Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The final words of Ulysses underline the text's position on the cusp of the pre- and postwar eras. Joyce was emphatic that Molly's "Yes" be immediately followed by those crucial coordinates: centerlineTrieste--Zurich--Paris. centerline 1914-1921. Where does this unsettling epitaph point us? In the direction of history, clearly; we are nudged toward the text's and its nail-paring creator's autobiography. Even the shallowest knowledge of recent history will indicate the centrality of those towns, during those years, to "all those wretched quarrels ... erroneouslv supposed to be about a punctilio of honour and a flag" (526). Even the shallowest knowledge of recent history will make us aware that Ulysses' initial plotting was done in one world and its final incarnation fixed in another. We reflexively turn those coordinates upon the foregoing text and try to gauge their significance. How might they have affected the narrative? Here I explain how World War I affected Ulysses in important ways which have yet to be critically explored. And I also explain how Ulysses reflects back upon that war and the culture it transformed. I first sketch James Joyce's interest and involvement in World War I, an engagement with history that belies his later, self-conscious pose of aesthete. I then demonstrate specifically how the War, though anachronistic to the date of Bloomsday, is yet important to Ulysses' theme, characters, tone. I explore how the war manifests itself in the book's protagonists', and their creator's, new attitudes to heroism. I probe the war's relation to Joyce's new mechanics of plot and perspective. I examine how the War is evinced too in the theme of the Waste Land as it is sited in the book. I explain how the poignant sense of homelessness experienced by many characters within the book is related to the dislocation of space, time and meaning often experienced by participants and civilians during and after the war. Finally, I emphasize how the war manifests itself in Ulysses' alternate site, the Dublin " (f) abled by daughters of memory" (20). This alternate site is characterized by stabilizing coordinates which provide a new grounding for postwar space and time. Joyce creates for his readers a comforting world within the text: thus Ulysses transcends the crisis of values which it simultaneously reveals.
Martin, Ann Hingle, "James Joyce's "Ulysses" and World War I." (1996). LSU Historical Dissertations and Theses. 6310.