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MacCabe, Colin. James Joyce: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford UP, 2021. 




List of illustrations 


1. A publication in pot-First World War Paris

2. Dubliners

3. A Portrait 

4. Ulysses

5. Finnegans Wake

6. The Aunt Josephine Paradox

Further reading





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.






Bowen, Zack. Musical Allusions in the Works of James Joyce: Early Poetry though Ulysses. Albany: State U of New York P, 1974. 




Rabaté, Jean-Michel, ed. 1922: Literature, Culture, Politics. Cambridge: Cambridge, 2015.


Joyce, James. The Cats of Copenhagen. Illustration by Casey Sorrow. New York: Scribner, 2012.  


Jackson, John Wyse and Peter Costello. John Stanislaus Joyce: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce's Father. New York: St. Martin's P, 1997.


Akebrand, Josef. Analysis of James Joyce's "A Painful Case." Frankfurt: GRIN Verlag, 2008.


Brady, Philip and James F. Carens, ed. Critical Essays on James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. New York: G. K. Hall, 1998.


O Hehir, Brendan. Gaelic Lexicon for Finnegans Wake: and Glossary for Joyce's Other Works. Berkeley: U of California P, 1967.


Crispy, Luca. Joyce's Creative Process and the Construction of Characters in Ulysses: Becoming the Blooms. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2015.




Wales, Katie. The Language of James Joyce. London: Macmillan, 1992.


Seagull, Jeffery. Joyce in America: Cultural Politics and the Trials of Ulysses. Berkeley: U of California P. 1993.


Bennet, Douglas. Encyclopedia of Dublin. Dublin: Gill and MacMillan, 1994.


Costello, Peter. Leopold Bloom: A Biography. Dublin: Gill and Macmillan, 1981.


Brazeau, Robert and Derek Gladwin, ed. Eco-Joyce: The Environmental Imagination of James Joyce. Cork: Cork UP, 2014. 


Lernout, Geert. The French Joyce. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1990.






Kenner, Hugh. The Mechanic Muse. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987. 




Lanigan, Liam. James Joyce, Urban Planning, and Irish Modernism. New York: MacMillan, 2014.


Byrne, Patrick F., ed. Irish Ghost Stories. Dublin: Colour Books, 1971.


Curran, Constantine. James Joyce Remembered. London: Oxford University Press, 1968. 


Eds. Culleton, Claire A and Ellen Schneible. Rethinking Joyce's Dubliners. Palgrave macmillan: Cham, 2017.


Ed. Matchett, Rio. The Agenbite: A James Joyce Web Zine 2 (2017).