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Joyce's "Delicate Siamese" Equation: The Dialectic of Home in Ulysses

Jules David Law
PMLA
Vol. 102, No. 2 (Mar., 1987), pp. 197-205
DOI: 10.2307/462548
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/462548
Page Count: 9
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Joyce's "Delicate Siamese" Equation: The Dialectic of Home in Ulysses
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Abstract

For Joyce's Stephen Dedalus, the word home is itself both "familiar" and "foreign," a paradox that confronts him with questions of both political and linguistic identity. Stephen's solution is to idealize the notions of exile and exteriority, but Joyce recognizes that this attempt to domesticate the experience of cultural alienation is a project wed to figurative language and one that may well end up reinscribing the very oppositions it intends to bring under its control. Nowhere is this dilemma more clear or more urgent than in the "Nestor" episode of Ulysses, Joyce's most fully articulated confrontation between interiority and exteriority, patriotism and exile. What makes the confrontation truly dialectical is not simply the figurative reconciliation or balancing of Manichean oppositions but rather the referral of the conflict to a historically occluded political subtext, whose very enigma points forward to tensions as yet untranscended in our own contemporary culture.

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