Archaeologies of the Mind: James Joyce’s Ulysses and Pre-Freudian Psychology of the Unconscious
This essay analyses the representation of mental processes in James Joyce’s Ulysses in light of ‘scientific’ or ‘experimental’ psychology, whose impact on the composition of the novel has been quite underestimated. Since concepts such as ‘unconscious cerebration’ and ‘mental latency’, or the theorisation of a close connection between dreams and repression, regularly appeared in nineteenth-century psychological treatises along with discussions of insanity and deranged states of consciousness, these ideas are likely to have made inroads into the cultural milieu in which Ulysses was composed. By analysing the stratified representation of the characters’ minds, this essay attempts to read the novel through a focus on pre-Freudian conceptions of unconscious mental processes and latent memory, and to show that some of the ideas propounded by early psychologists may have provided the substance for Joyce’s understanding of the functioning of consciousness, the unconscious and memory portrayed in Ulysses.
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