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The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce
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  • Page extent: 152 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.4 kg
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 (ISBN-13: 9780521840378 | ISBN-10: 0521840376)

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The Cambridge Introduction to James
Cambridge University Press
978-0-521-84037-8 - The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce - by Eric Bulson

The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce

James Joyce is one of modern literature's most important authors, yet those coming to his work for the first time often find it difficult to grapple with. This introduction provides all the essential facts about Joyce's life and works, and explains the contexts in which he was writing. Eric Bulson also explains in clear language the different critical approaches that have been used in Joyce studies over the last fifty years. All Joyce's major works, including Ulysses, Finnegans Wake and Dubliners, are covered, and Bulson gives many suggestions for further exploration. A guide to further reading is included. Students will find this an accessible introduction to understanding and enjoying Joyce.

ERIC BULSON is Lecturer in English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University.

Cambridge Introductions to Literature

This series is designed to introduce students to key topics and authors. Accessible and lively, these introductions will also appeal to readers who want to broaden their understanding of the books and authors they enjoy.

  • Ideal for students, teachers, and lecturers
  • Concise, yet packed with essential information
  • Key suggestions for further reading

Titles in this series:

Bulson The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce
CooperThe Cambridge Introduction to T. S. Eliot
DillonThe Cambridge Introduction to Early English Theatre
Goldman The Cambridge Introduction to Virginia Woolf
Holdeman The Cambridge Introduction to W. B. Yeats
McDonaldThe Cambridge Introduction to Samuel Beckett
Peters The Cambridge Introduction to Joseph Conrad
Scofield The Cambridge Introduction to the American Short Story
Todd The Cambridge Introduction to Jane Austen

The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce


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The Edinburgh Building, Cambridge CB2 2RU, UK
Published in the United States of America by Cambridge University Press, New York
Information on this title:

© Eric Bulson 2006

This book is in copyright. Subject to statutory exception
and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements,
no reproduction of any part may take place without
the written permission of Cambridge University Press.

First published 2006

Printed in the United Kingdom at the University Press, Cambridge

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library

ISBN-13 978-0-521-84037-8 hardback
ISBN-10 0-521-84037-6 hardback
ISBN-13 978-0-521-54965-3 paperback
ISBN-10 0-521-54965-5 paperback

Cambridge University Press has no responsibility for the persistence or accuracy of URLs
for external or third-party internet websites referred to in this publication, and does not
guarantee that any content on such websites is, or will remain, accurate or appropriate.

For Mika


Preface page ix
Acknowledgments xi
List of abbreviations xii
Chapter 1 Life 1
Dublin, 1882–1904 1
Trieste, 1904–1915 7
Zurich, 1915–1919; Trieste, 1919–1920 10
Paris, 1920–1940; Zurich, 1940–1941 12
Chapter 2 Contexts 17
Joyce the modernist 17
Joyce the journalist 21
Joyce the translator, lecturer, and lover 26
Chapter 3 Works 32
Dubliners 32
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man 47
Exiles 63
Ulysses 71
Finnegans Wake 91
Chapter 4 Reception 107
1914–1941 107
1941–2005 113
Notes 123
Further reading 130
Index 133


James Joyce's reputation precedes him more than most writers. Without even reading a line of his work, throngs of people can confidently tell you that he was the near-blind Irish renegade, wandering exile, and self-obsessed artist who made book-reading unnecessarily difficult. Joyce can be difficult, but he is actually a lot of fun to read. You don't have to be a professional literary critic to enjoy him. In fact, if you give him a first or maybe even a second try, you will find that the rewards are endless and open to everyone.

Tracking down an introduction to Joyce can be pretty tricky. By now there is such a mass of critical studies, guides, and glossaries that it is hard to figure out where you can go for the basics. The Cambridge Introduction to James Joyce has been written with this dilemma in mind. It provides some of the Joyce abcs and includes an overview of his life, his contexts, his works, and a brief history of his critical reception. The Life chapter provides a bare bones biographical account of Joyce's wanderings between Dublin, Trieste, Zurich, and Paris. Readers who want a more fleshed-out portrait of the artist are encouraged to consult Richard Ellmann's James Joyce and John McCourt's The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904–1920. In the Contexts chapter, I examine how Joyce's “Irishness,” which he explored in his Italian newspaper articles, translations, and lectures, was intimately connected with his own becoming as a writer. The Works chapter is devoted to the individual works (Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake). Each section explains the major themes, motifs, characters, and narrative techniques, and offers some possible interpretations that can help guide you along. Readers interested in exploring individual works are encouraged to consult the Guide to Further Reading at the end of the book and, if possible, a more expansive list included in The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce (ed. Derek Attridge). In the final chapter, I lay out the history of Joyce's critical reception and some of the major approaches that critics have used to assess the significance of his life and work. I have touched on some of the more influential developments in James Joyce studies while also keeping in mind the many critical reassessments that took place in the 1960s and after.

This introduction comes out of my own study of Joyce over the years and owes a great deal to a long and formidable line of critics. As you will soon discover, reading Joyce is a collective effort, one that will no doubt continue for a very long time. Throughout this introduction I will suggest some possible ways to read Joyce's life and works, but these are by no means exhaustive or definitive. It has been my goal to offer up suggestions about how you might read him. I have done my job if you find that you want to give it a first, second, or third try.

© Cambridge University Press
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