BDSL-Klassifikation: 03.00.00 Literaturwissenschaft > 03.12.00 Interpretation. Hermeneutik
Finnegans Wake as proving ground for theory and agent provocateur in literary studies
- "Finnegans Wake" has struck many of its exegetes as the epitome of the postmodern text. The oddity of James Joyce's last work has been and still is a provocation not only for literary criticism and theory but for every reader of the work. It provokes us to reflect on our preconceptions concerning such fundamental issues as reading, meaning and understanding. Due to this very quality, the work has been a fertile intellectual stimulus for an illustrious band of thinkers of the ―post-projects. Its singularity has provoked and facilitated the further development of theoretical frameworks beyond the confines of literary theory proper. This essay will trace the elaborate theoretical responses of Umberto Eco and Jacques Lacan to Joyce's grand literary arcanum. Eco's concept of the openness of modern works of art and Lacan's elaboration of his psychoanalytic concepts of the symptom and of the Borromean knot were inspired by their study of Joyce. As an extreme instance of literariness, Finnegans Wake thus constitutes an ideal opportunity to consider the scope and boundaries of the scholarly study of literary texts more generally.