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Bloomsday 100Essays on Ulysses$
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Morris Beja and Anne Fogarty

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780813034027

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813034027.001.0001

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”In the Beginning Was the Gest”

”In the Beginning Was the Gest”

Theater, Cinema, and the Language of Gesture in “Circe”

(p.116) (p.117) 7 ”In the Beginning Was the Gest”
Bloomsday 100

Anthony Paraskeva

University Press of Florida

This chapter expands on James Joyce's interest in cinema and discloses how the technological developments that enabled the compilation of discrete shot sequences radically altered the gestural language of early films. Movies now substituted the histrionic and exaggerated body movements of the melodramatic stage tradition with complex strings of closely observed small movements. This chapter documents the influence of numerous aspects of the cinematic medium on Ulysses, such as the use of peephole-style framing techniques. Above all, it convincingly argues that the minutely itemized gestural language of hand movements that peculiarly dominated the text of Exiles, as evidenced by its stage directions, was further elaborated on in Ulysses, especially in the “Circe” episode. The heightened readability of the body in silent film is turned to account by Joyce, who exploits the radical implications of the close-up and plays with the semiotics of gesture and the possibility that physical movements now can become a discrete part of a signifying system that operates irrespective of human agency or of the integrity of the body.

Keywords:   James Joyce, Ulysses, cinema, Circe, Exiles, framing, hand movements, silent film, gesture

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