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Tense FutureModernism, Total War, Encyclopedic Form$
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Paul K. Saint-Amour

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780190200947

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200947.001.0001

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The Shield of Ulysses

The Shield of Ulysses

Chapter:
(p.222) 5 The Shield of Ulysses
Source:
Tense Future
Author(s):

Paul K. Saint-Amour

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190200947.003.0006

Chapter 5 reads Joyce’s 1922 novel back into the wartime and immediate postwar years of its writing. Recent postcolonial readings of Ulysses have linked it to the Easter Rising and the Irish War for Independence. This chapter argues that the book also links colonial violence to modern warfare more broadly. Referred to by Joyce as “a kind of encyclopedia,” Ulysses engages in gestures of description, definition, and inventory under the signs of futurity and disaster. One object of this encyclopedism is war, which the novel conjures through its Homeric intertext, historical allusions, portrait of Dublin under colonial occupation, and anachronistic references to the paroxysmal years of its writing. These violations of diegetic time are not a bid for prophetic authority but a symptom of the colony’s geopolitical earliness. For when the colony is used as a laboratory for emergent forms of violence, colonial reportage reads like prophecy in the metropole.

Keywords:   Ulysses, Joyce, Easter Rising, violence, warfare, encyclopedia, colonial, Homer, Iliad, war, Dublin

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