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Spain, Galicia, and the "Atlantic" Joyce

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 47, Number 2, Winter 2010
pp. 287-296 | 10.1353/jjq.2011.0001

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Irish mythology tells of the migration of the Milesians, who were Gaelic Celts, to Ireland through the northwestern part of the Iberian Peninsula—thus, the "Hiberio-Miletians" mentioned in Finnegans Wake (FW 309.11). Some of them stayed in what became the Roman province of Gallaecia (present-day northern Portugal and northwestern Spain), whose inhabitants shared with Irish Celts similar languages and mythological cycles. Contemporary scholars in the Spanish province of Galicia have invoked this narrative often both in their research and in the broader spirit of their attention to James Joyce, a northern-Atlantic neighbor who attracted considerable attention from his Galician contemporaries as well. Indeed, as the books at hand demonstrate, Spanish Joyceans, especially in the past two decades, have developed a complex array of practices and critical idioms focused on issues of reception, translation, adaptation, and exegesis. Even as that is acknowledged, however, there is no uniformity among Spanish Joyce scholars: the field is, in fact, robust enough to have subdivisions, and these three books belong to what might be called more precisely "Galician Joyce," which is related to but distinct from the work of Catalan or Andalusian critics—and is itself a heterogeneous community. Together, the titles considered here comprise a sampling of this work, pointing interested Joyceans toward new avenues for archival investigations and other forms of inquiry. Non-Spanish scholars—especially those who see the future of Joyce studies in new archives and methodologies—will find it rewarding to engage in the continually evolving research agenda offered by Ireland's Atlantic kin to the south.

The contexts from which these three books have emerged shed light on their importance. While Joyce criticism has been acknowledged from the start as international and multi-linguistic, many essays, reviews, and creative works that originated in Spain have tended to be overlooked by Anglophone and European scholars. As Alberto Lázaro has written, the Spanish critical response to Joyce grew during the 1920s and 1930s until, beginning in 1939, Francoist autarky and censorship laws intervened, impeding the development of Joyce studies in Spain until the late 1960s. Publishing codes were then slowly relaxed, and, following the dictator's death in 1975, translations or re-issues of all of Joyce's major works began appearing, including the first new version of Ulysses in Spanish since 1945. This burst of activity coincided with an increase in the study of twentieth-century literature in English at Spanish universities, and the scholar Francisco García Tortosa of the University of Seville (now emeritus) had an important part in directing scholarship toward Joyce. He organized Spain's first conference on Joyce in 1982, began supervising multiple dissertations and theses on the author, and spearheaded the founding of the Spanish James Joyce Association in 1990 and its journal, Papers on Joyce, in 1995.

A significant year for Spanish Joyce studies was 1994, when the International James Joyce Symposium was held in Seville. A new enclave of Joyce scholars was put on the map just two years after the Barcelona Olympics had symbolized Spain's return to the geopolitical world stage. Spanish studies of Joycean texts began appearing with greater frequency, beginning with Joyce en España 1 and 2, co-edited by García Tortosa and Antonio Raúl de Toro Santos. The first volume contains work on primarily Spanish topics and reprints Galician writer Vicente Risco's rich part-fiction, part-criticism "Dédalus en Compostela"; the second includes a fascinating set of documents about Joyce's reception in Spain, from early works such as Antonio Marichalar's celebrated and still-cited "James Joyce en su laberinto" ("James Joyce in His Labyrinth")—which was the first sustained study and translation of Joyce's work into Spanish—to ones produced in more recent times. At the same time, Carlos García Santa Cecilia published his La recepción de James Joyce en la prensa española (1921-76)—The Reception of James Joyce in the Spanish Press (1921-76)—a remarkably detailed study of how Spanish scholars honed their critical voices on Joyce over the course of a half-century spent mostly under dictatorship. In 1999, García Tortosa and María Luisa Venegas...



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