Concealing Dalkey Hill: Evasion and Parallax in "Nausicaa"

T.S. Eliot declared that Ulysses was a masterpiece because it demonstrated the futility of all prior literary styles. Indeed, the episodes of "Oxen of the Sun" and "Aeolus" could be taken as challenging primers on English style and rhetoric. This kaleidoscopic potential is seemingly reduced to a stark black-and-white vision in "Nausicaa." As many critics have pointed out, Joyce stylizes Gerty MacDowell's half of the narrative with a saccharine veneer which euphemizes her sexual encounter (itself a distanced and euphemized rendezvous) with Bloom. The first-time reader and seasoned critics alike are led into sneering at Gerty behind the safety of the author's overt critique of her superficiality; only when Joyce reveals the psychological origin of her constant evasion - her lame leg, a condition which is only hinted at until Bloom notices it post-climax - are the first seeds of pity sown in the reader's mind. The audience's appreciation of Gerty's "defect" grows "ten times worse" (301) in light of Bloom's uncharacteristically cavalier and scurrilous attitude towards a fellow outsider in which he, too, is guilty of his own brand of sexual evasion. As the...

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