Notes on Form: Joyce's Tetrameters

James Joyce may be best known for his prose, but in the character of Stephen Dedalus he is able to contemplate the "purest realization of poetry"

This essay is part two in James Matthew Wilson’s “Notes on Form” series. Click here for part one, “Second Thoughts on the Poetic Line.”

In the opening pages of James Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Stephen Dedalus finds himself preoccupied with figuring out how words do what they do. This leads him, eventually, to the charmingly n…

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