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Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Stream of Consciousness in James Joyce’s Novels: A Study in Sentence Lengths by Dr. Sukanya Saha

The Stream of Consciousness in James Joyce’s Novels: A Study in Sentence Lengths by Dr. Sukanya Saha

Fiction at its best has been the representation of life in all its richness and totality since its origin. The presentation of ‘thought’ has a distinctive role in fiction, for it is the thought only through which the ‘imitation of reality’ materialises in speech. In order to make the speech or utterance meaningful, the arrangement of the sequence of words in a sentence should have logic. In syntactic analysis, we generally concentrate on the phenomenon of the arrangement of words into meaningful grammatical structures. The magic of an author depends largely upon the syntactic structures produced by him. The quality of structures used, determine the overall utility and aesthetic value of the piece of writing. Much of the writers’ perspective of life comes alive not only through his selection of words but also their arrangement in appropriate syntactic structures. Syntax in Joyce’s hands has received a novel treatment which has evidently left critics wondering over his ingenuity. The genre which he propagated was unique and revolutionary in many ways and his readers would agree that in order to depict the pre speech levels of thought he could not have done justice with conventional syntactic structures.

The following discussion is an attempt to highlight some sentence lengths which he brought in, in order to project his characters’ thought processes.

The outcomes of Joyce’s innovative linguistic engineering are prevalent throughout his three novels. Each one of them confronts readers with different striking and unconventional sentence structures.

The Stream of Consciousness in James Joyce’s Novels: A Study in Sentence Lengths
While studying Joyce’s sentence lengths, we find that he cares little for the traditional syntactic patterns. For him, even stray, incomplete structures are capable of producing the desired effects, since his prose is far from adhering to the traditional norms of plot, character and setting trio.

In Joyce’s novels, non-normal syntactic order confirms the faithful representation of the random production of the different associated or non-associated ideas produced by the mind of characters. Many sentences in these novels provide testimony to this fact as they display Joyce’s propensity for altering the conventional syntactic pattern and length.

Quirk and Greenbaum in their book A University Grammar of English, give us seven basic clause types. The following table exhibits these clause patterns1. As we observe them, we can understand to what extent Joyce deviates from these well-established norms:
(1) SVA
Mary is in the house.
(2) SVC
Mary is kind /a nurse.
(3) SVO
Somebody caught the ball.
(4) SVOA
I put the plate on the table.
(5) SVOC
We have proved him wrong /a fool.
(6) SVOO
She gives me expensive presents.
(7) SV
The child laughed

Joyce’s manipulations of traditional syntactic lengths stand justified as we pore over Joyce’s attempt at expression in the textual form the most inexpressible aspect of human personality, i.e., ‘thoughts’.

In order to catch the uncontrolled and inconsequential quality of characters’ thoughts, Joyce goes beyond the conventional structure of an English sentence. The cohesive internal organization of the main and subordinate clauses does no longer seem relevant. He trims his sentences abruptly short. They are either just words / phrases with full stops or fragments with one or other clausal element missing. Conversely there are prolonged sentences which take the form of large paragraphs and sometimes we turn a page a two searching a full stop. The analysis of these sentences in terms of main and subordinate clauses or with any conventional tool does not serve the purpose. The nature and purpose of Joyce’s prose requires such experimentation. The key is to observe them in the context and appreciate their significance therein.

1. One word sentences
Often single words and phrases with full stops serve as sentences in between the passages. Such sentences are integral to their contexts. These are often stray ideas scattered in the form of single words or phrases amidst the character’s stream of thought. A few examples include the following:

1. Our. Little. Beggar. Baby. Meant nothing. (U, p. 120)
2. Golden ship. (ibid, p. 349)
3. Cool hands. (ibid, p. 349)
4. I. He . Old. Young. (ibid, p. 349)
5. A thrush. A throstle. (ibid, p. 351)
6. Order. (ibid, p. 351)
7. Echo. (ibid, p. 351)
8. I. Want. You. To. (ibid, p. 369)

Most of such sentences occur during the ‘Sirens’ episode in Ulysses. Bloom, sitting at the Ormond bar, writes a letter to Martha. The noises, people and the overall scenario inside the bar often find expression in the form of stray lexical items or phrases in Bloom’s thoughts. When he sees an object, person or hears some noise, his thoughts give an immediate verbalized expression to the observed phenomenon or reflect upon it in such patterns interrupting the on-going thought.

