A 'ruin of all space, shattered glass and toppling masonry': Joyce's Orientalism in the Context of 11 September 2001 and 1922

Brian Caraher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Chapters 3 and 15 of Joyce's Ulysses exhibit glimpses of three dreams, fantasies and eventual nightmares linked to the figure of 'Haroun al Raschid.' Historically speaking, the latter was a powerful Caliph of Baghdad, a medieval potentate about whom many of the most memorable of The Thousand and One Nights or The Arabian Nights' Entertainments were once and then again spun as tales of pleasure. Joyce seizes upon the figure of 'Haroun al Raschid' as a fictive measure to articulate the 'orientalist' fantasies of Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom. However, this evocative figure of Near Eastern history, of fabulous narrative and the progressively converging fantasies of two modern European literary characters is riddled with paradox. Such material provides Joyce a perceptive and proleptic sense of the paradoxes and brutal historical contradictions through which Western and Eastern dreams of theocratic nationalism, ethnic zealotry, colonial rebellion and Zionism are to be played out. W. B. Yeats' poem 'The Gift of Harun al-Raschid', written in 1923, the year after the book publication of Ulysses, provides both a fitting foil and a significant socio-historical point of reference for Joyce's own figurative use of the Caliph of Baghdad.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)496-520
Number of pages25
JournalTextual Practice
Volume18 (4)
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2004

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