James Joyce Edna OBrien

ISBN: 9782762123210

Published:

Hardcover

241 pages


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James Joyce  by  Edna OBrien

James Joyce by Edna OBrien
| Hardcover | PDF, EPUB, FB2, DjVu, AUDIO, mp3, ZIP | 241 pages | ISBN: 9782762123210 | 10.11 Mb

Although Edna OBrien has never trafficked in James Joyces head-over-heels brand of high modernism, she does have a couple of characteristics in common with her great predecessor. After all, both authors engaged in a profoundly ambivalentMoreAlthough Edna OBrien has never trafficked in James Joyces head-over-heels brand of high modernism, she does have a couple of characteristics in common with her great predecessor.

After all, both authors engaged in a profoundly ambivalent excoriation of their native Ireland. And while OBriens sexual politics can make Joyce seem like a fusty Edwardian by comparison, both novelists got a certain amount of flack for their erotic frankness. So this latest match from the Penguin Lives series seems like a good one--and largely lives up to its promise. OBrien makes no pretense of competing with Richard Ellmanns immense, magisterial portrait. Instead she has concocted in James Joyce something that resembles one of her own novels: a spirited, lyrical, and acerbic narrative that just happens to feature the author of Ulysses in the starring role.

Having experienced the constrictions of Irish life firsthand, OBrien is particularly good on Joyces downwardly mobile childhood. Was his resulting hatred of his native land exaggerated? Apparently not:No one who has not lived in such straitened and hideous circumstances can understand the battering of that upbringing. All the more because they had come down in the world, a tumble from semi-gentility, servants, a nicely laid table, cut glasses, a piano, the accoutrements of middle-class life, relegated to the near slums in Mountjoy Square, the gaunt spectral mansions in which children sat like mice in the gaping doorways.

The author also gives a vivid sense of her subjects devotion to his art, an altar upon which he happily sacrificed his family, health, friends, and even his eyesight. She is stubborn in her defense of Joyces sublime irresponsibility, which she ascribes to all writers: It is a paradox that while wrestling with the language to capture the human condition they become more callous, and cut off from the very human traits which they so glisteningly depict. OBriens own wrestling match in James Joyce has, to be honest, its share of pins and minor pratfalls: there are some embarrassing repetitions and punctuational oddities, and her occasional assimilation of Joyces own language is an awkward (if heartfelt) form of homage.

Still, when she sticks to her own inflections, her account of this funnominal man is an eminently readable and entertaining dose of Irish bitters. --James Marcus



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