Roy Gottfried takes a different and somewhat controversial approach to the study of James Joyce's relation to religion by examining the author's misbelief rather than the disbelief so many scholars claim he professed.Gottfried argues that Joyce in fact had a great deal of respect for the Catholic Church though he did not accept the orthodox dogma he learned as a youth. Instead, Joyce was most interested in actual schisms that challenged the authority and universality of Catholic dogma.This focus on schism is most readily evident in Gottfried's analysis of Joyce's use of key Christian, though not Catholic, texts. He explores Joyce's interest in the Eastern Orthodox Church and in Protestantism, two influences usually ignored in discussions of Joyce and religion. Gottfried offers new readings of Joyce's work including his puzzling use of the term "epicleti" to describe Dubliners and his interest in heterodox ideas in Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Joyce's use of the "Protestant Bible" and the "Anglican Book of Common Prayer" enabled Joyce to articulate ideas that the Catholic Church of his time suppressed and to challenge Catholic doctrine, power, and hegemony, according to Gottfried.
Roy Gottfried is professor of English at Vanderbilt University and author, most recently, of Joyce's Comic Portrait.
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