Bernard Kennedy – Joyce, The Castration Complex, and the Nom Du Pere

THE LETTER 35 Autumn 2005, pages 50-58

In discussing the work of Joyce it is necessary to highlight the common themes of father, fathers, and the son in Joyce’s work and connect these themes with the role of the father and its implication for the son in Lacan’s works particularly in the important text of Family Complexes in the Formation of the Individual. The theme or ‘the-me~s of Joyce relies heavily upon the ‘old artificer’, the coat and arms of the coat of arms, carried by, and, through the father. This coat, or arms, can be seen as a form of indentation of generations upon the psyche of the next generation and for our purposes on James Joyce, writer, Poet and son of artificer.

John Stanislaus and James, and the many father referents, priests, colleagues and Ibsen were fatherly figures of influence. Joyce’s writings and narrative style pose questions of a psychoanalytic nature e.g. around the castration complex and inclusion into language, and the symbolic order, that lead us to enquire into the role of the formation of the erotics of narrative, and subject. Perhaps his work is a text outside castration.

This paper will look at the relationship between Joyce and his father John Stanislaus taking into account Lacan’s statement on the Imago of the father: ‘it polarises in both sexes the most perfect form of the ego-ideal’. If one looks at the relationship with the other f/Fathers in the work of Ulysses and Finnegans wake, and how his connection with these figures assumed the role of the nom du pere, one can see a theme of father. It is suggested that Joyce rebelled against the symbolic imprint…

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