To introduce readers to Joyce and his work, the volume begins with a short biography and a survey of the importance and cultural impact of Ulysses. Most beginning readers find it difficult to follow Joyce's plot, and so they abandon the text in frustration. Thus the book includes the most detailed available plot summary of Joyce's novel. The chapters that follow overview the novel's publication history; its historical and cultural contexts, including Modernism, Irish literature and history, and political and social trends; major themes and issues; Joyce's narrative art, including his character development, language, images, and style; and the academic and critical response to the work. The volume closes with a bibliographical essay.
This volume looks not only at the literary and psychological structure of the plays but also their theatrical components. The book discusses how each play functions as drama, as staged spectacle and representation, and as performance, focusing on the audience's reaction to particular scenes. Each work was either written by a writer from the North of Ireland or was staged in the North, and all the plays discussed either directly or indirectly confront issues of sectarian conflict. Attention is given to Stewart Parker, John Wilson Haire, Brian Friel, Martin Lynch, Kenneth Branagh, Seamus Heaney, Anne Devlin, Graham Reid, and others.