The “Nightmare of History” in James Joyce’s Ulysses

  • Roby Evan Record Jehl Vanderbilt University

Abstract

The majority of readers of James Joyce’s Ulysses tend to associate its most famous line, “History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake,” with Stephen Dedalus’s intention in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to overcome his past of rigid national and religious tradition. While this meaning is immediately present in the quote, a closer reading of the text suggests a far more ambitious–and perhaps even vain–impetus behind the identification of history as a nightmare. Additionally, just as the most popular reading has an autobiographical dimension–in which Joyce himself seeks to transcend his own tutelage–so does the alternate reading I present in this essay have implications for both Dedalus and Joyce.

Author Biography

Roby Evan Record Jehl, Vanderbilt University
I am currently an undergraduate student in the College of Arts & Science at Vanderbilt University majoring in Philosophy. My expected graduation year is 2014. I regularly contribute columns, book reviews, and essays to various publications on campus, including AmeriQuests, ORBIS, and the Neon Manifesto.
Published
08-01-2013
How to Cite
RECORD JEHL, Roby Evan. The “Nightmare of History” in James Joyce’s Ulysses. Vanderbilt Undergraduate Research Journal, [S.l.], v. 9, aug. 2013. ISSN 1555-788X. Available at: <http://vurj.vanderbilt.edu/index.php/vurj/article/view/3766>. Date accessed: 21 oct. 2017. doi: https://doi.org/10.15695/vurj.v9i0.3766.
Section
Humanities and Social Sciences

Keywords

Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus, James Joyce