In Dante’s memory: Pound’s modernist allegory [Stephen Sicari]

Dati bibliografici

Autore: Stephen Sicari

Tratto da: Dante e Pound

Editore: Longo, Ravenna

Anno: 1998

Pagine: 147-157

The focus of this paper is to demonstrate how Ezra Pound comes to write what we can call «modernist allegory» as his way of continuing his epic project of The Cantos once he is arrested for treason and interned as a prisoner of war in an American Detention Training Center (D.T.C.) in Pisa. After having placed his political hopes in Mussolini to emerge as the modern hero for his epic, he is forced to begin The Pisan Cantos with the poignant expression of tragedy. The epic has given way to tragedy, but the epic hopes will again be asserted when he finsa a way to elevate himself as poet as the heroic survivor of the debacle.
Pound is bereft almost totally of any books or other resources with which to continue his writing and is forced to rely on memory. As he meditates on the nature and power of memory, he approaches a kind of writing that Joyce and Eliot had already discovered, allegory, especially the kind of allegory Dante wrote in the Commedia. I hope to show that these three great modernists organize some of their most ambitious projects — I’ll glance briefly at Ulysses and Four Quartets and focus on The Pisan Cantos — by reading and employing what Dante understood as the powers of memory. It will not be too much to say that, as they come to understand memory as the chief agency of the human mind and source of imaginative power, this version of modernism can be defined as an application of a medieval hermeneutics.
Already a slight detour is required. In their (let’s agree to call it) medieval understanding of the powers of memory, Joyce, Eliot and Pound undertake an argument with William Blake, for whom memory and imagination are absolutely separate; for whom memory is the mere retrieval of images gleaned from the observation of Nature while imagination, unloosed radically from the bounds of natural observation, is the power that allows us to see things eternal and divine. An illustrative statement or two from Blake’s annotations to Wordsworth’s Poems: «Natural Objects always did and now do Weaken deaden and obliterate Imagination in Me. Wordsworth must know that what he writes Valuable is Not to be found in Nature;» and quite neatly, «Imagination has nothing to do with memory» (655). Why bring Blake into the picture? for one thing, he occupies a crucial place in the history of the imagination, midway as it were between Dante and our modernists. Living when the claims of empirical science are louder and more pressing than ever before, Blake responds by becoming the most extreme advocate for the life of imagination. But he does so by divorcing observation and imagination, which is to divorce memory and imagination; as if close and careful observation of nature has nothing to do with things eternal. His are the same ambitions as our trio of modernists, the finding of a way to establish in writing traces of a permanent and eternal order. But his way — that is, a way that requires the rejection of memory — will not be the modernist way.
This argument with Blake is at the heart of «Nestor» — Ulysses’ «history lesson» — in which we watch how Stephen decides that he cannot ignore history, even if it is a nightmare: «What if that nightmare gave you a back kick?» (2.379). Joyce has Stephen criticize Blake for a «phrase of impatience, thud of Blake’s wings of excess» (2.8-9). In this assessment, Blake did not have the patience to work upon the things of the world and find in them evidence of the divine and the eternal. An earlier version of Stephen, the one from Stephen Hero, calls romanticism «an insecure, unsatisfied, impatient temper which sees no fit abode here for its ideals and chooses therefore to behold them under insensible figures;» whereas classicism is a patient temper that «chooses rather to bend upon these present things and so to work upon them and fashion them» into images that suggest the eternal (78). As seductive as Blake’s visionary poetry is for Stephen, it must be rejected because it rejects the things of this world. What is called for is a way to find signs of the eternal within history.
And this brings us to Dante, especially to Vita Nuova. For in his «Book of Memory,» Dante reflects upon his past and works with images of Beatrice until she becomes «the now glorious lady of my mind.» she almost becomes a figure of Christ, so boldly does memory elaborate and develop the meaning of the images held in the mind. Particularly poignant in this regard is the poem written after his dream about Beatrice’s death, in which the lady’s death is associated with Christ’s glory (the angels sing Hosanna) and in which she is called «humility incarnate.» Vita Nuova can be read as a treatise on the power of memory to work upon an image until it is resplendent with the glory of God.
This is precisely how T.S. Eliot reads Vita Nuova. In the Clark lectures he gave in 1926, he calls it «the record of the method of utilizing, transforming, instead of discarding the emotions of adolescence,» «a record of actual experience reshaped into a particular form.» In the 1929 essay on Dante, he extends the analysis:

