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"Wonderland's wanderland" : James Joyce's debt to Victorian nonsense literature

Clare, Aingeal Mary Aisling (2011) "Wonderland's wanderland" : James Joyce's debt to Victorian nonsense literature. PhD thesis, University of York.

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This thesis examines the literary relationship between James Joyce and Victorian nonsense, particularly Lewis Carroll. Tracing the defining characteristics of literary nonsense beyond the Victorian period, it aims to assess what we mean by 'literary nonsense', and to evaluate the terms of Joyce's nonsense inheritance. The thesis is divided into four chapters: Chapter One: "'A letters from a person to a place about a thing": The Nonsense Letter.' This chapter looks at central nonsense themes of miscommunication, the (mis)construction of meaning, textual play, and the inadequacies and absurdities of epistolary conventions. My research draws on personal letters from Joyce, Carroll, and Edward Lear, as well as examining the relationship between fictional letters and their host texts, and delivering a detailed analysis of the Finnegans Wake letter in its various guises. Chapter Two: "'Mocked majesty": Games and Authority.' This chapter explores the various forms of authority in nonsense, from autocratic monarchs to omniscient authors, and from the parental or pedagogic authority of adults over children to the rigid and unspoken rules of children's games and discourses. The various species of games we find in the work of both Carroll and Joyce are analysed, from the tightly ordered playworlds of chess, cards, and games with logic and language, to the rough-and-tumble hijinks of the Finnegans Wake children's twilight street games. Chapter Three: '''Jest jibberweek's joke": Comic Nonsense.' This chapter begins by exploring the Kantian model of incongruous humour we find in the nonsense double act, examining how both Joyce and Carroll emphasise and exploit the double nature of the joke, using it to generate the vaudevillean dialogues and comic contrasts between the many 'collateral and incompatible' pseudocouples who populate the nonsense terrain. It goes on to address the dark underbelly of the comic, identifying a Hobbesian meanness at the heart of nonsense humour. A treatise on the bad pun concludes the. chapter, moving from Carroll's portmanteau words to the pun-infatuated jokescape of Finnegans Wake. Chapter Four: 'Nonsense and the Fall.' This chapter offers a unique reading of literary nonsense asa philosophical answer to the FalL Nonsense texts betray an almost morbid obsession with falling; literal and symbolic falls are a central theme of both the Wake and the Alice books, and falls into language, madness, chaos, and forbidden knowledge are staples of the nonsense condition. Ontological crisis and semantic collapse are among this chapter's themes, as it investigates why it is a general and necessary condition of literary nonsense to be always hovering on the edge of the abyss, and forever toying with its own destruction.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.546836
Depositing User: EThOS Import (York)
Date Deposited: 27 Oct 2016 16:29
Last Modified: 27 Oct 2016 16:29
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/14220

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