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2006 Joyce's Fall into Language: About Us

Directed by Brenda Addie


A Joycean Review in Nine Clues

2006 Joyce's Fall into Language: About Us

The show examines what it meant to Joyce to be using the language of his oppressors, and explores the ambivalence of his celebration and deformation of English, and his continual need, with each new artefact, to outdo himself in language and innovation.

In 2006, Bloomsday in Melbourne presented an analysis, and a celebration, of Joyce’s herculean toils and game-playing with language itself. There are many questions we want to ask of Joyce, among them:

  • How did you experience the original language of your culture, Irish? What did it mean to you to use the language of the oppressors – that of Rome and England?

  • Why did you write two openings to Ulysses (and provide three climaxes and two endings)?

  • Why were you so compulsive a list-maker, and so encyclopaedic?

  • Why do you need to invent words, and indeed refashion English?

  • What drove you to outdo yourself with each new work?

  • Was Finnegans Wake in retrospect perversely self-indulgent? an act of vandalism enacted on the English language? a joyful romp with 26 letters?

  • Why do you have characters morph into landscapes and landscapes into characters?

In response to patrons’ demands, as well as bringing you Ulysses,  the Bloomsday Players enthusiastically taste, savour, chew, swallow (and hopefully digest) some dollops of Finnegans Wake, and they invite you to relax into his playful wash of words. 

The performance of Never a Crossword: A Joycean Review in Nine Clues, also brings you a Joyce who has just published Ulysses, to great acclaim and to the horror of the censors, and who is thinking his way through the even more spectacularly experimental language of Finnegans Wake.  He knows he has fallen into language (as one falls into original sin), that in some senses it is a response to fear and being taken out of the self. He is also keen to communicate his philosophy of language, where language has taken him in Portrait and Ulysses, and where he is intending to take English in his Work in Progress, his provisional title for the Wake.

Joyce promises crackerjack words, thunderclap effects. We invite you to enjoy Jokey Jim and his verbal pyrotechnics.

Blooomsday in Melbourne once again commissioned Rod Baker to compose for a series of ballets based on Joycean poetry and the Seachange ballet. Joyce also meets Hildegard, and the subject of promiscuous lists (sacred and profane) are agenda in a dramatic and breathtakingly oral and liturgical form. Joyce’s virtuosity in dialogue is examined on the way to Howth Hill by tram.

2006 Joyce's Fall into Language: Who We Are

Joyce's Virtuosity in Language  and his  Lists


There were three papers: 

  • Dymphna Lonergan talked about Joyce’s use of Irish. He, of course, suppressed the Irish frameworks of Ulysses, in favour of foregrounding with his earliest critics its European Homeric scaffold, and Shakespreare and Dante were more explicitly part of the fabric of the text. Joyce has a vested interest in being taken up not as a sectional or parochial writer but one who traded in the literary culture of the widest possible field. Dymphna, a scholar of linguistics and Irish, cast more light on the relative invisibility of Joyce’s Irish lexicon. 

  • Peta Logan, a Deakin undergraduate, has an interest in Joyce’s lists, and analysed one of them, the “love loves to love love” list from the Cyclops chapter, for its subversive potential.

  • The final paper, by Philip Harvey (given breath by Juliette Hughes), mobilised Wakese in order to explore Joyce’s view of how language is produced in the body.

2006 Joyce's Fall into Language: About Us
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