Literary Parallels Stemming from a resemblance in the Authors’ Creative Development: The Extraordinary Similarities between Amos Oz’s The Same Sea and James Joyce's Finnegans Wake
by Sagit Blumrosen-Sela
January 1, 2006
This paper presents outstanding parallels between the books The Same Sea by Amos Oz, the well-known Israeli writer, and James Joyce's masterpiece Finnegans Wake. The parallels between the works - in terms of plot, structure, ideas, language, style and more - are explained mainly in light of the fact that both were written at an equivalent stage in the writers' lives and creative development, after a very similar literary itinerary, which led them to regard human lives and to create in an amazingly similar way. This extraordinary resemblance helps us understand both works and sheds new light on both authors' creative development.
Both James Joyce and Amos Oz, at a similar stage of their lives and creative careers1, wrote a work of art, which was very different from all their previous ones - a much more playful, poetical, hard-to-access, post-modernist book. This paper will point out some outstanding parallels between these two works, in terms of plot, structure, ideas, language, style and more.
In trying to unravel the sources of the intriguing, sometimes even uncanny, resemblance between these two masterpieces, I turned to Oz himself and asked him whether there might have been a direct influence of Joyce on him. Oz stated clearly that he had never read FW, though he had been an admirer of Joyce most of his life (Anyway, he himself was overwhelmed by the comparison and encouraged me to publish it2).
Thus, the similarities between the works are not attributed in this paper to a direct influence but rather to the fact that both were written at a very similar stage in the writers' lives and creative development, and after having a very equivalent literary itinerary, which led them to regard human lives and to create in an amazingly similar way.
The plot of TSS, which spreads over one year, concerns a family in Bat-Yam (a satellite town of Tel-Aviv): Albert, the father, is a middle-aged tax-accountant. His wife, Nadia, has died a short time earlier, of cancer of the ovaries, yet she keeps appearing in the novel in different phases of her life and even after her death. Their only son, Rico, travels to the Far East after his mother's death. He befriends a prostitute named Maria, and encounters several other characters, including four Dutch men. Rico's ex-girlfriend, Ditta, who remains in Israel, has written a script, which a young man named Dovi Dobromov is supposed to produce and another man, named Gigi Ben-Gal, is expected to finance. Both of them are attracted to Ditta. For some time, Ditta lives in Alber's house, during which various feelings are aroused in him towards her - including fatherly and erotic passions. Meanwhile, Albert also befriends a middle-aged widow named Bettin. Later, Ditta moves to a rented apartment, and when Albert comes to visit her, she apparently lets him look at her and probably even touch her while taking a shower. Another character in the novel is that of the narrator himself, which is the author's self.
Parallels in Plot and Characters
The resemblance between the two books stems mainly from the fact that both of them set out to present, through the story of one 'ordinary' family, during a limited time period - one night in FW and one year in TSS - a universal myth of the human experience.
At the center of both novels stands the father figure - Albert in TSS and HCE in FW. Both are middle-aged men, with 'simple' vocations. Both of them are dealing with their advancing age, approaching death, and the death of their wives. The main event related to the father figure in both books is associated with his attraction to a young woman: HCE exposes himself and/or looks at the girls in the park - which emerges in different versions, such as an imagined trial, and the questioning of his son; Albert watches and touches Ditta in the shower. There are some striking similarities between these two events, both suggesting the violation of a taboo, apparently incest: first, both events are described in a vague, somewhat hallucinatory way, alluding to the feelings of guilt, fantasy, and 'uncanny' of the protagonists. In TSS, for example, Ditta says to Albert: "think that it's happening in a dream" (p. 121)3; in FW, the event is told in many different ways, enhancing the ambiguity of its real nature. Secondly, in both cases rumors of the event spread unexpectedly, as a kind of echo of to the perpetrators' guilt. In FW the rumors run all round the country, and the event is also supposedly filmed and televised; in TSS, the echoes somehow reach Rico, who is thousands of miles away. In both books, the attraction is that of a middle-aged father to a young woman, his own daughter, or a daughter figure: The girls and the soldiers in the park sometimes seem to be HCE's children (e.g. 526, 607), and HCE's attraction to his daughter, Issy, is insinuated several times (e.g. 556). Ditta also seems to be a kind of daughter-figure for Albert: "She is there alone - his eyes are open wide -/ next door she's lying naked, on her side./ So young. A child. My daughter, my bride!" (44) Ditta herself "feels partly like a daughter" (54).
Thus, both works actually present a kind of Oedipus Complex in reverse - the father's attraction towards the daughter - which may be considered as a variant of the child's Oedipal attraction to the mother. The fact that in both cases the sexual act is not a full and mature one but rather something that happens mainly in fantasy, or, at the most, a voyeuristic or exhibitionist gesture, stresses its relationship to infantile sexuality. Rico, for example, says: "After all, when I was a baby, his wife sucked me and changed my nappy, and lulled me to sleep on her tummy, and now my wife does the same to him. Soon he will become a baby." (125). This reincarnation of childhood sexuality delineates the cyclic nature of human life. Besides, both writers here present a new myth, depicting a kind of attraction characteristic of old age.
A clear resemblance may also be found between the mother-figure in both works - Anna (or ALP) in FW and Nadia in TSS. Both are daughters of craftsmen (Anna's father is a tailor; Nadia's father is a goldsmith), both have come from another place, having had earlier sexual experiences4, and marry their husbands with no big ceremony. Both engage in similar 'feminine' occupations: Nadia cooks, bakes, embroiders, writes calligraphy (29); similarly, ALP cooks, plays the violin, sings and writes poetry (198-201). Both of them are also soothing and sympathetic towards their dear ones. Both of them are evidently creative (ALP composes the mysterious letter which recurs throughout the novel; Nadia keeps on embroidering even in the last hours of her life) and both are prone to mystery and imagination.
The mother dies in both books (in FW this happens at the end of the novel, in TSS at the beginning; however, since neither work was meant to be set in chronological order, Nadia reappears throughout TSS). The mother's death is depicted in an amazingly similar way (FW 619-628; TSS 2, 68, 88-9, 113, 141-2): in both cases, she wakes up early in the morning and feels she is soon going to die. She hears a bird, which symbolizes death, calling her: ALP hears white gulls, and Nadia a bird calling "Narimi, Narimi." Both women feel lonelier than they have ever felt: ALP feels "loonely in me loneness" (627), and in TSS it is said: "Right now at four in the morning Nadia is the most alone she has ever been". (141) Both of them recall images from their pasts, especially of past lovers. In both cases a metaphor of dropping figures, symbolizing the nearing death. In TSS: "Everything is letting go of her and Nadia is letting go of everything, like a pear from a branch: the pear is not picked but a ripened pear drops" (141). In FW ALP says: "My leaves have drifted from me" (628). In both works, the mother wishes amazingly similar wishes for her dear ones: in FW, she turns to her "sonhusband", regarding the "daughterwife", saying: "Be happy, dear ones! for she'll be sweet for you as I was sweet when I came down out of my mother" (627). Similarly, Nadia turns to Ditta and says to her: "Child bride you are their wife/ you have my nightdress, / you have their love". (68) In both cases, the mother, facing her death, understands that she must vacate her place in favor of the daughter. ALP thinks: "let her rain now if she likes. Gently or strongly as she likes. Anyway let her rain for my time is come. I done me best when I was let" (627). Oddly enough, the English title originally chosen by Oz for TSS (which appears on the cover of the Hebrew version) is "Let Her" - exactly the same words that appear in FW in relation to the role-exchange between mother and daughter, which is associated with the theme of human ephemerality, the major theme of both books. This title also entails a call to give expression to feminine modes of being, similarly embodied in both works (see below).
