James Joyce and the Orient
thesisposted on 13.03.2013, 13:00 by Rasha Ibrahim Ahmad Maqableh
This PhD thesis is engaged in examining the racial stereotypes of the Oriental Other in Ulysses (1922) and the possibility of reading them as a critique of the dominant cultural discourses of Otherness. Since the publication of Edward Said's Orientalism (1978), and the studies of colonial and postcolonial discourses which followed, most canonical writers have been examined in terms of their engagement in the discourse of Orientalism created by the dominant imperial powers and propagated by the makers of their culture. The thesis argues that the distinctive contribution James Joyce (1882-1941) made in his representation of the Orient in Ulysses lay in the subversion of the perceived notion of the Orient in Western Culture. Chapter one investigates Joyce's experimentation with literary techniques to summarizes the language and imagery of Orientalism in order to challenge them. The chapter also argues that Joyce's approach towards the fabricated stereotypes about the East has a significant bearing on Ireland and the Irish, a people who have suffered for centuries of stereotyping prejudice under the English domination. In the course of the discussion, the thesis also demonstrates how the Oriental references are neatly constructed in Ulysses to the extent that they are configured with the major themes of the novel such as belonging, self-realization, Otherness, homecoming, history and betrayal. The second chapter examines the Oriental motifs in connection with the theme of history that resonates throughout Ulysses to dramatize the Oriental fantasies which provide the Irish with glimpses of liberation, in the same manner that the Irish legends of Oriental origin provide Ireland with possibilities of freedom from the Irish colonial history. The final chapter of the thesis concentrates on the centrality of The Arabian Nights in Ulysses and how it is effectively incorporated in the structure of Joyce's novel. The chapter also proposes that the combination of Joyce's multiplicity of perspectives along with the evocation of a text like The Arabian Nights which is characterized by its proliferation of narratives provides a reading of the theme of betrayal from different perspectives.