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Joyce's revenge: history, politics, and aesthetics in Ulysses

Joyce's revenge: history, politics, and aesthetics in Ulysses

Gibson, Andrew, 1949-

In this work, Andrew Gibson argues that the aesthetic practices that make up Ulysses are responses to the colonial history of Ireland and the colonial politics of Irish culture

Paperback, Book. English.
Published Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008
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Available: Newton Park

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Statement of responsibility: Andrew Gibson
ISBN: 019928203X, 9780199282036
Intended audience: Specialized.
Note: Includes bibliographical references and index.
Note: Originally published: 2002.
Physical Description: xii, 306 p. ; 22 cm.
Subject: Ireland Relations Great Britain.; Joyce, James; Great Britain Relations Ireland.; Literature.; Politics in literature.; Criticism; Joyce, James, 1882-1941. Ulysses.


  1. Patiens Ingemiscit: Stephen Dedalus, Ireland, and History
  2. Only A Foreigner Would Do: Leopold Bloom, Ireland, and Jews
  3. Gentle Will is Being Roughly Handled: 'Scylla and Charybdis'
  4. A Look Around: 'Wandering Rocks'
  5. History, All That: 'Sirens', 'Cyclops'
  6. Waking Up in Ireland: 'Nausicaa'
  7. An Irish Bull in an English Chinashop: 'Oxen of the Sun'
  8. Strangers in My House, Bad Manners to Them!: 'Circe'
  9. Mingle Mangle or Gallimaufry: 'Eumaeus'
  10. An Aberration of the Light of Reason: 'Ithaca'
  11. The End of All Resistance: 'Penenlope'

Author note

Andrew Gibson is Professor of Modern Literature and Theory at Royal Holloway, University of London.


The Ireland of Ulysses was still a part of Britain. This book is the first comprehensive, historical study of Joyce's great novel in the context of Anglo-Irish political and cultural relations in the period 1880-1920. The first forty years of Joyce's life also witnessed the emergence of what historians now call English cultural nationalism. This formation was perceptible in a wide range of different discourses. Ulysses engages with many of them. In

doing so, it resists, transforms, and works to transcend the effects of British rule in Ireland. The novel was written in the years leading up to Irish independence. It is powered by both a will to freedom and a will to justice. But the two do not always coincide, and Joyce does not place his art in the service of any

existing political cause. His struggle for independence has its own distinctive mode. The result is a unique work of liberation - and revenge.


[a] superb study ... It is hard to pay sufficient tribute to Gibson's keenly detailed research and grasp of nuance in his discussion ... Joyce's Revenge deserves to become one of the landmarks in criticism devoted to Ulysses. Several chapters alone are worth the price of the book ... Shaprly and lucidly written, his book is accessible to readers who are not Joyce critics.
James Fairhill, James Joyce Quarterly||Andrew Gibson has written a book to be mined for decades to come for its unqiue historicaL insight, its extraordinary attention to detail and its powerful theoretical grasp. Joyce's Revenge is the kind of rare book one compulsively recommends to students and friends.
Marian Eide, South Central Review||Andrew Gibson's is easily one of the most serious of academic books to have appeared on Joyce in recent years. It is densely researched, full of ideas, and well-embedded in current academic questions, and is sure to become a familiar point of reference in future debates as well as a standard to which subsequent researchers will have to aspire.
Modernism/Modernity||Review from previous edition The book's achievement and its considerable claim on the reader's attention arise from two virtues: the consistency of the interpretative perspective from chapter to chapter and the abundance of eye-opening, contextualizing historical detail. Many readers will learn a great deal about the Irish contexts of Joyce's writing, from the Great Famine until the early 1920s, though the book's primary focus is the period 1880-1920. Even

readers who are historically well-informed are unlikely to have anticipated Gibson's deft evocations of Joyce's transformations of contradictory perspectives.
James Joyce Broadsheet||Joyce's Revenge makes a significant and distinctive contribution to Joyce studies, and it deserves a wide readership. The author is impressively well read in English and Irish cultural history, and the book identifies and explores an aspect of this history about which most Joyceans, perhaps, know less than they might. Among the books on Joyce I've studied recently this is perhaps the most absorbing read, cover to cover, of all of them.
Timothy Martin, James Joyce Literary Supplement||This thought-provoking study makes a significant and highly original contribution to scholarship on Ulysses ... a particular strength of this book is the way in which it seeks to interpret the aesthetic of Ulysses as a whole, rather than focusing on a few key features or episodes.
Clare Hutton, Times Literary Supplement||Joyce's Revenge splendidly serves to show us how significant is a scrutiny of the intertwined history of Britain and Ireland for understanding the radical aesthetics of Ulysses. This is a book that will keep Joyce scholars busy, and rightly so, for some time to come.
Irish Studies Review||The true distinction of Joyce's Revenge lies in its density. This comes in two forms: intellectual and historical. Every page in this book feels hard-won; every argument is sophisticated enough to include a host of variations, or a sequence of counter-arguments. There is almost a hint of Hegel or Adorno in Gibson's thought, the unremitting intensity with which a position is carried through in all its exemplification, then inverted with equal rigour.
Textual Practice||Gibson's detailed reading of Ulysses against the background of its intertextual archive provides highly revealing and often surprising insights into Joyce's deconstructive representation of the ideological forces at work both in England and Ireland. Joyce's Revenge combines a masterly analytical approach with a supreme grasp of theory, intellectual rigour and a convincing power of persuasion. Among the many books on our shelves produced by the Joyce

industry, Gibson's will figure among the first things to read on Ulysses.
Anglia||Gibson's book presents a convincing and fruitful method to interpret Ulysses. It also - unlike many students of Joyce - takes Joyce seriously as both a thinker and an artist ... The worth of any theory is not in its cleverness but in its explanatory value. On this basis Gibson's book is a success and a most refreshing one.
The Compulsive Reader||The arrival of this book is a welcome occasion. Andrew Gibson combines a wealth of knowledge and research - about the particularities of English and Irish cultural politics between 1880 and 1920 - with an admirable sensitivity to the Joycean text. The book has much to do with what postcolonial theory calls 'hybridity' and 'mimicry', but is also densely and precisely historicized. Like the simultaneously meticulous, informed, and irreverent Joyce he describes, Gibson

is scrupulous about historical particularity and cunning in his application of it. Joyce's Revenge immerses itself in a broad range of specific cultural discourses on subjects from nationalist politics to medical debates to the politics of street names, the politics of Shakespeare and bardolatry,

Protestant-Catholic relations, Jewishness, Irish historiography, women's journals, and astronomy. The result is an important new study that will alter the ways we read Ulysses.
Professor Vincent J.Cheng