The same symbols - such as those of bird and water - appear in relation to both mothers' deaths: Nadia's death, for example, is described thus: "Shortly before my death a bird on a branch enticed me./ Narimi its feathery down touched me wrapped all of me/ in a marine afterbirth". (68) In a very similar fashion, ALP sees gulls before her death and is likened to a river, which is flowing to fuse with the Ocean, representing her father. It is interesting to note that the same vocals - "r" "n" and "m" - which appear in the word "narimi", recur in this passage as well - as if embodying some unconscious meaning related to death: "I am passing out [...] they'll never see. Nor know. Nor miss me [...] I see them rising! Save me from those therrble prongs! Two more. Onetwo moremens more" (628).
In general, similar symbols are associated with the mother figure in both works. The bird symbol occurs in both: ALP at first appears as a bird, picking up various objects from the battlefield, to give them to her children (10-14); she also sleeps in a feather-bed (201), and so on; Nadia is also often brought together with a bird, for example in Albert's accusation: "You've filled his [Rico's] head with fairies and fog and you yourself have grown feathers and a beak and flown off into the cold". (176; There are other occurrences of the bird motive on pages 70, 82, 111, 138). Further, both mother figures are related to water - which symbolizes circulation, a part of the natural water cycle: ALP is often paralleled to the river Liffey in Dublin, and she and Issy are often likened to cloud and rain. Nadia is also often compared to the sea (e.g. 70, 80). In general, the mother figure in both works is often related to different symbols of nature.
A strong resemblance may also be found between the daughter figures - Issy in FW and Ditta in TSS (Ditta is actually not a biological daughter, yet she may be considered a daughter figure, since she comes to live at the family's house and takes the mother's place and some of the characters explicitly refer to her as a daughter figure; similarly, Issy is not only a biological daughter but also an object of sexual attraction to her father and brothers). In both books, the daughter is first and foremost an object of desire, as her mother was before her. Ditta is desired by Albert, Rico, Gigi and Dovi; Issy is desired by HCE, Shem and Shaun. In both books an amazingly similar scene occurs, when the daughter looks at her image in the mirror, with great pleasure, and then imagines having sexual relationships with a non-present lover (FW 143-148; TSS 36-37). Besides, both Issy and Ditta resemble their mother very much: both of them are creative, aspiring to harmony and reconciliation, tend to empathize with the people around them, and so on.
Another female character appears in both books - Bettin in TSS and Kate in FW - both of whom are widows and have work-relations with the father (Bettin is an accountant, Kate is a cleaning lady at HCE's pub). Both of them help him in times of trouble (Bettin supports Albert after his wife's death, Kate helps HCE recover after finding him drunk in the pub). Both of them may also be seen as incarnations of the mother figure; in general, all the female characters in both works may be seen as incarnations of one archetypal woman figure, as well as the men are all incarnations of one archetypal man figure.
There are also many similarities between the son-figures - Shem and Shaun in FW and Rico, Gigi and Dovi in TSS (again, in FW they are clearly biological sons, whereas in TSS only Rico is such a one, yet Dovi and Gigi may be considered as son figures in the symbolic sense). The sons seemingly represent two opposites, with clear tensions and rivalries between them. However, these apparently opposing forces eventually unite, as if to show that the differences are not very significant, in face of the common human fate. In both books, one of the sons - Shem in FW and Dovi in TSS - are introvert, vulnerable, rejected since their childhood, find it very difficult to cope with the world, and tend to creative activity. Both of them are short and suffer from substantial physical deficiencies, mockingly described. Both of them shut themselves up in their dwellings, which are severely neglected (Dovi has rats in his apartment, Shem has mice). Besides, both are clearly the author's self persona: Shem, whose name is the Irish for James, is half blind, and is busy writing "Finnegans Wake", like Joyce himself; In TSS, the narrator (who is the implied author) points out some resemblances between Dovi and himself: both of them were brought up away from their homes; both need a 'directing hand'; both aim to create one 'proper' work'; and both resemble King David (70-71). Besides, Dovi Dobromov's initials are identical ones, just as the author's [in Hebrew]. The second son - Shaun in FW and Gigi in TSS - seems to represent the opposite type of personality: they are both very practical, extrovert, successful, at ease in the world of action, yet lack the creative spirit. These two 'sons' compete for one beloved woman, who is actually the 'daughter figure': Both Dovi and Gigi are attracted to Ditta, yet Gigi wins her; Shem and Shaun compete over Issy, plus the 28 girls who are proliferations of her character, and these prefer the latter.
However, in both works, the two brother opponents eventually begin to cooperate with each other, for the sake of a common project, related in both cases to the carrying out of a work initiated by a woman: in TSS Gigi and Dovi cooperate in the production of Ditta's script (which Dovi produces and Gigi finances); in FW Shem and Shaun cooperate over ALP's letter (Shem writes it and Shaun delivers it). Moreover, the former rivals eventually switch roles and even merge into one character: In FW, Shaun identifies himself as a drunk exile, who suffers from pains in his eyes - all of which are characteristics of Shem (148-149). Eventually Shaun, who stands for Shem as well, is due to replace the father, who in any case is the amalgam of his two sons. Their being twins also stresses the union between them. It is said, for example: "They seem to be so tightly tattached" (562). Similarly, in TSS, the two son figures also somewhat switch roles towards the end of the book: Dovi, the 'spiritual' brother, gets some material gains, when he is asked to produce Gigi's film, while Gigi finally starts to feel the loss inherent in the human condition: Throughout the novel, he has symbolized the ambitious young man, concentrating on the present and disregarding life's limitations, believing that "Those bad scenes, like sickness/ suffering and death, are strictly for the losers who are stuck on the south side of town". (114) The narrator reacts to this ironically by saying: "he laughs last, the gospel according to Gigi Ben Gal". (115) And indeed, in the last pages of the novel, Gigi starts to sense, as if against his will, the inevitable approaching loss: "[. . .] for a moment he felt that all this, breeze, foliage, stars, even the darkness itself, was staring at him as though patiently waiting for some delayed penny to drop. [...] And now he opened himself up to hear a prickly carpet of crickets and a cow lowing in the dark as though it was his own soul keening and village women in the distance answered with a heart-rending Russian tune the like of which you would never hear again in Tel-Aviv. Arise now and go, light and calm get up and go in search of what you have lost". (197) That is, Gigi finally recognizes the loss inherent in human experience, thus resembling Dovi.
