The Joycean Monologue
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Since Ulysses was published, reading it has become an increasing challenge. Understanding Joyce has never been within everybody’s reach. Explaining Joyce so that the common reader can enjoy his defiance of all existing literary rules, stories and their words has not been the priority of Joycean scholars so far.
George Sandulescu published The Joycean Monologue in 1979. It will soon be a hundred years since Ulysses was published, and since it has so often been misguidedly read. This critic’s approach leads the way out of the maze and into the reader’s soul. Or heart. Or whatever it is that makes us all embrace a text and go back to it as if it were for the first time. In the critic’s own words,
The general purpose of Joyce’s art of the novel is to present character in the lesser known and more unexpected facets as well as from other angles of observation. Consequently, he resorts to interior monologue to reveal his characters’ ‘unspoken and unacted thoughts in the way they occur’. And in order to do so, he embarks upon an arduous search for the possibility of saying much by saying little; and, by stating less, of implying everything. Monologue, epiphany and myth are his most effective vehicles for reaching this goal. (p. 115)
G. Sandulescu’s criticism creates its object. The object of the Joycean Monologue is not merely the written page. It is a plea to look for Joyce’s secret in his novel, and that secret, as spelt out in this book, which is probably a lot more than criticism – possibly the critic’s own story – is James Joyce’s own soul.
The author of this study has one major point to make: the reader must forget enigmas and simply share the story, a story which – the critic repeatedly proves – is there all right, as well as the heroes who derive from it. His critical study is, in fact, the perfect guide to finding them.
G. Sandulescu’s choice of cover for his Guide to Ulysses leads to the critic’s website – whose motto is Mallarmé’s statement: ‘Tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir à un livre.’ To Joyce the world, all human life, ended up in a book. The use of interior monologue as a method was for him one way of hiding a story and force readers to find, at the end of the road, that the Joycean Monologue was placed within their own souls. Once a reader has retraced an author’s way back from the book to whatever ‘tout au monde’ may mean, that book has proved itself. This is what G. Sandulescu’s book ultimately postulates : Joyce is as complex, as human, as frail and as determined to survive, as endearingly mortal as we all are. Or, in the critic’s own words, he is a ‘highly introvert poetic novelist’, who only opens up to those who are ready to see. Reading The Joycean Monologue is one way of finding out if we qualify.
George Sandulescu probes, then, a diabolical text with tools of his own making, tools which are no less mysterious, forceful and not at all within everybody’s reach. He longs for a forbidden creature, he touches the palpable skin and the impalpable mind of Joyce himself. The result for the reader is that the skin becomes inessential eventually, while the mind turns into the body and we move one step beyond merely understanding Joyce’s secret, we learn how to be Joyce himself.
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