`Is there one who understands me?'
So wrote James Joyce towards the end of his final work, Finnegans Wake. The question continues to be asked about the author who claimed that he had put so many enigmas into Ulysses that it would `keep the professors busy for centuries' arguing over what he meant. For Joyce this was a way of ensuring his immortality, but it could also be claimed that the professors have served to distance Joyce from his audience, turning his writings into museum pieces, pored over and admired, but rarely touched. In this remarkable book, steeped in the learning gained from a lifetime's reading, David Pierce blends word, life and image to bring the works of one of the great modern writers within the reach of every reader. With a sharp eye for detail and an evident delight in the cadences of Joyce's work, Pierce proves a perfect companion, always careful and courteous, pausing to point out what might otherwise be missed. Like the best of critics, his suggestive readings constantly encourage the reader back to Joyce's own words.
Beginning with Dubliners and closing with Finnegans Wake, Reading Joyce is full of insights that are original and illuminating, and Pierce succeeds in presenting Joyce as an author both more straightforward and infinitely more complex than we had perhaps imagined. T. S. Eliot wrote of Joyce's masterpiece, Ulysses, that it is `a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape'. With David Pierce as a guide, the debt we owe to Joyce becomes clearer, and the need to flee is greatly reduced.
"Sweeping away years of confusing and contradictory scholarly debate, Pierce brings Joyce's writing - and his characters - back to life. For anyone intending a serious study of Joyce's writing, Reading Joyce is more than just useful; it's essential." Yorkshire Evening Post "Pierce contributes richly out of his 40-year legacy in writing and teaching Joyce [and] succeeds in providing novice Joyce readers with a work that charms, enhances, and motivates. - Choice Reviews (USA) "Reading Joyceis absolutely the best kind of introductory book: not a dumbed-down crib, but an informed and passionate guide that both beginners and experts will learn from. And reading Pierce it becomes very clear why we should become students of Joyce: yes, he's difficult, but not unreadably so; yes, it takes a bit of work, but he is an addictive pleasure once you put a bit of effort in; yes, there is crazy Modernist stylistics, but, at heart, Joyce is a wonderful storyteller. At the end of Finnegans WakeJoyce famously asked "Is there one who understands me?" David Pierce can boldly step forward, and those who read this wonderful book can themselves tentatively raise a hand." Mark Thwaite, Ready Steady Book ReadingJoyce is an ideal introduction to the works of the Master. Unlike many writers on Joyce, Pierce addresses the reader on terms of equality. He tries to rescue Joyce from his reputation as a difficult writer rather than to revel self-regardingly in difficulties and complicate them with a theoretical overlay which Joyce himself would have laughed at. Pierce does not flagellate himself, as too many Joyceans do, over trifles or theories and does not expect his readers to do so either. Mr. Justice Adrian Hardiman, Supreme Court of Ireland, Joycean Scholar "Many critics of James Joyce are smart: David Pierce is also wise. Reading Joyce brilliantly and judiciously uses his experiences as a fine teacher, a major scholar - and an open, receptive reader. And few critics are so skillfully alert to the actual, material, visible world in which Joyce's works take place." Morris Beja, author of James Joyce: A Literary Life, and past President, the International James Joyce Foundation "This is a brave, richly informed, and candid book, an engaging mix of biography, auto-biography, and critical analysis. A godsend to teachers and students alike, it brilliantly demystifies Joyce, without compromising his complexity. It is a uniquely personal odyssey of discovery which all Joyceans will recognise as their own, too." Professor Terry Dolan, University College Dublin