Further, I think the Dovi and Gigi characters are united in Rico, who combines the two opposites, and who is also due to replace the father, very much like Shaun.
There are many significant similarities between Shaun and Rico; both of them are curious and inquisitive and aspire to decipher the mystery of the world - as manifested for example in that both of them love reading, and both go out on a journey around the world. Before they depart, they say farewell to their beloved - Shaun to Issy and Rico to Ditta, and they both leave a friend to 'comfort' her (Shaun introduces Issy to his friend Dave the Dancekerl, and Rico introduces Ditta to his friend Gigi). During their journeys, both Shaun and Rico cross rivers and oceans, mountains and cities, and meet many different characters and stories. Both have clear parallels to the figure of Jesus: there are many analogies between Shaun and Jesus,5 as well as between Rico and Jesus. Maria - the former nun who became a prostitute - whom Rico befriends, is clearly equated with Mary Magdalen (28-29, 93-95, 104, 130, 153). Both Shaun and Rico meet 'the four' who are analogous to the Apostles: Shaun meets Matt, Mark, Luke and John, while Rico meets Thomas, John, Wim and Paul (whose names are again names of Apostles, except for Wim). In both books the 'Four' appear in sexual contexts and witness sexual intercourse: In FW a whole chapter is devoted to their report on the Porters' love-making, from four different points of view (558-590); similarly, in TSS 'the four' watch the intercourse of Rico and Maria (28-29).
In both books the father traces in his mind's eye his son's journey in the world. The son is described as being in his life's springtime and as someone who will eventually replace his father. Rico for example thinks: "My father's severity. His defeated shoulders. Because of them I left. To them I shall return". (65) Ditta also points out some similarities between Albert and Rico (59). Besides, the initials of Rico's name - Enrico David - are the same as his father's - Albert Danon [in Hebrew, A and E are represented by the same letter]. Rico's other name, 'David', associates him with Dovi and also with the narrator, since the latter stresses their resemblance to King David (70-71). In FW, Shaun is described as due to replace his father (604-607), and allotted adjectives suited to his father in his youth - "sure, straight, slim, sturdy, serene, synthetical, swift" (596).6 In both books, the role changes between father and son represent the cyclical nature of human existence.
Bridging between the Realistic and the Symbolical, the Particular and the Universal.
Both FW and TSS present the story of one small family, in a limited period of time, in a concrete and more or less realistic way, yet they both aim at the creation of a much wider myth of the human family. Both works bridge between the realistic and the symbolical, the particular and the universal, on various levels:
On the thematic level, the characters in both works deal with a similar complex of matters, which lie at the core of the human experience in all ages: the role changes between generations; the rivalry of men over women; the transitory nature of human existence; and others.
Events take place in specific places - Dublin in FW and Bat-Yam, Tel-Aviv and Arad in TSS - which are often described concretely and realistically, including the specification of names of streets and places. It is well known that Joyce asked his aunt who was still living in Dublin to send him details about particular city types, in order to use them in his work (JJII 545); similarly, specific names of places in Tel-Aviv, Bat-Yam or Arad are mentioned in TSS. However, these locations are intended to represent 'general', 'universal' places as well. Joyce, for example, wrote in a letter: "I always write about Dublin because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities in the world. In the particular is contained the universal"7. Besides, the geographical features acquire in both works symbolic meanings. In both, there are similar tensions between the mountains, sea and river and the city: in TSS the mountains and the sea represent stability and constancy, whereas the city represents personal life and circularity. In FW, the city is related to culture and to masculinity (for example, HCE is related to Dublin), whereas the river is related to nature and to femininity (for example, ALP is related to the Liffey river). Interestingly, the cities at the center of both novels - Dublin and Bat-Yam - are near the sea, thus representing the tension between these two forces. Other cities, real or imaginary, which dwell near water are also mentioned in FW, such as Atlantis or Lough Neagh, embodying the same tension (601).8
A similar bridging between the particular and the universal may be found on the level of the personages as well. Each of the main characters in both works is portrayed as a complex individual, with a specific biography, character and mode of expression, yet each of them represents a universal man and woman, father and mother, daughter and son. The universal aspect is revealed for example in HCE's initials - standing for "Here Comes Everybody" or "Haveth Childers Everywhere." The universality is also achieved by the fact that the main characters in both works are of mixed origins: HCE is a Protestant of Norwegian descent, who lives in Ireland, and his wife has Russian blood; Albert came from Sarajevo to live in Israel, and his wife from Bulgaria - a country which in itself represents the combination of East and West. as the magician from Jaffa states (19). Both works contain a broad range of characters, of different origins and nationalities, and both use words from different languages: FW includes words from sixty-five different languages,9 and in TSS there are words in Hebrew, English, Ladino, Yiddish, Arabic, Russian, German, Sinhalese and more. All this helps in the creation of a universal myth.
Moreover, there are many analogies between the main characters and various cultural figures - e.g. from the Bible, mythology, history, literature, and so on - which again act as bridges between the 'particular' and the 'universal': in FW, for example, HCE's character is paralleled to a series of male personages - mostly such as have committed a sin, usually a sexual one. This includes biblical figures such as Adam, Isaac, and Noah; literary ones, such as Humpty Dumpty, Finnegan, Tristan, King Arthur; historical ones, such as the Pope, Julius Caesar, Parnell and others. ALP is compared to Eve, Mary, Pandora, Noah's wife, Josephine and so forth. Issy represents the mythological daughter figure, who becomes a seductive woman, and is paralleled with Iseult, Vanessa, Ruth, Susanna or Esther. The two sons are paired off with son figures, as well as antagonists - such as Cain and Abel; Jacob and Esau; Brutus and Cassius. Shaun is also paralleled with Jesus (who is himself perceived in Christian tradition as 'every-man'). There are similar analogies in TSS: The narrator writes that he and Dovi resemble David the King (70); Rico is Absalom (137, 195); Ditta is Avishag (180); Nadia is paralleled with Eve (123); Maria is paralleled with Santa Maria or Mary Magdalen; Rico is Jesus; and there are also analoges from Greek Mythology - such as the Sirens, Persephone and Hades (146).
