ABSTRACT

Exiles, Joyce's single dramatic work, served as an important vehicle for the author's complex, sometimes convoluted investigation of heterosexual and homoerotic desire. Although Exiles may resemble a turn-of-the-century problem play, it offers, from a psychoanalytic standpoint, a provocative exploration of sexual and psychic mobility. 1 Like August Strindberg before him, Joyce is obsessed with the "name of the Father" as an index of authority and authorized familial identity. And he knows, instinctively, that the "merest hint of the mother's infidelity threatens to expose what Lacan calls the symbolic, . . . which is usually covered over, sutured, by the representations of ... the imaginary of chivalry, the woman's presumed honour. '' 2 In Exiles, Joyce is determined to inscribe the enigmatic fluctuations of erotic desire into a playful symbolic context. Sexual urgency is deliberately deferred - both by Richard Rowan the artist, who sleeps alone in his study and studies aesthetic parturition; and by Robert Hand, the suitor who courts Bertha in traditional chivalric guise in order to defer and displace his own homoerotic admiration for Richard. 3

Richard has refused to submit to restrictive bourgeois practices and lives in a common-law marriage with a woman who bears his child but not his legal name and with a son who is called by the "nice name they give those children" rather than by the surname of the father. Denying Bertha and Archie the authorized status of wife and legitimate heir, he has abdicated patriarchal authority over the "unauthorized" (illegitimate, dispossessed, un-named) members of his household. Because he deliberately renounces the role of paterfamilias, center of power and law in the family configuration, his

JAMESJOYCEANDTHEPOLITICSOFDESIRE

positionisill-definedanddecenteredbyitsveryrefusaltoclaimwife andchildaslegalpossessions.Thetwosubjectsofhisdomestic hearth,notsubjecttofamilialmastery,areliberatedandselfdetermined,theoreticallyfreetoauthortheirownidentitieswithin theopenspacesofpaternalabsence.Ostensiblydisclaimingthe rightsofatraditionalpatriarch,Richardeschewsstereotypical bourgeoisrolesandresponsibilities.Thoughabiologicalprogenitor, herejectsphallocraticprivilegeandabrogatesfalseidealsofsexual fidelitysuturedbyanimaginarychivalry.4