Article published in:Signergy
Edited by C. Jac Conradie, Ronél Johl, Marthinus Beukes, Olga Fischer and Christina Ljungberg
[Iconicity in Language and Literature 9] 2010
► pp. 259–278
Iconicity typological and theological
J. G. Hamann and James Joyce
The extensive writings on language of the Prussian “pansemiotician” Johan Georg Hamann (1730–1788) provide a rich field for inquiry. The icon of breathing in his “New Apology for the Letter H” is satirical yet finally theological in a richly allusive manner. Only 150 years later, in the form of James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake, its iconicity equally unexplored, would appear a work of genius as abtruse, its author as myriadminded and delighted with bawdy as Hamann. Within it lies another iconical “H”, the first initial of its omnifarious hero, equally concerned with breathing and the soul. Nothing in literary history formed the link we can see here; it is a matter of iconicity pure and simple.
Published online: 26 May 2010