2. Short sentences
In line with one word sentences, Joyce’s brief statements punctuate the stream of the character’s thoughts and feelings. Such sentences often record the character’s immediate reflections upon his present surroundings and are not a part of a prolonged thought process. They sometimes occur amidst the character’s ponderings over something, pausing the character’s spontaneous thought process to take account of the surroundings. The best illustrations of short sentences can be found in A Portrait, where Joyce employs such sentences (mainly SVA, SVC, SVO patterns) to depict the thoughts of Stephen, which present him as a small and sensitive child. Being a child, he does not indulge in prolonged ponderings. His reflections over his observations in his surroundings are very elementary in terms of vocabulary and syntactic patterns:

1. When you wet the bed first it is warm then it gets cold. His mother put on the oilsheet. That had the queer smell (AP, p. 7)
2. His mother had a nicer smell than his father. She played on the piano the sailor’s hornpipe for him to dance. (ibid, p.7)
3. The Vances lived in number seven. They had a different father and mother. They were Eileen’s father and mother (ibid, p. 7)
4. Rody Kickham was a decent fellow but Nasty Roche was a stink. Rody Kickham had greaves in his number and a hamper in the refectory. Nasty Roche had big hands. He called the Friday pudding dog- in- blanket. (ibid, p. 8)
5. The face and voice went away. Sorry because he was afraid. Afraid that it was some disease. Canker was a disease of plants and cancer one of animals: or another different. That was a long time ago when out on the grounds in the evening light, creeping from point to point on the fringe of his line, a heavy bird flying low through the grey light. Leicester Abbey lit up. Wolsey died there. The abbots buried him themselves (ibid, p.22)

These short sentences are here expressing that how the sensory objects affect the child’s mind. The objects and people, among whom he resides, are the only occupiers of his mind. Apart from this child’s limited linguistic complexity is also reflected. As his thoughts are simple, so words and sentences are simple too. There is no subordination or co- ordination involved in the sentences; however the sentences are grammatically complete.

3. Sentence fragments used as sentences
Abundant sentence fragments in the interior monologues of his characters are expressive of the character’s random associations and have been attempts at giving a sentential structure, but there are large semantic gaps prevalent in them. These are syntactically incomplete, for example, noun phrases have no verbs, verbs have no subjects, objects lack subject and verb both etc. Hence, the structural and semantic connections between these sentences cannot be established by supplying simple conjuncts or by any other means. These fragments are actually juxtapositions of stray ideas. Some examples are quoted here:

1. Pick the bones clean no matter who it was. Ordinary meat for them. A corpse is meat gone bad. Well and what’s cheese? Corpse of milk. I read in that Voyages in China that the Chinese say a white man smells like a corpse. Cremation better. Priests dead against it. Devilling for the other firm. Wholesale burners and Dutch over dealers. Time of plague. Quicklime fever pits to eat them. Lethal chamber. Ashes to ashes. Or bury at sea. (U, p. 145)
2. The Malaga raisins. Thinking of Spain. Before Rudy was born. The phosphorescence, that bluey greeny. Very good for brain. (ibid, p. 190)
3. Hello, placard. Mirus bazaar. His excellency the lord lieutenant. Sixteenth today it is. In aid of fund for Mercer’s hospital. The Messiah was first given for that. Yes Handel. What about going out there. Ballsbidge. Drop in on keys. (ibid, p. 233)

However, a kind of thematic unity between the sentence fragments within a single paragraph is also sometimes evident, but most of the time these fragmentary structures depict the divergent thoughts of the characters. There are sudden leaps from one idea, observation or thought to another and they lead to no substantial conclusion about the character’s ponderings. The first set of sentence fragments quoted here, presents Bloom’s thoughts when he attends Paddy Dignam’s funeral and then pays a short visit to Parnell’s grave. Although in the sentence fragments, there is a lack of a systematic development of ideas but, the theme of funeral underlies the fragments, as the words, “corpse”, “cremation”, “priests”, “burners”, “ashes” bind the flowing thoughts. There are many instances in Ulysses where any unified theme is difficult to decipher through the fragments, since they are often mere babblings of the soliloquiser which generally has not been given a formal pattern.

