The French Joyce

Geert Lernout
A major contribution to James Joyce studies, as well as a historical review of the French intellectual climate since the 1960s


The French Joyce, the first book to trace the French critical reception to James Joyce's work, is a major contribution to Joyce scholarship as well as an important historical review of the French intellectual climate from the sixties to present.

Serious French interest in the Irish writer coincided with the rise of poststructuralism, and Lernout pays particular attention to Joycean criticism by Lacan, Derrida, and Cixous, who have provided the basis for psychoanalytical, philosophical, and feminist readings. The French university critics who took Derrida's and Lacan's work as their point of departure are examined, as well as the Tel Quel and Change writers. The author also looks at the effects of French theory on the study of Joyce by American, English, and Irish critics.

The author provides a provocative critique of poststructuralist readings, arguing that such readings are in fact romantic and idealistic, and examines the particularly French climate in which this type of theory could develop and flourish. The French Joyce is essential reading for Joyceans as well as those interested in the historical development of French-born literary theories. It will appeal to students of critical theory and postwar intellectual history.

Praise / Awards

  • "This may be the most talked about book of the next few years, both by Joyceans and critical theorists."
    —Bernard Benstock
  • ". . . a particularly useful guide through the idiosyncratic world of contemporary French thought. . . . The French Joyce provides a witty, erudite view of critical methodologies that have exerted a profound influence over literary interpretation over the past three decades. . . . [It] will surely be an important force for years to come in epistemological and hermeneutic debates on responses to Joyce."
    International Fiction Review
  • "This is more than a clever debunking, blasphemous and beautifully heretical, supported by its careful readings and its skilled plotting of the interwoven texture of influences, borrowings and hidden orthodoxies; it is the work of a critic who has refused to be seduced by the obviously seductive and clamorous rhetoric of some of the most powerful critical voices of the recent past . . . ."
    —Francis Doherty, Irish University Review
  • ". . . an enlightening and readable account of the flow of ideas, personalities and interpretations in the twin domains of criticism and social theory pertaining to Joyce in the USA and Europe over the last twenty years."
    Literature & History
  • "What makes this book so entertaining is its fund of anecdotes, its delineation of Joyce criticism as a current in the sociology of ideas, and its glimpses behind the scenes at the naughty French avant-garde."
    Washington Post Book World

Look Inside


Introduction     1

Chapter 1:
Joyce Criticism: The Early Years     21

Chapter 2:
Cixous, Derrida, Lacan     41

Chapter 3:
University Criticism     85

Chapter 4:
Joyce and Tel Quel     119

Chapter 5:
The New Joyce in England and America     169

Conclusion     195

Bibliography     245

Index     281

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 308pp.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1992
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08180-6

Add to Cart
  • $28.95 U.S.