"While numerous other critics have considered the significance of Joyce's Catholicism, none has so thoroughly investigated the nature of Joyce's 'misbelief.' . . . Representing Joyce as neither reluctant believer nor an adamant atheist, Gottfried's take on Joyce's brief with religion fills a gap in the literature on Joyce's Catholicism."--Mary Lowe-Evans, University of West Florida
Roy Gottfried takes a different and somewhat controversial approach to the study of James Joyce's relation to religion by examining the author's "misbelief" rather than the "disbelief" so many scholars claim he professed.
Gottfried argues that Joyce in fact had a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church though he did not accept the orthodox dogma he learned as a youth. Instead, Joyce was most interested in actual schisms that challenged the authority and universality of Catholic dogma.
This focus on schism is most readily evident in Gottfried's analysis of Joyce's use of key Christian, though not Catholic, texts. He explores Joyce's interest in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in Protestantism, two influences usually ignored in discussions of Joyce and religion. Gottfried offers new readings of Joyce's work including his puzzling use of the term "epicleti" to describe Dubliners and his interest in heterodox ideas in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Joyce's use of the Protestant Bible and the Anglican Book of Common Prayer enabled Joyce to articulate ideas that the Catholic Church of his time suppressed and to challenge Catholic doctrine, power, and hegemony, according to Gottfried.
Roy Gottfried is professor of English at Vanderbilt University.
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"Analyzed with careful research and depth" Virginia Quarterly Review
"On the whole, Gottfried's elegant study of Joyce's oevre will reward diligent readers with new insights concerning major Joycean ideas of father, son, consubstantiality, epiclesis, heresy, freedom, art, and power to begin the list." James Joyce Quarterly
In Joyce's Misbelief, Roy Gottfried paints Joyce as a writer who all his life pondered "the nature of God and the means of religious worship." Gottfried delineates that much of Joyce's work seeks out disruptions in language, in culture, and in gender as well. Conclusively interprets Joyce's life and works as a permanent campaign against a narrow Gaelic nationalism and its accompanying Catholic dogmatism. Religion and the Arts