ABSTRACT

This chapter studies James Joyce’s fusions of ethics with “a floating will” and an “unclean spirit” in his fiction. Connecting his early essays’ arguments with disgust, and its links with informal or hyperformalized action in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, I draw upon recent theorizations of disgust by Sara Ahmed, Winfried Menninghaus, and William Miller, and then examine actions normatively deemed disgusting in Joyce’s later novels. Linking this commentary to Immanuel Kant’s claim that the disgusting obtrudes on our sense in an invitation of unsought enjoyment, I examine Joyce’s deployment of informality to counter both a sense of obtrusion and condemnation in Finnegans Wake and Ulysses.