Joyce & Jung

The “Four Stages of Eroticism” in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Second Edition

by Hiromi Yoshida (Author)
©2022 Monographs XXX, 226 Pages


Joyce & Jung offers a uniquely feminist poststructuralist and post-Jungian psychoanalytic analysis of Stephen Dedalus’s psychosexual growth in James Joyce’s twentieth-century classic A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. Hiromi Yoshida relocates Stephen’s growth within the Jungian soul-portrait gallery, known as the "four stages of eroticism," in which Eve, Helen, Mary, and Sophia are collective anima projections. Throughout this dazzling lyrical analysis of poetic identity formation, the mother, the prostitute, the Virgin Mary, and the Bird-Girl are celebrated as Stephen Dedalus’s ironically experienced anima women, who enable his achievement of cross-dressed lyric authority.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Tables
  • List of Figures
  • Foreword to the First Edition
  • Preface to the Second Edition
  • Acknowledgments
  • List of Abbreviations
  • Introduction
  • The Anima, or the Archetypal Feminine Soul
  • The Romantic Medievalist Jung, and the “Four Stages of Eroticism” in Goethe’s Faust
  • The Modern Ironist Joyce and the “Four Stages of Eroticism” in A Portrait and Ulysses
  • The Phylogenetic Portrait
  • Stephen’s Anima: Mother | Prostitute | Virgin Mary | Bird-Girl
  • Chapter One The Mother: Baby Tuckoo’s Encounter with the Hermaphrodite of Infant Consciousness
  • Chapter Two The Prostitute: The “Obscene Scrawl” of Stephen Foetus
  • Chapter Three The Virgin: Saint Stephen’s Temptation at the “Breast of the Infants”
  • Chapter Four The Bird-Girl: Stephen Mercurius and the Flight to Daedalus
  • Chapter Five A Portrait: Stephen’s Annunciation, or the Artist’s Cross-Dressed Soul
  • Afterword: The Wild Rose Blooms on Stephen’s Green
  • Bibliography
  • Index


Figure 1.1Die Sünde (The Sin), 1893.

Painting by Franz von Stuck (1863–1928). Wikimedia Commons, 2020.

Figure 1.2The Sin (1902).

Lithograph by Edvard Munch (1863–1944). Google Art Project, Wikimedia Commons, 2019.

Figure 2.1Helen on the Walls of Troy (1865).

Painting by Frederic Leighton (1830–1896). Wikimedia Commons, 2020.

Figure 2.2Helen on the Trojan Ramparts (late nineteenth century).

Painting by Gustave Moreau (1826–1898). Wikimedia Commons, 2020.

Figure 3.1The Virgin Mary (1432).

Detail from the Ghent Altarpiece, Retable de l’Agneau mystique (Adoration of the Mystic Lamb). Painting by Hubert and Jan van Eyck (1370–1426 and 1390–1441). Wikimedia Commons, 2016. Accessed 2020.

Figure 3.2La Vierge au lys (Virgin of the Lilies), 1899.

Painting by William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825–1905). Wikipedia. Accessed 2020.

←xi | xii→

Figure 4.1Statue of Sophia in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Photograph by Wikipedia user “Railroadwiki,” under GNU licensing. Wikipedia. Accessed 2020.

Figure 4.2Personification of Wisdom (Sophia) at the Library of Celsus in Ephesus, Anatolia, Turkey (117 CE).

Photograph by Wikipedia user “Traroth,” under GFDL licensing. Wikipedia. Accessed 2020.

Figure 5.1Ecce Ancilla Domini (The Annunciation), 1850.

Painting by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828–1882). Photo: Tate, London, 2011.

Google Art Project, Wikimedia Commons, 2020.

Figure 5.2The Annunciation (1858).

Painting by Arthur Hughes (1831–1915). Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Birmingham, UK. WikiArt.org. Accessed 2020.

