This essay challenges the dismissal of nationalist politics in readings of Ulysses by reconnecting the “Cyclops” episode to the aporias of modern political thought. Drawing from Joyce’s neglected notes to the episode, it relocates anticolonial nationalism within the diremption and mutual implication of civil society and state, first articulated by G. W. F. Hegel and developed by Hannah Arendt. The essay rereads Hegel’s state/society diremption through Gillian Rose’s conception of “speculative thinking” and the historical openness of the “broken middle.” It argues that “Cyclops” generates a dynamic interpretative space in which other configurations of the social and political in the nation might be registered. In a contemporary moment when legality and constitutionality are under attack in the name of nationalist populism, this reading suggests an alternative to frameworks that conceive of law only as violence.

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