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Every story is a travel story – a spatial practice.1 Michel de Certeau Joyce, Travel Writing and Ecocriticism During the years 1907–1912, James Joyce wrote nine articles for the Italian-language newspaper Il Piccolo della Sera. These articles were journalistic pieces intended for Il Piccolo’s local Triestine readership, but Joyce composed them with the ambition to later develop them as a book for wider European readership with the Genoese publisher Angelo Fortunato Formiggini. The aim of these articles, according to Joyce, was quite simple: to make a case for Ireland to a broader audience. Due to the powerful influence of the British press, Joyce believed the world had been systematically misinformed about the colonial relationship between Ireland and England.2 Such a belief was, in part, the reason Joyce left for Trieste, and it is within this context that he wrote the nine articles for Il Piccolo. Although Joyce has been predominantly celebrated for his fiction of Dubliners and Ulysses, this essay explores another side to Joyce illuminated by his non-fiction articles: Joyce the travel writer. In two particular articles published in the summer of 1912, ‘The City of the Tribes: Italian Echoes in an Irish Port’ and ‘The Mirage of the Fisherman of Aran: England’s Safety Valve in Case of War’, Joyce, while satisfying the strictly journalistic demands of his Irishthemed contributions for Il Piccolo, nevertheless presented a subtle and subversive commentary on travel writing as an ecocritical examination of place. Travel writing, when it includes a depth of cultural, environmental, historical or geographical analysis, is well positioned to provide a recognisable form of environmental criticism. In both Joyce the Travel Writer: Space, Place and the Environment in James Joyce’s Nonfiction DEREK GLADWIN 176 articles, Joyce approaches the geographical region of western Ireland in such a way that we can read his articles as an historical atlas containing a repository of cultural memory. This repository contains a long history of the region’s residents, their relationship to both the rural and urban landscape, and the impacts of Empire, all of which are framed by the distinctive place of Galway. Some critics have considered these articles simply as Joyce’s pragmatic foray into journalism; I want to suggest, however, that he goes beyond this classification , functioning as a travel writer in order to probe the deeper historical and cultural geographies within his Irish itinerary by using a spatial and ecocritical practice called place-attachment: accessing place through personal and cultural experience in a landscape. Joyce explores the region’s underlying cultural and environmental currents, at times controversial and conflicted, revealing his deeper emerging interest in the land’s cultural geography. At the heart of these two essays, then, is Joyce’s ability to see the cultural history of Galway and the Aran Islands connected to the landscape, while also highlighting issues of space and place within this region. Joyce’s nonfiction writings have, for good reason perhaps, been read strictly as journalistic pieces. In the introduction to James Joyce: Occasional, Critical, and Political Writing, Kevin Barry places the Triestine articles in a section titled ‘Journalism and Politics’.3 Even Joyce himself admitted to his brother Stanislaus, ‘I may not be the Jesus Christ I once fondly imagined myself, but I think I must have a talent for journalism.’4 In contrast, A. Nicholas Fargnoli and Michael Patrick Gillespie refer to ‘The City of the Tribes’ as ‘a short travel piece’ in James Joyce A to Z: The Essential Reference to the Life and Work,5 while Richard Ellmann and Ellsworth Mason also describe them as ‘travel pieces’ in which Joyce ‘changes his tone and writes deftly and attractively about Galway and about the Aran Islands’.6 However, while Fargnoli, Gillespie, Ellmann and Ellsworth briefly recognise travel motifs in Joyce’s articles, they do not explicate the process in any great detail. In what follows, I aim to track more deeply the role of the travel writer as a way for Joyce to engage with a sense of place-attachment through the lens of ecocriticism, which is a critical methodology that examines the relationships among literature , culture, geography and the environment. Travel writing acutely observes how ‘space’ and ‘place’ may implicate various tensions that pervade a landscape, whether they are geographical, historical or political. Functioning as geographical JOYCE THE TRAVEL WRITER 177 concepts, place and space are both synonymous and distinctive terms. ‘Place’, as Lawrence Buell articulates in The Future of Environmental Criticism, ‘entails spatial location...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9781782050735
Related ISBN
9781782050728
MARC Record
OCLC
882713144
Launched on MUSE
2014-07-04
Language
English
Open Access
No
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