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Title: Joyce after Nietzsche : irony and the will to truth
Author: O'Farrell, Kevin
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis explores and evaluates the work of James Joyce using the ideas of Friedrich Nietzsche. It does so not only by examining Joyce's knowledge of Nietzsche's writings, but also through demonstrating how effectively they can illuminate Joyce's themes and techniques, and aid in a general reconceptualisation of his literary project. My analysis draws on several of Nietzsche's key concepts - perspectivism, ressentiment, the will to power - and applies them to Joyce's work. The main idea I use however is the will to truth. I argue that Joyce's primary concern as an artist was the depiction of what he saw as the truth of contemporary existence, in Dublin and more generally. This aim determines his technē, the origin and form of his work of art. Various manifestations of irony, a key element of Joyce's technique, help illustrate the importance of this will to truth. This understanding of his work eliminates the false division between form and content and through an emphasis on Joyce's artistry and philosophy, rather than the historical context in which he wrote (that is, on the author rather than the man), allows for a truly critical assessment. The five chapters that follow my introduction are chronologically ordered. They examine the early works, Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and especially Ulysses, in considerable detail and from various angles. Though careful to respect the individuality of each, my analyses find a common thread of realism uniting the three major works of prose fiction; beginning with the French naturalism of the short stories, moving on to a new development of perspectival irony and a unique mode of allegory in his first novel, and ending in what Joyce called 'the new realism' of his epic. My study then explains how and why realism is problematised in the later chapters of Ulysses as the will to truth comes to question itself. The thesis concludes with an assessment of Finnegans Wake, considering how it marks a radical departure from Joyce's earlier practice, and why I regard it a failure.
Supervisor: O'Donoghue, Bernard Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Joyce ; James ; 1882-1941--Knowledge--Philosophy ; Nietzsche ; Friedrich Wilhelm ; 1844-1900--Influence ; English literature--Irish authors--20th century--History and criticism ; Truth in literature ; Realism in literature