Waking the Read: What is it to be Post-Joycean? In Reading, Writing, and Psychoanalysis

  • Daniel Bristow

Student thesis: Phd


My thesis includes six chapters, the titles of which are: 1.) James Joyce, In and Out of Analysis; 2.) Was Joyce Mad? Not by a Transparent Sheet...; 3.) From Joyce-the-Symptom to the Sinthome; 4.) Joyce's Knots: Death and Sex Before the Wake 5.) The Other Side: The Indelible Sigla of Finnegans Wake; and 6.) The Object Meaning Raised to the Dignity of the Thing. These are divided into subsections also. The first chapter begins by elucidating what I have come to the term the 'unificatory/separatory principle' (or 'principle of enverity'), which I have derived from Jacques Lacan's formulae concerning the other side of psychoanalysis (l'envers de la psychanalyse), and which becomes essential throughout the thesis in commensurating Joyce (a great rejecter of psychoanalysis) with psychoanalytic theory and practice. It goes on to situate and investigate Lacan's discourse, particularly in relation to his concept of half-saying, before presenting a plotted history of Joyce's interaction with psychoanalysis in his own lifetime, which spreads into a discussion of the role Joyce and his work plays in modern psychoanalytic trends, based specifically on Lacan's twenty-third Seminar.Chapter two deals first with 'Joycean ontology', the concept of which is derived from some of his earliest writings, and brought into combination with certain of Lacan's tenets, specifically through the unificatory/separatory principle, and the notion of antagonism and the Fall; it thereafter discusses Joyce in relation to madness, utilising his concept of the 'transparent sheet' to demarcate the proximities involved in his working processes' and literary methodologies' interactions with madness and psychosis. Chapter three moves onto and aims to elucidate the concept of the sinthome, tracing its trajectory from Lacan's symposial lectures on 'Joyce-the-Symptom' and conceiving of it as an empty signified, in its relation to singularity and its position in the triadic knot of Lacan's three Orders (and particularly Joyce's peculiar version of this knot). Chapter four provides an explanation of knot theory in this respect, and then moves on to discuss death (and its manifestations in Joyce's work) as the cessation of singularity, before bringing it into relation, through Freud's death drive, with sexuality (again, as exampled in Joyce), and forms of recursivity.Chapter five concentrates mainly on writing and the letter; beginning by outlining a concept of writing based on Lacan's notions of discourse, particularly the 'discourse without speech' that is the guiding concept to Seminar XVI. It then brings this in relation to Joyce, through an analysis first of minutiae (specifically of the letter 'a'), then of a longer passage (the 'hen's letter'), in Finnegans Wake, working with Lacan's concept of lalangue to decode the structural modes by which the work's punning language operates, and can be made to operate for readers.The final chapter concludes by bringing Lacan's definition of sublimation from Seminar VII to bear on the topologies of his, and Joyce's, later work. The end result of this is to come to a formulation concerning the place of the artwork, and the political positioning of Joyce's work, in respect to sinthomicity.
Date of Award31 Dec 2014
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorLiam Harte (Supervisor)

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