Chapter 6: “But Who Was Gerty?” Intertextuality and the Advertising Language of “Nausicaa”

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The critical tendency has been to treat the “Nausicaa” episode of Ulysses naturalistically, interpreting Gerty as James Joyce’s portrait of a young woman whose personality is conditioned by the commercialised texts that surround her. From the early 1990s, with a growing interest in advertising and consumer culture in Ulysses, critics went further still, finding Gerty to be modelled upon a “real” historical type – the deluded, fashion-attentive young woman of the early twentieth century. Yet a reconsideration of the style of the “Nausicaa” episode in the context of contemporary women’s advertisements shows the chapter to be more thoroughly intertextual than has been recognised. Moving away from naturalistic conceptions of Gerty towards a more intertextual approach allows a reading of Joyce’s parody as aimed not at the putative female consumer, nor at the culture within which she consumes, but at a certain advertising style, which was male-defined but attempted to project a language and sensibility onto the female subject.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

Newspapers, Advertising and Printing

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