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JOYCE AND BALZAC: PORTRAITS OF THE ARTIST IN THE AGE OF INDUSTRIAL PRODUCTION

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Chapter Summary

This essay presents Balzac and Joyce respectively as chroniclers of the fate of artistic autonomy in the modern world of bourgeois commercial capitalism. Both writers created the fictional character of an aspiring young writer who represents a version of the author himself at an early stage of his career. Both of these characters represent the purity and egoism of the artist—qualities surviving from a more traditional, aristocratic world—as confronted with the capitalist world of commercial literary production. In his efforts to obtain fortune and social position in addition to critical acclaim, Balzac’s Lucien de Rubempré is drawn into an intrigue that leads to his self-destruction. Joyce has his own vision of literary production, but has in common with Balzac an absence of illusion concerning literature as an activity profoundly marked by the social and economic conditions of its production.

10.1163/9789042032903_005
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