4. Long but unshaped sentences
Joyce has his own ways of stretching or prolonging his sentences. He would add phrases or clauses one after another and join them by a weak and vague conjunction ‘and’. Joyce would also put several phrases together having parallel structures. He forms sentences that sometimes extend up to not only large paragraphs but also exceed pages.  Joyce’s long but unshaped sentences are roughly of the following types:

1. Strings joined with ‘and’
2. Use of the series of parallel structures
3. Paragraph long sentences
4. Page long sentences
5. Dissociated sentence parts in longer sentences
6. Long series of adjectives qualifying single nouns

4.1. Strings joined with ‘and’
Joyce joins many sentence strings with ‘and’. These sentence strings are grammatically complete and represent various ideas occurring inside the character’s brain. The ideas which are compiled in such single long sentences could have been written separately in several distinct sentences having a formal pattern of the traditional narrated prose, but Joyce employs such sentences to depict the spontaneous flow of thoughts. A few examples are the following (bolds mine):

1. He told Stephen that his name was Athy and that his father kept a lot of race horses that were stiffing jumpers and that his father would give a good tip to Brother Michael anytime he wanted it because Brother Michael was very decent and always told him the news out of the paper they got everyday up in the castle. (AP, p. 25)
2. He thought of his own father of how he sang songs while his mother played and of how he always gave him a shilling when he asked for sixpence and he felt sorry for him that he was not a magistrate like the other boy’s father. (ibid, p.26)
3. And he saw a long Roman candle going up over the trees up, up, and, in the tense hush, they were all breathless with excitement as it went higher and higher and she had to lean back more and more to look up after it, high, high almost out of sight, and her face was suffused with a divine, an entrancing blush for straining back and he could see her other things too, nainsook knickers, the fabric that caresses the skin, better than those other pettiwidth, the green four and eleven, on account of being white and she let him and she saw that he saw and then it went so high it went out of sight a moment and she was trembling in every limb from being bent so far back he had a full view high up above her knee no-one ever not even on the swing or wading and she wasn’t ashamed and he wasn’t either to look in that immodest way like that because he couldn’t resist the sight of the wondrous revealment half offered like those skirtdancers behaving so immodest before gentleman looking and he kept on looking, looking. (U, p. 477)

The first two sentences are the part of child Stephen’s stream of consciousness. In the first sentence we find that he is reporting what a boy called Athy told him while introducing himself to him. Being sick, he has been admitted to the infirmary. He there gets acquainted with Athy and then Athy tells him about his own father. Thus, whatever Athy told him takes the shape of a long syntax where different ideas about Athy’s father have been tied one with each other. Similarly in the next sentence, child Stephen thinks about his parents and the thoughts flow one after another joined with ‘and’. The third sentence has been taken from the ‘Nausicaa’ chapter of Ulysses. After the tensions of the entire day, Bloom is now in a relaxed mood. He observes the movements of the lady called, Gerty Mc Dowell. He is provided with an unexpected relief by that sight and dozes off. The style of this sentence in his interior monologue represents the constant tendency to sink from the fantasy levels of consciousness towards the mundane and vulgar. Bloom admires the lady at a discreet distance. There is a firework display on the horizon, during which his gaze if fixed on Gerty. Thus, the sentence carries Bloom’s unconscious or dreamy descriptions of Gerty’s movements and many short strings have been joined with ‘and’ as the thoughts about Gerty and his own desires have been woven together.

4.2. Use of the series of parallel phrase structures
Joyce lays many phrases together which have parallel or similar structures, separating them either by commas or by the conjuncts like and, that etc. or sometimes none of them in-between. Such long sentences can be seen as the depiction of the act of recalling. During the process of recalling, mind often tends to list and then put the objects, persons or ideas in a particular order and in a uniform pattern. Thus, the human mind places a particular phenomenon in line with the other things with which that has been attempted to be recalled in the similar pattern and the sentence is dragged till the process of recalling ends.

