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Drawing its title from Gabriel Conroy's celebrated realization in the final paragraph of 'The Dead' - that the time has come for him to set out on his journey westward - this book suggests that James Joyce, like W. B. Yeats, Lady Gregory and their fellow Revivalists, was attracted to the west of Ireland as a place of authenticity and freedom. It examines how Joyce's acute historical sensibility - grounded in commemoration of the Irish past and, in particular, in moments of Irish defeat - is reflected in Dubliners via a series of coded nods and winks: Why is Mr Browne the only partygoer in 'The Dead' to drink whiskey? Why is Father James Flynn of 'The Sisters' so called and why does he die on July 1st, 1895? Why does Jimmy Doyle of 'After the Race' lose at cards to a man named Routh? Journey Westward poses new and revealing questions about one of the most enduring and resonant collections of short stories ever written. The answers provided are a fusion of history and literary criticism, utilizing close readings that balance the techniques of realism and symbolism. The result is a startlingly original study that shines new light on Dubliners and opens up fresh ways of thinking about Joyce's later masterpieces.
Frank Shovlin is Senior Lecturer in Irish Studies at the University of Liverpool and the author of The Irish Literary Periodical 1923-1958 (OUP, 2003).