Chapter 9: “Aeolus”, Interrupted: Heady Headlines and Joycean Negotiations of Closure

in Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses
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The continuous narrative in “Aeolus”, presented in a linear fashion, is soon discontinued and constantly interrupted by the very means that purports to shape it, that is, the form of the newspaper. In this episode, interruptions and disturbances abound both in terms of form and of content. With its experimental layout and its thematising of two opposing drives, unstoppable forward movement and haphazard interruptions, I argue that “Aeolus” can be seen as a synecdoche for the tension between teleological and anti-teleological (or closural and anti-closural) processes and strategies present in Ulysses as a whole. On the one hand, the text introduces formal elements that give it structure and drive it forward, while at the same time enabling it to draw attention to itself as artefact, thus giving it a self-reflexive quality that makes the readers pause in their suspension of disbelief, implicitly exposing the artificial nature of structural ordering principles of narrative, such as beginnings, middles and ends. On the other hand, however, it is precisely the repetitive and circular aspect of this self-reflexivity which serves an opposing end in providing instances of the text intruding upon itself and disturbing its own linear progress. Joyce’s texts constantly negotiate form, essentially rejecting closure and propagating openness. In “Aeolus”, as in Ulysses as a whole, attempts at superimposing a definite and ultimately reductive form onto the exuberance of life fail.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

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