Schopenhauer's Shadow, or Stephen as Philosophic Superman

Gerald Gillespie

in Bloomsday 100

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813034027
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038162 | DOI:
Schopenhauer's Shadow, or Stephen as Philosophic Superman

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That James Joyce maintained an interest in the famous philosopher of pessimism and religious atheist, Arthur Schopenhauer, is clear from Schopenhauer's appearance in Finnegans Wake, in one of the funniest open references amid a string of allusions to German romantic thinkers. Even in Ulysses, things no longer are as easy and straightforward for assessing what is streaming in a character's mind as when earlier we had our first encounter with Stephen in the A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. This chapter constructs a persuasive and scrupulously argued riposte to the view that Joyce is a materialist and empiricist. It reveals the tangled interweave of philosophical references in “Proteus” and tracks the presence of Schopenhauer's account of the artist as a creator and mediator of ultimate truths in particular. In this account, Joyce emerges as an eclectic thinker who creates an independent aesthetic but nonetheless retains many of the key tenets of idealism and even of theosophy and cabalism.

Keywords: James Joyce; Arthur Schopenhauer; Finnegans Wake; allusions; Ulysses; Proteus; idealism; theosophy; cabalism

Chapter.  5435 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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