”In the Beginning Was the Gest”

Anthony Paraskeva

in Bloomsday 100

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813034027
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038162 | DOI:
”In the Beginning Was the Gest”

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This chapter expands on James Joyce's interest in cinema and discloses how the technological developments that enabled the compilation of discrete shot sequences radically altered the gestural language of early films. Movies now substituted the histrionic and exaggerated body movements of the melodramatic stage tradition with complex strings of closely observed small movements. This chapter documents the influence of numerous aspects of the cinematic medium on Ulysses, such as the use of peephole-style framing techniques. Above all, it convincingly argues that the minutely itemized gestural language of hand movements that peculiarly dominated the text of Exiles, as evidenced by its stage directions, was further elaborated on in Ulysses, especially in the “Circe” episode. The heightened readability of the body in silent film is turned to account by Joyce, who exploits the radical implications of the close-up and plays with the semiotics of gesture and the possibility that physical movements now can become a discrete part of a signifying system that operates irrespective of human agency or of the integrity of the body.

Keywords: James Joyce; Ulysses; cinema; Circe; Exiles; framing; hand movements; silent film; gesture

Chapter.  7948 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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