Repetition and Circularity in Joyce and Vico

  • Barry Stocker Istanbul Technical University
Keywords: Joyce, Vico, Philosophy and Literature, Philosophy of History, Epic and Novel


The paper examines the ways in which Joyce’s novel Finnegans Wake is the repetition of Vico’s Enlightenment philosophical classic the New Science. If there is repetition then there is a circle of some kind in which each text leads into the other. Each of these texts makes an issue of both repetition and circularity. In the case of Vico, these apply to history, while in the case of Joyce these refer to the construction of his novel. The argument is that the repetition and circularity these texts deal with is repetition with change. This provides a way of understanding the relation between the texts. Finnegans Wake is not the illustrative repetition of the New Science. The New Science is an important structuring source for Finnegans Wake, but not a complete and final schema. Joyce creates a flow which flattens out the historical stages articulated by Vico.


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