Early Writings from the Local Government Act to the Land Act, 1898–1903
The period of Joyce's earliest writings in Ireland was marked by forward-looking movements and progressive legislation. It had a turn-of-the-century temper: the idea of ‘national resurgence’ was much in vogue. The chapter examines the temper in four particular contexts: radical nationalism, constitutional nationalism, university life, and internationalism. The Joyce of 1898–1903 is caught up in the new mood, which is pervasively reflected in his early essays and reviews. These writings aim not only to capture and express the resurgent spirit, but to represent, even embody, it; to assume but also take charge of, direct, forge, and reforge it, give it new dimensions, a specific, Joycean, cultural weight and focus. The chapter examines how they do so with reference to Joyce's accounts of Mangan, Rooney, Munkácsy, Ibsen, and others. However, the young Joyce is already aware of a demon of historical irony which pits belatedness against advance and inertia against the purposive drive.
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