We often find the reduplication of the lexical items in such parallel structures, as Joyce has a strong liking for mocking names, for example, “Sindabad the Sailor and Tinbad the Tailor and Jinbad the Jailor and Whinbad the Whaler and Ninbad the Nailer and Finbad the Failer and Binbad the Bailer and Pinbad the Pailer and Minbad the Mailer and Hinbad the Hailer and Rinbad the Railer and Dinbad the Kailer and Vinbad the Quailer and Linbad the Yailer and Xinbad the Phthailer” (U, p.871).

John Porter Houston writes about this particular sentence that, “This provides the sense of irrational drift while adhering to the principle of repeating the same device, modified at the appropriate point, that informs much of ‘Ithaka’; looseness of sense joins with formal coherence.”2

Following are a few examples of the co-occurrence of a number of parallel phrases within a single sentence:
1. He saw not Bronze. He saw not gold. Nor Ben nor Bob nor Tom nor Si nor George nor Tanks nor Richie nor Pat. Hee hee hee. He did not see. (U, p. 375)
2. And there sat with him the high sinhedrim of the twelve tribes of Iar, for every tribe one man, of the tribe of Patrick and of the tribe of Hugh and of the tribe of Owen and of the tribe of Conn and of the tribe of Oscar and of the tribe of Finn and of the tribe of Dermont and of the tribe of Conmac and of the tribe of Kevin and of the tribe of Caolte and of the tribe of Ossian, there being in hall twelve good men and true.  (ibid, p. 419)
3. Martin Cunningham (in bed), Jack power (in bed), Simon Dedalus (in bed), Tom Kernan (in bed), Ned Lambert (in bed), Joe Hynes (in bed), John Henry Menton (in bed), Bernard Corrigan (in bed), Pasty Dignam (in bed), Paddy Dignam (in the grave).  (ibid, p. 827)
4. In the ignorance that implies impression that knits knowledge that finds the namform that whets that convey contacts that sweeten sensation that drives desire that adheres to attachment that dogs death that bitches birth that entails the ensuance of existentiality. (FW, p.18)

4.3. Paragraph long sentences
Study of the length of sentences in Joyce’s novels brings many surprises. There are instances in these novels where a sentence is so long that it forms a complete paragraph. There is no full stop in between. The spontaneous thoughts are joined by commas or other marks of punctuation. Examples are the following:

1. For nonperishable goods brought of Moses Herzgog, of 13 Saint Kevin’s parade, Wood quay ward, merchant, hereinafter called the vendor, and sold and delivered to Michael E. Geraghty, Esquire, of 29 Arbour Hill in the city of Dublin, Arran quay ward gentleman, hereinafter called purchaser, Vedelicet, five pounds avoirdupois of first choice tea at three shillings per pound avoirdupois and three stone avoirdupois of sugar, crushed crystal, at three pence per pound avoirdupois, the said purchaser debtor to the said vendor of one pound five shillings and six pence sterling for value received which amount shall be paid by said purchaser to said vendor in weekly installments every seven calendar days of three shillings and no pence sterling: and the said nonperishable goods shall not be pawned or pledged or sold or otherwise alienated by the said purchaser but shall be and remain and be held to be the sole and exclusive property of the said vendor to be disposed of at his good will and pleasure until the said amount shall have been duly paid by the said purchaser to the said vendor in the manner herein set forth as this day nearby agreed between the said vendor and his heirs, successors, trustees and assigns of the one part and the said purchaser, his heir successors, trustees and assigns of the other part. (U, p. 377)
2. And by that way went the herds innumerable of bellwethers and flushed ewes and shearling rams and lambs and stubble geese and medium steers and roaring mares and polled calves and longwools and storesheep and cuffe’s prime springers and culls and sowpigs and baconhogs and various different varieties of highly distinguished swine and Angus heifers and polly bullocks of immaculate pedigree together with prime premiated milch cows and beeves: and there is ever heard a trampling cackling, roaring, lowing, bleating, bellowing, rumbling, grunting, champing, chewing, of sheep and pigs and heavy hooved kine from pasturelands of Lush and Rush and Carrickmines and from the streamy vales of Thomond, from M ‘Gillicuddy’s reeks the inaccessible and lordly Shannon the unfathomable, and from the gentle declivities of the place of the race of Kiar, their udders distended with superabundance of milk and butts of butter and rennets of cheese and farmer’s firkins and targets of lamb and crannocks of corn and oblong eggs in great hundreds, various in size, the agate with the dun. (ibid, p. 380)

In such kind of sentences, Joyce captures the thought in its fullness, i.e. providing every single detail of that thought altogether in a spontaneous manner. He portrays all the fleeting impressions of which that particular thought is composed of. Both these sentences have been taken from the ‘Cyclops’ chapter of Ulysses. He takes great care in the composition of these sentences, so that they might appear to be formless but actually have an intricate pattern. He thus depicts the random association of ideas through such sentences.