The attitude of Dante to the fundamental experience of the Vita Nuova can only be understood by accustoming ourselves to find meaning in final causes rather than in origins. It is not, I think, meant as a description of what he consciously felt on his meeting with Beatrice, but rather a description of what that meant on mature reflection upon it. The final cause is the attraction towards God. (Selected Essays 234)

At the heart of Eliot’s own modernist project in Four Quartets is this understanding of the power of memory, that the truth or reality of an experience is not discovered by a rigorous investigation of its origins but by its development in memory as it grows in meaning and moves toward God. Eliot takes apparently trivial images from his experience — the winter lightning, the wild thyme unseen, the wild strawberry, the laughter in the garden — and works upon them until they become increasingly significant. Images that could easily be dismissed as pleasant but marginal are made the center of one’s meditative life until they can shine with the light of the holy:

the moments of happiness — not the sense of well-being,
Fruition, fulfillment, security or affection.
Or even a very good dinner, but the sudden illumination —
We had the experience but missed the meaning,
And approach to the meaning restores the experience
In a different form, beyond any meaning
We can assign to happiness. (The Dry Salvages II)

Memory is the power that allows these apprently undistinguished moments to become «the sudden illumination.» He has not moved far from what he said about Dante in the Clark lectures, that memory allows an experience to be restored in a different form. The experience is not just retrieved from a storehouse; it is restored in a new form that shines with God’s light. We all have these moments, and the saint is the one who can apprehend in them the point of intersection of the timeless With time. But

For most of us, there is only the unattended
Moment, the moment in and out of time.
The distraction fit, lost in a shaft of sunlight,
The wild thyme unseen, or the winter lightning
Or the waterfall [...] These are only hints and guesses,
Hints followed by guesses: and the rest
Is prayer, observance, discipline, thought and action.
The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation.
(The Dry Salvages V)

The image retained by memory can become, after the appropriate discipline of meditative practice, significant of the Incarnation. When I wrote about this a few years ago, I did not appreciate just how bold and extravagant a claim this is, that memory has the power to develop the meaning of an image to the point that it is analogous to the Christ event itself, in which the divine is united with the human, or in Eliot’s words, the timeless intersects time. Memory can take images from our fragmented experience and work them into a form that gives us Christ. Earlier, these moments were compared to the Annunciation; in Little Gidding, the imagery suggests that these moments can become, in memory, pentecostal fire. Under the proper discipline, the fragments of our lives can be ordered until they are resplendent with God’s light and revelatory of the central Christian mysteries.
This reminds me of Freccero’s cardinal insight about the structure of the Commedia, how Dante discovers that his own journey is patterned upon the Christ event. Eliot provides a way for us to discover in apparently trivial moments the presence of the Incarnation. Our lives are to be reshaped through the esemplastic power of memory to resemble the Christ event.
One final citation from Four Quartets will allow me to finish with Eliot and glance at Joyce. That Four Quartets is about the proper use of memory cannot be in doubt when we read these lines from Little Gidding:

This is the use of memory:
For liberation — nto less of love but expanding
Of love beyond desire, and so liberation from
From the future as well as the past. (Little Gidding III)

Memory is the power that liberates us from mere desire and allows us to love: that is another lesson learned from Dante, how the desire of /nferno can be come the love of Paradiso. Liberated from the desire that attaches us «to self and to things and to others,» we are liberated from time — from future as well as past. Memory is the agency that brings us to that still point that is the intersection of the timeless with time.
And memory is crucial to the structure and overall meaning of Joyce’s great novel. This is made evident by noting that Ulysses ends with Molly’s memory of her first lovemaking with Bloom on the hill of Howth. Bloom remembers this scene several times during the day himself, the most poignant of which occurs in «Lestrygonians.» The following is an abridged version of this important and luscious moment:

