's colonial modernity. The new psychology sought to exorcise the ghost by reducing it to a projection of the mind, but in Joyce's Ireland, inner life itself was an incomplete project, and was in no position to internalize the ghost. Though originally seen as an exploration of bourgeois subjectivity, Joyce's modernism is more concerned to explore the limits of interiority, unsettling the boundaries between inner and outer worlds, past and present, representation and reality. Central to Joyce's innovative technique is the idiomatic cast given to free indirect style, which is less concerned with stream of consciousness than the “dialect of the tribe,” the inner speech of a culture in crisis. Ireland thus achieves articulation not only as subject matter or content but also as form, allowing Joyce to pioneer a mode of vernacular modernism. The shock of modernity in the colonial periphery ensured that the city, nation, and empire harbored their own phantoms, the shadows thrown by the Great Famine and the fall of Parnell in Ireland becoming part of the “involuntary memory” of the colonial subject. It was if the colonial past weighed so heavily that it could not be contained within the minds of the living. Instead of giving up the ghost, memory in Joyce's work slips its psychological moorings and returns as the nightmare of history.