Joyce contra Wagner


In lieu of an abstract, the first paragraph of the essay follows:

Every race has made its own myths and it is in these that

early drama often finds an outlet. The author of Parsifal

has recognized this and hence his work is solid as a rock.

- Joyce, "Drama and Life," 1900

Wagner stinks of sex.

- Joyce to Oscar Schwarz, 1914

Joyce was a Wagnerite, in spite of himself, and in spite of Wagner. Wagner, the exiled artist, the contemptuous critic of society, the revolutionary who proclaimed a new cultural conscience, the innovator of a dramatic mythopoeia, the despotic organizer of detail on a canvas which he expanded in an unprecedented manner - such an artist has much in common with James Joyce. William Blissett has shown in useful detail many of the cultural and technical responses Joyce made to Wagner in Ulysses.1 My concern here is with the presence of Wagner in Joyce's only surviving play, Exiles.

Comparative Drama is carried by JSTOR and Project MUSE.