Foreword to the First Edition

It is my immense pleasure to bring together James Joyce and Carl Gustav Jung in 2006, two years after the new millennium Bloomsday centennial celebration; ninety years since the publication of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916); and sixty years since Jung’s notion of the “four stages of eroticism” appeared in the first edition of The Psychology of the Transference (1946). Let us hope that neither Joyce nor Jung would overly object to this attempt at posthumous textual reconciliation at the end of a century that benefited immeasurably from their respective contributions to literature and to psychotherapy. After all, Joycean mythic irony and Jungian archetypal analysis seem oppositional in focus: Joycean irony threatens to unravel a Jungian theoretical corpus that resembles, in retrospect, a shimmering mandala reverently spun around a center of creative energies. Joyce, the “killer” of Helen of Troy, threatens to sacrifice other Jungian archetypes on the altar of modernist skepticism and to dissolve the feminine mystique revolving around the Jungian anima. Joyce and Jung tended to move in antithetical directions, as Joyce’s biographer, Richard Ellmann, has recorded extensively: Joyce’s methods were somewhat more progressive, and he ←xiii | xiv→bravely forged ahead to discover new modes of transfiguring the desiccated body of myth into the palpable word of life. Jung, by contrast, was a mythic antiquary who continued the tradition of Romantic medievalism through his fascination with alchemy and Gnostic heresy. His arcane scholarship unearthed a wealth of archetypal images in alchemical texts that he transmuted into the symbols of psychic transformation for twentieth-century humankind.

Although many years have passed since the original conception of Joyce and Jung, both the relevance and the fascination of Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and of Jung’s “four stages of eroticism,” remain confirmed as the mutually revisionary narratives of evolution that impact twenty-first century psychoanalytic approaches to literary study. More specifically, A Portrait can be read, not only as an ironic five-act parody of Goethe’s Faust, but even more radically, as a postmodernist revision of Jung’s archetypal narrative of the “four stages of eroticism,” through which Jung reinterpreted Faust as psychodrama in the first part of his introduction to The Psychology of the Transference. Within the Jungian and Freudian discourses of psychoanalysis, the notion of the “four stages of eroticism” provides an iconic register for collective psychosexual evolution, and for individual libido sublimation respectively. Through the “four stages,” Jung translated Freud’s sublimation narrative into other evolutionary narratives—namely, those of psychotherapy, and “Western” history. By reinscribing these evolutionary narratives, Jung contributed to the lingering discourse of modernist anxiety that generated an idealized vision of “Western” civilization as the eternally elusive, luminously resplendent, twentieth-century acme of utopic self-preservation from both the anarchic chaos of accelerating colonial dissolution and the traumatic devastation of world war. In other words, Jung preserved this utopic fantasy of Western civilization in the “four stages of eroticism” as the psychic goal of “individuation” that woman embodies through her function as man’s “anima,” or the feminine soul—specifically, in her most sublimated aspect as the Gnostic Sophia, and the alchemical Sapientia Dei, both of whom personify Goethe’s lyricized notion of “The Eternal-Feminine” in Faust.

Antithetically, Joyce mocked the social fantasy of Western civilization as utopic evolutionary acme through Stephen’s autoerotically ←xiv | xv→lyricized, cross-dressed mock-annunciation psychodrama in the villanelle composition passage in Chapter 5 of A Portrait (217–23). At the same time, Joyce questioned the redemptive function of the Jungian anima through Stephen’s experiences of maternal ambivalence, adolescent sex addiction, Jesuit Mariolatry, and autoerotic lyricism. In other words, Joyce parodied the notion of woman as anima, not only through the women who catalyze Stephen’s psychosexual experiences (Eileen Vance, Emma Clery, Stephen’s mother, Dante Riordan, Mércèdes, the “Beautiful Mabel Hunter,” the Dublin prostitute, the Virgin Mary icon, and the Bird-Girl), but also, through Bertie Tallon, whose Whitsunday cross-dressing as “sunbonnet” dancer in Chapter 2 (P 74) ironically foreshadows Stephen’s own psychodramatic cross-dressing as the Virgin Mary of the Annunciation according to Luke (1:26–38). Finally, Joyce implied through Stephen’s symptoms of autoerotic, regressive, and escapist misogyny in Chapter 5 that the “four stages of eroticism” actually comprise an idealized narrative of emerging consciousness, thus, suggesting that since the achievement of the fourth stage as culminating individuation goal is indefinitely postponed, it can be neither ultimately confirmed nor completely realized within the limited and fluctuating scope of an individual lifespan.