Stuck on the pane two flies buzzed, stuck.
Glowing wine on his palate lingered swallowed. Crushing the winepress grapes of Burgundy. Sun’s heat it is. Seems to a secret touch telling me memory. Touched his sense moistened remembered. Hidden under the wild ferns on Howth below us bay sleeping: sky. No sound. The sky. [...] Pillowed on my coat she had her hair, earwigs in the heather scrub my hand under her nape, you'll toss me all. O wonder! Cool soft with ointments her hand touched me, caressed: her eyes upon me did not turn away. Ravished over her Ilay, full lips full open, kissed her mouth. Yum. [...] Wildly I lay on her, kissed her: eyes, her lips her stretched neck beating, woman’s breasts full in her blouse of nun’s veiling, fat nipples upright. Hot I tongued her. She kissed. I was kissed. All yielding she tossed my hair. Kissed, she kissed me.
Me. And me now.
Stuck, the flies buzzed. (8.896-918)

First, let’s notice how vivid and active Bloom’s memory is: he remembers every detail, even the texture of her blouse. Yet, as accurate as memory’s workings are here, what we have before us is the failure of memory to transform. For all that this memory does for Bloom, and the readers, at this point in his day and our reading, is to reveal the gap between then and now, between the joy of that event in the past and the sadness of Bloom’s marriage on this day. Memory can, and perhaps most often, does function in this way, to underscore the difference between a happy past and an unhappy present; and used in this way, memory leads to what we usually mean by the term nostalgia, to that feeling of loss and separation. But this very scene, in Molly’s memory, is chosen by Joyce to end the novel. The tone and mood of its rendering in «Penelope» is, however, radically different from the depiction in «Lestrygonians:»

yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and J thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and i drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. (18.1599-1609)

