The Varieties of Joycean Experience

The Varieties of Joycean Experience

By Tim Conley

Anthem Irish Studies

A collection of essays on Joyce’s work stressing variations of approach. Forays into and across Joyce’s oeuvre would draw upon a number of new and recent modes of criticism, including textual genetics, cognitive studies, and ecocriticism.

PDF, 178 Pages


December 2020

£25.00, $40.00

EPUB, 178 Pages


December 2020

£25.00, $40.00

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About This Book

The Varieties of Joycean Experience is a collection of ten essays that display the wide range and diversity of perspectives and critical approaches that can be drawn upon to enrich our readings of James Joyce’s works. With special attention to Ulysses and Finnegans Wake, these essays explore an array of unorthodox problems that these notoriously demanding books pose for readers.

The first two essays offer new ways of tackling those persistent bugbear questions: “what kind of book is this?” and “what is this book about?” The first essay contemplates the relationship of Finnegans Wake to the avant-garde, both those experiments of its time and those that it has inspired since its first appearance. The second looks at the epistemological difficulties faced by anyone attempting to “summarize” Ulysses or the Wake. These essays are followed by two that turn to reconsidering how we understand Joyce’s methods of composition and revision.

The next five essays explore the Joycean ambiguities surrounding consciousness, death, scatology, and the weather to propose new understandings of these phenomena as key ways into Joyce’s works. The concluding essay examines what conceptual limits there might be to the variety of interpretations celebrated by this book: what makes a particular reading unreasonable – not simply debatable, as all readings are, but fundamentally unsound – and why do Joyce’s works seem to inspire far-fetched and even crackpot readings? The cautionary tales collected in this essay cue all readers to question the bases, logic, and agenda of their own experiences with Joyce.


“In this superb collection of elegantly written essays, Tim Conley looks at Joyce’s texts through a variety of different perspectives in a clear and precise manner that takes Joyce’s whimsy seriously. Essential reading for all Joyceans.” — Sam Slote, Associate Professor, School of English, Trinity College Dublin

“Tim Conley’s The Varieties of Joycean Experience is a book of essays arranged as “ten toptypsical readings” – among them, “Cerebral,” “Mythamatical,” “Scatological,” “Metrological,” and “Hysterical-Exegetical.” The book’s title, a node to William James, and the book’s content, a nod to various aspects of Joycean criticism, reflect Conley’s broader, heterogeneous literary interests, articulated here with erudition and occasional levity. A pleasure to read.” — Jolanta Wawrzycka, Professor, Department of English, Radford University

“Tim Conley has established himself as a wide-ranging, provocative, and witty critic and scholar of James Joyce’s works. In ten demonstrations of Joycean experience, focused on Ulysses and mostly Finnegans Wake and each labeled straightforwardly (Narratological, Compositional, Meteorological) or whimsically (Mythametical), he explores such varied topics as the avant-garde, revision, consciousness, scatology and weather. The closing chapter, with its label of “Heretical-Exegetical” sounding like Hamlet’s Polonius or Ulysses’ “Ithaca” narrator, is a tour-de-force analysis of what Conley calls “specious, pathological, and even lunatic readings” that, because their authors sincerely believe their interpretations, come as close as anything in this commodious and rewarding book to William James’ varieties of religious experience.” — Michael Groden, author of The Necessary Fiction: Life with James Joyce’s Ulysses

Author Information

Tim Conley is Professor of English Language and Literature at Brock University, Canada. His books include Joyces Mistakes: Problems of Intention, Irony, and Interpretation, Burning City: Poems of Metropolitan Modernity (co-edited with Jed Rasula), and Useless Joyce: Textual Functions, Cultural Appropriations.


Anthem Irish Studies

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments; Abbreviations; Preface; 1. Categorical: “Meddlied Muddlingisms”: The Uncertain Avant- Gardes of Finnegans Wake; 2. Narratological: “Whole Only Holes Tied Together”: Joyce and the Paradox of Summary; 3. Compositional: Playing with Matches: The Wake Notebooks and Negative Correspondence; 4. Genetical: Revision Revisited; 5. Cerebral: “Cog It Out”: Joyce on the Brain; 6. Mythametical: Waking “for an Equality of Relations”; 7. Scatological: Mixplacing His Fauces; 8. Thanatological: “Don’t You Know He’s Dead?”: Postmortem Uncertainties; 9. Meteorological: Weathering the Wake : Barometric Readings of I.3; 10. Hysterical- Exegetical: Petitions Full of Pieces of Pottery; Bibliography; Index.


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