This implied skepticism in Chapter 5 invites us to read A Portrait in its seamless entirety as a psychodramatic parody of the modernist evolutionary narratives of psychotherapy and history that Jung reinscribed through his formulation of the “four stages of eroticism.” Even more specifically, Joyce encourages us to read Chapters 1 through 4 as a parodic continuum of psychosexual growth through libido sublimation that exposes the “four stages” as romanticized Jungian construct. At the same time, we are asked to read Chapter 5 as not merely an anticlimax to a modernist bildungsroman of consciousness, nor as a final chapter in a mock epic of Faustian striving, but also, as the final act of an ironic psychodrama whose culminating lyrical centerpiece, the villanelle, invokes the notion of autoerotica—a transgressive lyrical genre for a fifth stage beyond Jungian eroticism at which Stephen parodies the “four stages of eroticism” as static cycle of compulsive desire reenacted at the site of his own “illclad, illfed, louse-eaten” body (P 234). Clearly, this autoerotic “fifth stage” complicates the individualization ←xv | xvi→of desire that would, ideally, revitalize the collective human spirit, as Jung had envisioned when he originally conceived of the “four stages of eroticism.”

These specific ways in which A Portrait revises the “four stages of eroticism” enable us to read Joyce’s novel as a narrative that performs the complex maneuver of simultaneously mocking and celebrating the discourse of mystical experience. I am gratefully indebted to Ewert H. Cousins’s presentation at The Fires of Desire: Erotic Energies and the Spiritual Quest C. G. Jung conference at Fordham University in April 1991, “States of Consciousness: Charting the Mystical Path.” This presentation helped me to schematize the phylogenetic development that Joyce parodies throughout A Portrait. I was equally fascinated by Tomás Agosin’s presentation, “Psychosis, Dreams, and Mysticism in the Clinical Domain,” in which he detailed his final case study of a lawyer whose anima encounter dreams seemed to foreshadow his brain tumor death. Four months after the C. G. Jung conference, Agosin himself died of a pulmonary embolism. I have written Joyce and Jung, therefore, as a process of respectfully remembering the conference dialogue between Ewert Cousins and Tomás Agosin. This writing process also attempted to continue this exchange by moving toward some answers to Agosin’s questions regarding the fourfold development of mystical consciousness that Cousins delineated in “States of Consciousness.” It may be helpful to include Agosin’s questions here.

Thank you for a very wonderful paper, very energizing and helpful. But I wanted to ask you about sex. On the issue of libido—libido on the four different levels—do you need to save the energy of sexual discharge so that you can move from one level onto another? Or can you reach those states through other means? You said ordinary perceptions can sometimes throw you into the mysterium.

Joyce suggested in A Portrait that one can ascend from one level of consciousness to another through the sublimated retention of libidinal energy, and that the experiences of everyday life can galvanize the breakthrough into the mysterium, or the highest level of consciousness. In fact, implicit in A Portrait is Joyce’s belief that life experiences can be so ordinary, and human consciousness can be so subjective that the ←xvi | xvii→mystical perception, or the “epiphany,” merits the ironic treatment of parody. Furthermore, it becomes progressively evident that the continuous deferral of Stephen’s desire fulfillment drives Joyce’s narrative of psychosexual bildung toward the anticlimax of onanistic lyricism and first-person narcissism. In other words, Joyce mocked the final destination of libido retention as onanistic anticlimax in A Portrait. Seemingly, the Freudian sublimation drive that culminates in the mysterium experience of alternative theologies cannot be actualized outside the questionable parameters of dreams, hallucinations, and drug-induced states of consciousness. Thus, Joyce fell short of pathologizing Stephen’s psychosexual growth experiences of nymphomania and autoeroticism by treating them as ironic instances of cultural and social critique.

