“Varlam Shalamov's Sketches of the Criminal World.” In Born to Be Criminal: The Discourse on Criminality and the Practice of Punishment in Late Imperial Russia and Early Soviet Union, 233-45. Ed. Riccardo Nicolosi and Anne Hartmann. Bielefeld: Transcript, 2017.
Information about the early history of concentration camps can shed light on the meaning of Stephen Dedalus's reference to “concentration camps sung by Mr. Swinburne” in the library episode of Joyce's Ulysses. Having made their way into the text, external references enter an array of relationships with other narrative details of the novel. The semiological model of literary analysis can help us in balancing attention to the properties of the text and to contextual information, in choosing the relevant data for analysis, avoiding detours in pedagogical practice, and remaining alert to the ways in which the text refracts historical realities and provides a comment on them. The comment of Ulysses on concentration camps has a prophetic quality.