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Joyce and the Two Irelands

By Willard Potts

Publication Year: 2000

Uniting Catholic Ireland and Protestant Ireland was a central idea of the "Irish Revival," a literary and cultural manifestation of Irish nationalism that began in the 1890s and continued into the early twentieth century. Yet many of the Revival’s Protestant leaders, including W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory, and John Synge, failed to address the profound cultural differences that made uniting the two Irelands so problematic, while Catholic leaders of the Revival, particularly the journalist D. P. Moran, turned the movement into a struggle for greater Catholic power. This book fully explores James Joyce’s complex response to the Irish Revival and his extensive treatment of the relationship between the "two Irelands" in his letters, essays, book reviews, and fiction up to Finnegans Wake. Willard Potts skillfully demonstrates that, despite his pretense of being an aloof onlooker, Joyce was very much a part of the Revival. He shows how deeply Joyce was steeped in his whole Catholic culture and how, regardless of the harsh way he treats the Catholic characters in his works, he almost always portrays them as superior to any Protestants with whom they appear. This research recovers the historical and cultural roots of a writer who is too often studied in isolation from the Irish world that formed him.

Published by: University of Texas Press

Series: Literary Modernism Series


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p. ix

I owe a well-seasoned debt to my old teacher, the late Malcolm Brown, who was responsible for my first undertaking the subject of this volume. I owe a fresh but equally great debt to Robert Tracy for his generous and helpful reading of the book in its manuscript form. I am obligated to a number of other colleagues for reading various parts of the manuscript, among them Peter Copek, Kerry Ahearn, and...

Abbreviations Used

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p. xi

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Chapter One: Sectarianism and the Irish Revival

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pp. 1-47

In a diary entry for 1930,W. B. Yeats recalls a day early in the Irish Revival when he and Douglas Hyde were out walking and heard people at work in a field singing words that Hyde recognized as his own. Yeats says he begged Hyde to ‘‘give up all coarse oratory’’ and to write more such songs as a way to ‘‘help the two Irelands, Gaelic Ireland and Anglo-Ireland so unite that neither shall shed its pride.’’1 The two...

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Chapter Two: The Critical Writings

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pp. 48-67

Along with a few biographical details, the essays, book reviews, and other items collected in The Critical Writings give a preliminary answer to the question asked at the end of Chapter 1: to what extent did Joyce embrace a militant Catholicism? The collection contains pieces that Joyce wrote before leaving Ireland in 1904, including book reviews written during his 1902–1903 sojourn in Paris, as well as his...

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Chapter Three: Dubliners

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pp. 68-99

Insofar as Joyce wrote the stories in Dubliners with the idea that they would help transform the country, they all reflect a central notion of the Revival, but the movement itself also has a prominent place in the volume. The collection follows an arrangement that suggests the Revival’s growth: the Revival is simply alluded to in ‘‘A Little Cloud’’; and then later on, in ‘‘A Mother’’ and ‘‘The Dead,’’ it appears...

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Chapter Four: Stephen Hero and A Portrait of the Artist

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pp. 100-123

The published pages of Stephen Hero contain a nearly complete version of the part of the novel that Joyce called ‘‘the University College episode’’ and that he later condensed into Chapter V of A Portrait of the Artist. The episode, which often focuses on the manifestations of the Revival within UCD, contains Joyce’s most extensive account of the movement. It distinguishes a Griffithite political strain...

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Chapter Five: Exiles

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pp. 124-143

In his 1952 introduction to Exiles, Padraic Colum took issue with critics’ habit of dwelling on the play’s debt to contemporary continental drama, particularly Ibsen. The situations in Joyce’s play, he said, ‘‘being motivated by a Catholic and not by a Protestant conscience, are different from the situations in an Ibsen play’’ (E 8). The preoccupation with Joyce’s interest in Ibsen has obscured not only the Catholic...

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Chapter Six: Ulysses

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pp. 144-198

Richard and Robert’s youthful attempt to create a new life in Ireland resembles the moments in Irish history that Joyce cites in his ‘‘Saints and Sages’’ lecture when Protestants and Catholics joined forces in a national cause. Their alliance also exemplifies the popular Revival vision of the two cultures working together to reshape the country. The implication of Exiles, however, is that, whatever their...


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pp. 199-210


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pp. 211-216


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pp. 217-220

E-ISBN-13: 9780292798939
E-ISBN-10: 0292798938
Print-ISBN-13: 9780292765917
Print-ISBN-10: 0292765916

Page Count: 232
Publication Year: 2000

Series Title: Literary Modernism Series
See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 55676056
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Joyce and the Two Irelands

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nationalism in literature.
  • Modernism (Literature) -- Ireland.
  • Joyce, James, -- 1882-1941 -- Knowledge -- Ireland.
  • Joyce, James, 1882-1941 -- Characters -- Catholics.
  • Catholics in literature.
  • Joyce, James, 1882-1941 -- Characters -- Protestants.
  • Protestants in literature.
  • Christianity and literature -- Ireland -- History -- 20th century.
  • Ireland -- In literature.
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