Secrets, Narratology, and Implicature

Margot Norris

in Bloomsday 100

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9780813034027
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813038162 | DOI:
Secrets, Narratology, and Implicature

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  • Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)


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Fritz Senn, one of the most incisive readers ever to tackle Ulysses, calls “Calypso” “probably the easiest chapter in the novel.” This is certainly true for veteran readers of the novel, who can bring the knowledge of the whole work to bear on figuring out nearly everything that goes on in this episode. But how would “Calypso” strike a first-time or virgin reader, as we might call such a hypothetical figure? This chapter advocates a return to first principles in its endeavor to track the heuristic dilemmas faced by a “virgin” reader of “Calypso.” Adopting Paul Grice's notion of implicature, the role of the unspoken and the implied in discourse, this chapter charts the path the reader must steer through the false leads, explanatory gaps, perplexing conjunctions, semiotic lapses, and insinuated points of view of this episode. It shows that all interpretations of Ulysses must necessarily be incomplete and imperfect and that, moreover, James Joyce forces us to collude in the guilty secrets at which the text playfully gestures only often to reveal as figments.

Keywords: Fritz Senn; James Joyce; Calypso; Ulysses; virgin reader; Paul Grice; implicature; interpretations

Chapter.  5420 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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