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Humanities 2017, 6(2), 42; doi:10.3390/h6020042

Beelines: Joyce’s Apian Aesthetics

Department of English, 3-5 Woodland Road, The University of Bristol, BS8 1TB, UK
Received: 31 May 2017 / Revised: 31 May 2017 / Accepted: 14 June 2017 / Published: 16 June 2017
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Joyce, Animals and the Nonhuman)
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Abstract

This article examines the presence of apian life in James Joyce’s body of work in light of Maurice Maeterlinck’s discovery at the turn of the twentieth-century that honeybees communicate using a complex system of language. In December 1903, Joyce offered to translate Maeterlinck’s book-length study La Vie Des Abeille (The Life of the Bee) (1901) for the Irish Bee-Keeper, and the pages of the journal later resurface on a book-cart in Ulysses. Beginning with a discussion of the ‘economy of bee life’ in Stephen Hero, this article explores Joyce’s career-long fascination with nonhuman modes of communication, tracing his fascination with apian intelligence through close readings of Bloom’s bee-sting in Ulysses, as well as through the swarm of references that appear in Finnegans Wake. Finally, it argues that bees offer new ways of reading Joyce’s work, opening up new lines of connection between the fields of literary criticism and apiculture, and drawing the reader’s attention to the peripheral hum or murmur at the edges of human speech. View Full-Text
Keywords: James Joyce; Stephen Hero; Ulysses; Finnegans Wake; Maurice Maeterlinck; bees; apiculture; swarm intelligence James Joyce; Stephen Hero; Ulysses; Finnegans Wake; Maurice Maeterlinck; bees; apiculture; swarm intelligence
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Murray, R. Beelines: Joyce’s Apian Aesthetics. Humanities 2017, 6, 42.

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