"Sultan brings [the distinction between art and autobiography] to center stage. . . . His is a study teachers can profit from and direct students to, for it is accessible and clearly and confidently written. . . . A brilliant reading of Joyce's work."--Thomas F. Staley, University of Texas, Austin
The respected Joyce critic Stanley Sultan describes his newest book as philological biography. Using the fiction the young James Joyce was writing from 1904 to 1906, he traces the process by which Joyce evolved into the mature artist. Sultan argues that Joyce enriched his fiction with a "poetics of autobiography," a series of elegant strategies that made him his own esoteric subject and that reached its final stage in Finnegans Wake.
He compares Joyce's coming of age as a writer with D. H. Lawrence's parallel and exactly contrary development. While Sultan sees Lawrence as using personal experience as a pragmatic source of plots, incidents, and characterization, he maintains that Joyce became increasingly devoted to and adept at making a fictionalized version of himself the subject of his fiction. Working with Dubliners, he carefully reexamines the narratology of the initial three stories, especially the first version of "The Sisters." He also draws valuable inferences from such evidence as the chronological relations among the actual dates of historical events in the stories and the dates of their original composition and revision.
Sultan's observations address the elusive processes of creativity and bring a new understanding to the relations between art and autobiography. They will be welcomed by scholars of Joyce and of 20th-century literature.
Stanley Sultan, professor of English at Clark University in Worcester, Massachusetts, is the author of Eliot, Joyce and Company and The Argument of Ulysses, among other books