European Joyce Studies 21: Joyce, Benjamin and Magical Urbanism [Review of the book European Joyce studies 21: Joyce, Benjamin and magical urbanism, by M. Boscagli & E. Duffy, Ed.]

Document Type

Book Review

Publication Date

Fall 2012


This collection marks a major chapter in the ongoing belated encounter between James Joyce and the German Jewish philosopher and cultural critic Walter Benjamin. In the 1930s, both writers lived in Paris and shared a veritable Venn diagram of overlapping friends and acquaintances—Adrienne Monnier, Sylvia Beach, Stuart Gilbert, and Gisèle Freund, to name a few—but apparently never met each other. As Heyward Ehrlich reports in this volume, Benjamin heard the story of Joyce’s infamous meeting with Marcel Proust through Monnier and Léon-Paul Fargue (192), which, in the version that William Carlos Williams told, anticlimactically consisted of the writers complaining about their respective physical ailments (JJII 508). The meeting that this collection stages is, by happy contrast, an intellectual feast with Joyce and Benjamin as the honored guests, one that not only deeply engages the work of both writers in relation to each other but also confirms that to read Joyce alongside Benjamin is to discover unique new elements and interpretations of Joyce that prevailing literary methodologies have failed to uncover.




University of Tulsa


Tulsa, OK

Publication Information

James Joyce Quarterly

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