Joyce's Breathing Space
This chapter focuses on Joyce and ‘the Irish question’. The aims of Irish eloquence were recurring features of political debate, partly as a result of the Act of Union that saw Irish politicians enter Westminster in 1801. Born in year that clôture was implemented (1882), Joyce is the last writer who had persistent recourse to the styles of Victorian oratory in his work. Indeed, the closure was itself instituted to combat Irish obstructionism in the Commons, and the loquacious tactics had a key part to play in the erosion of parliamentary autonomy at the end of the century. The chapter considers Joyce's early work and ends with a sustained focus on Ulysses (1922), thinking through the implications of the writer's choice to structure his masterpiece around the figure of the most renowned orator in the classical literary tradition.
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