Shaw and Joyce: The Last Word in Stolentelling

Shaw and Joyce: The Last Word in Stolentelling

Shaw and Joyce: The Last Word in Stolentelling

Shaw and Joyce: The Last Word in Stolentelling

Synopsis

"This controversial and groundbreaking book - certain to provoke Joyce scholars - documents the heretofore under observed influence of George Bernard Shaw on James Joyce. In painstaking detail, Martha Fodaski Black addresses Joyce's "stolentelling" from Shaw, maintaining that Joyce employed literary ruses to obscure the relationship between himself and his Irish predecessor - stratagems that argue for Joyce's own originality. Shaw and Joyce were both literary pickpockets, like most writers, but Shaw (unlike Joyce) readily admitted his sources. Black seeks "to restore Shaw's reputation, to prove that the crafty Joyce secretly approved of and used the old leprechaun playwright, and to quarrel with critics who isolate texts from the faces behind them."" "Black finds "pervasive and indubitable connections" especially between Finnegans Wake and Back to Methuselah, culminating in the subterranean conflict between the father/brother ("frother") Shaun and the "penman" Shem in the Wake. But ultimately she shows that Shaw's influence on Joyce was ubiquitous: while the younger writer followed his own muse as a stylist, the "germs" of all his themes "are in the polemics, prefaces, and plays of the famous Fabian."" "A critical pragmatist, Black draws on an eclectic blend of sociological/psychological and feminist insights to produce an analysis "accessible to readers who are not specialists in structuralism, deconstruction, manuscript analysis, or any of the critical isms." Given the controversial nature of "The Last Word in Stolentelling," it will find partisan readers among Joyce and Shaw scholars as well as others interested in Irish literature and literary theory." Title Summary field provided by Blackwell North America, Inc. All Rights Reserved

Excerpt

Bernard Benstock

Few critics prior to Martha Fodaski Black have tackled the slippery subject of the Shaw-Joyce relationship with much penetration or even enthusiasm. It has always been there, more a subject for casual commentary than an actual problem to be taken too seriously: the influence of the older writer on the younger, thought to be marginal at best; the deferential offhandedness with which the younger treated the older; the passing of two Irish ships in the night with but a bare exchange of signal lights when absolutely necessary. Their similarities were obvious--both were Irish; both were rebellious enough to invoke the image of Lucifer; both were in self-imposed exile from Ireland, uncomfortable with the status quo in their native land but almost as uncomfortable when changes somehow managed to occur. Their differences were insurmountable, mostly in their relations in and attitudes toward literary modernism in the first half of the twentieth century. Both were too cagey to put their signatures to it, but they seem to have made an unwritten agreement to disagree on the basics--political commitment and the functions of art.

Where others have been content with dealing within the confines of such generalities, in her brave and ambitious study of the two famed fictioneers Martha Black has been scrupulously discontent, challenging even the most . . .

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