In both books there are also allusions to other cultural texts, indicating a relation between the 'particular' and the 'universal' on the level of text as well: In FW there are allusions to Ibsen's The Masterbuilder, Cervantes' Don Quixote, Tristan and Isolde, the Bible, the Kabbalah, the Book of Kells, and many other texts from literature, Irish and Celtic mythology, history, politics, and so forth, as well as popular texts - journals, ballads, street songs, children's songs, children's plays and children's stories. There are also some allusions to works by Joyce himself - such as Ulysses (179), Dubliners (186-187), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (182) and Chamber Music (184). Similarly, in TSS there are allusions to various literary works and writers, such as Troyat and Chekhov, Agnon, Bialik, Alterman, Rachel and others, and to religious texts, such as the Old and New Testaments, as well as to Greek mythology. There are also some allusions to children's stories, such as "The King's New Clothing" (144-145), "The Shepherd And The Wolf" (35), children's songs, etc. There are also references to Oz's previous works, such as "To Know a Woman" (85) or "Perfect Peace" (116). The frequent allusions to other texts suggest that the present work is but one in a much wider array of cultural creation. Further, the transposition of different kinds of texts subverts conventional distinctions - e.g. 'high' and 'low', 'religious' and 'secular', adults' and children's and so on - in a post-modernist way, showing that they are all essentially of the same value.
Another expression of the relation between the particular and the universal in both works is that they contain many side-stories, from completely different places and eras, again representing the multiple facets of the human experience. The digressions in FW often parallel the Porters' story - e.g., the story of Jarl van Hoother and the Prankquean; the tale of Kersse the Tailor and the Norwegian Captain; the tale of the shot of the Russian general; the story of saint Kevin, and others: "One thousand and one stories, all told, of the same." (5) There are also many side-stories in TSS, which come to the fore from time to time - e.g. the story of the Russian merchant; the story of Irene who died of malaria; the story of Elimelech the carpenter; the story of the Knesset member Pesach Kedem and others. The inclusion of the different stories shows that all of us are but parts of a much larger human existence, which may appear in different variations. The tension between the main story and the digressions implies, in a post-modernist fashion, that there is no substantial difference between them.10
Still another expression of the relation between the particular and the universal may be found in the fact that in both works, especially in FW, the characters often change names and identities, suggesting the ephemeral nature of personal identity: Shem and Shaun, for example, are also named Kevin and Jerry, Mutt and Jute, Chuff and Glugg, Butt and Taff, and so forth. HCE, ALP, and Issy are also referred to by many different names and nicknames. In TSS too there are identity exchanges - e.g. between Nadia and Maria (31, 153); Ditta and her fictional persona, Nirit (36,37), Nadia and Ditta, and so on, thus treating the relation between name and identity with irony. In TSS, the granting of a 'name' is associated with the granting of personal life, whereas the lack of a name or a name-change emphasizes the relation between the particular and the universal. For instance, the only character in TSS who plays an active role in the plot yet does not have a name is Nadia's first husband - and he is indeed the only character for whom a destiny is not appointed, but rather left open to several possibilities, suggested in the text (179). Immediately afterwards, we learn with some surprise that his dog did have a name, and accordingly an individual identity and destiny: "Rex was run over [...] You have to get over your grief [...] choose yourself a new puppy despite everything, and start all over again. But it will be difficult to relate to a new puppy now: if you call him Rex he will remind you every day that Rex no longer exists, and if you call him Chief he won't help you forget anything." (179) Thus, an ironical light is shed on the subject of personal identity and its representation in fiction and in reality.
Another significant expression of the relation between the particular and the universal is that both writers include their own selves in their works - thus presenting themselves as equal members of the large human family. Joyce is incarnated in several characters in FW: first, the character of Shem the Penman; another incarnation is the character of the poet Hosty - who is described as a 'musical genius, a poet and a tenor' - as Joyce himself was in his youth; another appearance may be found in the character of HCE, who resembles him in his personal situation - being an elderly husband and father. There are also hints at other characters from Joyce's life - e.g. his brother Stanislaus (whom Shaun resembles), his wife Nora (whom he met in the Finn hotel), his son Giorgio, and so forth.11 Similarly, Oz appears in several costumes: as the "fictional narrator" or the "implied author", who has his own autobiography and he even lists the names of Oz's own family - parents, wife, children and grand-children (147). Besides, Oz's character may also be related to Albert, who is of a similar age, and to Dovi, in whose case the narrator himself stresses the resemblance.
The Undermining of Dichotomies
Both TSS and FW contain tensions between supposedly opposing principles, yet these are often blurred, and finally united, thus meaning that they are essentially of equal value and represent equally legitimate facets of human existence.12 The following are some of the pseudo-oppositions in both books.
The masculine and the feminine: In both TSS and FW the 'feminine' is related to nature, freedom, union, harmony, intimacy and compassion, whereas the 'masculine' is related to culture, order, separateness and repression.13 These differences are manifested, for example, in the different modes of expression of women and men in the works. The women's mode - e.g. ALP, Kate and Issy in FW, or Nadia, Bettin and Ditta in TSS - is mostly simple, direct and emotional, yet imaginative and inventive, whereas the men's typical mode is 'cultural', sophisticated and dense with allusions. Both books stress how 'masculine' culture aims at repressing the feminine modes of expression: in FW, for example, Shem is said to have been alienated from his roots, but his mother came to rescue him from the 'fatherly' writing and to bring him back to 'himself' (194). Similarly, Albert in TSS represents the masculine, rational paradigm, which calls for the repression of imagination and creativity. He tells Nadia for example: "[. . .] I beg you stop filling his head with such nonsense once and for all [...] don't stuff him full of wolves and witches and snow, ghosts in the cellar and goblins in the forest [...] Haven't I told you a thousand times that my son has to grow up to be a useful member of society, a decent, sensible man with no nonsense in his head in the clouds but with both feet planted firmly on the ground". (176) In answer to this repression, both works call for the articulation of the feminine voice, on different levels: On the structural level, both men and women express themselves, alternately, in a more or less equal measure. On the lingual level, both works give expression to the 'feminine', 'alternative' mode of expression (as will be shown below). On the level of content, in both works the feminine and the masculine eventually unite and the differences between them are blurred: The two sexes join in creation (around Ditta's script and ALP's letter), in the sexual act and in death, which is common to both genders.
The Dynamic and the Static: Both books contain dynamic parts, which entail advancements in time and plot, by the side of more static scenes and digressions. The tension between the dynamic and static elements is presented through various motives - such as constant versus ephemeral or cyclic natural forces or the tension between the two sons figures - Shaun and Shem and Gigi and Dovi - who represent these two principles and eventually cooperate and unite with each other, as was shown above.14
Life and death: The boundaries between life and death are often obscured: in TSS, for example, Nadia keeps appearing in the novel, aware of recent news, even after her death. The magician from Jaffa brings her from the dead to talk to Alber. In FW, HCE supposedly dies, but comes back to life (like Finnegan, the hero of the popular ballad, who is his persona). Kate's husband, Sigurdsen, also comes back from the world of the dead and appears as a character in the novel, and so on. In both books the same symbols symbolize the tension between life and death - light and shadow, day and night, the flow of rivers into the ocean and so on.
