James Joyce, minimalist

Dick, M.-D. (2017) James Joyce, minimalist. Dublin James Joyce Journal, 10, pp. 65-85. (doi: 10.1353/djj.2017.0004)

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This article begins by tracing a history of literary maximalism and minimalism: starting with John Barth and moving to the recent resurgence of interest in maximalism, it outlines how critical attention has consistently located these two positions in the writing of Joyce as maximalist, and Beckett as minimalist. It considers how these two positions are identified with particular philosophies of writing and, by using examples from across the Joycean corpus, suggests that Joyce has been misidentified as a philosophically maximalist writer. Analysing influential readings of Ulysses by Declan Kiberd and Leo Bersani, I contend that the writing of Ulysses challenges maximalist and humanist interpretations. Examining recent arguments on Joycean maximalism, it argues for a continuum, rather than an epochal break, between the writing of Joyce and Beckett, on the basis that the former challenges definitions of maximalism and minimalism in so far as the terms imply a coincidence between form and content. In turn, I propose that Joyce's language — and the position on language inscribed within his writing, which extends to a position on being — should be aligned with the values critically ascribed to minimalism. While acknowledging its stylistic excesses, I therefore claim that Joycean writing is divorced from totality or mastery and that it evinces a worldview concerned with incompletion rather than repletion.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Dick, Dr Maria-Daniella
Authors: Dick, M.-D.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Literature
Journal Name:Dublin James Joyce Journal
Publisher:James Joyce Research Centre at University College Dublin
ISSN (Online):2009-4507
Published Online:28 January 2019
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2019 James Joyce Research Centre at University College Dublin
First Published:First published in Dublin James Joyce Journal 10:65-85
Publisher Policy:Reproduced with the permission of the publisher
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