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Colette Soler – Joyce’s Nora


THE LETTER 37 (Summer 2006) pages 18-24


The often heard expression, “symptom-partner” is used to say that the object, the condition of puissance, is itself conditioned by the unconscious. This leads me to ask a question: what was the woman, Nora, for this man, James Joyce?


Freud tried to define various types of object-choice, narcissistic or anaclitic; Lacan, in turn, in the seminar, RSI., defined the typical partner of the man who follows the father-version [version-pere] of the symptom. Yet Nora is something other than this as Joyce hirnself is other.

He was more the idolater of his own text, the “Book of Himself” than of her body, and he wanted to know of nothing except the masterful saying [dire], in which he sustained himself as the Artist. His wife, Nora, his son, Giorgio, his daughter, Lucia, were not placed within the constitutive social bond. And yet he held to them in a way that was almost fanatical. This shows that the question cannot be decided at the level of observable social reality. What is more in accordance with the typical position than a wife and children? But this says nothing either of his heterosexuality or of his actual position as father. Joyce was the heretical non-dupe and was foreign to any Oedipal solution; he was not even a redeemer, for if he saved anyone, it was himself and only himself.

Joyce’s Nora

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