The conference exchange between Cousins and Agosin encouraged me to perform a schematic psychoanalytic reading of A Portrait in order to build on the work of Joyce scholars, such as William Hutchings, Suzette A. Henke, Bruce Comens, Chester G. Anderson, and Sheldon Brivic, among numerous others to whom I remain respectfully indebted. William Hutchings coordinated phases of Stephen’s growth in Chapter 4 with four major periods of European history in “Ontogenesis/Phylogenesis: The Pattern of Historical Development in Chapter IV of A Portrait” (JJQ 15 [2]‌ Summer 1978). Suzette A. Henke’s engaging feminist analysis of Stephen’s increasingly gendered consciousness correlated these developmental phases with the four major women in A Portrait (mother, prostitute, Virgin Mary, and Bird-Girl) in “Stephen Dedalus and Women: A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Narcissist” in James Joyce and the Politics of Desire (1990), while Bruce Comens analyzed the narrative disruption anxiety that the prostitute and the Bird-Girl embody in “Narrative Nets and Lyric Flights” (JJQ 29 [2] Winter 1991). Chester G. Anderson performed a close Freudian reading of the first chapter of A Portrait in “Baby Tuckoo: Joyce’s ‘Features of Infancy’” in Approaches to James Joyce’s Portrait: Ten Essays (1976) that Sheldon Brivic supported by synthesizing Freudian and Jungian analyses of Stephen’s growth in Joyce Between Freud and Jung (1980).

Chapters 1 through 4 of Joyce and Jung combine the Freudian and Jungian phylogenetic schematic approaches that Anderson, Brivic, and Hutchings variously offer in order to perform a close psychoanalytic ←xvii | xviii→reading of Chapters 1 through 4 of A Portrait with the ultimate objective of demonstrating that Joyce’s ironic portrayal of Stephen’s psychosexual growth can be read as a postmodernist parody of Jung’s “four stages of eroticism.” Chapter 5 of Joyce and Jung presents a feminist psychoanalytic critique of Chapter 5 of A Portrait in order to conclude that Joyce’s mock-heroic character development that culminates in autoerotic lyricism can be read as the parodic prelude to the greater, more tortuously complex narrative of Ulysses. Specifically, this final chapter of Joyce and Jung evaluates Stephen’s growth via the “four stages of eroticism,” and concludes that Stephen narcissistically introjects all four anima incarnations as variations of his own polymorphous self. At the same time, this tentatively consolidated self, the product of overidentification with the Virgin Mary of Luke’s Annunciation account, parodies the hermaphroditic Mercurius of Jung’s alchemical studies.

Regardless of the discursive anachronisms of Jungian archetypal theory, Jung’s formulation of the “four stages of eroticism” communicates an earnest aspiration toward liberation from the institutional tyranny threatening to homogenize expressions of erotic desire. Such a critical stand encourages a First Amendment drive of resistance against the institutional censorship that postmodernist interrogations target with the ultimate objective of enabling self-empowering acts of individualized love-object selections. The homogenization of desire occurs at all institutional levels: a vast array of Venus hourglass molds continues to emerge from overloaded pornographic assembly lines, thus, demonstrating that the second stage of eroticism today crudely corresponds to the mold of heterosexist stereotype into which masculinist desire is continually ejaculated. Increasingly, the individualization of personal desire, both sexual and political, morphs into an extremely urgent necessity in a virtual (and virtueless) age in which commodity icons of desire are montaged, cloned, and downloaded with digital precision for internet circulation and rabid consumption. It is an inescapable fact of contemporary American life that desire is not only mass-hysterical, but also, synthetically plastic, digitally automated, virtually nebulous, increasingly disembodied, and schizophrenically fragmented. In this American Idol age of virtual makeovers and instant iconography, Britney ←xviii | xix→Spears, Jessica Simpson, and Paris Hilton are the virtual anima commodities that street-walk through our downloaded dreams.


XXX, 226
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2022 (March)
Knowledge Jung, Carl Gustav Psychology Erotik (Motiv) A portrait of the artist as a young man Joyce, James Psychoanalyse Psychoanalysis /literature Ireland /History
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Oxford, Wien, 2022. XXX, 226 pp., 10 b/w ill., 2 tables.

Biographical notes

Hiromi Yoshida (Author)

Hiromi Yoshida is an independent literary scholar and a poet. She has taught for the Departments of English and Comparative Literature at Indiana University Bloomington. Her scholarly interests include James Joyce, Sylvia Plath, the Beat Generation, the psychoanalysis of gender and race, and poststructuralist poetics. Her literary criticism has been published in Plath Profiles, and she has authored three poetry chapbooks, Icarus Burning, Epicanthus, and Icarus Redux.


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