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Joyce's Dubliners

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Claudine Raynaud

Re-readings of the Self in "The Dead"

Ben Winsworth

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  • 1 On the opening page of his introduction, Bollas offers the following example: "However much we may (...)

1In his psychoanalytic study Being a Characte,, Christopher Bollas considers the ways in which individuals use objects and experiences as a means of expressing those unconscious parts of the self that may otherwise be difficult to articulate. He argues that we may project aspects of our self-experience into the objects around us as a way of giving them form: as a way of containing particular psychic states. We may select these objects consciously, or they may appear by chance and afford us a surprising and enriching experience that transforms our field of vision. Bollas also states that certain objects and experiences have the capacity to maintain their significance or, as it were, become potential signifiers of meaning, so that when we meet them again, after a gap of time, they may transport us back to the richness of the moment when we first encountered them. In his introduction, Bollas writes: "Sometimes we will hear a piece of music that was popular during a very special time of our life and this too seems to elicit within us not so much a memory as an inner psychic constellation laden with images, feelings, and bodily acuities" (Bollas, 1992, 3). Paradoxically, while such encounters allow us to 'reach through the past and touch the essence of a distant self experience' (Bollas, 1992, 3), and give shape and expression to that self experience, they will remain particular to ourselves and we will be unable to fully explain the significance that they have for us.1 Having said this, such moments, while being experientially unique, are as much a part of the human condition as dreaming. We all know what Proust is writing about in A La Recherche du temps perdu when he describes his "petite madeleine", even though our own tastes and associations may be different. Similarly in "The Dead", when Gretta is moved by The Lass of Aughrim, we know something of how she is feeling and what it is that James Joyce is trying to explore in his short story, even though it may be difficult for us as readers to say exactly what that is.

2Bollas suggests that life is: "a cycle of reciprocal transformations from complex to simple self, from intrapsychic dialogues and thoughtfulness (complex states) to a seeming suspension of such internal density as we yield to an occasion in which we become a particle participant" (Bollas, 1992, 17). In other words, there are frequent moments in our lives when we become totally absorbed into an experience and lose contact with our conscious selves and the world around us. We do not think about being within these experiences: we are simply in them, and while we may analyse the significance that they have for us when we have passed through and beyond them, our reasoning faculties are forgotten while we are in the midst of them. Something of this seems to be happening to Gretta, as she is observed by Gabriel towards the end of the evening's festivities. Standing in a "dark part of the hall", he looks up the staircase and sees a woman, also in shadow, whom he recognizes from the dress she is wearing to be his wife:

She was leaning on the banisters, listening to something. Gabriel was surprised at her stillness and strained his ear to listen also. But he could hear little save the of laughter and dispute on the front steps, a few chords struck on the piano annodis ea few notes of a man's voice singing.
He stood still in the gloom of the hall, trying to catch the air that the voice was singing and gazing up at his wife. There was a grace and mystery in her attitude as if she were the symbol of something. (Joyce, 1956, 239-240)

  • 2 For a comprehensive discussion on the relationship between infant play and adult encounters within (...)

3Her "stillness", the "grace and mystery" in her attitude can be read as the physical registers of a temporary absence from the present moment as Gretta is transported, via the music that only she and not Gabriel can really hear, to a significant moment in her past life. Of course, the significance of the song for Gretta is not revealed to Gabriel or the reader until several pages later, but Joyce's description makes it clear that a powerful spell is being cast over her. Bollas understands such moments to be located in what D W. Winnicott refers to as "intermediate space" or "the third area". In his influential collection of papers, Playing and Reality, Winnicott makes a claim for what he calls "the third part of the life of the human being", describing it as an "intermediate area of experiencing, to which inner reality and external life both contribute" (Winnicott, 1974, 3), and he understands it to be the place in which both infant play and adult encounters within the cultural field are located.2 Borrowing from Winnicott's original hypothesis, Bollas summarizes this area of experiencing as being: the place where subject meets thing, to confer significance in the very moment that being is transformed by the object. These objects of intermediate space are compromise formations between the subject's state of mind and the thing's character" (Bollas, 1992, 18).

