Chapter 10: The Self-Reflexive Text of “Aeolus”

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“Aeolus” brings an intense, self-reflexive scrutiny to processes of textual production, reproduction, circulation, and recirculation. Thematically, this is foregrounded through the setting, printing, distribution and recycling of newspapers; metatextually, Joyce’s focus on the materiality of print, notably through orthography and onomatopoeia, emphasizes the processes of linguistic production and dissemination under investigation. From the outset of the episode, this cycle is linked to public transportation and the postal system, reflecting on the structures which put citizens and their missives into circulation. Added to the Little Review version of October 1918, these opening sections bring circulation to the fore, and Joyce’s other revisions also reflect upon the text through highly wrought rhetoric and the insertion of cross-headings. Both changes revel in revealing and concealing the intricate tapestry of the text, bringing language centre-stage. In retrospect, it has always, and necessarily, occupied this position, but it takes the strikingly self-reflexive text of “Aeolus” to make the self-evident evident. I argue that this self-reflexivity is the real focus of the episode, underscored by Joyce’s ironic return to the biblical origins of speech and writing.

Publishing in Joyce's Ulysses

Newspapers, Advertising and Printing

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