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Perhaps the greatest literary genius to emerge from Ireland, Dublin-born James Joyce (1882–1941) created an ever-widening labyrinth of innovation through his four masterpieces: Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922), and Finnegans Wake (1939).
The first two books in this sequence are largely straightforward, enjoyable, and witty. Dubliners, a collection of short stories, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a novel, are the initial turns of the maze which set the stage for Ulysses, a novel published in Paris on Joyce’s 40th birthday.
This course provides a foundation for anyone who wishes to better understand the unfolding of the author’s genius as represented in this modernist stream-of-consciousness work created at the apex of his career. Rather than read the novel in its entirety, we will sample some of its episodes and study the structures of these three books in order to trace the larger context of an expanding labyrinth that culminates with Ulysses, which itself combines an encyclopedic variety of styles with an irrepressible comic spirit.
As to Joyce’s final work, Finnegans Wake, well, that’s another course.
Recommended: Any edition of James Joyce’s Ulysses. A packet of readings selected by the instructor will be distributed at the first course meeting.
Patrick O'Donnell was born in Galway and grew up in Dublin. He attended University College Dublin, where his PhD thesis was about the Guthrie Theater. He currently teaches English at Normandale Community College. O'Donnell is the Director of Education at Saint Paul's Celtic Junction Arts Center, where he contributes articles and edits its online cultural magazine, The Celtic Junction Arts Review, and teaches classes in Irish literary history, literature, and mythology.