4Bollas s concentration on the interplay between subject and object, or to use Winnicott's terminology between the internal and external world, sheds a perceptive light on what is taking place between Gretta and the music that she is listening to. The effect of the music, that she eventually attempts to explain to Gabriel in their hotel room, results from a combination of her state of mind (the awakening of a long dormant part of her self that is activated by the music, possible disaffection with her present emotional life) and the particular character of the music itself (the melody, the words of the song, the voice of the singer). In describing what is taking place in Winnicott's "third area", Bollas also refers to the transformation that is worked on the self by the object with which it is engaged, and this is something that we can understand to have been taking place in Gretta's musical encounter as we reach the novella's close and the full significance of The Lass of Aughrim is also conferred within the text itself.

5While the music plays, Gabriel remains on the outside of his wife's experience in two senses: most obviously because he does not really understand her, he is shut out from her past, but also because the experience with the music on the stairs is hers and hers alone, as Bollas makes clear is the nature of such engagements However, Joyce's insistence on Gabriel's not sharing in the actual experience of Gretta's hearing of the music (his physical distance, being in the shadows, being unable to see his wife's face, his inability to hear the music, and so on) seems to be used by Joyce to reinforce not only Gretta's emotional distance from him, but also Gabriel's own incompatibility as a suitable partner for her. His inability to answer his own question of what his wife is a symbol of, a question that interestingly has no question mark, is significant. It is almost as if Joyce is playing with Gabriel here: as if for Joyce, the creative artist, Gretta becomes a symbol for the kind of interplay that Bollas observes to be an influential component of our mental lives, whereas Gabriel attempts to appropriate the personal quality of her experience in his transformation of what he sees into something that he believes to be artistic, and yet is ultimately sterile in comparison with what is actually taking place within the intermediate area that Gretta occupies: "If he were a painter he would paint her in that attitude. Her blue felt hat would show off the bronze of her hair against the darkness and the dark panels of her skirt would show off the light ones. Distant Music he would call the picture if he were a painter" (Joyce, 1956, 240). Gretta's experience is, however, something that resembles Bollas's understanding of the relationship between what we have seen him call the complex and simple selves. Bollas argues that in waking life, as in dreaming, there are occasions when the objectivity of the complex self is lost and the simple self is free to encounter objects and experiences beyond the control of conscious thought:

We are forever finding objects that disperse the objectifying self into elaborating subjectivities, where the many "parts of the self" momentarily express discrete sexual urges, ideas, memories, and feelings in unconscious actions, before condensing into a transcendental dialectic, occasioned by a force of dissemination that moves us to places beyond thinking. (Bollas, 1992, 17)

6In the same way as we wake from our dreaming, so we return from these subjective states and reassume our complex modes of being, but what we experience within the arena of the simple self has the capacity to transform the ways in which we perceive ourselves and the world around us: something that happens to Gretta, even though she is unaware of this potential as the music plays. If Gretta is a symbol of the interplay between subject and object, she also represents, to a larger extent, the continual movement in and out of these subjective states that, for Bollas, constitutes psychic health and enriches the experience of being alive. Gabriel, on the other hand, not only by his standing on the margins of Gretta's experience, but also by the way in which he reads the world around him, stands in opposition to this movement. Bollas writes that self experiencing of the kind that he explores cannot "be assumed" and that there are "some individuals" who are: "reluctant to live in the third area (the intermediate area of experience), insisting that the invitational feature of the object be denied They impose their view on the object world and blunt the evocative – transformational – facet of objects in the field." ( Bollas, 1992,13).