These long sentences have been constructed with long series of nouns or verbs which have been joined with commas. There is also a repeated use of the conjunction ‘and’. Apart from this, he does not hesitate to repeat a chosen structure a number of times to stretch the sentence.

There is an extensive use of same syntactic structures in the first sentence, for example, “hereinafter called the vendor”, “Arran quay ward, gentleman, hereinafter called the purchaser”, “three pence per pound , said purchaser”, “said vendor”, “said nonperishable goods” etc. Such repetitions lengthen the sentences. The flow of thoughts about purchasing of goods, vendors, prices of goods and their weights echo in the mind of Bloom. In the second sentence a long series of the names animals has been presented, “… flushed ewes and shearling rams and lambs and stubble geese and medium steers and roaring mars and polled calves and longwools and storesheep…” All the noun phrases have been joined by ‘and’ here and also we have a repeated pattern of phrases. Joyce continues the statement to encompass the different activities if these animals (tramping, clacking, roaring, lowing, bleating, bellowing, rumbling, grunting, champing, chewing) and also the food prducts procured from them, “superabundance of  milk and butts of butter and rennets of cheese…” and much more whatever comes into Bloom’s mind while thinking of these animals within this single long sentence. Hence, in such long sentences many associated or unassociated ideas or elements have been combined and put together.

4.4. Page long sentences
Many sentences in Finnegans Wake fall in the page long category. These sentences are so long that they are just not confined to a single paragraph; rather they cover two or three pages till they reach to an end. Such sentences rarely occur in speech.  Fritz Senn3 have done a comprehensive study of the Wake sentences. He categorizes sentences on the basis of their grammaticality, understandability and acceptability. He says that a large part of Wake sentences are ungrammatical due to unusual lengths and many other deviant grammatical usages, difficult to understand due to morphemic distortions, and therefore unacceptable too. About such page long sentences he says that they demand too much from memory, i.e. so many ideas are piled together that the reader tends to forget the previous idea as he proceeds further in the sentence. These sentences however can be understood by working out their parts on paper or in mental repose. Senn talks of the following sentences from the text:

Following sentence travels from an uncertain start on page 287 to a kind of finish on page 292:
… when as the swiftshut scareyss of our pupilteachertaut duplex will hark back to lark to you symibellically that, though a day be as dense as a decade, no mouth has the might to set a mearbound to the march of a landmaul, in half a sylb, helf a solb, holf a salb onward the beast of boredom, common sense, lurking gyrographically down inside his loose eating S.S. collar is gogoing of whisth to you sternly how- Plutonic love liaks twinnt Platonic yearlings- you must, how, in undivided reawlity draw the line somewhere)

The second sentence is one of the twelve questions in Shaun the post, which runs from page 126 to page 139 is another example:
What secontone myther rector and maximost bridges maker was the first to rise taller through his beanstale then the bluegum buaboababbaum or the giganteous wellingtonia Squoia;

Wake sentences thus, can be described in many ways as the deviations from the rules syntax to a large extent. Joyce puts words in an aberrant order or pattern and alters syntax and lexis largely to depict the speech of dreams. Such page long sentences also compose Molly Bloom’s famous eighty pages long soliloquy in Ulysses. There are eight sentences in this interior monologue but there is no punctuation mark in them so there is some kind of uncertainty about the beginning and ending of these sentences.

Further, in this context we can observe ‘Attributive Sentence’ too. A critic of Joyce called, Liisa Dahl in her article “The Linguistic Presentation of the Interior Monologue in James Joyce’s Ulysses”, introduces the concept of ‘Attributive Sentence’ in the following manner:

An attributive sentence grows through loose modifiers which join in without a fixed plan. Additions can be made to it in the order in which associations arise in the mind, because there is no definite pattern to which a new word should conform. The connection between the parts of a sentence is “half open”. There is usually a grouping round the subject which is the starting point but there is no fixed termination4.

