James Joyce's "Fraudstuff"
AUTHOR: Devlin, Kimberly J.
PUBLISHER: University Press of Florida
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"Offers exceptional insight into the mysteries of Joycean subjectivity . . . a provocative reinterpretation of a large cross-section of Joyce's literary production."--Suzette Henke, University of Louisville
In James Joyce's "Fraudstuff," Kimberly Devlin considers Stephen Hero in illuminating juxtaposition to the developing artistic subject portrayed in Portrait and Ulysses. By tracing the concepts of "fraudulence" and "inauthenticity" in Joyce, Devlin reveals his increasingly sophisticated exploration of modern identity from Stephen Hero to Finnegans Wake.
Devlin examines Joyce's continual rethinking of what it means to have a "self," of the acting that passes as being. She demonstrates how Joyce explored the various ways identity is constructed, sustained, subverted, and dissolved. Whereas Stephen Hero presents a narrator who feels authentic compared to the fraudulence all around him, the Stephen of Portrait becomes aware of how his own identity is a pastiche of borrowed narratives and his actions a series of posturings. Moving deftly from Stephen Hero, to Portrait, to Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, Devlin traces Joyce's increasing interest in and experimentation with the theatrical props that support identity, from his early concern with moments of epiphanic truth and authentic insight to an obsessive celebration of selfhood as imposture and fraud--and as an ultimately unknowable entity.
Building on studies of the performative dimension of selfhood, Devlin demonstrates that Joyce grew increasingly skeptical about locating a core of being, and she explores his "Fraudstuff" in an array of forms: mimetic identifications, female masquerade, male parade, trans-gender impersonations, verbal mimicry, and police fantasies that induce elaborate posturings. In a refreshingly clear application of Lacanian theory, she also shows how modern identity, for Joyce, is based on the imagined gaze of the "Other." Her sophisticated, nonreductive application of contemporary psychoanalytic theory to Joyce's preoccupation with identity will challenge established Joyce scholars and will appeal broadly to scholars and students of literary modernism.
Kimberly J. Devlin is professor of English at the University of California, Riverside.
PUBLICATION DATE: 2/2/2002
CATEGORY: Literary Criticism