By ending the novel here Joyce invites us to conclude that, despite the action of the day, Molly has made a choice that endorses our previous approval and admiration of Bloom. All of Molly’s monologue is memory, and in memory temporal distinctions are flattened out: the events of that very afternoon are no more and no less present to memory than events of sixteen years earlier. And the image of their lovemaking, restored by memory, is given as the novel’s exuberant close to suggest that we have left time and are regarding the events of this day from that same still point that occupied Eliot’s saint. What happens between «Lestry gonians» and «Penelope» that the very same scene can be depressing and nostalgic in the one and affirmative and joyous in the other? That is the key question for analysis of Ulysses; but whatever the answer, we see enough, I hope, to conclude that Joyce is employing the medieval understanding of memory as transformative and redemptive.
Now I’d like to turn to Pound who, it seems to me, discovers this aspect of memory only in Pisa; only, that is, when he is forced to rely on it as the source of his next — and it had the potential to be his last — set of Cantos. In Pisa, which for someone immersed in Dante can easily be regarded as a place of treacherous fraud (and he does refer occasionally to Ugolino’s tower), Pound may feel that Mussolini’s dream has been betrayed and that he himself is now a victim of treachery. But he may also feel the need to exonerate himself against the charge of treachery. How to extricate himself from this tense predicament? On the first page of the Pisan sequence he indicates that he will no longer keep himself out of his poem, as for the most part he has done in the preceding cantos. We can read there, «No man, No Man? Odysseus / the name of my family» (LXXIV/425). He will not hide behind the relative anonymity of being the poet; he will not claim to be the «no man» who wrote the verses of the Seven Lakes Canto. That was perhaps a ruse or a lie; at any rate, this time there will be no ruse. It’s as if he says, «I’m a man with a name and a personal history.» It seems to indicate that he is going to accept responsibility for his words and actions that led him to this predicament; and this might remind him of the axiom of Fascist thought that he repeated often in his prose and includes in Canto LX XVII: «“wherein is no responsible person having a front name, a hind name and an address”» (479). The cleverness of Odysseus that helps him escape from Polyphemus’ cave will not be used by Pound as he comes to terms with his imprisonment in his cage. He will present himself to us as a man with a name and an address, as a man with a personal identity based on a personal history retained in memory. In short he won’t forget who he is in these Cantos.
Other moments from the opening Canto secure this point. On the first page again Pound addresses his reader as «You who have passed the pillars and outward from Herakles» (425). That aspect of the Ulysses character was important to Pound early in The Cantos, the wanderer who will not return to Ithaca but who instead bravely, recklessly sails beyond the Pillars of Hercules to find new wisdom and new experience. But now, he distances himself from that figure who eschew nostalgia — «You who have passed the pillars.» Later in the same Canto, in the midst of an important declaration of his belief in the possibility of the city whose terraces are the colour of stars, he includes a word from the opening of Purgatorio VII — «ch’internirisce:» «at sunset / ch’intenerisce / a sinistra la Torre / seen thru a pair of breeches» (431). The sunset here is like the sunset in Purgatorio VIII, «turning back the longing of seafarers and melting their heart the day they have bidden dear friends farewell.» Pound includes the tower of Ugolino, «seen thru a pair of breeches,» to remind the reader of the scene of the experience of this particular sunset; but he uses Purgatorio VIII against Dante, for Dante’s pilgrim must eschew the natural longing for home while Pound will indulge himself in memories of the past. Just a couple of pages earlier Pound writes lines that echo Purgatorio VIII: «el triste pensier si volge / ad Ussel. A Ventadour / va il concire, el tempo rivolge / and at Limoges the young salesman / bowed with such french politeness» (428). «The sad thought turns back» to places special to Pound from his personal experience in a happier past, and he indulges himself in recalling such memories. He is not going to follow Dante here and avoid this kind of nostalgia that evokes the merely personal: this point is made especially clear and compelling with the last phrase of Canto LXXIV: «we who have passed over Lethe» (449). We know that Dante is immersed in Lethe at the top of Mount Purgatory after his painful itinerary has been completed by his personal confession to Beatrice; and that immersion takes from him all memory of sin. Pound will not immerse himself in this river, not yet at any rate: he crosses over the river of forgetfulness, for he needs to remember all he has said and all he has done.
A cursory glance at the Pisan sequence is enough to convince anyone that personal memories are included often enough that they must be important to the structure and meaning of these poems. But Pound also remembers his positions on economic policy, his advocacy of Italian Fascism, along with many other cultural fragments stored in his memory. What’s new in this sequence is that the personal dimension of the poet’s life is now laid alongside of the public side; these poems offer, I think, a reconciliation of the private man with his public mission. In this regard, a passage from Canto LXXVIII becomes particularly important. In a little more than a page, Pound includes fragments that suggest his trip from Rome to Gais to see Mary; Gawin Douglas’ translation of The Aeneid; images from his present predicament; and phrases from Fascist thetoric. His inclusion of his painful journey from Rome to visit Mary brings his personal life into the poem in a radically new way: never before do we have a sense of the man with a complicated personal life in the poem. This visit was to set things right between him and Mary, to tell her the truth about himself and Olga, and to reveal the existence of Dorothy and Omar. As I argued in my book, I read its inclusion here as penitential journey, as personal confession. But what’s so fascinating about this passage is how the confession moves directly into the Scottish translation of Virgil’s epic. For Aeneas is the man who is able to begin the process that will culminate in the great Empire by denying his personal life and living out only his public destiny. Aeneas has little trouble in denying himself the happiness of living with Dido in a great city already well under construction; he leaves her quickly and easily when Mercury reminds him of his higher destiny, to found Rome. The juxtaposition of Pound’s personal confession with Aeneas’ destiny suggests that Pound put his private life into some sort of order through confession, allowing himself to follow his public destiny in a way analogous to Aeneas’ strong-willed devotion. it is a wonderful juxtaposition of Christian confession and classical epic. And, after a brief depiction of the DTC, he assembles a few phrases from the rhetoric of Italian Fascism, concluding now that «those words still stand uncancelled» (479). His mission is to rise above mere personality to be the prophet of the dream of the ideal city, whose latest effort was just destroyed by the Allies. Pound will write these Fascist slogans for the future; he only hopes that his record of the dream is not written on something as soft as gelatine: «but if the gelatine be effaced whereon is the record?» (479). What we have in this fascinating passage is the juxtaposition of the most personal moment in all The Cantos to his ambition to be the Aeneas-like prophet of the ideal city.
Pound has insisted that he will not forget his personal past; he has insisted that the Pisan sequence will be a record of what he finds as he remembers his past. So what has he discovered on his memory-journey? Here is where we see some similarity with the way Joyce and Eliot came to understand the powers of memory. For what he discovers in this journey of memory is that he has an affinity with the great Hebrew prophets, and with Christ himself. He discovers that this old man confined to a cage by his own people is in fact in the line of great prophets from the Old Testament!
It all begins with a wonderful mistake discovered by Rouse: «and Rouse found they spoke of Elias / in telling tales of Odysseus» (426). When Rouse first let Pound know this, it must have seemed an interesting accident that had little relevance to Pound’s own interests in Homer and the whole tradition of wanderers in literary history. But now, as he lies in a cage incarcerated by the very people he had meant to be serving: might not the fate of the Hebrew prophet seem surprisingly his own? Can that mistake of the people have been related to Pound so he could understand who he is when he lies in the Pisan cage? For the wanderer theme has been predominant in The Cantos from its very first page, and now — suddenly and surprisingly — Pound finds that the mistake is prophetically true, that his wanderer does have the component of the Hebrew prophet in him.
It is Pound’s genius to find congenial passages in a book he was not prepared to find congenial to his purposes, passages that allowed him to continue his poem’s journey and elevate the destiny of its wandering hero, who is now the poet himself. He begins citing such passages in Canto LXXIV, referring first to Isaiah, who encouraged his hearers «to redeem Zion with justice» (429); that’s from the first chapters of Isaiah, which establish one of the prophet’s major themes, that his audience is a people fallen from the covenant to whom God has sent this messenger with the command to rebuild the great city. Pound must have marvelled at the coincidence of the prophet’s mission and his own predicament. A few pages on, we find this phrase from Isaiah repeated, with some pertinent additions: «with justice shall be redeemed / who putteth not his money out on interest /’in meteyard in weight or measure’ / XIXth Leviticus or / First Thessalonians 4, 11» (434). The redemption of Zion will occur when there is honesty in the measures we use: that’s the basis of Pound’s economic thinking, derived now from the Torah. And we are sent to Saint Paul to read, «Aspire to live a tranquil life, to mind your own affairs, and to work with your own hands»; this advice is more ambiguous, but I think it is an admonition to the initiate to avoid the turmoil of the war’s aftermath and continue their study and effort to build justice. Still in the opening Canto of the Pisan sequence, another major prophet is cited:

and there is also the XIXth Leviticus.
«Thou shalt purchase the field with money.»
signed Jeremiah
from the tower of Hananel unto Goah
unto the horse gate $8.50 in Anatoth
which is in benjamin, 8.67 [...]
From the law, by the law, so build yr/temple
with justice in meteyard and measure (440)

Added to Leviticus and Isaiah are moments from Jeremiah in which the prophet is instructed to purchase a certain field for a certain amount of money; this field is to be a symbol for the people of Israel, that the great city shall be rebuilt when economic practices are sound, when the measures are just. What he is able to find in the Jewish law and prophets is a commitment to build the just city, and by including these references he is adding a new dimension to his wanderer and discovering his own true identity, as the incarnation of this type of prophet in the present.
There is one line, coming from the prophet Micah, which Pound is so fond of that he repeats it, to my count, six times in the Pisan sequence, including on its final page (where its source is finally acknowledged): «each in the name of his god.» Why does Pound quote Micah so frequently? We need to see the context from which he pulled this congenial line. It comes from Micah 4, which is concerned (it should not come as a surprise at this point) with the restoration of the just city by the Lord. Let me read a bit before and after Micah 4,5:

Many nations hall come and say, «Come, let us climb the mount of the Lord, to the God of the house of Jacob, that he may instruct us in his ways, that we may walk in his paths.» For from Zion shall go forth instruction, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. He shall judge between many nations; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; one nation shall not raise the sword against another, nor shall they train for war again. Every man shall sit under his own vine or under his own fig tree, undisturbed; for the mouth of the Lord of hosts has spoken. for all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we shall walk in the name of the Lord, our God forever and ever. on that day, says the Lord, I will gather the lame, and I will assemble the outcasts, and those whom I have afflicted. I will make of the lame a remnant, and of those driven far off a strong nation; and the Lord shall be king over them on Mount Zion, from now on forever. (Micah 4. 2-7)

