"The joy of meaning and design wrenched out of chaos": The Modernismpostmodernism Continuum of James Joyce's Ulysses and Don DeLillo's The Names

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Title: "The joy of meaning and design wrenched out of chaos": The Modernismpostmodernism Continuum of James Joyce's Ulysses and Don DeLillo's The Names
Author: Leppard, Natalie Rae
Advisors: Dr. Nick Halpern, Committee Chair
Dr. John Morillo, Committee Member
Dr. Anne Baker, Committee Member
Abstract: A modern author allows language to approach the play of postmodernism. A postmodern author allows language to return to a modern sense of innocence. James Joyce and Don DeLillo, the authors in question, have both allowed language to develop a continuum of sorts between modernist and postmodernist language: giving language the freedom of postmodernism and the authorial presence of modernism. Joyce, with Molly's chapter, moves toward a postmodern use of language. The final chapter of Ulysses, employs the conventions of dream-visions and, precisely because the chapter may be termed a 'dream,' Molly's soliloquy becomes the reality of the novel which leaves the preceding male chapters to be interpreted as a perception of reality. Molly's chapter foresees the coming of postmodernism (namely in Finnegan's Wake) by abruptly changing narrative voice from the orderly thought process of males navigating a city to the stream-of-consciousness dream-vision of a female stationed in bed. The chapter prophesies the transition from modernism to postmodernism and the transition of importance from the author to the language. DeLillo, within the text of The Names, has demonstrated his refusal to allow language sole power over the text by inserting his voice into the text in order to carry a conversation with the reader concerning authorship, reading, critics, and language. With this demand that his voice be found within the text, DeLillo returns to a sort of modernist ideal of the author as god of the text. However, just as Joyce does not fully give over the text to language, DeLillo does not take complete control of his text from language. With Tap's chapter, DeLillo returns to a modern use of the innocence of language. The reader experiences an abrupt change of narrative voice from that of the male narrator/author to that of a child, a boy, Tap. Here we do not have a soliloquy but a short story that Tap has written. DeLillo, by including the child's voice, the child's writing, and by situating it in a place of importance as the final chapter, moves toward modernist thinking in that language needs to return to innocence.
Date: 2004-01-08
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1066


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