Joyce: A Guide for the Perplexed


Joyce: A Guide for the Perplexed (London; New York: Continuum Books, 2009: 208pp).

Cover copy:

“James Joyce’s work has been regarded as some of the most obscure, challenging, and difficult writing ever committed to paper; it is also shamelessly funny and endlessly entertaining. Joyce: A Guide for the Perplexed celebrates the daring, humor and playfulness of Joyce’s complex work while engaging with and elucidating the most demanding aspects of his writing. The book explores in detail the motifs and radical innovations of style and technique that characterize his major works–Dubliners, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Ulysses, and Finnegans Wake. By highlighting how Joyce’s texts have been read by recent innovations in literary and cultural theory, Joyce: A Guide for the Perplexed offers the reader a Joyce that is contemporary, fresh, and relevant.”

Reviews and endorsements:

“When Peter Mahon guides us through the main works of James Joyce, he doesn’t provide the roadmap for an ancient Irish maze but offers a brand new GPS, a Global Positioning System or a Guide for Perplexed Students. In clear and simple prose, Mahon explains how to connect this little black box to the Joycean engine. Just pull some gears, it falls into place and works. Sit back, read some more, you’ll be able at last to enjoy the Joyce ride.” — Jean-Michel Rabaté, Vartan Gregorian Professor in the Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania

“An extraordinary achievement! Peter Mahon has done great service to all readers of modernism in general and Joyce in particular, in producing a lively, erudite, and, most of all, welcoming introduction to James Joyce, which will become an indispensable portal into the world of all things Joycean.” — Julian Wolfreys, Professor of Modern Literature and Culture, Loughborough University, UK

“Also author of Imagining Joyce and Derrida (CH, Jan’08, 45-2477)–among other books and essays on James Joyce, Patrick McCabe, and various other Irish authors–Mahon (Univ. of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada) has crafted a useful introductory guide to Joyce’s major works. The author applies his expertise in Irish studies, Joyce, and critical theory in a decidedly different way in this guide. The brilliance of the book lies in Mahon’s ability to eschew the ponderous critical framework that might alienate a reader new to Joyce. Rather, the author focuses on providing critical, historical, and textual contexts, material that allows readers to access the meaning–and the humor–of the major works. In addition to being a useful guide for the less-experienced reader, the book will serve as a road map for those who teach Joyce. Mahon’s clear, delightful writing style adds to the book’s appeal. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower- and upper-division undergraduates; faculty; general readers.” — C. S. Kalish, University of Wisconsin–Marshfield/Wood County, Choice, August 2010.

“Beyond simply explicating themes and passages, Mahon provides his readers with strategies on how to approach Joyce through analysing the evolution of styles across his works. Mahon does an elegant job of applying what could be called theoretical readings in an accessible manner.’ — The Year’s Work in English Studies, Volume 90

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