Joyce, Coleridge, and the Eastern Aesthetic

Document Type


Publication Date



This essay traces Joyce's use of eastern imagery in Ulysses back to the poetics of Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ultimately offering an alternative to Edward Said's familiar argument for Orientalism as a mode of western domination. Though the relationship between Coleridge and Joyce has been left largely unexplored, Joyce's allusions to Coleridge's "Kubla Khan" and The Rime of the Ancient Mariner at crucial points in the novel reveal the importance of The Arabian Nights as a narrative model as well as a sourcebook for aesthetic misrepresentations of the East. Sharing a common interest in the theme of loss and recovery in both its literal and figurative forms, Coleridge and Joyce deploy eastern imagery as a way of eliciting a multivalent structure of symbol and allusion whereby the representation of the particular aspires to the universal.