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200 × 130 × 11 mm
192 pages
26 illustrations
01 May 2006
Critical Lives
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James Joyce Andrew Gibson

With an introduction by Declan Kiberd

In this new work, Andrew Gibson sets out to reverse the traditional view of Joyce and his work as the paradigm of international modernism in literature. Where criticism has usually consigned Ireland to secondary status in Joyce’s work, Gibson firmly relocates the writer and his work in Ireland, showing them at all points to be intricately bound up in Irish history, politics and culture. Crucially, he views Joyce’s departure for Europe as allegiance to an Irish emigratory tradition that is centuries old, rather than the abandonment of the old country.

Accounts of Joyce’s life and work have tended to give rather short shrift to his profound engagements with Irish history and politics. Gibson argues that there have been important reasons for this, themselves often historical and political. Tracing the development of Joyce as a critic and writer, he maps this development to specific political and historical events. Beginning with the political traditions and allegiances that formed part of Joyce’s family background, he pinpoints the fall of Parnell, the collapse of political hope, and the transfer of political energies to cultural activity as crucial in the writer’s early formation.

Joyce’s immense renown has been due above all to his reputation as an experimental, modernist writer. His works’ open-endedness and seemingly infinite availability to differing interpretations has allowed criticism to constantly update his politics. The book argues that Joyce’s most important concerns were historically material and specific. Yet, it also recognises that Joyce himself encouraged and fostered the view of his work as modernist, which became the dominant tradition in Joyce studies.

‘Written in a compact and graceful style, Gibsons book can be read in two or three happy and absorbing afternoons . . . Despite, or perhaps because of, its partialities, James Joyce makes for engrossing and highly satisfying reading. Gibsons knowledge of Irish history, like his prose, is impeccable, and his application of a distinct point of view about Joyce to his life and career illuminates many aspects of them anew . . . [a] fine study.’ — James Joyce Literary Supplement

‘Gibsons book has much to recommend it . . . This is an important study that should send us all back to the masters scriptures with wiped eyes and big questions.’ — Gerry Dukes, Irish Independent

‘The care with which Gibson analyses the play Exiles in his study is essential reading, as is his change in perspective regarding Ulysses itself, where he emphasizes the novels profoundly Irish historical and existential freight.’ — El País, Uruguay

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Andrew Gibson is Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London. He is the author of Ulysses (2002), Samuel Beckett(Reaktion, 2010). He is coeditor of Reaktion's London from Punk to Blair and the author of Joyce's Revenge: History, Politics and Aesthetics in Ulysses and James Joyce, the latter also published by Reaktion.

Introduction by Declan Kiberd
1.  History, Politics, the Joycean Biography
2.  Parnell, Fenianism and the Joyces
3.  Youth in Nineties Dublin
4.  An Intellectual Young Man, 1898-1903
5.  The Artist as Critic
6.  16 June 1904
7.  Continental Exile
8.  Looking Back: Dubliners
9.  A Second Outpost of Empire
10.  The Battle of the Book
11.  Ireland Made Me:  A Portrait of the Artist
12.  Joyce, Ireland and the War
13.  Writing Ulysses
14.  The National Epic
15.  Monsieur Joyce in Paris
16.  Joyce and Free Statehood
17.  Joyce Enterprises
18.  A Wild, Blind, Aged Bard
19.  The Megalith
Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements