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Wholeness, Harmony and Radiance

Author: WangXiaoMei
Tutor: LinYuPeng
School: Hefei University of Technology
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: Joyce’ aesthetics Dubliners wholeness harmony radiance
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Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2006
Downloads: 252
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Abstract


James Joyce, one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, devoted himself to the experiments and innovation of novels for all his life. His works embodied the evolution of the twentieth century literature from realism (Dubliners), through modernism (Ulysses) to postmodernism (Finnegans Wake). Due to the nature of experiments and innovation of Joyce’s works, Joyce’s aesthetic theory should be regarded as a dynamic process. When studying the aesthetics of Dubliners, the author of this paper attempts to trace back to the social, historical and cultural backgrounds when Dubliners was written in order to accurately reveal Joyce’s aesthetics in his early literary creation and to get a correct understanding of its manifestation in Dubliners.The second chapter of this thesis first tries to discuss the growth of Joyce’s personal ideology and its influence on the formation of his early aesthetics from the three aspects: growth of Joyce’s consciousness of the sufferings of his nation, rebelling against religion and critically absorbing religious culture, and estranging from his family. Then, the chapter points out that Joyce’s forming of his particular aesthetic thoughts was inseparable from his critically absorbing aesthetic thoughts of Ibsen, Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas. Joyce, with his strong national consciousness, thought that literature should perform a valuable public service. So he continued the unfinished cause of Parnell and determined to "forge the conscience of his race" with literary creation and began to write "a chapter of moral history" of his nation by depicting spiritual paralysis of various Dubliners. On the other hand, Joyce was opposing a narrow didacticism and proposed that a work of art should be impersonal. This finally led him to have recourse to the aesthetic principles of "wholeness", "harmony" and "radiance", which were based on Thomas Aquinas’s aesthetic thoughts. On this basis, the paper expounds Joyce’s aesthetic thoughts when he created Dubliners by summing up his diaries and papers.This thesis focuses on discussing the manifestation of "wholeness" and "harmony"- elements necessary for beauty in the structure and themes of Dubliners in the third chapter. Dubliners is no longer a collection of fifteen unattached short stories with naturalism style. Joyce seemed to regard all the Dubliners as one person and presented their paralysis to the indifferent public from four aspects:childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life by using the material of the trivialities of daily life and his own experiences. Dubliners not only has the whole and unified structure and content but is economic in style without any unnecessary elements to the themes. At the same time, a rhythmic structure and interlaced and multi-layered themes are formed among the individual stories or between the individual stories and the whole collection, which make Dubliners become a harmonious whole and greatly enrich the artistic value of the book.The fourth chapter tries to make a analysis of "radiance", the third stages of aesthetic apprehension and reveals the close relationship between "epiphany" and "radiance". The present author distinguishes three kinds of epiphanies: writer’s initial epiphany, formalized epiphany and aesthetic epiphany and aims to get a conclusion that only aesthetic epiphany effectively links author, work and reader in a chain of communication. It is also the aesthetic epiphany that displays the character’s sudden spiritual manifestation and successfully sets up a "polished mirror" for Irishmen to see clearly their dilemma and lets the readers finish the third stage of aesthetic apprehension. The present author also analyzes the stasis of Dubliners, which both invokes and prolongs radiance.

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