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Re Joyce Paperback – 1968

4.7 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Burgess has written a study of the most brilliant and humane of twentieth-century humanists.” (Philip Toynbee - The Observer)

“Recognizing the coming and cosmic in Joyce, [Burgess] proceeds with his self-imposed task of unraveling meaning by scrutinizing the layers of a mind that was encyclopedic in dimension. . . . He has defined the perimeter of Joyce's adventure in both Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. . . . It took Burgess to place Joyce's satire in its proper orbit.” (Saturday Review)

From the Back Cover

My book does not pretend to scholarship, only to a desire to help the average reader who wants to know Joyce's work but has been scared off by the professors. The appearance of difficulty is part of Joyce's big joke; the profundities are always expressed in good round Dublin terms; Joyce's heroes are humble men.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 276 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Pages Stained edition (1968)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393004457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393004458
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.8 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #567,756 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Anthony Burgess is best known as the author of brilliant novels such as A Clockwork Orange and Enderby; but he has also produced a substantial body of non-fiction, including several works about James Joyce. I suppose it is only natural that one of my favorite pieces of Joyce criticism would be penned by one of my favorite novelists, a writer who has never concealed the influence of Joyce upon his own deft games with language.
ReJoyce does not attempt to explicate or annotate the entire Joycean canon, nor is it exactly a biography. Rather, it is a very personal "reading" of Joyce; a delightful "companion" and a brilliant illumination of his narrative technique. According to Burgess, "My book does not pretend to scholarship, only a desire to help the average reader who wants to know Joyce's work but has been scared off by the professors." Reassuring, but a bit disingenuous -- Burgess's work, though clear and easy to read, never panders to the "simple," and he stocks its pages with enough insight and revelation to impress even the most demanding professor. His primary focus is Joyce's use of language, and he takes great delight in exploring the structure, intentions, and psychology that underpin Joyce's revolutionary technique. But what differentiates -- and elevates -- ReJoyce from most other works of similar Joyce criticism is the clarity and liveliness of Burgess's own unique style. Burgess writes with a lucidity and wit which is rare in academic scholarship, and he never once comes across as being dry, obscure, or condescending.
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If you are looking for a fairly short, easy to digest introductory guide to Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake, this is it. Anthony Burgess, in addition to being a witty novelist and critic, also had the chutzpah to publish an abridged version of Finnegan's Wake, so you know he knows his stuff! This is not a page by page explication of Joyce's complex works, ala Gifford or Gilbert, but more like a defense for the intelligent reader who may be wondering if these novels are worth the time.
It is wonderful that the cover of this June 2000 paperback reissue has features an image of Joyce looking away, his face hidden from the reader. Joyce remains an enigma-- a sparkling inspiration to readers who enjoy thinking about the questions and don't care about definitive answers.
If you've read A Clockwork Orange or Nothing Like the Sun and are curious about Anthony Burgess' critical work, this is one of his best performances.
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Without a doubt, an attempt to read the works of James Joyce, one of the most demanding authors to live (and one of the best as well) comes with no small amount of trepidation. But thankfully, the Joycian disciple Anthony Burgess has written the book for both the neophyte and the seasoned lover of Joyce's work. ReJoyce features pretty much all that is needed to tackle his canon. The fascinating autobiographical sketch and the analysis of the early works are merely a fitting prelude to the bulk of the book, which is devoted to Joyce's dizzying last two novels, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. The critical analysis of the last two is both brilliant and eminetly approachable, and more than any of the other volumes of scholarly work on Joyce's last two novels, Burgess's analysis helps to make them both understandable and enjoyable. Without a doubt, ReJoyce is among the best guides to Joyce out there on the market now, and well worth it for both the longtime reader or the newcomer to Joyce
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Having read Joyce's works numerous times, I found Burgess's book provides a good bit of clarity to the tougher parts of Ulysses and an interesting exegesis of Joyce's work in general. Burgess's knowledge of the material is impressive and his enthusiasm for Joyce is infectious. I believe this book would be as helpful to one with little Joyce experience as Harry Blamire's Bloomsday book, but it is more sohisticated than the author lets on.

One of Burgess's main theses is that Joyce meant this book for everyone and that readers shouldn't be scared away by academics and others who would set the book above out heads, high in the ivory tower. Yet, there are definitely parts where he presents Joyce's characters (whom he calls "the humble men of Dublin"), in supercilious language, which risks defeating his point. Why potentially further obscure Ulysses and Finnegans Wake in a book meant to make them more approachable?

That said, the book is well written and lucid for the most part. A fan of Joyce should enjoy it. I cannot gush as unequivocally about the book as some other reviewers have, because I am not sure how successful he has been at his goal of bringing Joyce to a new audience that has never previously read him due to intimidation. I think I am too familiar with Joyce to be able to tell how helpful ReJoyce would be for the first-timer. From what they've written, I think the other reviewers may be too familiar also.

In summary, Joyce IS challenging, but one should not be scared away. I believe ReJoyce is more helpful than harmful in opening Ulysses et al to a broader audience.
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