Debts, Promises, and Countersignatures
AUTHOR: Thwaites, Tony
PUBLISHER: University Press of Florida
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"No one yet has made Joyce's sponging ways so very, very interesting, or so important. Tony Thwaites takes the notions of promise, debt, mortgage, and signature forward to where no critic has yet gone, and back into the Joyce works to their new illumination. [He] demonstrates in lucid and engaging prose how the promise--a deferral founded on a certain notion of both past and future--structures Joyce's works."--Eloise Knowlton, Hillsdale College, Hillsdale, Michigan
In arguing that James Joyce's writing is structured everywhere by the peculiar temporalities of the promise--the not yet of speculation--and the signature that carries it, Tony Thwaites casts new light on a number of debates in Joyce studies and narrative theory.
He maintains that to read Joyce is to be caught up in the pleasures of the promise but also by the frustrations of knowing that a promise remains a promise only as long as it doesn't (yet) deliver. In both the personal experience of reading Joyce and in Joyce's life, with its perpetual cycles of debt and wasteful spending, the promise is where things remain open to the future. Not only in the convoluted history of its publication but also in the structures of the writing, Joyce's work involves intricate delays, overbiddings, speculations, and promises. Through readings ranging from Dubliners to Finnegans Wake, Thwaites expands his analysis of this temporality into a discussion of the temporalities of fiction and the effects of the subject in language.
Through this approach, Thwaites reframes a number of familiar critical debates and issues--Joycean aesthetics and history, the "mythic" parallels of Ulysses, the relationship of the interior monologue to literary realism, the vexed figure of the narrator, and the endless effects of signature and countersignature throughout the works.
Tony Thwaites writes on modernist literature, literary theory, and cultural studies, and teaches at the University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.
PUBLICATION DATE: 10/25/2001
CATEGORY: Literary Criticism