Introduction: Middayeveil Joyce

Boldrini, Lucia. 2002. Introduction: Middayeveil Joyce. In: Lucia Boldrini, ed. Medieval Joyce. (13) Amsterdam and Atlanta: Rodopi, pp. 11-44. ISBN 9789042014091 [Book Section]

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That Joyce was medieval, or middayevil, at heart and down to his vegetable soul, is surely uncontroversial. The task of the critic attempting to assess the extent, meaning and value of “the medieval” in Joyce’s work is however only deceptively simple. Despite the general recognition of Joyce’s interest in the Middle Ages and in such medieval figures as St. Thomas Aquinas, Dante, or St. Patrick, many issues still need to be investigated. Several books have been published on Joyce’s use of the work of individual philosophers and writers, or on themes that evolve from the medieval roots of Christian thought. The only book entirely devoted to an analysis of the subject in more encompassing terms, however, is Umberto Eco’s The Middle Ages of James Joyce: The Aesthetic of Chaosmos (1989 in English, but originally part of Eco’s seminal Opera Aperta, 1962). Eco’s slim but rich book was a path-opener, but it could not exhaust the subject on its own. Nearly forty years on, we are still looking for a comprehensive framework that can help us assess Joyce’s place in the larger context of nineteenth- and twentieth-century medievalism, and through which we may examine the concept of “the medieval” in his work. Did Joyce conceive of “the medieval” as a stable category offering a pre-determined set of themes and a codified language, a “tool-kit” as it were, that the modern writer could, or perhaps should, employ in the elaboration of his craft? In what ways did his writings reflect the great variety and complexity that is encompassed by the phrase “the Middle Ages”? The essays collected in this volume aim at offering some answers to these questions.
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Published version available online from: Published version to be used for referencing.


James Joyce Modernism Middle Ages

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English and Comparative Literature



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Date Deposited:

12 Nov 2010 09:01

Last Modified:

02 Mar 2023 11:05


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