Joyce and the Jews

Joyce and the Jews

Culture and Texts

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302 pp

An Irish Catholic in upbringing, James Joyce created one of the most memorable Jewish characters in fiction—Leopold Bloom. Yet his association with the Jewish people did not end there. As this book ably documents, Joyce's affinities with Jews, their way of life, and their sacred belief in text did much for him as a man and a writer.

Using biographical and historical information as well as Joyce's texts and critical theory, Nadel argues that the marginality and exclusion experienced by European Jews transformed them into a crucial analogue of Joyce's life. In this volume, he presents the first systematic study of Joyce's identity and association with Jews.

Nadel traces Joyce's exodus from Ireland and discusses his recognition of "historical consciousness" on the part of the Jews as it emerged in the nineteenth century. He reveals the archetypal figure of Moses throughout Joyce's work, illuminating the rabbinical and Judaic textuality that Joyce used in his attention to language, metonymic strategies, and constant intertextuality. Nadel also describes Joyce's "idea of the Jew," providing valuable insight into his use of names, the changing of names, and the dropping of names which are so important in Ulysses.

As Nadel documents, it is no coincidence that Joyce's career and attitude toward text related to his increasing affinity with Jews whose lives often merged with his own. This rich and lucid volume offers fresh insight into Joyce's work and his attitudes toward race, nationality, prejudice, and fanaticism.