Pound, always or at least still interested in the pagan gods and goddesses, quotes a line that seems to endorse a toleration for polytheism. But in its context we see a more complex set of ideas. Each person can come to Zion in the name of his god, as Pound likes to say; but once there, he will receive instruction from the Lord, who shall be king over all the peoples ruling from Mount Zion from now on forever. I think this is Pound’s way of moving to Zion to hear the word of a God he had not expected to be serving; he moves in the name of his god — I think it’s Aphrodite — and at Zion discovers that the great king to restore the world to justice is the God of the Hebrews, the Messiah, the Christ.
How far do I want to make this? As far as Pound seems to suggest. For back in Canto LXXIV, he makes an interesting conflation of the Roman Catholic Mass and Christ’s last words on the Cross: «Est consummatum, ite» (432). Not the Mass is ended, go; but it is accomplished, go. Just as Christ may have discovered on the cross that his sacrifice is the fulfillment of God’s plan for salvation, so Pound discovers in his Pisan cage that his arrest, internment, and possible execution are the fulfillment of his destiny: to have believed in the dream of the just city, live with the efforts to realize it, and survive its present defeat — survive and now record it as its great prophet. Like Christ, what seems a betrayal and failure is in truth the fulfillment of a plan. Still in canto LXXIV, he compares his predicament with Christ’s: «with Barabbas and 2 thieves beside me» (436). Is Pound more like Barabbas, the brutal revolutionary, or Christ, the prophet of the dream? Placed among criminals by the nation he was intending to serve and save, he discovers that, as it was for Christ, it was his destiny to be castigated and brutalized by his own people. In the fiction of his poem (and may we not say about The Cantos what Singleton taught us to say about The Comedia, the fiction is that it is not a fiction?), Pound has discovered that he has been brought, against any willing or knowing of his own, to an unexpected place as the fulfillment of a greater destiny. His Mass is over: his destiny has been made sacred and noble, and we are dismissed to go out and continue the effort to build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of stars.
Having established this aspect of his identity, having reconciled the private man with the public mission, in Canto LXXX he will finally be freed to undergo that immersion in Lethe denied in the opening Canto:

when the raft broke and the waters went over me,

Immaculata, Introibo
for those who drink the bitterness
Perpetua, Agatha, Anastasia saeculorum [...]

Les Iarmes que j’ai crees m’inondent
Tard, tres tard je t’ai connue, la Tristesse,
I have been hard as youth sixty years (LXXX/513)

Plunged into the bitter waters of Lethe, he emerges pure and ready to confess his wrongs: he has been too hard, he has not allowed suffering to soften and heal him. He accepts his suffering now and is softened by his own tears. This is Pound’s version of Dante’s tearful confession and immersion in Lethe, and he embellishes the scene with the language of the Roman Catholic Mass: its opening phrases, its litany of martyrs, its language of eternity. On the second page of the Pisan sequence he quotes the «R.C. chaplain’s field book» (426); one of the few books Pound found at the DTC was this sixteen-page summary of the major elements of the Roman Catholic Mass, from which, he claims in Canto LXXVII, Pound «learned what the Mass meant, / how one should / perform it» (467). These Cantos are his Mass, elevating of his own person to the dignity of the Hebrew prophets and to the status of Christ himself. As the Mass is the ritual reenactment of the Incarnation, the joining of the divine and the human in the sacrifice of the Cross, these Cantos present Pound’s elevation as he is sacrificed. Surprisingly, Pound turns out to be as «Catholic» as his friends Joyce and Eliot.
A brief conclusion: What I hope I have been able to show is that these three modernists, by following Dante, have discovered a principle of organization for their ambitious projects. Each has understood memory as the chief esemplastic power of the mind for shaping the events of our lives into meaningful units. For each, memory is the power that transforms ordinary experience into something sacred. Indeed, we can go further and say that memory is the power that allows each to write allegory in the Dantesque sense of «the allegory of theologians» in which temporal human experience is found to be patterned upon and fulfilled in the Christ event. For Eliot, special moments of consciousness are worked upon in/by memory until they come to signify Annunciation, Incarnation and Pentecost. For Pound, memory allows him to discover in his life a prophetic dimension to his identity analogous to the Hebrew prophets and Christ himself. Even Joyce, through the narrator of «Ithaca,» allows us to see Biblical patterning in Stephen’s and Bloom’s union: as they leave Bloom’s house, we are told they enact an «exodus from the house of bondage to the wilderness of inhabitation» (17.1021-22) to the accompaniment of the very psalm («In exitu Israel de Egypto») Singleton has taught us to see as crucial to Dante’s allegorical method; and when Stephen sees in Bloom «the traditional figure of hypostasis» (17.783). Following Dante, they employ memory as the power enabling them to write modernist allegory.

Date: 2023-03-10