Reality and dream: In FW we very often don't know whether what we are reading is a depiction of a dream or of reality. There is a similar tension in TSS sometimes. For example, it is said of Rico: "between one sleep and the next he barely wakes" (67) or "lying neither sleeping nor waking" (67). The presentation of the narrator's dream ends with these words: "Little boy don't believe. Or do. Believe". (185)
Fiction and reality: the boundaries between fiction and reality are also sometimes blurred. Certain texts embody this tension; in FW, for example, ALP's letter is supposedly fictive, yet it seems to contain 'authentic' details from the family's life (as the book itself is fictive yet contains some details from real life); similarly, Ditta's script in TSS is sometimes confused with reality (e.g. 36, 37), and Bettin sometime reacts to the books she reads as if they were real representations of reality (21, 83, 150-151). The fact that the authors insert themselves into the books also contributes to obscuring the boundaries between reality and fiction.
The tension between reality and fiction is related to the authors' recognition of the difficulty of representing things in a full, faithful way, whether in fiction or in reality. One may sense the will to 'represent' life as it is, yet, on the other hand, the awareness of the difficulty, or even impossibility, of doing so. This may be illustrated by the representation of the women's characters. One senses the effort to portray these characters sincerely, yet also the writers' doubt of their ability to penetrate other consciousnesses - as men and as other beings in general.15 It is interesting that in both books one of the female characters is made to mock the author's depiction of a woman in a previous novel. In TSS, Ditta tells the narrator: "The only one [Of the narrator's book—S.B.] I've read is To Know a Woman. But what a woman is/ the hero hardly knows. Maybe you don't either. Men/ are mostly wrong, writers they're authors or not". (85) Similarly, ALP in FW makes fun of the portrayal of Molly Bloom in Ulysses and of men's attempts at conquering women's essence in general: "the penelpean patience of its last paraphe, a colophon of no fewer than seven hundred and thirty two strokes tailed by a leaping lasso - who thus at all this marveling but will press on hotly to see the vaulting feminine libido of those interbranching ogham sex upandinsweeps sternly controlled and easily repersuaded by the uniform matteroffactness of a meandering male fist?" (FW, 123).
To conclude this subject, both books present supposedly opposing forces, yet blur the differences between them, thus stressing that they are of equal value, in a post-modernist fashion. This is also typical of mature age, in which one understands that so-called oppositions are not very significant in face of eternity. The narrator in TSS tells his parents: "You both wanted me to grow up to be one thing or another. Dad one thing and Mother another. Now the difference is gradually shringking. What difference does it make what I am" (116).
Similarities in Style
At first glance, the style of the two books may not seem similar: FW is an extraordinarily dense and complicated work, saturated in puns and wordplays, double and triple meanings and so on, which make it almost unreadable without the aid of guides or dictionaries and a very broad range of cultural knowledge. TSS, in comparison, seems much more simple and 'reader friendly', though it has its own portion of aesthetic complexity and poetical elements. However, probing more deeply, one may find that both books are based on one common shaping principle, from which many of their stylistic features are derived:
The main stylistic principle is that both books strive to give expression to an 'alternative', 'poetic' mode of expression, by the side of the regular, 'prosaic' one.16 In psychoanalytical terms, these two modes may be related, respectively, to 'primary processes' - which are related to the 'unconscious', and take place in dreaming, fantasizing, poetry and so forth, as opposed to 'secondary processes' - which are related to conscious thinking and conventional modes of communication. By the way, the fact that most actions in both books occur during the time of night supports their relations to 'primary processes', 'the logic of the night'. I will now present some of the main characteristics of the 'poetic' mode (which correspond to those of the 'primary processes'), manifested in both books, by the side of the more 'regular', 'prosaic' characteristics:
One of the main characteristics of the poetic mode is the emphasis on musical elements - such as rhyme, sound, rhythm (as opposed to the emphasis on semantical, referential meanings in the prosaic mode). Oz said: "I looked for something melodic, something musical, which I have always aspired to in my writing, but was ashamed of, because I told myself: 'you are not a poet but a prose writer, don't make them hear an overly rhythmical prose'. Now I am less young, hence not ashamed. I wrote this book with all that I have, including language, music, and pattern."17 Joyce also stressed the musical side of his work, and believed that if the reader listened to its music, the book would be clearer to him. He illustrated this in the way he read the eighth chapter of his book in a formal recording.
Another characteristic of the poetic mode is the tendency to use metaphors and associative or synchronic connections, as opposed to the use of metonyms and logical or diachronic connections in the prosaic mode. Indeed, in both books the plot is set in a wide array of analogies, digressions, side-stories, similes and metaphors, which make it sometimes hard to keep trace of the main plot line.
Besides, the poetic mode is characterized by a disregard of conventions of time, space and language: In both works there are jumps in time - in the narrative itself, which is not chronologically sequenced, between different periods in history and so on. Similarly, there is a disregard of space conventions: characters are accessible one to the other even from thousands of miles' distance or from the world of the dead. In addition, characters sometimes change identities, just like in dreams. Besides, in both works, there is a disregard of linguistic rules; this is especially prominent in FW, in which language rules are violated in almost every sentence. However, one may find in TSS as well incorrect grammar and syntax ("בן בל ימה בן בלימוותאניישנ ים"), neologisms ("נרימי" "גמשמיש") and a creative use of language in general.
Another stylistic feature of both works - which is also typical of the poetic mode - is a high level of ambiguity and mystery. The ambiguity and mystery exist on several levels: on the level of content, both works contain many riddles and questions: in FW, ALP's mysterious letter appears several times, in different versions, yet always indecipherable, and thus may serve as a symbol of the mystery of the book itself, as well as of life and of the world. HCE's 'crime' is also presented in many different versions, and we don't know what is its actual basis. TSS also presents some unanswered questions - such as the question what happened to Nadia's first husband, to which there are different possible answers (179), or why Elimelech the carpenter committed suicide (his family says: "people are a riddle" ). In both books there is ambiguity on the textual level as well: most often, it is not stated who the speaker is, and the reader must decipher this while reading, in light of the few hints which are sometimes interwoven in the text. The ambiguity in both books persists also in the linguistic level (as was shown above).
Stressing The Human Existential Condition
Both Oz and Joyce stress in their books the theme of the human existential condition, especially the transitory nature of personal existence. This theme is expressed in many phrases and recurrent motives: the motive of animals, for example, illustrates the limitedness and transitory nature of our existence. It is said in TSS for example: "a cat, I think a cat, pads among bushes, a shadow fitting among shadows" (101) or : "a fly is trapped between the window pane and the screen" (118); In FW, HCE is likened to certain animals, such as a fox, a badger, a rabbit, a bear, a dog, which quickly disappear from the sight. It is said: "So you be either man or mouse and you be neither fish nor flesh" (563). Another motive which illustrates the existential theme is that of the natural cycle of water, which appears frequently in both books, in the images of river, cloud, rain and sea, or rivers flowing into the sea. As said above, it is usually associated with feminine characters, who themselves represent the cyclic nature of human existence. In both books, the ocean is related to death as well: ALP, in death, returns to her father, using the image of the river which flows into the sea. Similarly, Nadia says in TSS: "shortly before my death a bird on a branch enticed me./ Narimi its feathery down touched me wrapped all of me in a marine afterbirth (68). Here, death is also related to the return to the womb. In both books, 'death' or 'falling' is related to a symbolic 'return' to the womb. In TSS it is said: "And if you lose your footing, the chasm has a womb-like smell" (18). In FW, HCE dreams of an old man who is dying, and returns to a pseudo-womb. The getting out of the womb and the symbolic return to it represent the cyclic nature of life. Ascending and descending (or rising and falling) is indeed another motive in both books, which is related to the cyclic nature of life: in FW this motive is expressed, for example, in the symbol of the phoenix or in the figure of Finnegan, which represents climb and fall. In TSS it is expressed, for example, in the narrator's saying: "adopting a father, as can be seen in the case of David, generally ends up in a battle in which the father's role is to fall" (71). A similar motive representing circularity is that of dropping. It appears in TSS in the symbol of the pear dropping from the branch (138) and the leaves and the apple dropping from the tree (165). In FW leaves drop from ALP's body, symbolizing her coming death (619, 628).
