A L I S O N L AC I V I TA Polar exploration in Finnegans Wake? This might seem like ``nansense''1 to many readers weary of yet another eccentric reading of Joyce's final text. However, upon closer inspection, we see that the names of some of the most famous polar explorers appear throughout the Wake. This note discusses two earlier appearances of the polar regions in Joyce's work (in one of the ``Epiphanies'' and in Ulysses) and then goes on to argue that in Finnegans Wake polar exploration is integral to understanding the way in which Joyce represents the territorial aims of imperialism. I begin here with an overview of the Heroic Age of Polar Exploration (the 1890s to the 1920s, roughly), to set the stage for the themes of imperialism that pervade Joyce's engagement with polar conquest. In the late twentieth century, there was little uncharted territory left on earth. Most exploration had ended well before the twentieth century began with the exception of two vast, uncharted regions: the Arctic and the Antarctic. The preceding ``nansense,'' from II.3 of the Wake, alludes to Fridtjof Nansen, the Norwegian explorer and key figure of the Heroic Age. Nansen
Joyce Studies Annual – Fordham University Press
Published: Dec 12, 2013
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