The was his notion that the moment one
The Grotesque Machinery of the Dubliners
Joyce describes the spiritual poverty of the people of Dublin in the industrial age, with powerful
images of mechanized humans and animated machines. In “After the Race” and “Counterparts” he delineates characters with appropriate portraits of human automation. Machines seize human attributes and vitality in opposition to the vacuous citizens of Ireland’s capitalist city. Joyce’s use of metaphorical language brings to life the despair of his country.
In Winesburg, Ohio, Sherwood Anderson writes an allegorical account of the failure of mankind (1919). Although Anderson depicts rural life in the “New World,” his understanding of human nature and descriptive terminology provide a valuable framework for examining Joyce’s rendition of urban misery in the “Old World.” “The Book of the Grotesque,” the opening piece of Anderson’s short story collection, animates the thoughts of a dying old man:It was his notion that the moment one of the people took one of the truths to himself,called it his truth, and tried to live his life by it, he became a grotesque and the truthhe embraced became a falsehood. (24, Penguin Edition). This notion, that belief in a single truth or paradigm distorts people such that they become warped and can no longer function as human, is central to Joyce’s characterizations of the Dubliners. Twentieth Century Homo sapiens can be distinguished from machines by their potential to think openly and consider myriad ideas without being paralyzed by a singular absolute. When people clutch an idea and transform it into an ideal, the separation between man and machine becomes blurred. Human automatons mechanically follow the programming of their truth. In “After the Race,” the Irish are consumed with the Continent as a superior place of affluence and culture. They seek an escape from the dreariness of Dublin, but mistakenly idealize mainland Europe as a vessel for their dreams of transcending the ordinary. With this idea of a utopia across the ocean, people loose interest in every day life and become stagnant. Belief in this myth transforms humans, reducing them to a state of mechanized paralysis without identity. Joyce animates the racing machines in the opening of the story, describing how they “came scudding in towards Dublin,” and each blue car “received a double round of welcome” (52). The spectators are dull masses in contrast to the vehicles: Sightseers had gathered in clumps to watch the cars careening homeward and through this channel of poverty and inaction the Continent sped its wealth and industry. (52). People here are inanimate “clumps”–mere obsolete hardware juxtaposed with the new line of refined technology from the Continent.The central character of “After the Race” is riding in one of these french cars and he is electrified by its performance. Jimmy–a Dubliner–has taken the truth of the Continent’s promise as his own, and has thus been disfigured himself into a machine. He pursues a business venture with several Continentals, driven by the falsehood of escape and prosperity that he and his father embrace. As a passive traveller in the car, Jimmy is aroused because “rapid motion through space elates one” (54). He mechanically responds to the stimulus from an embodiment of his truth: The journey laid a magical finger in the genuine pulse of life and gallantly the machinery of human nerves strove to answer the bounding courses of the swift blue animal. (55). Jimmy is reduced to a network of wires and circuits by Joyce’s innovative use of language, and the car is animated as a vigorous biological entity. The “chiastic inversion” (Professor Brian Stonehill, 1/22/96) of organic and synthetic continues: “A little knot of people collected on the footpath to pay homage to the snorting motor” (55). The abiotic tangle of people are worshiping a living and breathing car, which “steers” out through them (55). Jimmy follows the commands of his truth and assumes his place as a cog in the social contrivance of his associates after the race. “Jimmy took his part” and participated mechanically in the festivities of the evening, making a token speech of little value and loosing handsomely at cards (57). Joyce’s character is metamorphosed into a grotesque by his platonic belief in the Continent.
In After the Race Jimmy, an intellectual nouveau-riche who has studied law at an English university, deceives himself trying to climb the ladder of success and reach emancipation on international standards. Because he has trained himself to rely solely on his eyes, he has acquired such a distorted perspective that when he is involved in a crucial game of cards, ironically, he misreads them (“he frequently mistook his cards” (46)) and therefore loses a fortune. The epiphanic punch line at the end of the story: “Daybreak, gentlemen!” is uttered by Villona, a pianist (who stands for the auditory frame of reference). With this acoustic message, Jimmy becomes aware of his folly, an unwanted truth that he had tried to avoid confronting to the very end.