The cyclic is also expressed in both books in terms of time: both present a clearly defined and recurring period, divided into sub-periods: events in TSS take place over one year, divided into the four seasons (summer, autumn, winter and spring, and summer again); FW shows the events of one night, explicitly divided into four watches.
The circularity is also implied in the structure of both books. Joyce designed his work according to the cyclic system of Vico, who maintained that human history might be divided into four recurring ages: the theocratic, the heroic, the humanistic, and the age of confusion ('Ricorso') - which are unendingly repeated. FW is constructed according to this system, divided into four parts, each representing one era, and each comprising four chapters, which correspond again to these eras. Similarly, TSS is also made up of single units, which are not laid out in a chronological or sequential way, but may rather be read in a cyclic order. Besides, both books call for a cyclic reading due to the lack of a clear ending: FW's last words may equally be the beginning of the first sentence of the first chapter - as a clear invitation to reread the whole book. In TSS there are two possible endings: the first one, which appears several pages before the actual conclusion, presents a scene very similar to the one at the beginning of the novel: Albert is standing by himself, facing his garden, thinking about his family. It is night - as opposed to the opening section, which took place in the morning. "Here is how we could sum it all up. A man is at home. His son is not here./ His daughter-in-law is staying with him for the time being [...] It revolves,/ the whole business, it comes and goes. The moon tonight is pale and sharp [. . .] tapping lightly on your window: now please begin all over again" (191). The reader is thus invited to reread the whole book, as in FW. However, after this apparent end, the novel extends over a few further pages - this in itself denying the conventional notion of 'ending', implying that human lives may not be easily reduced to a linear 'beginning' and 'ending'. The second ending concerns the change in Gigi Ben-Gal's character (see above). By the way, his name - "Ben-Gal" [in Hebrew: "the son of the wave"] - may be a reference to the cyclic nature of life, like the name of the town "Bat-yam" ["daughter of the sea"], where the story takes place.
Finally, the titles of both books are also related to the theme of recurrence. "The Same Sea" refers to the symbol of the natural water cycle; the word "Finnegans" is close to "Fin" and "again", representing the union between beginning and end. Similarly, the word "Wake" may be interpreted both as "burial" and as "resurrection."
Along with presenting the limits of human existence, mainly its transitory and circulatory nature, both books suggest similar ways of dealing with them: in both, there is an implied call for the acceptance of life as it is, with its good and evil. In TSS Albert says: "the sea gives and the sea takes" (158). Nadia says: "every cloud has a silver lining" (59), and so on. The heroes of both books accept the inevitability of death with serenity. HCE thinks: "it is their segnall for old Champelysied to seek the shades of his retirement and for young Chappielassies to tear a round and tease their partners lovesoftfun at Finnegan's Wake" (607). Similarly, Albert or the narrator calmly accepts the signs of approaching death: "The teeth of time, smoke without fire. On the back of my hand/ I see the brown mark that once used to be, at the very same spot,/ on my father's gnarled hand [...] The teeth of time. Scorch-mark without fire./ Ancestral seal. The gift of the dead/ on the back of your hand" (160). Similarly, ALP accepts her coming death, as Nadia does (TSS, 6, 138).
In both books, the heroes' way of coping with the existential condition is by endowing simple human affairs with significance. They concentrate on love, sex, food and creation (these are, for example, the things that both ALP and Nadia brood over before their death) - as if out of an unconscious acceptance of the laws of preservation of the human race. Substantial significance is attributed in both works to human relationships: both portray firm relations of love and care between different characters, which survive ordeals such as physical distance and even death. In both works, the positive value of interpersonal relationships is explicitly emphasized. In FW, for example, Issy teaches her brothers the importance of love (266-270), and says ironically in a pseudo-note: "Is love worse living?" (269). In TSS Bettin says of her grand-children: "they protect me/ from loneliness and death" (172). Rico imagines an imaginary creature, exempt from the limits of human existence - "without sex or partner, without birth or progeny or death,/ roaming these mountains for a thousand years,/ light and naked, how it must laugh as it moves among the cages" (22); but then he thinks about the disadvantages of such an existence: "Weightless and naked/ it roams alone on the barren mountains. Neither born nor begetting/ neither loving nor thirsty for love. It has never mourned/ nor lost a living soul. Ageless it floats over the snows,/ fatherless, motherless, homeless, timeless and deathless. Alone" (103). From these lines one may conclude that it is better to be a human being, mortal, and capable of love, than immortal, alone and without love. Interestingly, FW also presents an equivalent character - that of the Phoenix (appearing as a symbol), which is related to immortality and loneliness.
Besides, though dealing with painful subjects such as death, loneliness, rivalry and so on, both books are immersed in a spirit of humour and irony. This may reflect a remote and complex regard on reality, typical of maturity. Oz, for example said: "the comic and the tragic are two windows through which one may see the same view. My grandmother used to say: when you cannot cry, then laugh. This is what I've been doing here [in TSS]."18
* * *
How is this extraordinary resemblance between the books to be explained18? I suggest that it stems from a very deep resemblance between the authors’ minds at the time they wrote these books. Both were written while the writers were approaching the age sixty, after having led a very similar writing career: Both started by writing poetry in their youth (Joyce’s early poems were published in Chamber Music; Oz too wrote poems in his youth, though they were not published in a book); Then, both of them turned to write short stories, and afterwards a series of novels. This literary itinerary, which is rather typical of many prose writers20, may well be conceptualized using Joyce’s well-known terms, describing the typical course of writers’ development as stretching from the ‘lyrical’ via the ‘epical’ to the ‘dramatic’: indeed, both authors, following a short ‘lyrical’ stage, had a clearly ‘epical’ one, characterized by the author’s presence - featured mainly in Joyce’s Stephen Hero and Dubliners and in Oz’s Where the Jackals How. Then came a ‘dramatic’ stage - manifested mainly in Oz’s TSS and Joyce’s Ulysses and FW21 - in which more and more direct utterance is given to other characters, using various modes and styles, which represent different modes of being.Interestingly, in both TSS and FW the writers intrude their own presence, among other characters.