7It would be unfair to blame Gabriel for his failure to respond to The Lass of Aughrim in the same way as Gretta for, as we have seen, Bollas argues that different objects carry different levels of intensity and significance for each individual. However, his reflections on his wife's encounter with the music, and his attempt to appropriate her own unique experience into what he feels is a clever and artistic analysis shows him to be imposing his own view on the scene presented and in effect trying to blunt the energy that lies within it. At the same time, it is also possible to suggest that what Gabriel is watching and hearing – his wife in the shadows listening to music – is an invitation into the third area of intermediate experience that he denies: at least he is unable to fully enter the moment as it unfolds before him.

8Bollas writes that the experience of falling in love is another of those moments when the complex self gives way to the simple self, and we lose the analytical distance of consciousness. Asking his readers to imagine that he is single and looking for a partner, he describes a situation at a party: "I see X across the room. Stunned by her beauty, eros claiming consciousness, I fall in love. No longer objective, I plunge into a powerful state of affairs, devolved into that lessened awareness necessary to deep play in the ambient fields of love" (Bollas, 1992, 16)

9He argues that it is impossible for two people to sustain "such free-falling into blissful simplicity", but that couples gradually find "their own natural balance between complex mental states and fallings into one another". Returning to the staircase scene in "The Dead", one wonders whether or not this "natural balance" has ever been established between Gabriel and Gretta, or indeed whether Gabriel has ever fallen in love with his wife in the way that Bollas describes his imaginary meeting with X. He spes Gretta on the stairs, and yet he does not see her. he observes her from the perspective of the complex self imagining the way in which he would paint her, fragmenting her into details of light, shade and colour, instead of losing this critical awareness and playing in the ambient fields of love as the scene invites him so to do.

10There is a sense in which Gabriel is too self-conscious, almost too careful about the way in which he views himself and his environment, to be able to enter the third area and become involved in the creative inter-play between subject and object that Gretta experiences with The Lass of Aughrim Early on in the evening he is unable to listen to the "Academy piece" that Mary Jane plays with its "difficult runs and passages" (Joyce, 1956, 211), dismissing it because it has no melody, and doubting whether or not it has any melody for the other listeners in the room. It is as if he is threatened by the way in which the music lacks any real form, as he understands it, and is unable to let go and engage with it as the piano plays. Joyce writes that Gabriel "liked music" (Joyce, 1956, 211), and later on when Aunt Julia plays, we are told that to "follow the voice, without looking at the singer's face was to feel and share the excitement of swift and secure flight" (Joyce, 1956, 220). While it may appear at first sight that this finds him in a space not dissimilar to that in which Gretta later encounters The Lass of Aughrim, on closer inspection it becomes possible to argue that the "excitement" he derives from the music is only superficial

11Unlike Mary Jane's academy piece, Aunt Julia's song is familiar to him, and while familiarity with certain objects is no obstacle to the kind of experience that Bollas writes about and Gretta becomes caught up in, it is only Gabriel's knowledge of Arrayed for the Bridal that allows him to share in its playing. He follows the voice, not any spontaneity of feeling or emotion that the music might awaken within him. There is no real interplay between Gabriel and the music: he only shares or borrows the excitement that is contained within the piece, and the flight that it offers him, instead of being one in which consciousness is temporarily lost and the simple self is moved to places beyond thinking, is described as being "secure". Similarly we can note that while Gabriel teaches in a college, takes pleasure in reading, and writes a literary column for The Daily Express, in his confrontation with Miss Ivors he denies any relationship between literature and politics (Joyce, 1956, 214), which suggests a fear of engagement with literature in anything other than a distant and objective manner. It is possible to describe his relationship with literature, as with music, as a secure one.

