Pegasus ja puuhobune. James Joyce’i „Kunstniku noorpõlveportree” ja Friedebert Tuglase „Felix Ormusson”. Pegasus and the Wooden Horse: James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Friedebert Tuglas’ Felix Ormusson


  • Tiina Ann Kirss



Friedebert Tuglas’ Felix Ormusson and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man were finished in the same year – 1914, but the writing of both novels took the writers almost a decade, a time of searching and exile for both of them. Joyce completely rewrote the initial draft of his novel, entitled Stephen Hero, experimenting with basic forms, such as the short prose piece he called the ”epiphany”. Tuglas’ Felix Ormusson was initially conceived as a three-volume picaresque novel, which was distilled into a single volume of prose fragments arranged as a diary novel: the rest was left unfinished, and exists only in the form of two novella-length fragments. A comparative juxtaposition of the two novels is suggestive, not just because of parallels between the authors’ life trajectories and creative biographies, nor because of similarities between the protagonists, not even by the somewhat deceptive placement in the rubric of the 'Künstlerroman'. Both novels partake of ironic autobiography, and both resonate with the subgenre of the ”diary novel”, increasingly in vogue in European literature of the fin-de-siècle, modelled in turn on the published journal intime. Felix Ormusson and Stephen Dedalus were their authors’ long-time fictional fellow travellers, alter ego’s, in whose confessions one can read the pressing desire to emerge from the provinces and peripheries of Europe toward broader, metropolitan cultural horizons. The protagonists’ quests open onto the problematics of modernism – the split between life and literature, and the burden of ”overreflexivity” which obstructed literary creation and sentimental education. Behind the aesthetic polemics of both novels are shadows of the politics of the era: for Felix Ormusson, the aftermath of the 1905 revolution and political exile, and in the milieu of young Stephen Dedalus, the entanglement of national politics and the Catholic church. In the first part of the article, both Tuglas’ and Joyce’s novels are considered in terms of their swerving away from the genre of the 'Künstlerroman', and the representation of the problem of the self. The language of Felix Ormusson’s diary is a conflicted mixed style, full of quotations, cliches and images that move restlessly back and forth between the registers of the ”country hick” (mats) and the imitated ”city slicker” (vurle). The opposition of ”hick” and ”slicker” is also played out in the love triangle with the two sisters Helene and Marion, and Felix’s opposition to his friend Johannes. ”Over-reflexivity” culminates in Felix’ banal flight from the scene of his abortive summer romances at the end of the novel. For Joyce’s Stephen Dedalus, rebellion and self-creation grow out of the painful initiation experience of the Jesuit retreat in the centre of the novel, which catalyzes his rejection of church and faith, and the embracing of a secular aesthetic quest through the obird-girl” episode on the beach near Dublin. The second part of the article frames both novels generically in relation to the modern diary novel: if Felix Ormusson could be considered an imitation of the journal intime form, Stephen Dedalus arrives at the diary at the threshold of self-defining exile. The third part of the article compares the meanings of exile, nationalism and aesthetic cosmopolitanism in Tuglas’ and Joyce’s novels.


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