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Exiles


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A: James Joyce Pf: 1919, Munich Pb: 1918 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Living rooms of Richard's and Robert's homes, Dublin suburbs, 1912 C: 3m, 3f, 1 child (m)With the promise of a professorship, Richard Rowan, a moderately successful writer, returns to Ireland from ‘exile’ with his naive, earthy common-law wife Bertha and their 8-year-old son, Archie. They are visited by Robert Hand, a journalist, and his former fiancée Beatrice Justice, now Archie's music teacher. Beatrice is strongly attracted to Richard, while Robert lusts after Bertha, kisses her, and invites her to his cottage that night. Later, Bertha confesses this to Richard, who insists that she must be free to decide for herself. That evening Richard visits Robert to tell him that he knows about the affair and even welcomes it, longing ‘to be dishonoured for ever in love and lust’. Robert offers a duel, but Richard rejects such romanticism. Bertha arrives at Robert's cottage and is unnerved to discover Richard there, who again refuses to tell her what to do. Robert persuades her that sleeping with him will assuage Richard's own guilt. The next morning, Bertha returns home and is reassured by Beatrice's innocence and unhappy longing. She confesses that she is intellectually far below Richard. When Richard returns from a walk, Bertha tells him that nothing happened with Robert, which Robert then confirms, but Richard cherishes his doubt. Bertha tells Richard that she still longs for her lover: him.

A: James Joyce Pf: 1919, Munich Pb: 1918 G: Drama in 3 acts S: Living rooms of Richard's and Robert's homes, Dublin suburbs, 1912 C: 3m, 3f, 1 child (m)

This semi-autobiographical piece (Richard, a Stephen Daedalus figure, clearly represents the tortured Joyce, and Bertha, a prototype of Molly Bloom, Joyce's wife Nora), was considered too obscene by Shaw to be performed at the Stage Society. It is actually a highly moral play, in which ‘exiles’ from conventional morality have to work out their own rules of conduct. The pity is that Joyce, who displayed in the Night Town sequence in Ulysses his remarkable talent for visual drama, should, in his one major piece for the stage, remain within the confines of naturalism.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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James Joyce (1882—1941) writer


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