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March 28, 2002 James Joyce epic revisited by Andras Ungar



Andras Ungar

Liberal Arts Professor Andras Ungar with his book on James Joyce.

Photo by Christian Fleury

by Barbara Black

Liberal Arts College Professor Andras Ungar has just published a book called Joyce’s Ulysses as National Epic: Epic Mimesis and the Political History of the Irish Nation State. The book was launched March 14 at one of the College’s weekly coffee hours in its quarters on Mackay St.

In the slim volume, published by University Press of Florida, Ungar looks at Joyce’s famously difficult novel Ulysses as a “familial fable of Irish sovereignty, an updated epic treating the rebirth of an independent Ireland after a lapse of 700 years.”

Joyce used The Odyssey, Homer’s epic about the wandering hero Ulysses, as a model for his comic novel about a day in early-20th-century Dublin. However, Ungar also explores a connection between the foundation of the Irish Free State and the traditional epic, which celebrates such events in the manner of Virgil’s Aeneid.

In Joyce’s Ulysses, Ungar explained, the fictional Leopold Bloom is supposed to have given a real-life political activist, Arthur Griffith, the idea for a constitutional proposal. In 1904, Griffith, founder of Sinn Fein, wrote a book called The Resurrection of Hungary: A Parallel for Ireland.

Joyce left Ireland in 1904, chafing under what he felt were the twin oppressions of Irish politics and the Roman Catholic Church. He lived in Trieste, which was then the Austro-Hungarian port on the Adriatic, for 11 years. He started writing Ulysses in 1914, and it was published in Paris in 1922. The novel’s action all takes place on a single day (now celebrated by some Joyce devotees as Bloomsday), June 16, 1904.

Arthur Griffith, who eventually became the first president of the Irish Free State, had argued in 1904 that Irish nationalists should campaign to adapt the binational constitution of the Austro-Hungarian monarchy to Ireland’s situation. There are all sorts of Austrian and Hungarian touches in Ulysses, which Ungar notes.

As the son of Hungarian immigrants who experienced the Stalinist repression of the 1950s, Ungar is well placed to explore this connection. He feels that the political scope of Ulysses goes well beyond the shores of Ireland, and is intimately tied to the nationalist movements that were transforming Central Europe during this tumultuous period.

Moreover, he sees Joyce’s reworking of the classical epic form as extraordinarily daring: “He was doing this in the age of the novel.” It was as though the Irish writer were wiping out centuries of literary development to establish himself as an epic poet on the model of Homer and Virgil.

“So far, the reviews have been very positive,” Ungar said. “Despite the dense thicket of Joycean study, [my] argument has been received as both original and well-founded.”








Ollivier Dyens

Ollivier Dyens

Ollivier Dyens’ poetry gets a rave from La Presse

Ollivier Dyens (Études françaises) got a four star-rating in the book section of La Presse for his latest e-book of poetry, Les Murs des planètes. Les Murs is 90 pages long in the paper version, and is accompanied by a CD-ROM, La Cathédrale aveugle, of spoken text, music and superb visual effects. Here’s what Stanley Péan had to say about it:

“On rencontre de plus en plus d’oeuvres littéraires auxquelles sont jumelés des cédéroms (. . .) Je songe aussi au Mur de planètes, étonnant deuxième recueil de poèmes d’Ollivier Dyens, qu’on avait connu il y a deux ans avec son vertigineux essai Chair et métal et avec le site Web du même non.

“Poète de l’ère numérique, Dyens signe ici des vers d’une sensualité diffuse, d’un lyricisme délicieusement charnel, une poésie éprise d’absolu, tournée à la fois vers la chair et le cosmos, qui s’accompagne d’une relecture multimédia en images et sons.

“Je ne suis pas prophète, je ne vous prédirai pas que voilà l’avenir pour le livre. Je me contenterai de vous assurer que ce recueil vaut le détour.”

Helpful insurance advice between covers

Should I buy life insurance, or self-insure by investing well? Why does car insurance cost so much, and pricing vary so widely? What is universal life insurance, and is it for me?

To get the answers to these knotty questions, you’ll have to buy Insurance Logic. The general-interest business book was written by Assistant Professor of Finance Aron A. Gottesman, with Moshe A. Milevsky, of York University. Subtitled Risk Management Strategies for Canadians, the book has just been published by Stoddart.

Rob Carrick, reviewing the book in The Globe and Mail on March 19, said that “insurance is going to be the next hot topic in personal finance,” and pronounced Insurance Logic “quite readable.”

As well as teaching in the John Molson School of Business, Gottesman is a research member of the Individual Finance and Insurance Decisions Centre.