The lures of polyphony: Socrates, joyce, schoenberg
Reading the scene from the “Sirens” episode, Jean-Michel Rabate suggests that just as the sound produced by the seashell is an imaginary one, reproduced in an echo-chamber but existing without actual presence, the song of the sirens is a silent one. While one can agree with Rabate’s tropological analysis, it is difficult to forget that in “Sirens,” narrative unfolds under the auspices of music, and that Joyce gambles a lot on the latter’s capacity to catalyze affect. The seashell, for instance, offers an intriguing entry point into the episode, for it generously lends itself to interpretation as a symbol of seduction. The sirens’ song in Homer’s epic has become more than just an alluring melody in Joyce’s novel: It is now a seduction game involving desires stirred by mythical women, subtly mediated by an ideology-social, capitalist, religious-which impregnates and thus perverts the old myths.
- Composing Modernist Connections in China and Europe
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International Standard Book Number 13 (ISBN-13)
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