Liisa quotes the following passage from Ulysses in support of the argument:
Yes because he never did a thing like that before as asked to get his breakfast in bed with a couple of eggs since the City Arms hotel when he used to be pretending to be laid up with a sick voice doing his highness to make himself interesting to that old faggot Mrs. Riordan that he thought he had a great leg of and she never let us a farthing all for masses for herself and her soul greatest miserever was actually afraid to lay out 4 d for her methylated spirit telling me all her ailments…(p. 871)

Attributive structure is another mean through which Joyce depicts the random associations of ideas and such random associations extend the sentences. As stated by Liisa, there is a central object around which the thoughts revolve. The connections between the parts of the sentences cannot be established since they are so varying, but the central object often remains intact. In the passage quoted above, Molly associates many facts about Bloom randomly as she ponders upon their relationship as husband and wife. She keeps on adding her ideas about him one after another without any pauses and the sentence is lengthened.

4.5. Dissociated sentence parts in longer sentences
One more remarkable characteristic found in the sentences of the interior monologues of Joyce’s characters is that sentence parts in such sentences are put in a most casual and haphazard manner. These sentence parts are distantly associated with each other, i.e. there is a lack of the principle of cause and effect relationship in them so they lead to no substantial conclusion about the message they want to convey. In other words, while reading them we get the impression that these haphazardly put sentence parts belong to several other different sentences and they have been piled up together. As a result, the sentences are long and intricate. Ideas in them are sometimes intricately fused together and hence, such sentences yield a confused reading.
Following are a few examples:

1. Windy night that was I want to fetch her there was that lodge meeting on about those lottery tickets after Goodwin’s concert in the supper room or Oakroom of the mansion house. (U, p. 197)
2. After all there’s a lot in that vegetarian fine flavour of things from the earth garlic, of course, it stinks Italian organgrinders crisp of onions, mushroom truffles. (ibid, p. 217)
3. Besides there was absolution so long as you didn’t do the other thing before being married and there ought to be woman priest that would understand without your telling out and Cissy Caffrey too sometimes had that dreamy kind of dreamy look  in her eyes so that she too, my dear, and Winny Rippingham so mad about actors’ photographs and besides it was on account of that other thing coming on the way it did.  (ibid, p. 476)

In these sentences we find that various ideas have been compressed together and they depict the immediacy in the character’s mind for the verbalization of a particular set of thoughts occurring together. The first and second sentences here can be rearranged in the following manner:

1. That was a windy night. I went there to fetch her. A lodge meeting about the lottery tickets after Goodwin concert was on, in the supper room or Oakroom of the mansion house.
2. After all there is a lot fine flavour in vegetarian things, in crisp of onions and mushroom truffles. Garlic of course stinks like Italian organgrinders.

In the first sentence we find that how more than one thought about Molly intervene Bloom’s thought process and in the second sentence Joyce attempts to create an image of a hungry man’s consciousness. He detests the sight of restaurants where customers are guzzling coarse food and the sight of the killing of poor, trembling calves, their raw meat and bloody bones. Hence ultimately he finds the vegetarian food to be much better. These ideas are jumbled up in his verbalized thought.

The third sentence is also a piling up of many ideas. These sentences however can be understood in their respective contexts as they are the muddled impressions of what a character observes or thinks in or about his surroundings.

4.6. Long series of adjectives modifying a single noun
Joyce introduces a long series of modifiers, both normal and deviant to qualify a single noun. All these modifiers present a pen portrayal of the object or phenomenon which is being qualified. Following are a few examples (italics mine):

