The synaesthetic response to language in Ulysses is unparalleled. Generally meaning is created through language, but in Joyce language is the meaning. It is entirely for this reason that those unfamiliar with the processes whereby language is turned upside down to create meaning find it difficult to read Ulysses, The processes by which language itself becomes meaning must be explored. An attempt has to be made to evolve a critical approach for the study of literary texts like Ulysses where the syntax of language becomes the image of the literary form. Any book which attempts to study the syntactic organization, the rich variety of sentence patterns in’ the novel, should be ‘welcome. The volume under review can also be taken as symptomatic of the narrowing gap between a purely critical study according to the norms of literary theory and a purely language based study of literary works. A purely language based study relying heavily on linguistic or stylistic principles, has not gained much currency.
But this aspect can no longer be ignored. Language is the medium of all literature; or to put it the other way round, all literature finds its sensibility’ articulated in and through language. The study of the language of a text should be of utmost importance and all other aspects should then follow. The principles of creativity in literature have been viewed from the philosophical, psychological and other perspectives, but it is also worthwhile to study what creativity does to language—or to find out the linguistic principles of creativity in language.
Throughout Gottfried’s book there are references to Lindley Murray’s English Grammar’, and the quote frequently referred to is:
The third part of grammar is syntax, which shows the agreement and right disposition or words in a sentence. A sentences is an assemblage of words, expressed in proper order, and concurring to make a complete sense.
He develops his arguments contrary to Lindley Murray’s opinion that the syntactically ordered sentences make a complete sense. He quotes a syntactically unordered apology to Murray from Ulysses:
He then recollected the morning littered tied etcetra and the book about Ruby with met him pike hoses in it which must have fell down sufficiently appropriately besides the domestic chamberpot with apologies to Lindley Murray.
Gottfried argues that the order of syntax does not make a complete sense. He implicitly realizes the dynamic potential of language—and that the ordered language conveys only stereotyped attitudes. The subtle and complex individual emotions and impulses need a language somewhat different from a ‘grammatically correct’ one. The entire book, in fact, emphasizes only this single point—that the Joycean grammatical language is serving exactly those functions of communications which it is intended to serve.
The book has six chapters. Chapter-I—’Joycean Syntax as Appropriate Order’—draws attention to the grammatically strange constructions which one confronts in Ulysses. One may find sentences with a ‘scrambled’ order, or examples of ‘displacement’, or of ‘reordering’, of the grammatical categories. Joyce is indulging in syntactic license to find an ‘appropriate’ order of words to convey the complex, individual sensibility of his characters. The syntactic license occurs against the background of a syntactic order giving, thus, two types of syntactic constructions: the syntactically ‘closed’ sentences (the one’s regulated by the accepted norms of gram- mar), and the one’s syntactically’ open (the one’s constructed free from the constraints of grammar). A degree in range from the ‘closed’ sentences to the ‘open’ sentences can be established i.e. sentences ranging from the fully grammatical to the minimally grammatical ones. There is a kind of norm set by the syntactically ordered constructions, and then there is a deviance from the norm by using ‘open’ sentences. The open sentences are marked by freedom and variety, and form an avenue for exploring newer syntactic possibilities to articulate the particular human experiences. Using Gottfried’s words, such language begins to ‘enact’ meaning.
Chapter II—’Syntax: Principles of Contexts and Dialectic’ further develops the concept of the syntactic norm and the deviation from the norm. This two-fold principle in Joycean sentences yields a tension between the syntactic order and the deviated/expressive forms. The tension enriches the communicative intent. Gottfried rules out the study of Joycean sentences from the perspective of the Transformational Generative Grammar for the reason that transformational rules alone cannot account for the tension between the ordered sentences and the disordered sentences at the surface level. Moreover the Joycean sentences are meant for reading and not for reflecting. Just as every language has its intrinsic laws, Joyce uses a language ‘with a syntax in opposition whose principles are analogous to those in operation in the world’. This syntax in opposition is depicted by the language used for speaking and thinking by the characters. The differences in the personalities of the characters are evident in their use of language. For example Stephen’s language in Ulysses is rhetorically balanced and polished, whereas Bloom’s sentences are loose and depict the process of an unrestrained imagination. So Joyce’s language in Ulysses has the ‘appropriate order’ for articulating the complex experiences of the character.
Chapter III— ‘Order as Patterns’—implicitly emphasizes the potential of variability and changeability in language which reflect the dynamic aspect of language in society. Though language is a shared code, each individual in society uses different words and constructions for different functions. Language when used functionally can take different lexical, phonological and even syntactic shapes, and of course all these deviations occur with the shared noun as the base. This particular phenomenon of language has been exploited by Joyce in his novels and Gottfried finds ‘Joyce’s language as ‘functionally useful’. Joyce’s language begins to have its own syntactic organizations depending on the functions it is made to serve. Gottfried has not attempted a classification of the functional types which may be subject enough for another book. He does give some examples of Joyce’s recreated patterns. For example, in Ulysses, a prefix can be strung out in a pattern: multicoloured multiform multitudinous garments. An example of visual repetition as well of rhythmic and morphemic patterning is: man less moonless womoonless marsh. At times the grammar of the sentences is affected by the mimetic, representational and expressive function of the language. For example hair is described mimetically as Wavyavyeavyheavyeavyevyevy; the language also enacts Stephen’s thoughts of distance; Wayawayawayawayawayaway; also the act of Bloom’s chewing is replicated in the sentence: I munched hum un thu un chester Bunk’ un Munchday. There are many other examples in this chapter which show that language when made to express a host of realities of experience comes up with a whole lot of strange grammatical constructions. Language in its expressive functions articulates or enacts experience.
