Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival

Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival

Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival

Journey Westward: Joyce, Dubliners and the Literary Revival

Excerpt

I’d love to see Galway again.

— Gretta Conroy, ‘The Dead’

Where was James Joyce from? If there is one question that even the most novice of initiates to the study of Irish literature could answer correctly, it is surely this one. Joyce’s burning obsession with the city of his birth has provided Dublin a permanent place in literary history; his loving recreation of its streets, shops, statues, brothels and pubs stands as a valuable historical document as well as a magnificent and enduring artifice. Yet one of the earliest critical mentions of Joyce wishes to connect him not so much with Dublin but with the west. Ireland in Fiction (1916), a still-useful bibliographic guide by the Jesuit priest Stephen J. Brown, provides the following entry for the author of Dubliners:

Joyce, James A., B. of Galway parentage about thirty years ago. Was a student
of Clongowes Wood College and of University Coll., Dublin. Published
some years ago a small book of verse that has been much admired, entitled
Chamber Music. Is at present in Trieste.

Joyce soon became aware of the book, and was keen to correct the error and provide a slightly fuller account of his background, as is clear from a letter of 1918 to his London agent:

I shall be glad if you can send a note to the Reverend Stephen Browne
[sic], S.J., Clongowes Wood College, Sallins, Kildare, Ireland thanking him
in my name for the inclusion of me in his work Ireland in Fiction and, as
he invites corrections for the second edition now in the press, informing
him that I was born in 1882 (2 February), that my father’s family came from
Cork not from the west of Ireland. My father is from Cork city, his father
from Fermoy, county Cork. the family comes, of course, from the west of

1 Stephen J. Brown, sj, Ireland in Fiction: a Guide to Irish Novels, Tales, Romances, and Folk lore (Dublin and London: Maunsel, 1916), 123.

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