1. -O, the night in the Camden hall when the daughters of Erin had to left their skirts to step over you as you lay in your mulberrycoloured, multicoloured, multitudinous vomit!  (ibid, p. 279)
2. The figure seated on a large boulder at the foot of a round tower was that of a broadshouldered deepchested stronglimbed frankeyed redhaired freelyfreckled shaggybearded widemouthed largenosed longheaded deepvoiced barekneed brawnyhanded hairylegged ruddyfaced sinewyarmed hero.  (U, p.382)
3. York and savoy, and trays of onions, pearls of earth, and punnets of mushrooms and custard marrows and fat vetches and bere and red green yellow brown russet sweet big bitter ripe pomellated apples.  (ibid, p.379-80)
4. Elijah is coming washed in the blood of the Lamb. Come on, you winefizzling, ginsizzling, booseguzzling existences! Come on, you doggone, bullocknecked, beetelebrowed, hogjowled, peanutbrained, weaseleyed fourflushers, falsealarms and exessbaggage!   (ibid, 561)

In these examples we find both types of adjectives: simple as well as compound. In the first and second examples, Joyce has omitted commas in between the modifiers order to project the immediacy of articulation of the soliloquizer’s impressions about a particular spectacle. The first sentence consists of a series of sixteen compound modifiers. Most of them are new coinages. The statement belongs to the ‘Cyclops’ chapter of Ulysses. The scene is set in the Barney Kiernan’s bar. This series of modifiers are qualifying a ‘hero’ who is present in the bar at that moment. All these modifiers are the products of Bloom’s observation of that fellow. These give us a kind of pen portrait of that hero whose description in Bloom’s interior monologue however does not end even here, rather takes two complete paragraphs further.

Such series of modifiers delay the noun which is modified. These unconscious releases from the mind indicate a prolonged thought process or pondering. Sometimes we also find the repetition of the same adjective a number of times. This kind of repetition expresses the emphasis which the mind gives to the object while articulating:

(He rushes against the mauve shade of flapping noisily) Pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty pretty petticoats.    (ibid, 634)

To conclude this discussion the length of the sentences here, we can say that by employing different methods to convey the immediate verbalization of the content of the mind, Joyce seems to suggest that language is the raw material, it is a kind of tool in our hands with which we can express the psychic content, which is quite inexpressible effectively by any other mean. We need to learn however, to ‘use’ language in various ways so that it conveys aptly what we want. Joyce has mastered this use that is why his presentation of the psychic content is so effective and convincing. Apart from all these linguistic features discussed above, in order to portray the continuity of the thought process, i.e. the ‘flow’, he employs the following more such striking syntactic innovations. These sentences are actually long chain of associations tied to each other by different grammatical means:

(a) Lengthening of sentence by a series of genitive phrases:

1. What, reduced to their simplest reciprocal form, where Bloom’s thoughts about Stephen’s thoughts about Bloom and Bloom’s thoughts about Stephen’s thoughts about Bloom’s thoughts about Stephen? (U, 797)
2. ’ Tis as human a little story as paper could well carry, in affect, as singing so salaman susuing to swittvitles while as unbluffingly blurtubruskblunt as an Esra, the cat, the cat’s meeter, the meeter’s cat’s wife, the meeter’s cat’s wife’s half better, the meeter’s cat’s wife’s half better’s meter, and so back to our horses…(FW, 116)
(b) Lengthening of sentence by prepositions:
1. Till tree from tree, tree among trees, tree over tree become stone to stone, stone between stones, stone under stone for ever.   (FW, 259)
(c) Lengthening of sentence by repetition:
1. He thought that he thought that he was a jew whereas he knew that he knew that he knew that he was not.    (U, 797)
To conclude, Joyce expands the sphere of English language by incorporating various deviant as well as innovative syntactic structures in his novels. He sought to recreate an impression of the mental processes with a new approach and an original style, which evidently has found no match.

1. Radolf Quirk, Sidney Greenbaum, A University Grammar of English (Delhi: Pearson Education Pvt. Ltd., 2003) 167.

2. John Porter Houston, Joyce and Prose: An Exploration of the language of Ulysses (Lewisburg: Bucknell University Press, 1989) 159.

3. Fritz Senn (ed.) New Light on Joyce: From the Dublin Symposium (Bloomington & London: Indiana University Press, 1972) 66-72.

4. Liisa Dahl, “The Linguistic Presentation of the Interior Monologue in James Joyce’s Ulysses”, James Joyce quarterly 7.2(1970) 115.

Dr. Sukanya Saha, Ph D, was a lecturer with Amrita School of Engineering, Amrita Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Bengaluru and other institutions. She occasionally contributes writing on various literary topics .

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