Chapter IV— ‘Potential Order as Entelechy’—emphasizes the syntactic movement resulting from a potential order. Many sentences in Ulysses though are fragmented are made to look as wholes-for in their incompleteness their completeness can be predicted. Entelechy, a term from Aristotle’s Metaphysica, has been used to depict motion, or the patterns of language which can predict the missing part in the sentence for example, What perfume does your? is an entelechic sentence: it is more ‘open’ and abrupt, it suggests that something has to follow, and the syntax of the sentence shows that a noun and a transitive verb must follow. The entelechic sentences can be viewed as potentials having the possibilities of various lexical realizations. The use of such sentences has given Joyce much freedom to enact the reality of experience of his characters. The characters via the expressive and suggestive entelechic sentences live out life.
Chapter V— ‘Appropriate Freedom and Variety’— focuses on the point that syntax when freed from order permits particularity rather than generality and predictability. The open language conveys unique, specific meanings which the closed sentences fail to do. Joyce’s expressive language is based on words open to all kinds of possibilities. It is the appropriate freedom in language that articulates the specific events, impulses, emotions and experiences of life. In Ulysses the uniqueness of each character is maintained by the appropriateness of language, unique and undetermined. Ordinary ordered or closed language denotative and referential, i.e. it embodies the rational, deductive, general and universal aspects of human experience, and it enacts the processes of the physical world. Joycean open language is unique, it embodies the inductive, even rational, specific and the synaesthetic aspects of human experience. Bloom thinking about his former happiness observes:
Was that I? Or am I now I? For expressive purposes here the personal pronoun is free from patterns. Such freedoms abound in Ulysses but only against the background of the ordered language. Gottfried also gives only one example of a ‘Melange of dialects’, i.e’ many dialects of English get jumbled up in a single character’s speech. For example:
Waiting guvnor? Most deciduously. Bet your boots on … Lil chile vely solly, Ise de catest colour coon down our side. Gawds teruth, Chawley… We are nae fou. We’re nae the fou. Au reservoir, Mossoo. Tanks you.
This speech is a mixture of dialects: southern negro, Ise de cutest; Cockney English, guvnor; pidgin English, Lit chile. Other languages are also mixed here: Scottish We’re nae tha fou; and French, ‘Au reservoir’. This phenomenon of code-mixing is an essential linguistic trait of the modern sensibility. Because distances have shortened, and increased mobility across regions, the modern sensibility hence has become bi-multilingual. These bi-multilingual cross cultural traits get manifested in language. Joyce is extremely sensitive to this contemporary feature of language, and he has used it to build a plurality of particulars. This aspect of language should have been investigated in more detail for in Joyce there are numerous examples of the bilingual sensibility manifested in unique syntactic constructions as a result of the fusion of different dialects/languages, In Ulysses the ordered or the ‘closed’ language accounts for the mimetic precision of surface realities; the ‘free’ language, on the other hand, accounts for the ambiguity and the· mystery of life.
In Chapter VI—’Appropriate Order as Controlled Meaning’—meaning is shown to follow from the unique expressive syntactic forms. The unique expressive syntactic patterns concern directly the texture of human life. The struggle of the characters in Ulysses is replicated in the expressive forms. The meanings generated by the ‘free’ sentences are analogous to real life meanings. The meanings generated are not fixed but are ‘organic’, i.e. the meanings of the sentences are more than the referential meanings, and sentences coming together in a chain further organically modify the meanings. This chapter is not well-supported by examples.
The book is meant’ for a limited readership. It is of interest for the language analysts of literature. There have been two approaches to language per se. One approach views language and linguistic studies as the study of the abstract systems of language, the kind of system that takes the ‘closed’ order as its ideal. The second approach views language in terms of its functions and it takes the ‘open’ system as its ideal. The latter approach views language as potentially dynamic entity. Joyce has exploited this dynamism of language for creative purposes. Gottfried has been able to prove this point implicitly. It would have been more creditable if some form of classification of the various functional types of sentences in Ulysses could have been made. The book also assumes that its readers know the traditional syntax, and the syntactic categories of the examples of violations from the norm are mentioned casually. Any study of syntax is expected to give much more weightage to the grammatical category descriptions. Theoretically the book is acceptable, but in treatment there are numerous repetitions of the concept of appropriateness, and a proof for the same is also not well established.
Further, the literary phenomena is illuminated and circumscribed by the dialectic between the text and the reader. In a way the effect to be produced on the reader may also be viewed as a target. In the communication chain the means are merely means, the target is the perception of the reader. Gottfried quotes Jung on Ulysses: ‘You say nothing, and you reveal nothing, 0 Ulysses, but you work an effect’. Language when made non-referential sometimes becomes void of worldly meanings; however it is never void of rich connotational effect. It is for the analyst critic to explore devices exploited by the mastermind. The present work can be taken as a significant one in this direction. The linguistic elements which impresses the reader have been worked out by Gottfried. Finally, there are some typographical errors: ‘its’ is printed as ‘it’; ‘describe’ is printed as ‘Described’ and ‘bedlam’ is printed as ‘beldam’.
Ravinder Gargesh is Teacher, Fellow in the Department of Linguistics, University of Delhi, Delhi.