Silence, Justice, and the Différend in Joyce’s Ulysses

in Silence in Modern Irish Literature
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This chapter examines the relationship between silence and justice in moments from Joyce’s Ulysses against Irish religious and political backdrops. In so doing, it draws on Jean-François Lyotard’s concept of the différend. It explores a key moment in the “Nestor” episode in which Stephen Dedalus falls silent and resorts to sketching “a brief gesture,” looking at the gradations of silence in the course of his conversation with his employer, Mr. Deasy. The chapter considers other moments from the “Hades” and “Cyclops” episodes of Ulysses in which the question of the unspeakable also arises. In the course of analysing the silences that occur in these moments, the chapter is centrally concerned with the extent to which these silences may intimate injustices.

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