12There is one brief moment, while Mary Jane is playing, when Gabriel's attention is caught by a picture of the balcony scene from Romeo and Julie,, and an embroidery of the two murdered princes in the Tower, which leads him towards reflections on the life of his mother and her sisters, but they are vague thoughts which he seems reluctant to follow in any depth. It is almost as if he wishes to live on the surface of life, within the security of the present at the expense of engaging with the internal world of unconscious memory. This resistance is confirmed in his speech, the form and presentation of which he seems more concerned about than the content, when he states that even though such gatherings call to mind "thoughts of the past, of youth, of changes, of absent faces", we must not brood upon them otherwise "we could not find the heart to go on bravely with our work among the living". It is, he argues, our "living duties and living affections which claim and rightly claim, our strenuous endeavours", and thus, he tells his audience, "I will not linger on the past" (Joyce, 1956, 233).

13In spite of all this, and at the risk of contradicting much of what I have said about Gabriel, he is moved by something in his wife's behaviour shortly after The Lass of Aughrim has ceased to play, and he and Gretta are about to leave the party. Joyce writes of Gabriel that "a sudden tide of joy went leaping out of his heart" (242), but one cannot help noticing that this is an impulse based upon Gretta's physical appearance, "the rich bronze of her hair", the "colour on her cheeks" her "shining eyes", rather than one that acknowledges anything of what has actually happened and is happening to her. When first reading this passage we may take Gabriel's observation that his wife is in "the same attitude" to refer to the spell that the music has cast over her, especially as Gabriel also notices that she "seemed unaware of the talk about her." However, this "same attitude" seems to refer more to Gabriel's recollection of Gretta drying her hair by the fire a few days previously, so that what at first appears to be a recognition of some powerful and individual experience having occupied his wife's imagination – that she is lost to the world around her – is really another mis-reading of her and one that is not dissimilar to Gabriel's observations of her on the stairs.

14Shortly after this, while they are en route to the hotel, Gabriel is filled with thoughts of "their secret life together" that "burst like stars upon his memory". For all Gabriel's resistance to the past, his own comes racing up to meet him as he leaves the party, and "moments of their life together, that no one knew of or would never know of, broke upon and illumined his memory" (Joyce, 1956, 244) Recalling Bollas, it could be argued that the complex self is finally giving way and the simple self is at last free to play in the ambient fields of love and memory, but there is a sense of desperation in Gabriel's desire to use the distant music of the past to repair and fix what we can understand to be the discordant music of the present: "He longed to recall to her those moments, to make her forget the years of their dull existence together and remember only those moments of ecstasy."

15Bollas describes lovemaking as:

the encapsulated place of mental simplification as lovers submit to the deconstruction of erotics: the body of the other ceases simply to be an object of perception or internal representation and becomes the means of transformation – from the subject who seeks the erotic object to the subject who becomes an object 'inside' the place of desire. It is a moment when the complex self (who reflectively objectifies the parts of himself w ithin his mind) gives way to the simple self, caught up in the instincts of erotic know ledge. (Bollas, 1992, 16)

16For Gabriel, however, the "body of the other" does not cease to be an "object of perception": for all the memories of his own lovemaking with Gretta, his recollections of their honeymoon, and the growing sexual desire that almost consumes him when they reach their hotel bedroom, it is as if he wishes to use the erotic to reinforce the way in which he has constructed Gretta through the eyes of objective perception. In this sense we can understand the distant music of the past that Gabriel brings to bear on the present to be used in a similar way to the painting Distant Music within which he attempts to anchor Gretta. Rather than lovemaking being viewed symbolically as one of the ways in which couples fall into one another as the complex self surrenders to the instinctual play of erotic knowledge, Gabriel wants to use sex as a way of making his relationship with Gretta secure: secure in the sense of maintaining its continuity in the present, and secure in as much as Gretta will continue to subscribe to the view that he has both of her and their relationship In their bedroom he is annoyed that he is unable to negotiate Gretta into a position of compliance with his own desire and lust: "Why did she seem so abstracted'' He did not know how he could begin. Was she too annoyed about something?" (Joyce, 1956, 248). He acknowledges that to "'ake her as she was would be brutal", but nonetheless Joyce writes that he "longed to be master of her strange mood… He longed to cry to her from his soul, to crush her body against his, to overmaster her." Once again, Gabriel is seeking to impose his view on the object world The irony is, of course, that all the time Gabriel has been attempting to fix Gretta in his objective gaze she has been elsewhere. Even while he seeks to master both her abstracted mood and her body, she is still within the world of the past that The Lass of Aughrim has awakened within her. The image that Gabriel has constructed both of Gretta and himself, and the belief that he knows what is the matter with her, is blown apart once she speaks and begins to tell him about the memories and emotions that the music has stirred within her.

