James Joyce

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Belmont Citizen-Herald, MA
Oct 13 2005

Marc A. Mamigonian of Belmont will speak at the National Association for Armenian Studies and Research Center in Belmont, on Wednesday, Oct. 26 at 8 p.m., on the Irish novelist James Joyce's use of Armenian words and themes.

The lecture, entitled "All Abunk for Tarararat!: Armenian in James Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake,'" will be a substantially expanded version of talks given at international conferences in Dublin in 2004 and at UCLA in 2005.

James Joyce wrote his final book, "Finnegan's Wake," between 1923 and 1939. Joyce, one of the high priests of literary modernism whose earlier novels, "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" (1916) and "Ulysses" (1922), were in many ways the ultimate expression of that movement, in "Finnegan's Wake" demolished the very notion of a unified work of art, of literary structure, and of the English language itself.

Joyce's revolution of the word was in part a reaction to the chaos of World War I, and finding a place in his de-centered universe are the Armenians and the Armenian Genocide, to which he refers in the book. This lecture will explore the ways in which Joyce used the Armenians, the Armenian language, and the Armenian Genocide to support the book's major themes of death and rebirth, the "fall from grace," and the cyclical nature of history.

The light cast by the Armenian references into the novel's vast obscurity is not merely peripheral. Joyce, ever alert to historical-mythical parallels, saw the Armenians as similar to the Irish, both nations of "people living in the same place ... or also living in different places," dispersed, oppressed, persistent in their refusal to be destroyed.

Mamigonian is director of programs and publications at NAASR, where he has worked for nearly eight years. Prior to his time at NAASR, he spent two years at Boston University writing annotations for a multi-media edition of Joyce's "Ulysses." He is co-author of a full-length commentary on Joyce's Stephen Hero, published in 2004 by the James Joyce Quarterly, as well as other articles on Joyce, the Armenians, and other topics. He holds a master's degree in English from Tufts University and has taught a class on "Ulysses" at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education since 1997.

Admission to the event is free (donations appreciated). The NAASR Bookstore will open at 7:30 p.m. The lecture will begin promptly at 8 p.m.

For more information about the lecture, call 617-489-1610, e-mail hq @ naasr.org, or write to NAASR, 395 Concord Ave., Belmont, MA 02478.