The 'Perpetual Immunity' of the word: Joyce and World Peace

Kolocotroni, V. (2019) The 'Perpetual Immunity' of the word: Joyce and World Peace. In: Pollentier, C., Bucher, V. and Wilson, S. (eds.) Modernist Communities. University of Florida Press, pp. 141-158. ISBN 9780813056128

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Abstract

Joyce famously listed forty languages on the final page of the Finnegans Wake manuscript, having already picked an argument with the English tongue in his earlier work. His kaleidoscopic idiom is one of the marvels of the modernist repertoire, an event in the history of novelistic form, as well as a testament to the fascination with artificial international languages in the interwar years. Yet Joyce’s cosmopolitanism is not in direct opposition to the communitarianism he is usually seen to evade. Forged by associations with foreign nationals in diasporic communities, and fuelled by his political stance against imperialist wars, Joyce’s interest in minority languages was fundamental to his vision of a community of speakers of non-hegemonic languages in the world. This essay considers this communitarian vision in the light of two contrasted episodes in Joyce’s long involvement with world languages that bookmark the project of the Wake: his enthusiasm for Zurich-based Antonio Chalas’s 1919 pamphlet on the mystical foundations of the Greek alphabet dedicated to President Wilson (which Joyce recommended to his US publisher), and his agreement to a rendition of ‘Anna Livia Plurabelle’ into Basic English by C. K. Ogden in 1932. By juxtaposing the two episodes and their immediate contexts, Chalas’s championing of the project of a sustainable world peace effected by the protection of a minority language (which Joyce was taught by members of émigré communities in Trieste and Zurich), and Ogden’s campaign of world unity through standardisation of English as lingua franca for the majority, the essay will draw out the contradictory visions of the world and word for which Joyce’s views on language can be enlisted.

Item Type:Book Sections
Status:Published
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Kolocotroni, Dr Vassiliki
Authors: Kolocotroni, V.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PR English literature
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Publisher:University of Florida Press
ISBN:9780813056128

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