This might seem at first as a transgression of the 'dramatic' mode, in which the authors should be completely distanced from their works of art; however, the authors’ own characters are treated from a distance and with objectivity, which are congruent with the ‘dramatic’ mode (as opposed to the egocentric, sentimental expression which characterizes the early, ‘lyrical’ phase). In any case, the inclusion of the authors’ characters signifies a raise above their earlier demands: Both writers, at former stages of their creative development, called for the maximal alienation of the author from his work of art. Oz, for example, said that he agrees with the saying that "what distinguishes a novelist from a poet is the tendency to recoil from talking about oneself" and then declared: "maybe because I don't want to talk about personal matters, I don't publish poems."22 Very similarly, Joyce believed, as a young man, that a 'mature' artist is he who alienates himself from his work to the maximum, as Stephen, his own persona, says in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: "The personality of the artist [...] finally refines itself out of existence, impersonalises itself, so to speak [...] The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails" (223-224).23 However, the fact that both writers intrude their own characters in their mature works signifies their rise above these earlier distinctions.
In general, both Joyce and Oz moved from stating clear-cut, dichotomized distinctions to refraining from doing so: Joyce tended to clear-cut distinctions in his young years (appearing mainly in Stephen Hero and in Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, as well as in his early essays), such as the one between the ‘lyrical’, the ‘epical’ and the ‘dramatic’. He did not restate such distinctions in his mature years, a fact that was interpreted by certain scholars - such as Thornton24, Boheemen25 and others - as a sign of his own reservations, in his mature years, concerning clear-cut, dichotomized, distinctions. Oz has probably gone through a similar development. In 1999 he said, for example, concerning the differences between poetry and prose writing: "one may say that the only difference between poetry and prose writing is the question whether the typographer decides where the line ends or the writer does26; however, such a distinction interests me now much less than before. I'm much more interested now in the single line."27
Refraining from clear-cut distinctions clearly relates to the transition from ‘modernism’ to ‘post-modernism’, which in essence subverts and repudiated clear-cut distinctions, characterizing both writers’ development: their early works, mainly their collections of stories, are often considered essentially ‘modernist’ (due to the themes of human loneliness, alienation and so on; the passive heroes, who move between opposing forces and have limited consciousness; the elliptic, highly-condensed, metaphorical style and so on), while their later works - mainly TSS and FW - carry ‘post-modernist’ characteristics, such as: giving place to a wide range of forces and characters, which represent various aspects of human existence; giving expression to the less conventional forces in our culture - e.g. the feminine versus the masculine, the low-brow versus the high-brow, the unconscious versus the conscious and so on; relating the personal experience to a wider cultural level by using many analogies, cultural allusions, side-stories and name interchanges and so on. Both works also express skepticism regarding the ability to represent reality, which is also characteristic of post-modernism. However, it should be emphasized that some ‘post-modernist’ (or ‘dramatic’) elements also appear in the writers’ earlier works, as well as ‘modernist’ (or ‘lyrical’ and ‘epical’) elements appear in their later ones, thus one should refrain from using dichotomized distinctions here as well.
Beyond these ‘conceptual’ formulations, the similarities between FW and TSS may be clearly related to the fact that both were written at a very similar stage of the writers’ lives, approaching the end of the their sixth decade, coping with their passing age, the generational role exchanges and the approximation of death. All these are highly reflected in the themes, recurring motives, symbols and images in both works, as was shown above.
Actually, the books’ characteristics highly correspond to those of the mature phases of creative and psychological development, described in various psychoanalytic theories:
They may be related, for example, to those characteristics described by Heinz Kohut, one of the leading psychoanalysts of the twentieth century: Kohut lists five transformations of 'narcissism' (which he claims to be characteristic of artists in general), relating them to increasing age and achieved maturity28. They are: the acceptance of transience - which Kohut describes as involving the abandonment of feelings of omnipotence and a shift of narcissistic cathexes in favor of 'cosmic narcissism', i.e. "from the self to a participation in a supraindividual, timeless existence", recognizing the finiteness of life and mourning the losses inherent in it (454-456); the capacity for humour - which Kohut associates with a sense of proportion and a touch of irony concerning individual achievement, due to a turn of the cathexis from the self "to the supraindividual ideas and to the world." (458). Kohut stresses that the deepest forms of humour are not necessarily related to grandiosity or elation, but rather to mixed feelings of sadness and melancholy; and "wisdom" - which Kohut sees as an attribute of mature age, related to "man's ability to overcome his unmodified narcissism, and it rests on the acceptance of the limitations of his physical, intellectual and emotional powers." (458) These three transformations, in addition to the two others which Kohut lists - "the ability to be empathic" and "creativity" - correspond very well to the characteristics of the works which were described above.
The books’ features also match Erik Erikson’s description of stages of psychological development throughout life29. The last stage he describes is related to the achievement of ‘integrity’, including the acceptance of mortality, with which both books clearly deal. The books’ characteristics also correspond to Jung’s description of the late phase of psychological development as related to the achievement of ‘wholeness’ and ‘integration’ of the different parts of the psyche. Indeed, both books give expression to various parts of the authors’ psyches - the poetical and the prosaic, the feminine and the masculine, the personal and the public and so on - more than all of their previous works.
More specifically, the books correspond very well to descriptions of the mature phases of creativity:
The psychiatrist Anthony Storr30, for example, who describes the characteristics of creative development at various stages of life, points out those typical of late creativity, starting in the sixth or seventh decade of life, as including: a more intensive look of the artist on his own spirit; the examination of universal, 'ultra-personal' areas of the human experience, which makes the work sometimes unconventional or difficult to understand, and a focus on abstract ideas. Storr stresses the relation of this period to recognition of approaching death, which leads to "a wonderful concentration of consciousness."
Similarly, the psychiatrist Elliot Jacques, who also describes different phases in creative development31, writes that creativity during maturity is characterized by the following: a strengthening of the capacity to accept and tolerate conflict and ambivalence, more serenity, a greater integration within the internal world, a deepening of the sense of reality, a freer interaction between the inner and external worlds, and so on. Jacques also stresses the relation of these changes to the proximity of death.
Some of the developmental characteristics which were discussed above may be relevant to writers in general, namely the effects of aging, approximating death, and so on. Other characteristics, such as the transition from the ‘lyrical’ via the ‘epical’ to the ‘dramatic’, are typical of prose writers. Beyond that, I presume that the extraordinary parallels between the books stems from a very deep resemblance between the authors themselves and their works in general. Of course, a thorough study of this resemblance is beyond the scope of this paper, yet I would only point out that very similar themes recur throughout their entire corpus of works: the struggles between supposedly opposing forces, e.g. man and woman, nature and culture, body and mind and so on - which eventually unite or revealed as equal (mainly in the late works); the urge to give expression to the ‘other’, to the ‘feminine’, to the ‘unconscious’; an interest in the woman’s psyche; dealing with questions of language and style; and many other identical themes and motives.
