Guiding readers through the disorienting dreamworld of James Joyce's last work, Kimberly Devlin examines Finnegans Wake as an uncanny text, one that is both strange and familiar. In light of Freud's description of the uncanny as a haunting awareness of earlier, repressed phases of the self, Devlin finds the uncanniness of the Wake rooted in Joyce's rewritings of literary fictions from his earlier artistic periods. She demonstrates the notion of psychological return as she traces the obsessions, scenarios, and images from Joyce's "waking" fictions that resurface in his final dreamtext in uncanny forms, transformed yet discernible, often to uncover hidden, unconscious truths. Drawing on psychoanalytic arguments and recent feminist theory, Devlin maps intertextual connections that reveal many of Joyce's most deeply felt imaginative and intellectual concerns, such as the self in its decentered relationship to language, the elusive nature of human identity, the anxieties implicit in mortal selfhood, the male subject in its opposition to the female sexual "other." She suggests that the Wake records Joyce's implicit interest in the psychological counterpart to Vico's theory of historical repetition: Freud's theory of the insistent internal return of earlier narratives.
Originally published in 1991.
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