Joyce, Multilingualism, and the Ethics of Reading

Research output: Book/ReportBook


This book offers fresh new theoretical and practical ways of thinking about and engaging with language, global literature, cultural identity, and modernism. Taking inspiration from the practice of language learning and translation, the book explores the extraordinary creative possibilities, as well as political and ethical questions, that arise when we adopt a distinctly multilingual (rather than monolingual) approach to reading—particularly in English, which is one of the world’s most widely spoken, studied, and written languages. Considering Joyce's famously multilingual work, Finnegans Wake, in light of its mixed reception in the 1920s-30s, the book draws political parallels between contemporary discourses on migration and the European modernist debates on the place of migrant narratives, multilingualism, and multiculturalism in British and Irish literature around the World Wars. As such, it inspires a reflection on the relevance of European modernism and modernist debates about transculturalism to our understanding of burning contemporary issues such as immigration and globalisation in a post-Brexit world.

The project’s focal point is the reader confronted with cultural and linguistic difference. It queries how readers can rise to the considerable challenge of relating across linguistic, political, or cultural boundaries; what that labour of cross-cultural, cross-linguistic relating entails both creatively and ethically; and demonstrates how multilingual reading, writing, and translation bear political as well as historical significance in the study of European modernism, postcolonial literature, and migrant writing since modernism.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages277
ISBN (Print)9783030362799
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Multilingualism
  • modernism
  • literature

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