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Prose of the WorldModernism and the Banality of Empire$
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Saikat Majumdar

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156950

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156950.001.0001

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James Joyce and the Banality of Refusal

James Joyce and the Banality of Refusal

(p.37) Chapter 1 James Joyce and the Banality of Refusal
Prose of the World

Saikat Majumdar

Columbia University Press

This chapter analyzes the banality of everyday life and the desire for aesthetic transcendence in James Joyce's fiction. In Ulysses the aesthetic is embodied through the banal. In many of the stories in Dubliners, the banality of immediate life and the transcending impulse of the aesthetic appear in a relationship of bitter mutual hostility. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man ends with the artist's decision to leave the periphery, not, however, for England, but for metropolitan locations in continental Europe; it is a move that parallels his decision to transform banality into the material of a new aesthetic. In Joyce's fiction, neither the radical aesthetic import of the banal nor Ireland's peripheral relation to imperial modernity is fully realizable without the other. Symbiotically they make up a subaltern narrative force that, in time, will unsettle the aesthetic relation between the metropolis and the periphery.

Keywords:   banality, boredom, everyday life, modernist fiction, aesthetic transcendence, Ireland, metropolis, imperial modernity

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