"The author of two well-received books on Joyce—James Joyce’s Metamorphoses and Finnegans Wake: A Plot Summary—Gordon continues his engaging and useful explication of Joyce’s most difficult writing. The author’s abiding premise is that Joyce, like Hemingway, was a realist who wished to ‘reduce the veil between literature and life.’ Unlike many contemporary critics, however, Gordon argues that Joyce’s reality differs from the present reality, drawing on ideas current in his time. . . . Gordon sees Joyce’s linguistic pyrotechnics as rooted in the nativist philology of the late 19th century. The turn-of-the-century fascination with the occult as a science figures prominently in Joyce’s realism, giving an ‘Orphic’ dimension to his thought and writing. Gordon adeptly traces and provocatively argues these points."—Choice
“Joyce was a realist, but his reality was not ours,” writes John Gordon in his new book. Here, he maintains that the shifting styles and techniques of Joyce’s works is a function of two interacting realities the external reality of a particular time and place and the internal reality of a character’s mental state. In making this case Gordon offers up a number of new readings: how Stephen Dedalus conceives and composes his villanelle; why the Dubliners story about Little Chandler is titled “A Little Cloud”; why Gerty MacDowell suddenly appears and disappears; what is happening when Leopold Bloom stares for two minutes on end at a beer bottle’s label; why the triangle etched at the center of Finnegans Wake doubles itself and grows a pair of circles; why the next to last chapter of Ulysses has, by far, the book’s highest incidence of the letter C; and who is the man in the macintosh.
Gordon, whose authoritative “Finnegans Wake”: A Plot Summary received critical acclaim and is considered one of the standard references, revisesand challengesthe received version of that reality. For instance, Joyce features ghost visitations, telepathy, and other paranormal phenomena not as “flights into fantasy” but because he believed in the real possibility of such occurrences.
John Gordon is professor of english at Connecticut College. He is the author of James Joyce's Metamorphoses; "Finnegans Wake": A Plot Summary; Physiology and the Literary Imagination; and many articles on modern literature.
Series: Irish Studies
6 x 9, 358 pages