Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-ndqjc Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-29T05:27:09.337Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

7 - Enfleshed Ethics and the Responsibility of the Reader in the Good Samaritan Parable and the “Nostos” of Ulysses

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 April 2023

Richard Rankin Russell
Affiliation:
Baylor University, Texas
Get access

Summary

There is something special in the way Ulysses not only constitutes a journey in terms of a narrative but also embodies a journey for the reader.

David Pierce, Reading Joyce, 299

The import of a text is not exhausted by what it reveals or conceals about the social conditions that surround it. Rather, it is also a matter of what it sets alight in the reader—what kind of emotions it elicits, what changes of perceptions it prompts, what bonds and attachments it calls into being.

Rita Felski, The Limits of Critique, 179

Declan Kiberd has argued that Joyce believed Ulysses would “invent a new sort of reader, someone who after that experience might choose to live in a different way. He wanted to free people from all kinds of constriction, among them the curse of passive readership.” By perceiving Bloom’s encounter with Stephen through the intertext of the Good Samaritan parable, with its emphasis on the need for the hearer to respond, we ourselves are expected to respond in some way; in so doing, in connecting with Stephen and Bloom, we help continue the parable’s action into the present. Joyce thus expects and depends upon our read-erly labors. Arguing that “disconnectedness” is the “anxiety that Ulysses massively struggles to transcend,” Leo Bersani posits that “Joyce’s dependence on his readers is most pronounced, for it is their intra- and extratextual work that reconstitutes his mind as the serene repository of the resources of our language and culture.” Much of Joyce’s success in conveying his message of hospitality and loving our neighbor depends upon our response, which is unquantifiable finally, but still worth examining. If Ulysses exemplifies a particular kind of wisdom literature, as Kiberd argues throughout Ulysses and Us, then by so doing, it also seeks to inculcate a new ethical responsibility—and even agency— in readers because of what we have learned about treating those different from ourselves in its pages. In this regard, Virginia Moseley was the first critic to argue for Joyce employing his retelling of the Good Samaritan parable to reach the reader, even to rescue the reader. She reads “Eumaeus” through Jesus’ walk to Emmaus, concluding that Joyce himself “‘bucks up’ his reader ‘generally in orthodox Samaritan fashion, which he very badly’ needs.

Type
Chapter
Information
James Joyce and Samaritan Hospitality
Postcritical and Postsecular Reading in Dubliners and Ulysses
, pp. 180 - 197
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2023

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Save book to Kindle

To save this book to your Kindle, first ensure coreplatform@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Available formats
×

Save book to Dropbox

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Available formats
×