17As I mentioned in my introduction, Bollas is interested in the way in which certain objects have the capacity to maintain their significance for us, so that when we encounter them again after a period of time, they elicit the intense experience that they first had for us. He also points out that there are other objects, which he terms "mnemic" (Bollas, 1992, 19), in which we invest aspects of our self experience without fully knowing why, and whose significance is only revealed to us in our subsequent meeting with them. Not only does our re-acquaintance with such objects transport us back to earlier self experiences, it is only in meeting these objects later on that we are able to understand the important meaning that they have (and have had) for us. It as is if what was once only partially understood is fully revealed, and that which was originally stored in the object, however obliquely, comes to fruition With this model in mind I would like to suggest that for Gretta, The Lass of Aughrim (a traditional ballad about betrayal and lost love) is an object which, as a young woman, she used to contain all her unconscious feelings surrounding Michael Furey, and that encountering once again this song by chance, after a gap of several years, the full significance of the music and all that it really means to her becomes manifest. It is as if a part of her that has been locked away has been reopened, and the music that she hears on the stairs allows her to interpret the past as if for the first time. Writing more generally, Bollas describes how certain objects act like "psychic keys" opening doors to: "unconsciously intense – and rich – experience in which we articulate the self that we are through the elaborating character of our response. This selection constitutes the jouissance of the true self, a bliss released through the finding of specific objects that free idiom to its articulation" (Bollas, 1992, 17).

  • 3 Winnicott offers a useful introduction to the true and false self, and the various forms of compli (...)

18At first hand Gretta's reaction in the hotel seems to be the opposite of anything blissful, but surely something of her true self3 has been liberated by listening to the music, and her idiom (which Bollas also uses to refer to the true self (Bollas, 1992, 61]) has found a means of expression in the transitional nature of the experience. For all the grief and sadness that surrounds her telling Gabriel the story of her relationship with Michael Furey, one can argue that there is something blissful in the release that the music has afforded her, and as Bollas writes, it is encounters such as these which "free us to experience the depth of our being" (Bollas, 1992, 17).

19Gretta's reading of the past and herself within it also liberates her from the ways in which we have seen Gabriel try to objectify her. It is not only the act of listening to the music that frees Gretta from such an imposition: the distant music of the past that she has heard also provides a space in which she is free to be herself in the present telling of the memories and feelings that it has realized within her. Her passionate involvement in the distant past that is recalled by the music, and that she tries to convey to Gabriel, implies that the more recent past has been one of compliance in which there has been nowhere for the true self to experience the depth of its being. As Gretta's distance, and Gabriel's efforts to appropriate Gretta (a state of affairs in which he has attempted to deny her any individual self experience) have shown, their relationship has been one that has existed very much on the surface. Gabriel himself is partially aware of this in his previous acknowledgement of their "dull existence together", but it takes Gretta's revelation to make him understand the full extent of this, and also to realize that it is something that cannot be repaired by the physical alone. As Gretta tells her story, Gabriel moves from a position of anger and jealousy towards one of humiliation and shame as he recognises that she has been elsewhere, and that while he has been thinking of their "secret life together" she has been "comparing him in her mind with another" (Joyce, 1956, 251). Caught off guard in this way, there is a sense in which the story of Michael Furey, to which Gabriel listens intently, finds him for the first time in an intermediate space in which objectivity is lost, and where there is an interplay at work between his subjective self and the distant music of the past that Gretta, in her own way, sings to him. As Bollas describes the state of the individual being lost in self experience, his "prior self state and the object's simple integrity are both 'destroyed' in the experiential synthesis of mutual effect" (Bollas, 1992, 31) In the same way as The Lass Of Aughrim allows Gretta to fully express herself, so her telling of the story has a transitional effect upon Gabriel: not only does it break down the narratives in which he has tried to confine her, it also forces him to re-read the narratives that he has constructed to explain his own life and recognize their fictitious nature:

