“That high unconsortable one”

Edited by Marc C. Conner

in The Poetry of James Joyce Reconsidered

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print April 2012 | ISBN: 9780813039763
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780813043159 | DOI:
“That high unconsortable one”

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This essay discusses Chamber Music in conjunction with the composition of Joyce's elusive Dubliners story, “A Painful Case,” revealing the ways in which “A Painful Case” is a transformation of the language, ideas, images, and structure of Chamber Music, thereby showing the continuity of growth from Joyce's early efforts in lyric poetry to the Dubliners stories. The essay explores how Joyce's falling in love with Nora parallels the shift from the idealization and narcissism of the poems to the critical acuity of Dubliners, and how the terrifying despair of the final two lyrics in Chamber Music, the “tailpieces,” is expanded in the final meditations of “A Painful Case.” Ultimately, he argues, “A Painful Case” treats in more concentrated form one of the major concerns of Chamber Music: the conflicts between the self, the world, and religion. Its understated surface conceals the obsessions with love, paralysis, and betrayal that underlie both Chamber Music and the whole of Dubliners. Written within a year of the final Chamber Music poems, the story reveals a defining transition in Joyce's writing, moving from the early poems into his mature prose style, and brings into relief the very themes that will occupy Joyce throughout his career.

Keywords: Chamber Music; “A Painful Case”; Dubliners; Nora Barnacle; Narcissism; Religion; Joyce's biography

Chapter.  5144 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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