1st Edition

James Joyce’s Mandala

By Colm O’Shea Copyright 2023
    238 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    238 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    The Sanskrit word mandala can be translated as "sacred circle." Within the circle sits a microcosm of the universe and/or consciousness, repre-sented by icons. Eastern civilizations developed the spiritual-artistic practice of creating mandalas—with sand, paint, and architecture—to high technical sophistication, making manifest a geometry with layers of esoteric meaning for both the mandala artist and the initiated spectator. James Joyce’s Mandala outlines and explains this iconic sacred geometry, and assesses to what extent Joyce’s works of literature, in particular Finnegans Wake, can be understood as mandalic constructs. Using exam-ples from Dubliners to the Wake, we see how fundamental to Joyce’s fiction is the issue of spiritual paralysis (a problem the mandala attempts to dissolve) and also how fascinated he was by geometric imagery and symmetry, the technical devices employed in mandala construction. This is the first book-length comparison of Joyce’s work with the mythic structure of the mandala. Never discounting the richness of Joyce’s genius, it uses his "collideorscape" to explore the secrets of the mandala principle as much as it uses mandala theory to illuminate his famed book of the night.

    Chapter 1: Joyce and the Infinite Bardo

    Chapter 2: Mandalas and the Spiritual Refugee

    Chapter 3: Dubliners and the Samsaric Wheel

    Chapter 4: Psychic Architecture I

    Chapter 5: Psychic Architecture II

    Chapter 6: Mystic or Morbid?


    Colm O’Shea is a Clinical Associate Professor at New York University’s Expository Writing Program. He received his PhD from Trinity College Dublin, where he wrote his dissertation on James Joyce and sacred geom-etry, and his MFA from Oxford University with a dual focus on poetry and screenwriting. His work has been published in Cagibi, Bright Lights Film Journal, and Film Philosophy, among other publications, and his poetry has been anthologized in Voice Recognition: 21 Poets for the 21st Century and Initiate: An Oxford Anthology of New Writing.