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Andrew Gibson, The Strong Spirit

Posted on 01/09/2013

Andrew Gibson's latest study, published in May 2013 by Oxford University Press, aims to be the first comprehensive historicisation of Joyce's writings 1898-1915 in relation to the distinct phases and shifting currents of British-Irish history during the period. At the turn of the century, when a concept of 'national resurgence' is much in the Irish air, in his earliest essays, Joyce meditates on art as an anti-colonial and emancipatory project that addresses questions of freedom and justice in its own distinctive way. His early essays produce a compelling declaration of a principle of autonomy at a specific historical moment in a colonial culture. However, successive historical events - the crises surrounding the Land Act, the United Irish League and Devolution, the election of 1906, the Third Home Rule Bill crisis - call the emancipatory project ever more sharply into question. Thus 'the strong spirit' which Joyce had initially thought might transcend and even conquer the effects of history becomes indissolubly wedded to radical historical scepticism. Through Dubliners, Stephen Hero, the 'Triestine Writings' and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man to Exiles, Joyce responds to his predicament by examining recent Irish history and the place of the intellectual and artist within it in a variety of extremely subtle and complex or, in Joycean terms, 'labyrinthine' forms of writing.

+more information about this publication can be found on the publisher's website here


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