Joyce’s Myopia, Irisitis, and Blind Prophecy: A Critical Introduction
Velze, J.L. van
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This thesis seeks to uncover in the medical humanities the relatively new field of Joyce’s defective eyesight and its literary resonances and to lay a foundation for examining the Joyce canon as an essential part of the literary tradition of the blind bard. Through the evident linguistic connection between physical blindness and figurative blindness, to begin with, the discussion of Joyce’s initially myopic sight which makes up the opening chapter immediately relates to the notions of social myopia and spiritual blindness that feature prominently in his literary work. In a similar vein, the primary and secondary order of vision represent the intricate relationship between prophecy and (lack of) physical sight which is quintessential to the literary tradition of the blind, prophetic bard. Whether or not Joyce’s congenitally weak eyes and progressive loss of sight led him to evoke an inner world where sound takes precedence over sense, his unremitting preoccupation with the theme of (figurative) blindness, as amply evidenced by the vast number of thematic, linguistic, and semantic implications in his literary work, added to the exertion of “his deepseeing insight,” clearly brings up to date the literary tradition of the blind, prophetic bard. Within the context of literary emulation and generational conflict, Joyce’s troping of blindness eventually comes to signal his predecessors’ as well as his own contested space in (literary) history.