James Joyce and His Contemporaries

James Joyce and His Contemporaries

James Joyce and His Contemporaries

James Joyce and His Contemporaries

Synopsis

Although many scholars have addressed the central problems of interpretation in the work of James Joyce, less attention has been given to Joyce as a writer working within a specific literary and social context. This volume of 18 essays, distilled from a conference on Joyce and his contemporaries, focuses on Joyce's work from a variety of perspectives and examines his relationship to the Irish literary milieu and his connections to other writers and public figures of the period. The essays explore questions relating to narrative and characterization, the use of fiction as a forum for statements on issues, Joyce's literary connections, and his influence on contemporary Irish poets and writers.

Excerpt

This collection of essays, an outgrowth of a conference on James Joyce and his contemporaries, focuses on Joyce's work from significant points of view and places Joyce in the context of the Ireland of his time. The first part, Joyce's canon, deals with central problems of interpretation in his fiction. Janet Egleson Dunleavy, Joseph Bentley, and Suzette Henke treat problems of narrative, Maria Tymoczko and Julienne H. Empric, problems of characterization.

Dunleavy, examining the problematic nature of the narrative voices in "The Dead," identifies four different narrative voices and their places in the story. In a similar vein, Henke's identification of ALP's narrative language in Finnegans Wake helps to delineate character and theme. Dealing with the central problem of narrative unity in Ulysses, Bentley finds that Jean Piaget's theory of child development offers a pattern by which disparate narrative elements can be understood. Tymoczko, demolishing the view that the trio of characters in Ulysses is European, demonstrates that figures from early Irish sagas served as models for characterization in Ulysses, while Emperic enlarges the rather static view of feminine characterization in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

The second part, The Rhetoric of Joyce's World, exploresJoyce belief that literature in any form tends to structure consciousness and that popular literature, indeed all form of popular culture, does so more insidiously and on a grander scale than any other.R. B. Kershner , Jr., develops this idea in his discussion of the strange conjunction of Maria Corelli and Stephen Dedalus in Ulysses. The influence of popular literature also is evident in Cheryl Herr's essay that describes the complex mixture of Roman Catholic doctrine and economics in Jaun's sermon in Finnegans Wake (III, ii). Jeanne A. Flood and Bonnie Kime Scott analyze the rhetoric of nationalist politics and social reforms, showing how these are reflected in The Dead and inStephen Hero and Portrait.

Joyce's Connections to the Writers of His Time, part III, tells something about the continuities of literary influences. Dominic Manganiello demonstrates that Joyce's connection with Oscar Wilde is deeper than the shared theme of the betrayed artist; Rhoda B. Nathan reveals affinities between Joyce's and Shaw's dramatic interests and influences, and Michael Kenneally describes the way Sean O'Casey measured himself against Joyce in the writing of his own Autobiographies.

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