Three Writers in Exile: Pound, Eliot & Joyce

By Doris L. Eder | Go to book overview

JOYCE: THE ETERNAL RETURN

The Irish Tradition of Exile

Irish writers have traditionally been exiles from Ireland. Joyce is but one of a galaxy of exiles who became luminaries of English literature: Goldsmith, Sheridan, Wilde, Moore, and Beckett are others. Ireland's alienation of her artists is well known. Daniel Corkery, in Synge and Anglo-Irish Literature, remarks that almost all Irish writers who wrote in English have been expatriates for life. 1 Though Ireland has been so fertile a breeding ground for artists, she has not known until recently how to cultivate them. Poverty, nationalism, provincialism, not to say parochialism, Irish Catholicism, and censorship have all militated against that freedom of spirit and expression on which art thrives. Joyce's reasons for leaving Ireland were many, complex, and compelling. Some of them he shared with other exiles. Statements by George Bernard Shaw and George Moore in this regard are illuminating. Shaw declared, "My business in life could not be transacted in Dublin. . . . Every Irishman who felt that his business in life was on the higher planes of the cultural professions felt that he must have a metropolitan domicile and an international culture: that is, he felt that his first business was to get out of Ireland."2 For Shaw in 1876, Dublin and the entire culture of Ireland were too provincial. So they were for Joyce a generation later. In the springtime of the Irish Literary Renaissance, Joyce's stance was obdurately European and international, anti-provincial and anti-Gaelic. There can be nothing more alienating than living in a country governed by another, speaking a language not one's own, yet Joyce could not approve the solution proposed by the Celtic revival. He believed literature in Gaelic was doomed to a sickly life and an early death. In "The Day of the Rabblement," he castigates the Irish as "the most belated race in Europe," and bids them follow European models, for he realizes that modern art will have to be international. Further, Joyce asserts there are no native models worth follow

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Three Writers in Exile: Pound, Eliot & Joyce
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Introduction 1
  • Ezra Pound's Odyssey 23
  • Notes 46
  • T. S. Eliot's Search for Roots 51
  • Notes 75
  • Joyce: the Eternal Return 82
  • Notes 101
  • Index 107
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