Comedy in James Joyce's Ulysses
The comic in Ulysses needs more attention. The few studies that exist disregard the problems: the adoption of assumptions which limit discussion, the inconsistent terminology, the lingering prejudice regarding comedy as inferior to tragedy. This study begins by examining the common assumption that comedy in Ulysses is either a restraint on Joyce's saeva indignatio, or an affirmation of life; and then looks at the difficulties of comic criticism. Chapter two considers modern comedy, distinguishes three schools of theory, and indicates how these will be considered in relation to Ulysses. Chapter three, countering the assumptions observed in chapter one, discusses the book's refusal to indulge the reader's desire for certainty, illustrating this with a criticism of Kenner's conception of Joycean irony and Goldberg's reading of the 'Nausicaa' episode. Chapter four examines Mulligan: "in risu veritas: for nothing so reveals us as cur laughter" (Joyce). Using Freud's study of aggressive jokes, it works backwards from 'Circe,' where Mulligan is revealed in his true (motley) colours. Chapter five evaluates Bloom's comic/ heroism, working with Bergson's study of social laughter and against Darcy O'Brien. The final chapter considers farce, particularly in 'Cyclops' and 'Circe,' using Bergson's body-as-machine theory and Bakhtin's study of the medieval carnival in Rabelais and his World<.em>.