Pathologies of Desire

The Vicissitudes of the Self in James Joyce’s "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man"

by Gerald Doherty (Author)
©2008 Monographs XX, 204 Pages


Discussions of the self in James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man traditionally have a generic or a generalized quality: the self is modernist or postmodernist, essential or processive, unified or fragmented, etc. Pathologies of Desire takes a different tack: it shifts the ground of discussion, locating the self in relation to particular dispositions or traits of the subject, Stephen Dedalus. More specifically, it foregrounds three pathological states (autoerotic, paranoia, and the shame/guilt syndrome) as primary modes of self-aggregation – the unique power of painful inner splits and divisions to precipitate self-awareness, and to make the self self-reflexive. As challenges to self-understanding, anxiety (autoeroticism), persecution (paranoia), and humiliation (shame/guilt) are prime catalysts of those multi-layered linguistic resources that fortify Stephen’s self with the means of comprehending its own angst. The fact that each particular self dissolves to make way for another underscores its purely contingent and transitional quality – it functions as a defense against the singularity of the pain that it generates. Stephen’s ultimate prospect of creating new future selves is thus contingent on his power to liberate himself from the old ones’ oppressive conditioning.


XX, 204
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2008 (April)
A portrait of the artist as a young man Selbst (Motiv) Fiction modernist postdernist Pathologies of Desire Joyce, James Modern Fiction Studies Held
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2008. XX, 204 pp.

Biographical notes

Gerald Doherty (Author)

The Author: Gerald Doherty has published widely on modernist writers in PLMA, Modern Fiction Studies, Style, Criticism, Mosaic, Paragraph, James Joyce Quarterly, D. H. Lawrence Review, and many other journals and collections. His books include Theorizing Lawrence: Nine Meditations on Tropological Themes (Peter Lang, 1999); Oriental Lawrence: The Quest for the Secrets of Sex (Peter Lang, 2001); and Dubliner’s Dozen: The Games Narrators Play (2004). Doherty received a knighthood from the president of Finland in 1990. He lives in Rymättylä in southern Finland.


Title: Pathologies of Desire