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Originality and Repetition in Finnegans Wake and Ulysses

Jennifer Schiffer Levine
PMLA
Vol. 94, No. 1 (Jan., 1979), pp. 106-120
DOI: 10.2307/461804
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/461804
Page Count: 15
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Originality and Repetition in Finnegans Wake and Ulysses
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Abstract

Recent poststructuralist criticism argues that language cannot be understood merely as a name-giving system and that reading is not a process of deciphering language in order to pass through it to the experience it communicates. If words are part of a larger articulation, then the question of origins, and of originality, must be recast. Finnegans Wake and Ulysses play on, and with, the dilemma of originality and repetition in literary discourse. The Wake involves us in the appeal to a source, and although the origins of knowledge, authority, life, and language may remain unlocatable we continue to search for them. The Wake suggests, too, that discourse binds us to a wheel of repetition. The complex use of cliché in Ulysses draws us even more specifically into the uses of repetition. Stereo-type is more than the butt of Joyce's satire: it shares in the whole process of deconstruction that characterizes the text.

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