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III. Joyce’s Representations of the Intellectuals:

The Pressmen

Since the nineteenth century, journalism has been a major

intellectual institution in Ireland. Intellectuals such as the

Young Irelanders engaged in journalism, which served as an

important channel for voicing their political ideals. The Irish

press, as a matter of fact, had acted as “the major formulator of

national consciousness” ever since O’Connell’s emancipation

movement; this link with nationalism gave journalists a high

status (Platt, 1998: 739-740). As a powerful vehicle, the press

could serve either the nation or the Empire (and the Church).

With the split in the nationalist party and the death of Parnell,

the press ceased to serve as a representative of national spirit;

rather than resist oppression, it perpetuated oppression. Joyce

was aware of the ambivalent power of journalism, seeing both

liberatory and repressive potential in the press (Collier, 2006:

8, 111). The increasing commercialization of journalism

tainted further its revolutionary potential. Patriots might have

praised the press as an agent of liberty, but journalism was a

business, relying on sales to ensure its survival. With the

massive expansion of the industry in the second half of the

nineteenth century,


commercialization became inevitable as

newspapers competed for a larger readership. Aiming at profits

rather than an ideal, journalism in turn-of-the-century Ireland

was considered an institution of changeability.


David Dwan’s

remark well summarizes the degeneration of Irish journalism

over the decades: “The newspaper may have brought a soul to

Ireland in the 1840s, but by the end of the nineteenth century

it was widely perceived to have corrupted the national spirit”


For a historical context of newspapers as being published in Dublin, see

Kershner (2010: 96-106).


For the political inconsistency of certain newspapers, e.g., the



, see Herr (1986: 69-70) and Kershner (2010: 99-101).