James Joyce: our contemporary

Terence Killeen on how much of our current plight is foreshadowed—and indeed diagnosed—by Joyce


EXTRACT:

‘We are still learning to be James Joyce’s contemporaries’, Richard Ellmann wrote in the first line of his biography. Those words, first published in 1959, remain true even today, in ways that have a direct bearing on the Ireland in which we now live.

Recent years have seen a massive revision of our sense of our country’s past and of our relationship to it. Much of its ethos, morality and values have been increasingly questioned. The disclosures about clerical sexual abuse, mother-and-baby homes, major failings in the Garda, and cover-ups by church and state have contributed to a sense that something is fundamentally wrong with the state as it has developed since Independence—that these are not just individual malfunctions but evidence of a more generalised malaise.

A further shock was provided by the recession of 2008, which showed that the country’s apparent prosperity was a bubble, an illusion generated by excessive optimism and false assurances. […]

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May/June 2017 (issue no.373) 


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