From Moby-Dick to Finnegans Wake: Essays in Close Reading
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This volume is a posthumous revised edition of selected papers by Andrzej Kopcewicz on classic works of American and Irish fiction, published originally between 1979 and 2005. The book opens with two introductory sketches: a semi-theoretical one on intertextuality and a semi-historical one on the interaction of high and low literary forms. The gist of the book are textual analyses of the intricacies and reciprocities of some of the best-known works by Herman Melville, Frank R. Stockton, Henry Adams, Thomas Pynchon, Gilbert Sorrentino, Donald Barthelme, Paul Auster, Flann O’Brien, and James Joyce. While the essays lend themselves to being read in any order, as well as in isolation, the underlying Peircean-Joycean premise of the book is a semiotic-mythical commodius vicus of palimpsestic recirculation. Informed by a combination of poetic sensibility and disciplined as well as erudite mind, the ten essays collected here demonstrate that the agenda and methods of the more traditional close reading and the more contemporary intertextuality are not exclusive of each other.
self-definition as an act of expiation and submission. Through this act of rejection he now becomes Bartleby’s spiritual double. Beseeching sympathy, Poe’s Wilson would have his readers believe that he is a slave of circumstances beyond all human control. He hopes that they would seek out in his fall “some little oasis of fatality amid a wilderness of error” (Poe 1984a: 337). In the context of Bartleby’s spiritual Gnostic topography, this plea would be a re-play and evidence of the external
psychotically deranged personality”. She and her alternate personalities are part of the basic structural dualities of Finnegans wake. The ‘deranged’ syntax of the Letter that Christy sends from Boston recalls the semantic flights of the conversations, equally void of coherence, that Donald Barthelme’s women hold with each other in the text of The Dead Father. These dialogues sound as though two selves were talking in one indistinguishable voice. As the author explains: Finnegans wake and The
representation of the author and his voice talking to himself and issuing forth from the depth of his bowels: “Ulysses turns its back on me” (Jung 1972a: 115). As a psychiatrist, Jung expends his sympathy only “on people who do not turn their backs on me. It is uncooperative” (Jung 1972a: 115). The vehement language employed in “A monologue” suggests that Jung is settling some personal scores here. Yet, it is also quite easy to discern that he is dealing with self-conscious fiction and recognizes
them, matter which presents itself as not wholly relevant (or indeed, at all relevant) but which, carefully attended to, can supply a kind of “sense” of what is going on. This “sense” is not to be obtained by reading between the lines (for there is nothing there, in those white spaces) but by reading the lines themselves – looking at them and so arriving at a feeling not of satisfaction exactly, that is too much to expect, but of having read them, of having “completed” them. (Barthelme 1967: 106)
knows his author (Lamont), Lamont has no recourse to his real author, i.e., to Gilbert Sorrentino. He seems to be 5 All further quotations from Finnegans wake refer to this edition and are marked parenthetically as FW with page number. 182 From Moby-Dick to Finnegans wake speaking with two voices, both of them authorial. One of these voices belongs to the writer composing his novel and commenting on its composition, the other one – a displaced voice – belongs to his creator (Sorrentino),