History is a nightmare

Feeling that some "wisdom" is being expected of him in Nestor (and not just sardonic replies), Stephen weighs an answer to the triumphalist version of history that he has been hearing from Deasy: benighted Jews eternally cursed by enlightened Christians, anarchic fenians held at bay by resolute Tories, spendthrift Catholics bested at the bank by thrifty Protestants. His counter-vision is a simple statement of despair: "History . . . is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake." The metaphor implies that human history is no place to look for enlightenment or justice.

JH 2012

Henry Fuseli, The Nightmare (1781), in the Institute of Fine Arts, Detroit. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Max Beckmann, Sinking of the Titanic (1912). Source: weimarart.blogspot.com.