Joyce and Militarism

Joyce and Militarism

Joyce and Militarism

Joyce and Militarism


"Greg Winston has produced a marvelous, deeply researched, and lucid story of Joyce's exploration of the personal and social effects of the European cult of militarism. This is a significant contribution to interpretations of Joyce, capitalizing on both cultural studies and political approaches. It is loaded with scholarly discoveries that will illuminate readings and delight readers."--R. Brandon Kershner, editor of Joyce and Popular Culture

"The military and their domestic counterparts, the police, were omnipresent in the world of James Joyce, as was militarism in the literature and society that formed him. Winston ably traces the impact of these realities on the literature Joyce created, works that, as acts of resistance, ultimately move toward imaginative demilitarization."--Thomas Jackson Rice, author of Cannibal Joyce

Each of James Joyce's major works appeared in a year defined by armed conflict in Ireland or continental Europe: Dubliners in 1914 at the outbreak of the First World War; A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in the same year as the 1916 Easter Rising; Ulysses in February 1922,two months after the Anglo-Irish Treaty and a few months before the outbreak of the Irish Civil War; and Finnegans Wake in 1939, as Joyce complained that the German army's westward advances upstaged the novel's release.

In Joyce and Militarism, Greg Winston considers these masterworks in light of the longstanding shadows that military culture and ideology cast over the society in which the writer lived and wrote. The first book-length study of its kind, this articulate volume offers original and interesting insights into Joyce's response to the military presence in everything from education and athletics to prostitution and public space.


“Militarism” is a term used exactly once in the Joycean canon, in a letter to the publisher Grant Richards about one of the chief external forces in Joyce’s early career. “In his heart of hearts,” said Joyce of the printer who objected to Dubliners, “he is a militarist,” a term that has to be, like “epiclesis,” as much a catnip word for Joyce critics as “paralysis” or “simony” is for the boy in “The Sisters.” The word puts everything immediately into play. “Militarism” comes to stand for all forms of parochial belligerence, whether imperial or nationalist, and Winston provides nuanced readings of Joyce’s connections with revolutionaries and pacifists in Dublin, Trieste, and Pola. Joyce’s early essay “Force” makes a welcome appearance: the fact that the survival of Joyce’s essay depends on its pages being co-opted by Stanislaus for his diary is beautifully presented as a figure for occupation itself.

Winston has a way of making his readings matter: a necessary review of the schoolyard origins of Joyce’s loathing for militarism leads to a close analysis of the importance of Bloody Sunday in Joyce’s revisions of “Cyclops,” ending in modern-day Croke Park with a garrison game played on Gaelic sod. By treating Leo Dillon’s subversive reading matter (“The Apache Chief”) at the beginning of “An Encounter” as seriously as the work that Father Butler is actually teaching (Caesar’s Commentaries on the Gallic War), Winston makes a neat and perfectly Joycean point about parallel colonial histories, and about the importance of all forms of intertexts. Winston nicely catches Joyce making the same argument through Dillon’s teacher: “This page or this page? This page? Now Dillon, up! Hardly had the day … Go on! What day? Hardly had the day dawned … Have you studied it? What have you there in your pocket?” Both pages make their justifications for empire; Butler’s rebuke is an elision of genre, language, race, and history.

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