Work in Progress contains a separate essay on each of Joyce’s major works (Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake), with recognized Joyce scholars examining in each a central critical problem.
Morris Beja examines Dubliners from the perspective of the “epiphany,” a concept formulated by the young Joyce. Richard Peterson finds a rhythmic flow in A Portrait that helps us see its narrative structuring more clearly. Shari and Bernard Benstock explore Ulysses to discern how movement and spatiality function in its narrative. Patrick McCarthy considers how Finnegans Wake and its audience are necessarily symbiotic partners.
In the second grouping of essays Edmund Epstein and Fritz Senn each investigate how Joyce handles—or manipulates—language. Looking at three decades of criticism, Margaret Church demonstrates where the study of the Viconian cycle and stream-of-consciousness has led toward an understanding of the role of time in Joyce’s fiction. Sheldon Brivic adduces a Joycean psychology from the works that offers an additional dimension to the study of the texts. Suzette Henke traces the growing maturity of Joyce’s attitude toward women. Completing the collection, Father Robert Boyle examines the religious ethos present in Joyce’s work.