Chapter 4: Newspapers, Print, Language: Steganography in Joyce

in Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses
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One novel way to approach James Joyce’s writings is to read them steganographically. Steganography (“veiled writing”) is the practice of hiding information from unintended eyes in plain sight; indeed it conceals the very fact that a message is being sent at all. This essay considers textual formations that draw attention to themselves as texts in Ulysses (such as the acrostic cipher, anagrams, the boustrophedonic cryptogram, acronyms) to reveal the significance of their materiality and their importance both as carriers of messages and as Joyce’s experiments with steganographic methods. It posits that secret communication codes (like jargon code, cues, elements of Ogham and Bog Latin writing) deepen our understanding of Joyce’s use of the veiling methods and of their functions as steganographic tests that engage the reader in pursuit of secrets buried in the text. Becoming aware of the steganographic aspects of Joyce’s writing heightens our appreciation of how deliberate Joyce was in configuring language events as carriers of steganographically charged textual elements, as messages in plain sight about the rewards of attentive reading, one that involves detecting additional frame of reference (a code, a pattern) necessary to retrieve meanings behind his elaborate textual stratagems.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

Newspapers, Advertising and Printing

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