Scud: I+adv/prep lit: (esp. of clouds and ships) to move along quickly
pellet n 1 (of) a small ball of any soft substance made (as if) by rolling between the fingers: hens fed on pellets of food
2 a small ball of metal made to be fired from a gun
groove n 1 a long narrow usu. regular path or track made in a surface, esp. to guide the movement of something: The needle is stuck in the groove of the record, so it keeps repeating the same bit of music. | The door fits into this metal groove and slides shut.
2 a track made by repeated movement; RUT: (fig.) My parents don’t like change; they’re happy to stay in the same old groove.
clump 1 n 1 C (of) a group of trees, bushes, plants, etc., growing together: a little clump of reeds 2 C (of) a heavy solid lump or mass of something, such as soil or mud: sticky clumps of earth on his boots 3 S a heavy slow sound, such as that made by slow footsteps
virtual / adj A no comp. almost what is stated; in fact though not officially: The president was so much under the influence of his wife that she was the virtual ruler of the country. | a virtual certainty
hilarious adj full of or causing wild laughter: The party got quite hilarious after they brought more wine. | a hilarious joke -ly adv -ness n U
establishment n 1 U (of) the act of establishing or state of being established: The government must encourage the establishment of new industry. | The club has grown rapidly since its establishment three years ago. 2 C a place run as a business or for a special purpose: The hotel is a well-run establishment. | a research establishment
allude to sbdy./sthg. phr v T fml to speak about (someone or something), but in an indirect way: She didn’t mention Mr Smith by name, but it was clear she was alluding to him.
earnest 1 adj determined and serious, esp. too serious: We made an earnest endeavour to persuade her. | an earnest young man who never laughs -ly adv -ness n U: I say this in all earnestness.
take to sbdy./sthg. phr v T 1 to feel a liking for, esp. at once: I took to Paul as soon as we met. | I’m not sure if he’ll take to the idea. 2 to begin as a practice, habit, etc.: All this gloomy news is enough to make you take to drink. +v-ing Just lately he’s taken to hiding his socks under the carpet. 3 to go to for rest, hiding, escape, etc.: Father’s ill, so he’s taken to his bed. | The criminals took to the hills to escape from the police.
remonstrate /n-/ v I (against, with) fml to complain; express disapproval: I remonstrated against his behaviour. | She remonstrated with him (=complained to him) about his behaviour.
covert 1 /adj secret or hidden; not openly shown or admitted: covert dislike | covert activity by the CIA to undermine their government -opposite overt -ly adv
reputed: adj generally supposed or considered (to be), but with some doubt: the reputed father of her baby F+to-v She is reputed to be extremely wealthy.
cargo C;U (one load of) the goods (FREIGHT) carried by a ship, plane, or vehicle: We sailed from Newcastle with a cargo of coal. | cargo vessel/plane
bass 1 /be Is/ n 1 C (a man with) the lowest male singing voice, below BARITONE 2 U the lower half of the whole range of musical notes -compare TREBLE (2) 3 C a BASS GUITAR: He’s formed a new band with his brother on bass/playing bass.
4 C a DOUBLE BASS -bass adj, adv : a bass saxophone/drum | to sing bass
deft: adj effortlessly skilful; ADROIT: deft fingers | a deft performance -ly adv -ness n U
in the teeth of: against the strength of; in spite of opposition from: The government persisted in introducing the new measures in the teeth of public opinion.
swarthy (adj) (of a person or their skin) rather dark-coloured
profane 1 /pr E’fe In/ adj 1 showing disrespect for God or for holy things: To smoke in a church or mosque would be a profane act. 2 (esp. of language) socially shocking, esp. because of improper use of religious words -compare OBSCENE
3 fml not religious or holy; concerned with human life in this world; SECULAR: profane art -opposite sacred -ly adv
nudge v 1 T to push gently, usu. with one’s elbow, esp. in order to call a person’s attention: He nudged his friend to let him know it was time to leave.
2 I+adv/prep;T to move by gently pushing: He nudged me out of the way. | a ship nudging (its way) through the ice | (fig.) During the meeting we tried to nudge them towards (=gently help them to find) a practical solution.