A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealizing his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. (Joyce, 1956, 251)

20Gabriel also begins to understand the significance of the song and the effect that is has had on his wife when he realizes "how vain it would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed" (Joyce, 1956, 252). In letting go of his earlier desire to master her both emotionally and physically, he is at last acknowledging that she has a life of her own and that self experience of the kind that Bollas writes about is an individual and sometimes private affair into which one cannot always follow. Gabriel's desire and lust is also replaced by an attitude of sympathy and care: he caresses his wife's hand while she speaks and tries to refrain from asking too many questions, giving her the space to tell her own story without dictating the direction of her narrative. Even though he is seized by a "vague terror" (Joyce, 1956, 252), when Gretta tells him of her belief that Michael Furey died because of her, a terror that we can understand to be associated with Gabriel's fear of losing the security that he believes himself to have shared with his wife, he is able to shake himself free of this and, for once, give attention to Gretta's feelings.

21What we witness as Gabriel listens to Gretta's story is a movement from complex to simple self and back again: he is as involved in the tale as his wife is in the telling of it, even though the effect that it has upon him is particular to himself and he is moved in a different way to Gretta.. Bollas writes that it is inevitable that the individual must leave the third area of self experience, and return to the place of the complex self, and that in so doing "the subject considers where he has been" (Bollas, 1992, 31), and realises the transitional quality of the experience within which the simple self has been involved In other words, something from the experience within the intermediate space is carried into our lives when we have passed beyond it. We can see this taking place in Gretta's telling her story of Michael Furey: it is a narrative that allows her to consider where she has been while listening to The Lass of Aughrim, and come to terms with the feelings that it has aroused within her. Similarly, after Gretta has finished her story Gabriel emerges to consider where he has been while listening to it and tries to understand the effect that it has had upon him. This is something that we can already notice taking place in the breaks in Gretta's narrative, when Gabriel pauses to reflect upon the significance that the various parts of the story have for him - in the same way as a reader can put down a book at any point in the text and consider what he has just read - but it is a process that is not complete until Gretta's story has ended.

22When Gretta has finished speaking Gabriel walks to the window, not wishing to "intrude upon her grief', a gesture that once more shows him to be giving Gretta her own space. He looks back at her "unresentfully" (Joyce, 1956, 253), and although he realises how "poor a part" he has played in her life as her husband (Joyce, 1956, 254), he is hardly troubled by this thought, as if the story has resigned him to something long suspected, but deeply hidden In the same way as the tale of Michael Furey allows him to deconstruct the false self that he has presented to the world, so it enables him to see the fictional way in which he has perceived his relationship with Gretta. He watches her now as if "he and she had never lived together as man and wife", which in many ways they have not. However, acknowledging this distance between them, he is able to see her in a new light and respond to her in a way that has previously been denied to him by his analysing and objectifying perception: "a strange, friendly pity for her entered his soul" (Joyce, 1956, 54). Lying down on the bed next to her, he is overcome by tears as he realises his own emotional limitations in the light of Michael Furey's passionate nature: "He had never felt like that himself towards any woman, but he knew that such a feeling must be love" (Joyce, 1956, 255). His tears, however, are described as being "Generous", which once more implies a sympathy for and understanding of his wife and the powerful hold that the past has had upon her. As well as signaling a new honesty in Gabriel's perception of himself, this also suggests that he is learning that love is not something that can be securely contained by wilful imposition. Even though he suspects that Gretta may not have told him the whole story (Joyce, 1956, 254), he is closer to her in his acceptance of this, in realizing that words alone will not fully explain everything that The Lass of Aughrim, or the past that it has evoked, means to her. In many ways he is acting like a psychoanalyst here, knowing, to quote from Bollas, that "he is fundamentally excluded from the patient's inner experience" (Bollas, 1992; 5), and yet open to the play of unconscious association both within Gretta and himself. In an interesting change of perspective, Bollas is keen to point out that within the psychoanalytic enterprise "quite profound changes occur in both people" (Bollas, 1992, 6), not simply in the patient herself. We can see further evidence of this in the imaginative effect that Gretta's story has upon Gabriel: it allows him to take flight in a spontaneity of feeling that he has so far been unable to experience. He is moved towards thoughts upon mutability and the ephemeral nature of human existence, and while these reveries have a profound significance in their own right, their real value lies in the fact that in making these associations Gabriel is acknowledging the importance of that other "grey impalpable world": the unconscious (Joyce, 1956, 255). The story of Michael Furey is in many ways a text that Gabriel reads to reach the understanding that the unconscious, and the access to memory, the past, and imaginative experience that it gives, is not something that can remain dead and buried in the occupations that concern us in the conscious life of the present. Conscious and unconscious, the complex and simple self, the past and the present: all are as closely linked together through the objects and experiences that we use and are used by, as (he living and the dead are connected by the falling snow that Gabriel watches from the window.

