Reading Sex, Love, and Divorce in Ulysses as Certain Uncertainties

  • Peter Kuch


By analyzing debates about divorce recorded in Hansard post the Matrimonial Causes Act 1857, and cross-referencing them with information from legal textbooks, the 1912 Royal Commission into divorce, and case histories recorded in legal journals, the newspapers and the court minutes of the Probate, Divorce and Admiralty Division of the King’s Bench, this chapter reveals that obtaining a decree absolute in Edwardian Ireland, rather than separation from bed and board, was not as unlikely as has been thought within and beyond Joyce studies. Adultery, detection, and the possibility of divorce furnished Joyce with sites of contestation for exploring narrative conventions, experimenting with genre, and dramatizing the shaping power of social, sexual, cultural, religious, and political discourses, all of which were essential to his modernist project.


Divorce Rate Royal Commission English Court Daily Mail Irish People 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. ———. Joyce’s Notes and Early Drafts for “Ulysses”: Selections from the Buffalo Collection. Edited by Phillip F. Herring. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1977.Google Scholar
  2. ———. Joyce’s “Ulysses” Notesheets in the British Museum. Edited by Phillip F. Herring. Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1972.Google Scholar
  3. Crispi, Luca. Joyce’s Creative Process and the Construction of Characters in “Ulysses”: Becoming the Blooms. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Davison, Neil. James Joyce, “Ulysses”, and the Construction of Jewish Identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Groden, Michael. “‘Cyclops’ in Progress, 1919.” James Joyce Quarterly 12, nos. 1–2 (1974–1975): 123–68.Google Scholar
  6. Henke, Suzette. James Joyce and the Politics of Desire. London: Routledge, 1990.Google Scholar
  7. Herring, Phillip. Joyce’s Uncertainty Principle. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.Google Scholar
  8. Iser, Wolfgang. The Act of Reading: A Theory of Aesthetic Response. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1978.Google Scholar
  9. ———. The Implied Reader: Patterns of Communication in Prose Fiction from Bunyan to Beckett. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1974.Google Scholar
  10. Matrimonial Causes and Marriage Law (Ireland) Amendment Act, 1870.Google Scholar
  11. ———. The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904–1920. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  12. ———. Virgin and Veteran Readings of “Ulysses”. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Roberts, James. Divorce Bills in the Imperial Parliament. Dublin: John Falconer, 1906.Google Scholar
  14. Roughley, Alan. Reading Derrida Reading Joyce. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1999.Google Scholar
  15. Doležel, Lubomír. Heterocosmica: Fiction and Possible Worlds. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Kuch
    • 1
  1. 1.University of OtagoDunedinNew Zealand

Personalised recommendations