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  • Up to Maughty London: Joyce’s Cultural Capital in the Imperial Metropolis by Eleni Loukopoulou
  • Lise Jaillant (bio)
UP TO MAUGHTY LONDON: JOYCE’S CULTURAL CAPITAL IN THE IMPERIAL METROPOLIS, by Eleni Loukopoulou. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2017. xiv + 339 pp. $79.95.

James Joyce was closely associated with Dublin, Trieste, Zurich, and Paris, but few Joyceans have paid enough attention to London, the place where Joyce wanted to live as a young man and where most of his texts were published before Ulysses. Eleni Loukopoulou’s book is an attempt to re-place London at the center of Joyce studies by showing the impact of the great British metropolis on his work at the textual level and at the level of publication and dissemination. As Loukopoulou points out, London “was the epicenter of the largest publishing industry in the world” (5). It would have been difficult for Joyce, as an ambitious young writer, to ignore the appeal of the British capital. But the relationship between the city and the writer worked both ways, since “Joyce and many Irish intellectuals influenced the cultural forces and the literary market of London” (6).

Loukopoulou’s theoretical framework relies heavily on New Modernist Studies (although by now it no longer seems new). From Lawrence Rainey to David Ayers,1 Loukopoulou provides a road map to influential figures in the field. In addition, she draws heavily on Pierre Bourdieu’s work (as the reference to “cultural capital” in the title makes clear).2 In terms of methodology, the book relies on a mix of textual analysis and archival work in collections at Princeton, Buffalo, Zurich, and elsewhere. Loukopoulou examines a wide range of published and unpublished documents, including newspaper and magazine articles, anthology contributions, radio broadcasts, and sound recordings. She also pays attention to the way Joyce’s work was promoted by his London publishers through advertisements and other publicity materials.

Each chapter of the book looks at a major aspect of Joyce’s interaction with London. Chapter 1 draws on the unpublished diary that Stanislaus Joyce wrote from 1906 to 1909, at the time when he was living with his brother in Trieste.3 This diary shows that James Joyce was determined to succeed in the London literary marketplace. “Before the publication of Dubliners by Grant Richards,” Loukopoulou notes, “Joyce contacted a number of London publishers, an enterprise that Joyce scholars have left underexplored” (24–25). In 1908, as a twenty-six-year-old, Joyce planned to move to the capital and study for a master’s degree at the University of London. The center of the British empire emerged as a setting for his writings, a setting entangled with Dublin through history and politics.

Chapter 2 focuses on “Oxen of the Sun” to show how Joyce handled representations of London in Ulysses. Drawing on Jay Clayton’s 1995 essay “Londublin: Dickens’s London in Joyce’s [End Page 371] Dublin,” Loukopoulou argues that this analysis “opens up new lines of inquiry about the ways London authors and London-set writings permeate Joyce’s texts on many levels” (47).4 Moving on to Finnegans Wake, chapter 3 studies the textual influence of H. M. Tomlinson’s 1921 book London River on the “Anna Livia Plurabelle” episode.5 For Loukopoulou, Joyce’s text “describes a dialogue and a correspondence” between London and Dublin “in equal terms” (12).

Whereas the first part of the monograph relies heavily on close readings to highlight the representations of London in Joyce’s work, the second part is concerned with the London publishing landscape. Chapter 4 shows that, far from being rejected by British literary circles, Joyce’s work was disseminated in a wide range of forms, including in anthologies and publishers’ series:

The concurrent inclusion of A Portrait in the Travellers’ Library by Jonathan Cape and that of some of Joyce’s poems in the volume Twentieth Century Poetry: An Anthology, which featured in the series Phoenix Library published by Chatto & Windus and edited by Harold Monro, the owner of one of the most pioneering poetry bookstores in London, assigned both cultural and commercial value to Joyce’s work.


This is certainly true...


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pp. 371-373
Launched on MUSE
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