International Perspectives on James Joyce

International Perspectives on James Joyce

International Perspectives on James Joyce

International Perspectives on James Joyce

Synopsis

A 1981 Joyce seminar served as the source of the 15 essays presented in this volume, all written by either lecturers or students at that seminar, and representing seven European countries and the US and very diverse critical perspectives.

Excerpt

When I attended my first James Joyce Symposium in Dublin in 1977, I was a student in my third year at a university, with a reader-response background and an immense love of a book I first had read only a year before: Ulysses. Then I wanted to meet all those famous professors who had written all those famous books on Joyce: "Joyceans," as they chose to call themselves. After that week at Trinity College I knew for sure that I'd never, never be a Joycean. Scholars had I expected, fans I met. They all loved Joyce, patting the backs of his books, caressing every single page, every line, every curve of every letter, French if the Master willed. For He was there. With a hundred little ants--or earwigs?--piling up a dungheap to preserve the letter, burying the message. Shauns and Shems in a univocal adoration of their guru, polishing the halo they had forged in the smithy of their woeful, wilful exile. "Methodology" was crushed to a four-letter word, any approach beyond close reading and biographical criticism caused a shudder like the sacrilegious act of a ghoul.

Seven years later, at the Frankfurt symposium, the scene had changed. They were still there, our old new critics and our cheerleaders, with superb and blunt readings and biographical background information straight from the horse's mouth. But they were no longer pre-dominant. They were figures in a carpet which displayed the whole range of possible approaches to literature, both traditional and post-traditional. And Joyce's works shifted from the undisputed centre of the literary world to the more appropriate place of an outstanding paradigm of modern literature, which deserved special attention from all points of view, opening up the Joyce universe to more universal contexts--an idea which must be incomprehensible to a "real" Joycean.

But I had already been reconciled with the Joyce community a few years before, away from the big symposia, in a place with nothing specially "Joycean" about it, in a setting . . .

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