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Cambridge University Press
Online publication date:
March 2020
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Book description

James Joyce was educated almost exclusively by the Jesuits; this education and these priests make their appearance across Joyce's oeuvre. This dynamic has never been properly explicated or rigorously explored. Using Joyce's religious education and psychoanalytic theories of depression and paranoia, this book opens radical new possibilities for reading Joyce's fiction. It takes readers through some of the canon's most well-read texts and produces bold, fresh new readings. By placing these readings in light of Jesuit religious practice - in particular, the Spiritual Exercises all Jesuit priests and many students undergo - the book shows how Joyce's deepest concerns about truth, literature, and love were shaped by these religious practices and texts. Joyce worked out his answers to these questions in his own texts, largely by forcing his readers to encounter, and perhaps answer, those questions themselves. Reading Joyce is a challenge not only in terms of interpretation but of experience - the confusion, boredom, and even paranoia readers feel when making their way through these texts.


‘Michael Mayo's lucidly written, patiently reasoned James Joyce and the Jesuits argues that ‘Joyce's work addresses itself to particular crises of belief and representation generated by Ignatius of Loyola’ in his Spiritual Exercises (1522–1524)… Mayo leaves us with a highly compelling conceptual framework: one that others might well profit from and apply further in their own engagements with the frustrations and enigmas of Joyce's art, and also its playfulness.'

Source: James Joyce Broadsheet, No. 123

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