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Joyce's KaleidoscopeAn Invitation to Finnegans Wake$
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Philip Kitcher

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195321029

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195321029.001.0001

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A Picture Primitive

A Picture Primitive

(p.189) 16 A Picture Primitive
Joyce's Kaleidoscope

Philip Kitcher

Oxford University Press

Part III of the Wake is dominated, at least initially, by the long-promised hero, Shaun. The dreamer's fresh start conjures a vision of innocence. After the enthusiasm of the introduction, the invocation of Shaun as a wonderful new beginning is followed with disappointment. Shaun feels contradictory pressures—should he defend his father or the community that has rejected HCE? Within him as well is a desire not simply to transmit the culture but also to contribute to it, to be an innovator, an artist even. However, Shaun doesn't know how to define himself. As the clever ass, the donkey-narrator, presses him, the best he can do is to present himself by opposition—he is not Shem. But that fails to resolve his fundamental problem, the problem of isolating “I” from multiple “Mes”.

Keywords:   donkey-narrator, Shaun, coherent identity, Shem, identity crisis

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