Tom Garvin

Criticism

Life
[Pseud. “Andrew Cass”]; Sometime Dublin City Manager and author of James Joyce’s Disunited Kingdom (1976); he is father of the historian Tom Garvin (UCD)

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Criticism
See ‘Another Bash in the Tunnel: James Joyce, the Envoy, and the Irish Reception’, in Brian Caraher & Robert Mahony, eds., Ireland and Transatlantic Poetics: Essays in Honour of Denis Donoghue (Delaware: Newark UP 2007), pp.58-76.

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Commentary
Robert F. Gleckner, ‘Byron on Finnegans Wake’, in Jack P. Dalton & Clive Hart, eds., Twelve and a Tilly: Essays on the Occasion of the 25th Anniversary of Finnegans Wake (London: Faber & Faber 1966): ‘Andrew Cass, in his generally unsympathetic article, ‘Childe Horrid’s Pilgrimage’ (Envoy, V, 1951, pp.19-30) is certainly correct in pointing out that the general confusion between Joyce and his main characters is analogous to the confusion of Byron and his characters. Joyce’s “flight” to Europe, Cass suggests, is parallel to Byron’s self-exile from England in 1816; and Joyce’s indictment of the Irish as “the most belated race in Europe” and of Ireland as an “inhospitable bog” has obvious parallels in Byron’s denunciation of England and the English. Cass concludes, somewhat acidly: “Byron is also Joyce’s exemplar in having borne through Europe the pageant of his bleeding heart while the impressed continentals counted every drop, but here again he is outdone by Joyce in bitter [42] antagonism to the people whom he blamed for his exile.” But Cass’s essay is severely limited and not a little coloured by his antipathy to Joyce (as well as to Byron) and especially Finnegans Wake - and he goes not further with his most suggestive analogies.’ (pp.42-43.) [See also the allusion to Byron in C. P. Curran, James Joyce Remembered, OUP 1968, quote under Joyce, Commentary, infra.]

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Thomas F. Staley, Thomas F. Staley, ‘Following Ariadne’s Thread: Tracing Jyce Scholarship into the Eighties’, in James Joyce: A Joyce International Perspective, ed. Suheil Bushrui & Benstock (Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1982): ‘Two books on Joyce's Irish background are John Garvin's eccentric James Joyce's Disunited Kingdom (1976) and Bernard Benstock's thorough and reliable James Joyce: The Undiscover'd Country (1977). Garvin's contention is that Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are based on Irish history, folklore, and legend, and are deeply rooted in Irish culture generally, a view that has certainly not escaped earlier critics. From this position, however, Garvin makes many curious and sundry observations, some arcane and interesting, others unformulated, random, and remote. The book is unsystematic and frequently bizarre in its interpretations, but it is not without value. Garvin knows a great deal about Dublin, especially nineteenth-century bureaucracy, and can capture the milieu in which Joyce spent his youth. Benstock's study is very different. He is a thorough and knowledgeable guide through the intricate and complex political and social history that forms so much of the background of Joyce's work. Joyce used Ireland in nearly every way a writer can use his native country, and his fundamental love/hate relation is deeply, and, in a way, hopelessly complex. Benstock holds and convincingly argues that ultimately Joyce rejected Ireland, and made his commitment to the larger European literary tradition, but in arguing his position Benstock treats the full complex of Irish cultural and political thought that bears so heavily on Joyce's work.’ [259]

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Quotation
James Joyce’s Disunited Kingdom and the Irish Dimension (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1976), on Finnegans Wake: ‘The analyses of the book [Finnegans Wake] undertaken here have succeeded in identifying its author’s conception of himself as an Anglo-Irish writer in exile over against the public figure of the Irishman at home who distrusts and ostracises the artist and sends him to “Cavantry”, and whose political activities serve to illustrate contemporary Irish history.’ (p.232.) Further, ‘The claritas, consonantia and integritas, together with the artistic objectivity bespoken for art in A Portrait, have all been abandoned. FW is a work made in the author’s image and likeness, so introverted that its end meets its beginning, a consummation which he achieved with such difficulty that one might appropriate borrow Bloom’s reflection on Stephen in “Eumaeus” [Ulysses] to describe the process: “high educational abilities though he possessed he experienced no little difficulty in making both ends meet.” He was an argotnaut to Kathartica in th seas of verbomania, his pirate’s flag carry the school and cross buns ensign, his booty the loot of literatures, languages, music halls and “slanguages”, of the world […; 234]’ ’[Eugene] Jolas said that the artist did not communicate. Joyce was bound to no such literary theory but psychologically he had become unable to communicate artistically with anybody other than himself. Early in his career he had taken for his role in life and literature that of the hunted deer. “He even ran away with himself” (FW171) and in writing FW he experienced the morose delectation of the autistic, still flashing his antlers on the heights from which, like Byron, he must look down on the hate of those below.’ (p.234-35.) See also as “Andrew Cass” [pseud.], under James Joyce,  Commentary, [infra].

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