James Joyce

1st Edition

Colin Milton

Published October 10, 2012
Reference - 1456 Pages
ISBN 9780415491822 - CAT# Y100548
Series: Critical Assessments of Major Writers

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James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882–1941) is a towering figure in the development of English-language modernist prose fiction. And his influence extends well beyond the anglophone literary world; like his alter ego, Stephen Dedalus, Joyce flew by the nets of nationality, language, and religion, and spent most of his life in continental Europe.

The significance of Joyce’s oeuvre—particularly the later and more radical prose works—far outweighs the modesty of its bulk: only two books of verse, a play, one collection of short stories, and three novels (using that term in its most elastic sense) were published in his lifetime. But the combination of a modest output with an increasingly audacious experimentalism has generated interpretative and critical commentary on a vast and bewildering scale. Joyce attracted serious attention (not always favourable) from virtually every significant writer of the age: elder statesmen like Yeats recognized his importance, as did members of his own generation, such as Pound, Eliot, and Lawrence. The major American critics of the era, like Edmund Wilson and Lionel Trilling, and, in France, Eugene Jolas and Jacques Mercanton, also responded with enthusiasm to his work, as did Cyril Connolly and F. R. Leavis in Britain. Joyce’s work has also lent itself to approaches informed by contemporary theory—whether new critical, formalist, structuralist, deconstructionist, feminist, or materialist—such that the development of Joycean criticism maps the spread and transmutations of ‘theory’ and illustrates its applications.

So, while the prospective reader of Ulysses or Finnegans Wake is likely to feel a compelling need for some preparation before consuming the text itself, the daunting quantity (and variable quality) of Joyce criticism makes it difficult to discriminate the useful from the tendentious, superficial, and otiose. That is why this new Routledge title is so urgently needed. In four volumes, the collection meets the need for an authoritative reference work to allow researchers and students to make sense of the vast Joycean literature and the continuing explosion in research output. Users will now be able easily and rapidly to locate the best and most influential critical scholarship, work that is otherwise often inaccessible or scattered throughout a variety of specialist journals and books. With material gathered into one easy-to-use set, researchers and students can now spend more of their time with the key journal articles, book chapters, and other pieces, rather than on time-consuming (and sometimes fruitless) archival searches.

Fully indexed and with a comprehensive introduction newly written by the editor, which places the collected material in its historical and intellectual context, James Joyce is an essential reference work and is destined to be valued as a vital research resource. 

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