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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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“Nerves Overstrung”

“Nerves Overstrung”

Neuroscience and Ergography in “Eumaeus”

(p.88) 5 “Nerves Overstrung”
Joyce, Medicine, and Modernity

Vike Martina Plock

University Press of Florida

The relatively unpretentious-looking “Eumaeus” episode shows that James Joyce's Ulysses continues to rely on medical debates, contexts, and metaphors. This time, however, it seems as if Joyce's interest in medicine was driven by decidedly personal circumstances. “Eumaeus,” with its references to contemporary neuroscientific and neurological debates, reads therefore almost like Joyce's own medical case story. However, it is vital to remember that the exhaustive attention that Joyce paid to his nervous state was more than a personal obsession. With the allocated organ “nerves” (in the Linati schema), the “Eumaeus” episode develops this associative relationship between Joyce's Ulysses and contemporary neuroscience by reproducing vocabulary relating to thought processes, brain activity, and neuroscientific manifestations. Additionally, the “Eumaeus” episode investigates the importance of “connections” in every possible sense: domestic, interpersonal, and genealogical, but also nautical and logistic.

Keywords:   Eumaeus, James Joyce, Ulysses, medicine, nerves, Linati schema, neuroscience, brain activity, thought processes, ergography

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