Although many scholars have addressed the central problems of interpretation in the work of James Joyce, less attention has been given to Joyce as a writer working within a specific literary and social context. This volume of 18 essays, distilled from a conference on Joyce and his contemporaries, focuses on Joyce's work from a variety of perspectives and examines his relationship to the Irish literary milieu and his connections to other writers and public figures of the period.
The first group of essays explores questions relating to narrative and characterization in The Dead, Finnegans Wake, Ulysses, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In the second part, the authors look at Joyce's use of fiction as a forum for statements on issues such as the role of the artists in society, Catholicism, economics, nationalist politics, and social reform. The third part traces Joyce's literary connections to Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, and Sean O'Casey, and the fourth discusses his influence on contemporary Irish poets and writers of fiction. The final chapters deal with several of Joyce's contemporaries, including the writers James Stephens and Padraic O'Conaire and the nationalist political leader Eamon de Valera. Illuminating both Joyce's work and the field of Irish letters in general, this collection will be a valuable resource or text for courses on Joyce, twentieth-century Irish literature, and modern fiction.