23One of the reasons why "The Dead" remains such a powerful and haunting short story is due to the fact that it deals with experiences with which we are all to some extent familiar Christopher Bollas provides a useful theoretical framework within which to approach the text, in particular what is happening in Gretta's musical encounter and Gabriel's immersion in the story that she tells as a consequence of this, but as readers of "The Pead" there is a sense in which we understand what is taking place intuitively. Turning things around we can say that Joyce is offering a perfect example of Bollas's theoretical observation that "the objects of our world are potential forms of transformation" (Bollas, 1992, 4), not only in his choice of subject matter, but also because the text itself is an intermediate area of self experience that facilitates our understanding of this dynamic in the very act of reading itself In setting out his objectives in the introduction to his work Bollas writes that: "By studying the structural effect of an object's impact on the self, which means thinking more about the different potential transformational effects of an object, we will be able to deepen our understanding of the nature of human life" (Bollas, 1992, 4).

24In many ways, this is an enterprise in which Joyce shares and within which we also share as readers. By virtue of the fact that 'The Dead' is a fiction, it offers us the capacity to become as it were lost within its texture and open to the kind of interplay that occupies Bollas's interest in Being a Character Losing the objectivity of the simple self we engage in a play of association that not only allows us to sense what is happening in those moments of intense experience that the short story describes, but also to experience a similar transformation ourselves as the text gives back to us that which we already know unconsciously.

Bibliographie

Works Cited

Bollas, Christopher. 1992. Being a Character: Psychoanalysis and Self Experience. London: Routledge.

Joyce, James. 1956. Dubliners. London: Penguin.

Winnicott, D. W. 1965. The Maturational Processes and the Facilitating Environment: Studies in the Theory of Emotional Development. London: Hogarth.

——, 1974. Playing and Reality. London: Penguin.

Notes

1 On the opening page of his introduction, Bollas offers the following example: "However much we may try to tell someone about what is happening to us – Oh, that smell, it's a flower that was in my garden when I was a child!' – we shall fail to convey the texture of our inner experience."

2 For a comprehensive discussion on the relationship between infant play and adult encounters within the cultural field, see chapter seven of Playing and Reality, "The Location of Cultural Experience."

3 Winnicott offers a useful introduction to the true and false self, and the various forms of compliance within which the individual can become trapped, in his paper "Ego Distortion in Terms of True and False Self" (Winnicott, 1965).

Auteur

Université d'Orléans

© Presses universitaires François-Rabelais, 2000

Conditions d’utilisation : http://www.openedition.org/6540

Acheter