"Demonstrates the richness and resonance (and importance to Joyce's emerging artistic sensibility) of even the least rich, most marginal of Joyce's early fictions. In particular, Owens's painstaking and illuminating investigation does rare justice to the technical complexities of Joyce's literary method. A fitting companion volume to his insightful James Joyce's Painful Case."--Brian W. Shaffer, Rhodes College
Joyce's "After the Race" is a seemingly simple tale, historically unloved by critics. Yet when magnified and dismantled, the story yields astounding political, philosophic, and moral intricacy.
In Before Daybreak, Cóilín Owens shows that "After the Race" is much more than a story about Dublin at the time of the 1903 Gordon Bennett Cup Race: in reality, it is a microcosm of some of the issues most central to Joycean scholarship.
These issues include large-scale historical concerns--in this case, radical nationalism and the centennial of Robert Emmet's rebellion. Owens also explains the temporary and local issues reflected in Joyce's language, organization, and silences. He traces Joyce's narrative technique to classical, French, and Irish traditions. Additionally, "After the Race" reflects Joyce's internal conflict between emotional allegiance to Christian orthodoxy and contemporary intellectual skepticism.
If the dawning of Joyce's singular power, range, subtlety, and learning can be identified in a seemingly elementary text like "After the Race," this study implicitly contends that any Dubliners story can be mined to reveal the intertextual richness, linguistic subtlety, parodic brilliance, and cultural poignancy of Joyce's art. Owens’s meticulous work will stimulate readers to explore Joyce's stories with the same scrutiny in order to comprehend and relish how Joyce writes.
Cóilín Owens is professor emeritus of English at George Mason University and author of James Joyce's Painful Case.
"A salient, formidable study…highly recommended."
"Owens reveals an astonishing number and variety of influence, pre-cursors, progeny, allusions, symbols, puns, narrative strategies, and rhetorical devices brought to bear by Joyce on this deceptively simple tale... a superlative scholarly treatise."
--English Literature in Transition, 1880-1920
"Owens has written a Rolls Royce of a book here, laden with sparkling new insights into Joyce’s mind and methods, yet written with a lightness, lucidity, and joy that will please even a novice reader. It is certainly one of the best dozen books I have read on Joyce… we now have two magnificent explorations of the Joycean universe from this retired academic in the past five years."
--Irish University Review
Owens argues that “After the Race” is a deeply political story, and by focusing on the political and historical contexts of the period in which it was written, he brings a welcome depth to the tale.
--James Joyce Quartely
Not only serves as an introduction to Joyce and the themes explored later in his career, but also as a compelling and adventurous study of Irish culture and politics.
--James Joyce Broadsheet