Catholic Nostalgia in Joyce and Company
Publication Year: 2008
Although numerous critics and scholars have considered the influence of Joyce's Catholicism on his works, most seem to have concluded that Joyce's intention was to subvert the church's power. Mary Lowe-Evans argues, on the contrary, that the net result of Joyce's Catholic nostalgia is an entanglement in rather than a liberation from the labyrinthine ways of theological exposition and Catholic ritual and politics, which has inspired in his readers an enduring admiration for institutional Catholicism.
Lowe-Evans explores the ways in which specific Catholic rituals and devotions vigorously promoted by the Catholic Church during the "Crisis in Modernism" (1850-1960) caused a nostalgic reaction in Joyce that informs and permeates his work. She also traces the subtle and direct influence Joyce had on the Catholic thinking of a diverse group of subsequent writers. She demonstrates that Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald seem to effect this nostalgia in their work in spite of themselves, while Flannery O'Connor and Thomas Merton purposely elicit it. Lowe-Evans discusses Joyce's enduring belief in the immortal soul and the religious faith and doubt of Merton with great sensitivity, broadening the appeal of the study.
Published by: University Press of Florida
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Of the three recent books in the Florida James Joyce Series on Joyce and Catholicism, Catholic Nostalgia in Joyce and Company has the widest reach. Where Cóilín Owens focused on “A Painful Case,” allowing Mr. Duffy to stand as a representative for all of Joyce’s spoiled priests, and where Roy Gottfried carried...
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I gratefully acknowledge the inspiration and encouragement of my mentors at the University of Miami, Pat McCarthy and Zack Bowen. Fellow Joyceans Claire Culleton and Roy Gottfried, and series editor, Sebastian D. G. Knowles, offered exceptionally constructive criticism and guidance, which have greatly...
List of Abbreviations
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“The Sisters,” Joyce’s first significant work of published fiction, features a motherless young boy preoccupied by the death of an old Irish priest. The remembered words of this minister of God’s one, holy, Catholic and apostolic church usurp the boy’s psychic space, arousing sensations of fear and loathing as well as...
1. The Papal Bulls Enlist the Dumb Ox
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Allusions to the modernist crisis in Catholicism permeate Joyce’s oeuvre. From his earliest stories to his critical writings to Finnegans Wake Joyce responds to the initiatives taken during the pontificates of popes Pius IX (1846–78), Leo XIII (1878–1903), Pius X (1903–14), and Benedict XV (1914–22) to stem the...
2. Dogsbody “Marys” His Mother
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Mircea Eliade calls “Nostalgia for Paradise,” a “something in the human condition [prompting] in man the desire to find himself always, and without effort, at the centre of the world” (quoted in Sister Sylvia Mary, 9). In her 1966 study of world mythologies, which takes its title, Nostalgia for Paradise, from Eliade’s...
3. The Sermon on the Seven Storey Mount
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Thomas Merton had no Catholic childhood, no Catholic mother, no Catholic home to arouse nostalgia for the trappings of Catholicism. Yet he became a cloistered monk, a priest, and, arguably, the most influential Catholic writer of the twentieth century. The original clothbound edition of his autobiography...
4. The Maiden and the Monstrance
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The retreat at Belvedere college having been concluded, Stephen Dedalus anxiously seeks a church where he can confess his sins anonymously. And, indeed, he succeeds in making the heartfelt confession quoted in the previous chapter. Prior to the confession, however, as Stephen enters the Church Street chapel...
5. (Mary) Flannery Underwrites James (Augusta)
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Of the Catholic nostalgics whom I place in Joyce’s company, the last is Flannery O’Connor—an avowedly faithful daughter of the church. “My background and my inclinations are both Catholic,” she boasted to her friend Ben Griffith in 1954 (HB, 68). During the same year she wrote Carl Hartman, “I don’t think...
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Intending to instruct her friend on the effective use of symbolism in fiction, Flannery O’Connor recommended that he observe “how Joyce makes snow work in ‘The Dead’” (HB, 84). Given O’Connor’s oft-proclaimed Catholic orthodoxy, she surely found nothing heretical or subversive in the passage...
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Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2008