Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce
Early Poetry through Ulysses
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Professor Bowen's book is more than a simple collection of musical allusions; it is an engaging discussion of how Joyce uses music to expand and orchestrate his major themes. The introductions to the separate sections, on each of Joyce's works, express a new and cohesive critical theory and reevaluate the major thematic patterns in the works. The introductory material proceeds to analyze the general workings of music in each particular book. The specific musical references follow, accompanied by their sources and an examination of the role each plays in the work.
While the author considers the early works with equal care, the bulk of this volume explores the musical resonances of Ulysses, especially as they affect the style, structure, characterization, and themes. Like motifs in Wagnerian opera, some allusions introduce and later remind us of characters—bits of Molly's songs for instance constantly intrude her impending adultery on Bloom's consciousness. Other motifs are linked to concerns such as Stephen's Oedipal guilt over his mother's death, which in turn connects to his preoccupation with Shakespeare, the creator, the father, and the cuckold. Music helps create the bond which briefly joins Stephen and Bloom, and music augments the entire grand theme of consubstantiality.
Professor Bowen's style is simple and clear, allowing Joycean artifice to speak for itself.
The volume includes a bibliography.
Zack Bowen is Professor and Chairman, Department of English, State University of New York at Binghamton.