Opposing Factors: Network Graphs and the Themes of Joyce and Eliot

While I was toggling between filters on Gephi, I found the most interesting information to be the sort of "over-arching" themes of Joyce and Eliot.  When you select the filter "Eliot,"  the words "immortality" and "aesthetics,"  and the words "death" and "religion," oppose each other on the graph.  Alternatively, using the "Joyce" filter, the graph formulated creates a triangle of "irony," "greatness," and "mediocrity."  

By looking at how these words are related to one another, comparing Joyce and Eliot, one can "read" the major concerns, and the interior conflicts, of their work.  For Eliot, he is concerned with each of the four terms described, but he is also interested in their relationships.  He wonders, in many of his poems, if aesthetics are immortal, and he wonders if religion is dead.  Further, can his aesthetics immortalize him, and can the lack of religion, or too much religion, kill?  

With Joyce, it seems that the irony of his own greatness is his exposure of mediocrity, especially in Bloom's life.  OR, that the irony of life is that everything great is truly mediocre and vice versa.  Perhaps, because this data is subjective, this is more of a reading of individual students' readings of the work, but it nevertheless indicates to some degree the message that these works create.  

One person, one bookstore, and one whole network

It took me a minute to realize what I was reading when I began Sylvia Beach’s memoir. I was already familiar with the modern bookstore in Paris called Shakespeare and Company (owned by George Whitman, started in 1951) due to some internet searches and a Paris guidebook. But the history around the name of the modern one, and the fact that the original Shakespeare and Company (Beach’s bookstore) was in its time the place to be for American, English, and even some French writers was all new. Thus throughout my reading of these chapters I could not wrap my head around the fact that Beach knew many of the authors that today have been placed on pedestals, and not only this, but how normal they seem through her. Beach mentions, for instance in “Pilgrims from America”, the fact that Ezra Pound, not only wrote and printed works, but also was a carpenter, and preferred to talk about his furniture than his literature. This peak into the more natural and everyday lives of the French Modernist Literary movement is to me a rare gift.   

Shakespeare and Company also shows how close the literary scene was. Whether it was procuring items for the shop, friends coming to Paris to see her and becoming part of “the Circle,” or just various artists browsing and coming back for more, Beach shows us how connected the artistic minds of this time were and how much they relied on each other for the connections. This network of writers, poets, artists, and composers shows as well how one location, at one time can become the center of a whole movement. Beach’s shop went from being just a small book lending shop, to a focal point in this network. It would be an amazing experience to be a part of a network such as this, but in a way this was a unique event, something that had a great effect on the literature of the day, and the people involved in its production. 

Sylvia Beach allows the reader a glance at a life surrounded by the authors we think of today as great artists. She allows us the unique chance to see it all as if we are a part of it; to see it as something natural and non-important. She shows us easily how connected the printing culture was, and how just a simple bookshop could help piece together this network.