This chapter considers the place of James Joyce's Ulysses in the history of the novel and reflects on the degree to which objects gradually come to proliferate and assume a dominant role in nineteenth-century British and French fiction. It argues that Joyce differs from his predecessors such as Charles Dickens and Honoré de Balzac because seemingly worthless objects like the “throwaway” advertisement are given a central part and are not made answerable to the exigencies of plot and character. As an art form, Ulysses is redeemed from the randomness of debris by its textuality. This chapter demonstrates that elements of material and symbolic debris in Ulysses are connected to one another on the level of language. It also compares the debris of Ulysses to that of another Joyce work, Finnegans Wake, and examines the theoretical implications deriving from Joyce's equation of the letter and litter.
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