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Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity$
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Vike Martina Plock

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034232

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034232.001.0001

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“The True Purefoy Nose”

“The True Purefoy Nose”

Medicine, Obstetrics, and the Aesthetics of Reproduction in “Oxen of the Sun”

Chapter:
(p.68) 4 “The True Purefoy Nose”
Source:
Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity
Author(s):

Vike Martina Plock

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813034232.003.0005

James Joyce's aesthetic interest in medicine becomes very apparent in the “Oxen of the Sun” episode. This chapter, which Joyce wrote between February and May 1920, cultivates associative readings of the text as a National Maternity Hospital on Holles Street and indirectly indicates the birth of Mortimer Edward Purefoy. It is the first time, therefore, that Joyce chooses a medical institution as a geographic backdrop for an episode. Both the Linati schema and the Gilbert-Gorman plan also designate “medicine” as the episode's art and “the womb” as its organ. Joyce also suggested that the episode's individual parts are linked “with the natural stages of development in the embryo and the periods of the faunal evolution in general.” It has therefore been suggested that “Oxen” adopts Ernst Haeckel's recapitulation theory. In this theory, Haeckel proposed that the fetus in its embryonic development parallels and repeats the evolutionary progress that produced the human race.

Keywords:   James Joyce, Oxen of the Sun, National Maternity Hospital, Mortimer Edward Purefoy, Linati schema, Gilbert-Gorman plan, medicine, womb, Ernst Haeckel, recapitulation theory

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