3 nudge, nudge, (wink, wink) infml humor a phrase, first used in the British television programme Monty Python’s Flying Circus, used when suggesting that there may be a sexual meaning to something that someone has just said -nudge n
latent adj usu. fml present but not yet noticeable, active, or fully developed: a latent infection | latent aggression | These aggressive tendencies remained latent. –tency n U
freak 1 /fri 8k/ n 1 a living creature of unnatural form: One of the new lambs is a freak; it was born with two tails. | This dwarf tree is a freak of nature. 2 a strange, unexpected happening: By some strange freak, a little snow fell in the middle of the summer. 3 infml a person with rather strange habits, ideas, or appearance: He looks a real freak in his pink trousers and orange shirt. 4 infml a person who takes a very strong interest in the stated thing; FAN: a film freak -see also CONTROL FREAK
stake 2 v T 1 (on) a to risk (money) on the result of a race or competition b to risk the loss of (something valuable, such as one’s life or public position) on a result, esp. because one is confident of success: The prime minister is staking his reputation/credibility on a successful outcome to the arms talks. | I’ve staked all my hopes on you. 2 (UP) to fasten or strengthen with STAKEs (1): to stake a young tree 3 (OFF, OUT) to mark or enclose (an area of ground) with STAKEs (1): The muddiest corner of the field has been staked off. 4 stake (out) a/one’s claim (to) to make a claim; state that one has a right to have something: He staked a claim to the land where he’d found the gold. | (fig.) With her latest novel she stakes her claim to greatness.stake sthg.out phr v T infml, esp. AmE (esp. of the police) to watch (a place) continuously in secret -stakeout /’ste Ik-a Ut/ nstake sbdy. to sthg. phr v T AmE
to provide (someone) with the money needed to pay for (something): My father’s promised to stake me to a new car when I’m 18.
shrewd adj 1 showing good practical judgment, esp. of what is to one’s own advantage: a shrewd judge of other people’s ability | a shrewd lawyer/businesswoman 2 well-reasoned and likely to be right: a shrewd guess -ly adv -ness n U
lordly / adj 1 often derog behaving like a lord, esp. in giving orders: a lordly manner 2 apprec, esp. lit suitable for a lord; grand: a lordly feast –liness n U
gong n 1 a round piece of metal hanging in a frame, which when hit with a stick gives a deep ringing sound 2 BrE sl for MEDAL
alight 1 I (from, on) fml to get off or down from something, esp. at the end of a journey; come down from above: The bird alighted on a branch. | Passengers should not alight from the train until it has stopped.alight on/upon sthg. phr v T fml becoming rare
to find or see unexpectedly; HAPPEN on
haze 1 /he Iz/ n 1 S;U a light mist or smoke: I could hardly see her through the haze of cigarette smoke. | a heat haze in the distance 2 S a feeling of confusion or uncertainty in the mind -see also HAZY
trepidation n U fml a state of anxiety about something bad that might happen; APPREHENSION: I waited for the results in a state of some trepidation.
equation n 1 C a statement that two quantities are equal: In the equation 2x+1=7, what is x? | (fig.) Most people believe the factory would provide more jobs but the other side of the equation is the pollution it would cause. -compare FORMULA
2 S;U fml the state of being equal or equally balanced: There is an equation between unemployment and rising crime levels.
sup 1 v I (UP);T ScotE & N EngE to drink (esp. beer) in small mouthfuls -sup n
snug 1 /adj 1 apprec giving or enjoying warmth, comfort, peace, protection, etc.; COSY: He showed us into a snug little sitting room with a fire burning. | The children were tucked up snug and warm in bed. 2 (of clothes) a fitting closely and comfortably: This jacket is a nice snug fit. b fitting too closely: The dress was a bit snug under the arms. 3 as snug as a bug in a rug infml very comfortable: You’ll be as snug as a bug in a rug in your new sleeping bag. -ly adv -ness n U
voluble adj fml, often derog 1 (of a person) talking a lot 2 (of speech) expressed (esp. rather fast) with many words: voluble excuses
grace: adj 1 attractively and usu. effortlessly fine and smooth; full of grace: a graceful dancer | her graceful movements
2 showing a willingness to behave fairly and honourably: a graceful apology -see GRACIOUS (USAGE) -ly adv -ness n U
spurious /’adj fml 1 based on wrong or incorrect reasoning: spurious arguments/logic -compare SPECIOUS 2 false or pretended; not GENUINE: spurious sympathy 3 tech not really the product of the time, writer, etc., shown or claimed: There are some spurious lines in this ancient poem, which were added later. -ly adv -ness n U
spite 1n U 1 an unpleasant desire to annoy or harm another person, esp. in some small way: I’m sure he took my parking space just out of/from spite. -see also SPITEFUL 2 in spite of taking no notice of, or not prevented by; DESPITE: I went out in spite of the rain. | In spite of a slight improvement in sales, the company is still making a loss.
