Wednesday, July 28, 2021

James Joyce, defecation, and menstruation in Doris Lessing's "The Golden Notebook"

After Anna Wulf in Doris Lessing's "The Golden Notebook" refers to James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake" in her "red notebook" as a novel "about the breakdown of language", she later refers to Joyce again in her "blue notebook" when she tries to record everything that happens in one day. When she gets her period that morning, she is reminded of "Ulysses": "When James Joyce described his man in the act of defecating, it was a shock." Joyce's description is neutral: Leopold Bloom "allowed his bowels to ease themselves quietly as he read." But as Joyce introduced this ordinary experience into fiction, Lessing here introduces a woman's experience of menstruation into her novel. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 28 July 2021)

No comments: