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Joyce’s Narrative Strategy of Palimpsest and His Historical Perception

  • Journal of Humanities
  • 2011, (47), pp.147-170
  • Publisher : Institute for Humanities
  • Research Area : Humanities > Other Humanities
  • Received : January 13, 2011
  • Accepted : February 15, 2011

Dauk-Suhn Hong 1

1성균관대학교

Candidate

ABSTRACT

This paper deals with Joyce’s historical sense and ideology in terms of the strategy of his narrative writing which is very similar with the medieval text of the palimpsest. In the medieval period, the palimpsest text on the parchment has been scraped off and can be used again. A palimpsest is thus of interest because, in an illusion of layered depth, “otherwise unrelated texts are involved and entangled, intricately interwoven, interrupting and inhabiting each other.”The process of palimpsest has a continuing relevance to the strategy of Joyce’s historical writing. It brings to light the past text which change the very way we interpret and know that past. This study is mainly focused on how the Irish national history of “The Murders in Dublin Phoenix Park” in May 6, 1882 was textualized in Ulysses:the processes of intentional errors, the complex palimpsest, and the melodramatic romance. Joyce delighted in having his characters of Ulysses display their imperfect historical memories so that the readers fall into confusion and doubt about which are factual and fictional. The writer even intertwined this historical event with the others in its representation, to make the text a kind of palimpsest writing. By this narrative method of palimpsest writing, all of the courageous sacrifice of the revolutionary heroes are parodied in the melodramatic situation. Joyce attempted to expose and subvert Irish popular culture’s received notion of the national heroic martyrdom. It is the way for him to rebel the immutability of history, and to open the infinite possibility of national history.

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