Catholic Nostalgia in Joyce and Company

Mary Lowe-Evans
Foreword by Sebastian D. G. Knowles, Series Editor

Details: 208 pages    6 x 9
Cloth: $69.95   ISBN 13: 978-0-8130-3285-6   
Pubdate: 10/19/2008
Series: The Florida James Joyce Series
Review(s): 4 available

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"In this perceptive and original study, Lowe-Evans explores Joyce's complicated response and return to his Catholic upbringing and then demonstrates how Joyce and that response influenced subsequent writers as diverse as Thomas Merton and F. Scott Fitzgerald."--Roy Gottfried, Vanderbilt University

Although numerous critics and scholars have considered the influence of Joyce's Catholicism on his works, most seem to have concluded that Joyce's intention was to subvert the church's power. Mary Lowe-Evans argues, on the contrary, that the net result of Joyce's Catholic nostalgia is an entanglement in rather than a liberation from the labyrinthine ways of theological exposition and Catholic ritual and politics, which has inspired in his readers an enduring admiration for institutional Catholicism.

Lowe-Evans explores the ways in which specific Catholic rituals and devotions vigorously promoted by the Catholic Church during the "Crisis in Modernism" (1850-1960) caused a nostalgic reaction in Joyce that informs and permeates his work. She also traces the subtle and direct influence Joyce had on the Catholic thinking of a diverse group of subsequent writers. She demonstrates that Joyce and F. Scott Fitzgerald seem to effect this nostalgia in their work in spite of themselves, while Flannery O'Connor and Thomas Merton purposely elicit it. Lowe-Evans discusses Joyce's enduring belief in the immortal soul and the religious faith and doubt of Merton with great sensitivity, broadening the appeal of the study.

Mary Lowe-Evans is professor emerita of English at the University of West Florida.

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