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“Ulysses” in Critical Perspective

Wednesday, September 16, 2009; 08:57 pm Leave a comment Go to comments

Gillespie, Michael, and A. Nicholas Fargnoli, eds. “Ulysses” in Critical Perspective. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2006.

This book is a collection of articles from prominent scholars in many different fields of Joycean studies, attempting to map out the current state of scholarship on Ulysses.  Each of the contributors looks both back at the scholarship that preceded them and forward to the scholarship they think should follow.  As the forward by the series editor tells us, the editors divided studies on Ulysses into nine categories:  Reader Response, Narratology, Language Theory, Feminism, Queer Theory, New Historicism, Genetic Criticism, Cultural Studies, and Bibliography.  The contributors, corresponding to these areas of study, are John Paul Riquelme, Margot Norris, Sheldon Brivic, Kimberly J. Delvin, Joseph Velente, Ira B. Nadel, Michael Groden, Gregory Downing, and William Brockman.  These are put forth as the leading experts of our time in their respective fields.  The essays are further grouped into three sections: 1) The Words on the Page (dealing with close reading) 2) Perspectives of the Readers (different theoretical approaches) and 3) Pre- and Post- Publication (dealing with the history of the text production and reception).

The impetus for compiling these essays was that such a collection of critical essays on Ulysses had not come since 1989, (Benstock, Bernard, ed. Critical Essays on James Joyce’s “Ulysses”. Boston: G.K. Hall, 1989.) and the editors wanted to showcase the developments in various fields of Ulysses studies since then.  This is not a book intended for students of Ulysses but rather for scholars who already have some grounding in the novel but want the current material organized for them.  Therefore, it is not a great place to start out, but it will be very useful for tracking down arguments made about the novel and seeing who the major figures in the field are.  On that note, other than the contributors already mentioned, the scholars cited the most are: Ruth Bauerle (for issues of music in Joyce), Jacques Derrida, Stacey Herbert, Cheryl Herr, R. B. Kershner, and Leonard Gary.

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