William Hugh Kenner January 7, — November 24, was a Canadian literary scholar, critic and professor. His major study of the period, The Pound Era , argued for Pound as the central figure of Modernism , and is considered one of the most important works on the topic. Kenner was born in Peterborough, Ontario , on January 7, His father H. Kenner attributed his interest in literature to his poor hearing, caused by a bout of influenza during his childhood.
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Sort order. Start your review of Ulysses. Take Stuart Gilbert along with you, and probably keep a lifeline open to Don Gifford. But when you're ready for your first re-read of the book, you could do far worse than bringing Hugh Kenner along for the ride.
Kenner is ever thoughtful, always original in his provocative book, Ulysses, in the Unwin Critical Library series Claude Rawson, ed. The complexity of Joyce's texts, their symmetries and intricately interlacing design elements, captivated me from the beginning. Kenner has much to say about this aspect of Joyce's work, and about other aspects as well. We see how A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is indebted to the numerology and chiasmatic structure of Dante's Vita Nuova, for example although Kenner doesn't mention it by name : the three episodes and diary entries of Chapter V reverse the overture and three episodes of Chapter I.
Evolving characterization colors the narration in Portrait, and this pattern spills over into Ulysses, where the tendency expands exponentially. The construction of Ulysses approximates two kinds of novel joined together, as Kenner points out and illustrates repeatedly. Next comes the hinge episode, Wandering Rocks, connecting the first nine episodes to the last eight.
Wandering Rocks is a chimera of the initial style and the first striking intrusion by the Arranger think of an independent second narrator or hijacker of the text; the Arranger was identified and named a decade earlier by David Hayman. Ulysses begins with two triads of episodes: the first group of three and the second group of three take place in different spaces at the same time. Importantly, Kenner emphasizes broad structural parallelisms that, as if by magnetic force, bind together certain episodes in the different halves of the book: those linking Aeolus to Cyclops, Proteus to Nausicaa, and Scylla and Charybdis to Oxen of the Sun.
These parallelisms and linkages help establish the broadest pattern trussing together the novel's stylistically divergent episodes into a single text. A few examples are demonstrative. The constantly interrupted text of Aeolus is mirrored by the gigantism interruptions, journalistic in style, which break up the text of Cyclops. The Cyclops adventure immediately follows the Aeolus adventure in The Odyssey, so the parallelism is a connection for episodes chronologically separated in Ulysses.
Proteus is a two-part episode, with Stephen Dedalus first walking across the sand, then with Stephen sitting on the rocks at Sandymount Strand. Nausicaa is clearly a two-part episode, the first featuring Gerty MacDowell sitting on the sand, the second featuring Leopold Bloom on the rocks at Sandymount Strand. Both Scylla and Charybdis and Oxen of the Sun begin with Stephen as the center of attention among a group of companions until Buck Mulligan arrives to steal the spotlight from him.
In The Odyssey the Oxen of the Sun incident follows immediately after the Scylla and Charybdis incident, again restoring a chronological disjunction in Ulysses. Kenner doesn't address the fact that this approach leaves a few episodes unaccounted for; viz. Sirens is the opening of the Arranger's grand performance while Circe is its crowning achievement, not to mention a reconstitution of the entire novel up to that point.
The Lestrygonians episode, according to this schema, seems to be an orphan. In point of fact, while these are items of interest to Kenner, they are not of overwhelming interest to him, but are illustrative of the content of Kenner's book. Kenner makes many shrewd observations about Ulysses throughout his book that I hadn't noticed previously. He tells us a great deal about Joyce's use of motifs and even of individual words and clusters of words to hold his books together.
He demonstrates Buck Mulligan's full frontal nudity in the opening page of the book. He explains that Stephen may well have gone to Sandymount Strand intending to seek lodging for the night. He points out the implications of Corny Kelleher's role as a police informant. He underscores how the orderliness of the first half of the book begins to give way to the chaos of the second half in close approximation to the time of the assignation between Molly and Boylan.
He notes how the tableau of Mina Purefoy in labor at the lying-in hospital, even as the doctors carouse downstairs, picks up on the imagery of Penelope and the Suitors in The Odyssey. On the first page of Scylla and Charybdis, Kenner mentions, Eglinton mentions six brave medicals, and in Oxen of the Sun Stephen confronts six not-exactly-brave medicals. Stephen imagines William Shakespeare as a restless man with a lively daughter and a dead son, uneasily yoked to a wife who conquered him once and cuckolds him now, all of which equally apply to Leopold Bloom.
The sailor Murphy has tattooed on his chest a portrait of the artist as a young man. On and on. This may be the best description of Ulysses as I've ever encountered, for reasons too complicated to spell out here. This is an excellent book about Ulysses and one that is very well written. Much to think about. Quite recommended. Jul 20, J. Alfred rated it really liked it. A true Ulysses story: when I was in fourth grade or thereabouts, I was assigned a report on Ulysses S. Grant, something or other president of the United States.
Being a youth excited about scholarship but not sure how to research, I wandered around my excellent community library until I found something which looked apposite: Joyce's Ulysses. I sometimes pity the poor librarian who had to check Joyce out to a 12 year old or whatever. Also true: I like Hugh Kenner a lot. I tend to think he explain A true Ulysses story: when I was in fourth grade or thereabouts, I was assigned a report on Ulysses S.
I tend to think he explains and exemplifies a lot that is most interesting in Modernism in particular and literary scholarship as such. When I found that Kenner had written a book entitled Ulysses, I was willing therefore to re-read Joyce's work for the first time since I was about eighteen and the experience disgusted me to no end in order that I could therefore read Kenner's book with an easy conscience.
It was worth it. Nov 24, Laura rated it it was amazing. Hugh Kenner, you are my favorite literary critic ever! May 28, James C rated it it was amazing. Joyce was 40 yrs old when Ulysses was published, it is a day in the life of a husband and father of Joyce's age at publication.
Joyce loved Dublin and Ireland and though the book was written on the European continent - he wanted to memorialize his birth home Ireland. The conclusion of this quest is the quintessential affirmation of humanity, the fundamental family unit - the father, mother, son, and daughter. Like Odysseus, absent from Penelope, traveling the world, for many long years, Leopold Bloom is also absent from his Penelope in Dublin. Unlike Odysseus, the obstacles Bloom faces are psychological modern - internal travails instead of Odysseus' external travails.
For Odysseus: insight, understanding, enlightenment, and all importantly direction come to Odysseus in his journey to the ancient Greek Underworld. Joyce's Circe chapter a surrealistic one-act Ibsen-like play is where Bloom finds self-possession - Joyce makes Bloom encounter his own psycho-sexual existential questions, rather than finding life's answers in the dead ghosts of his life the ancient Greek Hades chapter of the dead past.
Joyce equanimously gives both Molly and Bloom extramarital sexual infidelities - infidelities known by each of the other as early as the Calypso chapter Bloom was conscious of what was to come.
Of course there will be resolution in marriage, for Molly only needs to feel that Bloom is willing. As we read, Bloom has undergone the travails of his own mind and has emerged Victorious. He has succeeded in his psycho-sexual existential quest.
Molly "I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him END ". Joyce schooled in Christian Jesuit metaphysics pushed down into the mindfulness of human consciousness breathes in the spirit of expansive Celtic Irish democratic community tavern life where man's stories of life are told. Tavern life teaches the evolution of Joyce's ten God "thunderclaps" one hundred lettered words pushing man's evolution forward from cave man's tales to modern tv media tales.
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