congenial adj pleasant; in agreement with one’s tastes and nature: congenial work/weather/companions | I find him very congenial. -ly adv
gaily adv 1 in a cheerful manner: gaily-coloured decorations 2 in an insensitive, thoughtless way: They gaily went on talking after the film had started
salute 1 v 1 I;T to make a SALUTE (1a) (to): Always salute when you pass an officer! 2 T fml to honour and praise, esp. in a formal or ceremonial way: On this very special evening we salute the splendid work of the local police. 3 T fml to greet, esp. with polite words or with a sign: He saluted his friend with a wave of the hand.
cavalier adj thoughtless and disrespectful; OFFHAND: I’m annoyed at your cavalier attitude towards this serious matter. | a cavalier manner
will 2 n 1 C;U the power of the mind to make decisions and act in accordance with them, sometimes in spite of difficulty or opposition: Do you believe in free will/freedom of the will? (=the power to decide freely what one will do) | You must have an iron will (=a very strong will) to have given up smoking after all those years. | Even small children can have very strong wills. 2 U what is wished or intended (by the stated person): Her death is God’s will/the will of God. | In a democracy, the government is supposed to reflect the will of the people. +to-v She seems to have lost the will to live. (=the desire to stay alive) | The prisoner was forced to sign a confession against his will. | She donated the money of her own free will. (=because she wanted to, and not because she was asked or forced to) 3 S a strong determination to act in a particular way; intention: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. (old saying=if you really want something you will find a way of getting it) | They set to work with a will. (=with eager interest) | He tries hard but, with the best will in the world (=however good his intentions may be), he’ll never make a good teacher. 4 U the stated feeling towards other people: She bears him no ill will for speaking out against her proposals. 5 C an official statement of the way someone wants their property to be shared out after they die: Have you made your will yet? 6 at will fml as one wishes 7 -willed /w Ild/having a will of the stated strength: strong-willed | weak-willed
toast 1 n 1 U bread made brown by being placed close to heat, usu. eaten hot with butter: I like toast for breakfast. | a slice of toast
2 C (to) an act of drinking esp. wine in a ceremonial way in order to show respect or admiration for someone or something or to express good wishes to someone: Ladies and gentlemen, I’d like to propose a toast to the bride and groom. | They drank a toast to the Queen. 3 the+S the person or thing in whose honour this is done 4 the+S+of someone or something extremely popular in the stated place or with the stated people: After the success of her show she was the toast of Broadway/of singers everywhere
bundle 2 v 1 I+adv/prep;T+obj+adv/prep to (cause to) move or hurry in a rather quick and rough manner: They arrested a man on the street and bundled him into a police car. | They bundled the children off to school. | We all bundled into the taxi. 2 T+obj+adv/prep to put together or store hastily and untidily: She bundled her clothes into a bag. bundle (sbdy.) up phr v I;T
to dress warmly: She bundled (herself) up in several warm sweaters before going out into the freezing cold.
stupor // n C;U a state in which one cannot think or use one’s senses: a drunken stupor
shaft 1 n 1 C a long or thin pole to which the sharp end of a spear, ARROW, or similar weapon is fixed 2 C the long handle of a hammer, AXE, GOLF CLUB, or similar tool 3 C a bar which turns, or around which a belt or wheel turns, to pass on power or movement, esp. from an engine to something driven by the engine: a propeller shaft | the crankshaft in a car engine 4 C a long passage, usu. in an up-and-down or sloping direction: a mine shaft | a ventilator shaft | a lift shaft 5 C either of the pair of poles between which an animal is fastened to pull a vehicle 6 C (of ) a beam of light coming through an opening: A shaft of sunlight pierced the gloom. 7 C (of ) lit a sharply funny or hurtful remark: No one is safe from his shafts of wit. 8 the+S AmE sl severe and unfair treatment: It’s always me that gets the shaft. | She gave her boyfriend the shaft (=stopped going out with him)