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James Joyce and the Irish Revolution

The Easter Rising as Modern Event

A provocative history of Ulysses and the Easter Rising as harbingers of decolonization.
When revolutionaries seized Dublin during the 1916 Easter Rising, they looked back to unrequited pasts to point the way toward radical futures—transforming the Celtic Twilight into the electric light of modern Dublin in James Joyce’s Ulysses. For Luke Gibbons, the short-lived rebellion converted the Irish renaissance into the beginning of a global decolonial movement. James Joyce and the Irish Revolution maps connections between modernists and radicals, tracing not only Joyce’s projection of Ireland onto the world stage, but also how revolutionary leaders like Ernie O’Malley turned to Ulysses to make sense of their shattered worlds. Coinciding with the centenary of both Ulysses and Irish independence, this book challenges received narratives about the rebellion and the novel that left Ireland changed, changed utterly.

296 pages | 10 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 2023

Literature and Literary Criticism: British and Irish Literature


“Gibbons examines how the aesthetic innovations in James Joyce’s Ulysses reflect the political turmoil of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising and subsequent War of Independence . . . with some eye-opening insights.”

Publishers Weekly

“Gibbons may well be Ireland’s most brilliant literary and cultural critic: a distinctive voice and a decisive eye. Here, as always, Gibbons’s commentary ebbs around observed details with a verve worthy of Benjamin, as he makes clear not only that Joyce’s work was revolutionary but also that it was recognized as such by some of the revolutionaries themselves. This is an immensely rich and suggestive work, an instant classic of Irish literary criticism."

Enda Duffy, University of California, Santa Barbara

"This book positively bristles with intelligence and erudition. Gibbons reads Ulysses and the Easter Rising as compelling instances of an alliance between political radicalism and formal/technical innovation. At the same time, he decisively rewrites our understanding of Ulysses’s reception history, demonstrating that many of Joyce’s first interpreters saw his literary experiments as direct engagements with Ireland’s turbulent political history.”

Marjorie Howes, Boston College

“In this pioneering investigation, Gibbons has convincingly reinterpreted the Easter Rising as a global and modernizing event. His Joycean cast of characters—artists, freedom fighters, and a surprising number who were both—highlights the cultural aspects of the 1916 Rising in a new modernist and international vein.”

Mary E. Daly, University College Dublin

Table of Contents

List of Figures
   James Joyce and the Irish Revolution
1. “Old Haunts”:
   Photographic Memory, Motion, and the Republic of Letters
2. Modern Epic and Revolution:
   Montage in the Margins
3. “A World That Ran Through Things”:
   Ulysses, the Easter Rising, and Spatial Form
4. The Easter Rising as Modern Event:
   Media, Technology, and Terror
5. “Paving Over the Abyss”:
   Ireland, War, and Literary Modernism
6. “Through the Eyes of Another Race”:
   Ulysses, Roger Casement, and the Politics of Humanitarianism
7. Transatlantic “Usable Pasts”:
   America, Literary Modernism, and the Irish Revolution
8. On Another Man’s Text:
   Ernie O’Malley, Politics, and Irish Modernism
9. Beyond Disillusionment:
   Desmond Ryan, Ulysses, and the Irish Revolution

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