Book chapter

Joyce's Transcendental Aesthetics of Epiphany

ContributorsMacduff, Sangam
PublisherTubingen : Narr Dr. Gunter
Publication date2014

The modern literary epiphany is usually regarded as a subjective, secular experience, but I argue that Daedalus's theory of epiphany in Stephen Hero constitutes an aesthetics of transcendence. Epiphanies traditionally present divine apparitions, and Daedalus's definition of epiphany as a “sudden spiritual manifestation” strongly suggests a transcendental event. In contrast to traditional theophanies, though, his theory draws on the poetics of Wordsworth and Shelley, who reimagine the epiphany as a rapturous, but immanent, experience of the sublime. In doing so, they internalise the epiphany, but from an Idealist perspective, the Romantic revelation remains a transcendental moment in which the Godlike infinitude of nature and/or the mind is shown forth. Indeed, Wordsworth's epiphanies have all the hallmarks of the Kantian sublime, so that Kant's “Analytic of the Sublime” can be used to understand a Romantic aesthetics of transcendence. If Daedalus's theory is essentially Romantic, it follows that Kant's aesthetics also illuminate Stephen Hero, but I argue that they do so in a different way to Wordsworth, by opening up the possibility of a new transcendence, not in the wonder of the starry heavens or the moral law within, but in the sublimity of language itself.

  • Joyce
  • Epiphany
  • Aesthetics
Citation (ISO format)
MACDUFF, Sangam. Joyce’s Transcendental Aesthetics of Epiphany. In: Emotion, Affect and Sentiment: The Language and Aesthetics of Feeling. Tubingen : Narr Dr. Gunter, 2014. p. 143–161.
  • PID : unige:40981

Technical informations

Creation10/15/2014 3:48:00 PM
First validation10/15/2014 3:48:00 PM
Update time03/14/2023 9:51:47 PM
Status update03/14/2023 9:51:47 PM
Last indexation01/16/2024 12:06:52 PM
All rights reserved by Archive ouverte UNIGE and the University of GenevaunigeBlack