Working with History, Working with Taboo: A Comparative Review of Two Works of Joyce Criticism


Gibson and Platt's Joyce, Ireland, Britain and Jen Shelton's Joyce and the Narrative Structure of Incest present two very different ways of understanding the discourses of history and power in Joyce. Shelton's study addresses the way in which Joyce's texts negotiate the problem of their own authority, stressing the complex strategies (literary as well as political) involved in Joyce's authorship of female narratives. Within this framework "incest" is used as a byword for the complex power-dynamic in which competing discourses are thrust in Joyce's work. Joyce, Ireland, Britain approaches Joyce as a writer whose texts are saturated with references to historically and culturally specific data. The essays collected in the volume insist on the need to read the Joyce canon not as a testing ground for abstract notions but as a body of work whose meanings and images are indissociable from the historical and geographical contingencies in which they are produced.