Searching Between the Lines: Ambiguity, Paralysis and Revisionist Readings of Joyce’s “Eveline”

Chris Wieczorek

Abstract


Chris Wieczorek’s “Searching Between the Lines: Ambiguity, Paralysis and Revisionist Readings of Joyce’s Eveline” is an exemplary research essay that, as its title suggests, spells out its thesis in its methodology, taking the reader step by logical step through the act and history of interpreting one of the most critically acclaimed and debated stories in James Joyce’s Dubliners. It deftly and articulately summarizes a wide range of interpretations, both traditional and revisionist, before coming up the middle to turn the light on reader response. In a collection that famously focusses on the paralysis that afflicts turn-of-thecentury Irish society, readers have traditionally focussed on Eveline’s failures, while historicist and revisionary critics have highlighted the failures of Frank, her suspiciously glib paramour. After crisply summarizing these interpretations, Wieczorek draws attention to their gaps, and argues that the story is actually about failures in the reader, who is “repeatedly forced to question, and then re-evaluate, our judgements about Eveline’s decision.” Persuasive, immaculately structured and accessibly written, this essay seems to enjoy doing what we do in English, and I think its readers will agree. —Dr. Judith Thompson


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