The American epic novel in the Ulyssean Tradition

  • James Joyce's Ulysses is treated as one of the most influential, paradigmatic texts of high modernism. Novels like Thomas Pynchon’s 1973 Gravity’s Rainbow and David Foster Wallace’s 1996 Infinite Jest, which equally raise claims to being the paradigms of their respective time, are perpetually compared to and measured against Joyce’s epic novel. However, novels like Ulysses, Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest are usually either grouped together due to their length, complexity and importance, to examine direct allusions in the texts or analyse a rather general “style” or to conversely stress the novels’ singularity and autonomy. I argue that not only can Joyce’s Ulysses, Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow and Wallace’s Infinite Jest be meaningfully put in relation to one another but that their singularity and paradigmatic status in 20th century literature should be understood through the relationality of a Ulyssean Tradition. Novels like Gravity’s Rainbow and Infinite Jest can be fruitfully read in a Ulyssean Tradition. Their singular, paradigmatic aesthetic projects emerge from a reciprocal dialogue with Ulysses in their self-inscription into a Ulyssean Tradition. The intertextual connection of this Ulyssean Tradition is integrally constitutive of the autonomy through which these novels claim the status of singular representations of their respective human condition and thus epic paradigms of a new way of writing the world. By positioning themselves in the literary field alongside Ulysses as the received paradigm of modernism, Wallace in Infinite Jest and Pynchon in Gravity’s Rainbow legitimize their own, independent project and their own claims to paradigmaticness. The Ulyssean Tradition thereby becomes not only a way of writing,a nd this study not merely a study of literary influence, but also a way of reading that can generate new, independent readings through the relationality of a Ulyssean Tradition

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Author:Dominik SteinhilberGND
Place of publication:Frankfurt am Main
Referee:Johannes VölzGND, Ulfried ReichardtGND
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Date of Publication (online):2022/09/05
Year of first Publication:2021
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Granting Institution:Johann Wolfgang Goethe-Universität
Date of final exam:2022/07/13
Release Date:2022/11/03
Tag:Gravity's Rainbow; Infinite Jest; Intertextuality; Tradition; Ulysses
Page Number:574
Last Page:569
Institutes:Neuere Philologien
Dewey Decimal Classification:8 Literatur / 81 Amerikanische Literatur in Englisch / 810 Amerikanische Literatur in Englisch
Licence (German):License LogoDeutsches Urheberrecht