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This Timecoloured Place

The Time-Space Binarism in the Novels of James Joyce- Preface by Michał Głowiński


Agnieszka Graff

In the cultural debates of modernism the concepts of time and space were juxtaposed, representing disparate sensibilities, styles of art, even political camps. Artists and thinkers of the era took sides: with time, i.e. all that is fluid and transitory, or with space, i.e. structure and permanence. The «space-time wars» involved such key figures as Henri Bergson, Wyndham Lewis and Gertrude Stein. Joyce was both a participant – one who often changed camps – and an avid chronicler and interpreter of the conflict. This study employs modern narrative theory to read Joyce through the time-space binarism. Philosophical and cultural background is examined, reaching back to Aristotle, Giordano Bruno, St. Augustine, Lessing, and Bergson. The story of the controversy itself is told in some detail. Next, its traces are examined in A Portrait of the Artist, Ulysses and finally Finnegans Wake, read here as an effort to transcend the opposition. Much attention is paid to Joyce criticism; it is argued that the logic of the binarism underlies much of what has been said about his texts.