In conclusion, the fact that these specific works of art highly correspond to general laws of creative development shows us again that the 'particular' is nothing but a part of the 'universal’, just as the books themselves try to show us. However, one should not deny the unique richness and beauty of each of these fascinating literary works.
1 Oz finished writing TSS, which took approximately four years (between 1995-1999), when he was about 59. Joyce finished FW, which took over sixteen years (between 1923-1939), when he was about 58.
2Oz had also supported the publication of the Hebrew version of this article in an Israeli journal of which he was one of the editors; See Alpayim 22 (Tel-Aviv, 2001), pp. 134-180.
3Amos Oz, The Same Sea [Original Title in Hebrew: "Oto Ha-yam"], trans. Nicholas de Lange. (London: Chatto & Windus, 2001). Further references will be cited parenthetically in the text.
4There is even a resemblance in the sexual history of the two women (as described in FW by the washerwomen [pp. 201-204] and in OH by the narrator [25, 123]): their first full sexual relations were with someone older and much more experienced then they were. Before that, both had an experience related to the breaking of an accepted prohibition: ALP had sexual relations with a hermit named Michael. Nadia felt a strange trembling at the sight of her half-naked father. Further, both women's earliest sexual experience, described rather vaguely, is connected with an animal: ALP was licked by a dog, and before that she "lay" under a cow ("a fallow coo" ). Nadia had a vague experience on seeing her brother Michael (!) 'milking' the dog's erection (123).
5See for example Danis Rose and John O'Hanlon, Understanding Finnegans Wake (New York: Garland Publishing, 1982), pp. 230-241.
6According to Rose and O'Hanlon, 292.
7Cited by Seamus Deane in "Introduction." Finnegans Wake (London: Penguin, 1992), xix.
8It is interesting to note that both books were written near the sea. Joyce said about FW: "it is an attempt to subordinate words to the rhythm of water" (JJII 564). Oz wrote OH while he was in Cyprus, not far from the sea, and said: "may be there was something in the simplicity of that place. That verandah with the vine-trellis in the Cyprian mountains. And the pine-trees. The slopes. The ocean from afar. There was something in it that asked for primariness." In an "interview with Ari Shavit", Haaretz (11.12.98, pp. 19-26), p. 26.
9Deane, p. xxviii.
10Oz, for example, said: "There is [in this book] a flirt with post-modernism. I think what fascinated me about it was the matter of 'breaking the rules' and breaking the stiff separating lines between 'before the scenes' and behind the scenes." (The Shavit interview, 26).
11 See Anthony Burgess, Rejoyce (New York: Norton, 1966), p. 198.
12In developing the notion of reconciliation of opposites, Joyce leaned on the ideas of the Italian sixteenth-century philosopher Giordano Bruno, who claimed that supposedly binary principles actually complete each other. Similarly, Oz said: "[in OH] one may find my basic conception of the world, as a person who looks for a way for an uncomfortable reconciliation between different wishes, a person who believes in the tense co-existence of conflicting dreams, which creates non-satisfaction, but non-destruction as well." (The Shavit interview, 26).
13See for example on this subject: Ellen Carol Jones, "Textual Mater: Writing the Mother in Joyce." Joyce: The Return of the Repressed. Ed. Susan Stanford Friedman. (New York: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 257-282; Karen Lawrence, "Joyce and Feminism." The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 237-258; Margot Norris, "Finnegans Wake." The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce. Ed. Derek Attridge. (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 161-184; Susan Friedman Stanford,. "Introduction" and "(Self) Censorship and the Making of Joyce's Modernism." Joyce: The Return of the Repressed. Ed. Susan Friedman Stanford. (New York: Cornell University Press, 1993), pp. 1-20, 21-57.
14Rose and O'Hanlon draw up a table, analyzing the various characteristics of Shem, Shaun and Issy, and the symbols attached to each of them. For example, Shem is associated with a tree (symbolizing growth and change), while Shaun is associated with a stone (symbolizing stability and order); Shem is associated with the mother figure (e.g. in writing the letter for her and letting her speak through his throat), while Shaun is more associated with the father (e.g. when he is blamed for the crime his father committed). Shem represents the attempt to control time (e.g. by creative work), whereas Shaun represents the attempt to control space. This may be applied to Gigi and Dovi as well: Gigi attempts to control space since he deals with real estate business. At the end of the novel, his car is stolen - a symbol for his decline from power. Dovi tries to rise above the dimension of time by his creative efforts, and besides he is prone to disregard the time dimension in every-day affairs, e.g.: "I missed two months of my alimony and today I got a sequestration order in the post plus a call up for the reserves [. . .] besides which I haven't poened my bowels for three days" (162).
15The problem of presenting women characters troubled both writers. Oz for example said: "Women interest me [...] awfully. I would have given one year of my life if I could only be a woman for a month, to find out in what we resemble each other and in what we do not." (The Yeshurun interview, 166). Joyce was also disturbed by the issue, and once recounted a dream in which Molly Bloom, the heroine of Ulysses, blamed him for mis-representing her in his novel (JJII 548-560).
16Joyce wrote for example: "One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot" (Letters, 3, 146).
17The Shavit interview, 22.
18The Shavit interview, 24.
19It should be stressed again that Oz had never read Finnegans Wake (see end-note 1 above).
20n my doctoral dissertation, for example, I lay out the typical developmental patterns of prose writers (as opposed to that of essentially poets). See: Sagit Blumrosen, The Transition of writers from Poetry to Prose Writing: Psychological and Literary Aspects (D. Phil. Diss.;. Jerusalem: Hebrew University, 1999).
21Some researchers claim that Joyce’s work was nearing the ‘dramatic’ at earlier stages already, even in Dubliners (see Blumrosen, 1999, chap. 7), yet it is most significant in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
22In an "interview with Hillit Yeshurun", Chadarim 8 (1989), 172.
23These remarks are usually attributed to Joyce himself. He indeed included similar versions of them in his personal writings, such as the "Paris Notebook" (written in 1903) and the autobiographical piece Stephen Hero (written in 1904-1906).
24Weldon Thornton, The Antimodernism of Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (New York: Syracuse University Press, 1994).
25Boheemen, Christine Van. The Novel as Family Romance (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 1987).
26Oz had already made this distinction several years before, in the Yeshurun interview, 175.
27Oz in an "Oral Interview at Beit Hasofer" (Tel-Aviv, January 1999).
28Kohut, Heinz. "Forms and Transformations of Narcissism." Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association 14 (1966): 243-272.
29See Erik Erikson. Identity and the Life Cycle (New York: International Universities Press, 1959).
30See Anthony Storr. Solitude: A Return to the Self (New York: Free Press, 1988), pp. 139-141.
31Jacques, Elliot. "Death and the mid-life Crisis." International Journal of Psychoanalysis 46 (1965): 502-514.
Received: January 1, 2006, Published: January 1, 2006. Copyright © 2006 Sagit Blumrosen-Sela