James Joyce and the Act of Reception is a detailed account of Joyce's own engagement with the reception of his work. It shows how Joyce's writing, from the earliest fiction to Finnegans Wake, addresses the social conditions of reading (particularly in Ireland). Most notably, it echoes and transforms the responses of some of Joyce's actual readers, from family and friends to key figures such as Eglinton and Yeats. This study argues that the famous 'unreadable' quality of Joyce's writing is a crucial feature of its historical significance. Not only does Joyce engage with the cultural contexts in which he was read but, by inscribing versions of his own contemporary reception within his writing, he determines that his later readers read through the responses of earlier ones. In its focus on the local and contemporary act of reception, Joyce's work is seen to challenge critical accounts of both modernism and deconstruction.
• A full-length study of Joyce's engagement with questions of reception • Uses archival research to uncover readers' immediate responses to Joyce's work • An original intervention in Joyce studies which will be of interest to all scholars of modernism
Introduction: writing reception; 1. Boredom: reviving an audience in Dubliners; 2. Surveillance: education, confession and the politics of reception; 3. Exhaustion: Ulysses, 'Work in Progress' and the ordinary reader; 4. Hypocrisy: Finnegans Wake, Hypocrites Lecteurs and the Treaty; Afterword; Bibliography.
Review of the hardback: 'John Nash's James Joyce and the Act of Reception is a thoughtful, astute, and invaluable contribution to two affiliated and increasingly debated questions. For this book not only offers a meticulous and persuasive account of Joyce's career-long engagement with his audiences – in Ireland and in Europe, in his lifetimes and beyond – it, perhaps more importantly, also makes a significant contribution to ongoing critical conversations about modernism's relationship to various imagined audiences, its supposed resistance to the 'common reader', and its often-cited dependance upon patrons and coteries.' Katherine Mullin, University of Leeds