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Hieroglyphic ModernismsWriting and New Media in the Twentieth Century$
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Jesse Schotter

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781474424776

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2018

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474424776.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 05 July 2022

Solving the Problem of Babel

Solving the Problem of Babel

(p.165) 5 Solving the Problem of Babel
Hieroglyphic Modernisms

Jesse Schotter

Edinburgh University Press

By situating James Joyce within a larger discourse about the problem of Babel, this chapter show how hieroglyphs were used to make arguments for the origin of linguistic differences. The journal transition—in which Joyce’s work was serialized—served as a clearinghouse for ideas about how a new linguistic unity might be forged: either through Joyce’s Wake-ese or through the philosopher C. K. Ogden’s universal language of Basic English. Fascinated by these theories of universal language and drawn to the anti-imperialist politics underlying them, Joyce in Ulysses andFinnegans Wake turns to visual and gestural languages—film, hieroglyphs, advertisements, and illuminated manuscripts—in an effort to subvert theories of ‘Aryan’ language and imagine a more inclusive origin for the world’s cultures. The commonality of writing and new media become in Joyce a political gesture: a way of insisting on the unity of all races and languages in a mythic past against Nazi claims for racial purity.

Keywords:   James Joyce, Universal Languages, Eugene Jolas, C.K. Ogden, Film, Aryanism, Modernism, Advertising

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