All or not at all

As Stephen thinks back, in Proteus, on his insistence that Buck not demean him, he affirms his need to be wholly accepted: "As I am. As I am. All or not at all." The second declaration returns in Circe. Stephen's romantic self-affirmation probably owes its inspiration to Henrik Ibsen, the truth-telling Norwegian playwright whom the young Joyce admired extravagantly. It may also owe something to Oscar Wilde.

JH 2016

Brand, lithograph on laid paper by Maurice Dumont (1895), held in the National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Henrik Ibsen ca. 1898, in a photograph by Gustav Borgen. Source: Wikimedia Commons.