‘“From Queenstown to New York”: Emigration in Joyce’s Writings 1904-1912’

Brian Fox

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An early note for Finnegans Wake reads simply “American Wake” (JJA vi.b.2, 128). This important conceptual note underlines the importance of the concepts of emigration and the Irish diaspora in Joyce’s final work, an importance that can be traced from his earliest writings. In the period 1907-1912, emigration from Ireland, as a contributor to the Irish Peasant pointed out, was “a fact, and society must order itself to meet facts”. In Louis Paul-Dubois’ Contemporary Ireland (1908), he described emigration as the “fundamental characteristic of contemporary Ireland”. The concepts of emigration and exile form some of the strongest connections between Joyce’s earliest and latest works and indeed are themselves fundamental characteristics of those works; this paper will examine in close, historical detail the earliest indications of Joyce’s attitudes to emigration, focusing in particular on emigration from Dublin, and separately emigration to the United States – the destination for the greatest number by far, yet almost completely absent from critical accounts. This paper proposes that Joyce, in delineating a rough history of emigration from Ireland from the Wild Geese to his present, eschews some of the historical exactitude he applies elsewhere in order to present a more compelling aetiology of Ireland’s political paralysis. In doing so, these essays and lectures bear the intertextual marks of much post-’67 Fenian-inspired Irish-American views on the causes of emigration. This paper then aims to mark out where Joyce’s political writings index contemporary discursive accounts of the causes of emigration and exile, while anticipating his own later treatment of these concepts.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2012
EventJoyce, Dublin & Environs, XXIII International James Joyce Symposium - Dublin, Ireland
Duration: 10 Jun 201216 Jun 2012


ConferenceJoyce, Dublin & Environs, XXIII International James Joyce Symposium

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