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James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction [#685]
James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction [#685]
  • Explores the novels and short stories of James Joyce, one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century
  • Coincides with the 100th anniversary of the publication of Ulysses, which marked the beginning of the modern novel
  • Analyses the literary traditions and social factors influencing Joyce's distinctive complex style
  • Interweaves Joyce's life and history with his books

James Joyce is one of the greatest writers in English. His first book, A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man laid down the template for the Coming of Age novel, while his collection of short stories, Dubliners, is of perennial interest. His great modern epic, Ulysses, took the city of Dublin for its setting and all human life for its subject, and its publication in 1922 marked the beginning of the modern novel. Joyce's final work, Finnegans Wake is an endless experiment in narrative and language. But if Joyce is a great writer he is also the most difficult writer in English. Finnegans Wake is written in a freshly invented language, and Ulysses exhausts all the forms and styles of English. Even the apparently simple Dubliners has plots of endless complexity, while the structure of A Portrait of the Artist as A Young Man is exceptionally intricate.
This Very Short Introduction explores the work of this most influential yet complex writer, and analyses how Joyce's difficulty grew out of his situation as an Irish writer unwilling to accept the traditions of his imperialist oppressor, and contemptuous of the cultural banality of the Gaelic revival. Joyce wanted to investigate and celebrate his own life, but this meant investigating and celebrating the drunks of Dublin's pubs and the prostitutes of Dublin's brothels. No subject was alien to him and he developed the naturalist project of recording all aspects of life with the symbolist project of finding significant correspondences in the most unlikely material. Throughout, Colin MacCabe interweaves Joyce's life and history with his books, and draws out their themes and connections.


1:Story and sound
3:A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
5:Finnegans Wake
6:Conclusion: Elite past or democratic future?
Further Reading

About the author: 

Colin MacCabe is Distinguished Professor of English and Film, University of Pittsburgh. After becoming the youngest professor of English in the UK with a Chair at Strathclyde University in the 1980s, he split his energies between literary criticism at the University of Pittsburgh and producing films at the BFI (1985-1998); Minerva Pictures (1998-2005); and The Derek Jarman Lab (2012-present). Throughout his career he has studied and taught on James Joyce while writing on many other topics in film and literature in subsequent decades. MacCabe's other books include Keywords for Today (2019, co-edited with Holly Yanacek), and Perpetual Carnival:Essays on Film and Literature (2017).

Product details

ISBN : 9780192894472

Colin MacCabe
144 Pages
111 x 174 mm
Pub date
Oct 2021
Very Short Introductions
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James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction [#685]

James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction [#685]

James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction [#685]