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3.39  ·  Rating details ·  1,294 ratings  ·  95 reviews
The only extant play by the great Irish novelist, Exiles is of interest both for its autobiographical content and for formal reasons. In the characters and their circumstances details of Joyce's life are evident. The main character, Richard Rowan, the moody, tormented writer who is at odds with both his wife and the parochial Irish society around him, is clearly a portrait ...more
Paperback, 154 pages
Published 2003 by Prometheus Books (first published 1915)
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Average rating 3.39  · 
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 ·  1,294 ratings  ·  95 reviews

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Ivana Books Are Magic
Nov 03, 2019 rated it really liked it
Exiles is a wonderful play, it really is. The Ibsen influences are obvious and for the most part welcome. Refreshingly liberal and open in its ideas, Exiles is a play that is well worth the reading. With some changes, Exiles could have had been a masterpiece, but it is pretty impressive as it is. What changes you might ask? It is hard for me to put a finger of it, but this play did feel a bit unfinished. Perhaps it just needed more work and thought. Exiles has the potential without doubt, it has ...more
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
The Heart flutters. Fill it to brim with love and it still flutters at the corners for freedom. Dump in a handful of greed and it continues to flutter in the remaining space for ablution. Allow peace to be its sole tenant and it still flutters at the bottom for silent passion.

What do you do of the adamant, furtive heart? One who doesn’t know bowing, doesn’t recognize rules, doesn’t believe in silence, doesn’t belong to society? What can you possibly make it understand when all the understanding
Mark André
Jul 04, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays
Not my favorite Joyce.
I'm not really excited about the theater plays, when it comes to reading them, but, it just happens to hit one in my hand, and really to enjoy it, at the beginning.

"Exiles" - is a little book which you go through quickly, but which leaves you with a certain sense of frustration, in the end.

Here is a tangled love-story, with a loving quadrangle, in which none of the four characters knows indeed what he wants. They are crushed by consuming passions, which grind on them, but no one does anything
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
You may then know in soul and body, a hundred forms, and ever restlessly, what some old theologian, Duns Scotus, I think, called a death of the spirit.

There is a muddy dip of uncertainty surrounding this piece. I have been addled by overwork for over a month and having found this paperback a few weeks back I kept it in reserve: circumstances rewarding portability have grown common. My expectations for Exiles were of a bridge, another route to Ulysses and the Wake. The opening act appeared to a
May 02, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, irish-lit
Exiles is the only play written by Jame Joyce. He was so inspired by the Henrik Ibsen's plays and is said to have written is as a tribute to that great Norwegian playwright. The play did not receive well. In fact, Exiles is considered as the least successful out of all the published works by James Joyce.

The story of the play is to some part modeled on the author himself. The story begins with the arrival of Richard Rowan and his common-law wife, Bertha in Dublin after a long self-imposed exil
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: drama-theater
Oof, oh boy. Yeah, Joyce wrote a play. That's why he didn't write two plays. This isn't a case like his poetry, which is unremarkable but acceptable and goes down easy; no, Exiles is more or less a failure. The biggest issue with it is dialogue, James, what happened to ye? It has neither the lively full bodied character dialogue of works like Ulysses, and it doesn't have the low key nigh-realistic dialogue of Dubliners. It's either bafflingly didactic or shamelessly mechanical. The entire play i ...more
Aug 02, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017-read
Meh, it would probably be better to see this performed. Nonetheless, I have read it. Must finish the Wake now.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm not a fan of Joyce, which probably explains why I really liked this play. Exiles is much more straightforward than any of his novels, and far more dramatic and interesting than any of the short stories in The Dubliners. I decided to give it a try after hearing that it was by far his most "conventional" work, a term which appeals to me in respect to authors like James Joyce and William Faulkner. If you like stories where you have to wrestle with every sentence in order to appreciate their sub ...more
Ruxandra (4fără15)
RICHARD: Listen. She is dead. She lies on my bed. I look at her body which I betrayed — grossly and many times. And loved, too, and wept over. And I know that her body was always my loyal slave. To me, to me only she gave...[He breaks off and turns aside, unable to speak.]
Yair Ben-Zvi
I was going to start this with a 'Joyce is to English and world literature what x is to y...' but, I'll go one better and just say that Joyce just IS literature. The man embodied so much of what's great and horrible about writers, about the craft, about the simplicity of telling a story versus the herculean nonsense that is the extracting of meaning, new, old, completely invented or absolute truth, from that writing. Joyce was brilliant and revolutionary. He completely shifted the course of Engl ...more
Simon Mcleish
Nov 10, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
Originally published on my blog here in May 2001.

Of all Joyce's mature writing, his only play is probably the least well known. It is also one of his least successful pieces, never having had much success on the stage. Displaying an unusual lack of confidence, it shows its influences strongly.

The Exiles manages to simultaneously be dull enough to seem longer than it is and unsatisfying enough to seem shorter. This is because Joyce gives all the real character to the part of Richard; neither he n
Jan 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Actors
Shelves: plays, joyce
I am recommending this for two reasons.
The first is that the introduction is by Conor McPherson, a playwright whose works (among them THE SEAFARER, which is currently on Broadway) take a cue from Joyce and Yeats.
The second reason is that this volume contains a twelve-page set of notes by Joyce himself.
It's handy to have EXILES by itself. I've only noticed it previously contained in THE PORTABLE JOYCE, which, I think, has gone out of print. [It hasn't. It's even been corrected to show dashes ins
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Exiles, a 3-act play by James Joyce, is centered on a love-triangle between Richard Rowan, his wife Bertha, and Robert Hand, Richard's longtime friend. Their conversation rapidly dribbles out little tidbits that bring a slew of questions to the mind of the reader (or audience). Questions like, "What kind of wild past did these two guys enjoy?" Or, "Does Richard want his friend and his wife to get together?" And perhaps most of all, "Why did James Joyce try to write a play?"

That's just it. A dra
May 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Picture a strong Ibsen influence, yet more autobiographical, more unique and with a happy end. It sure gets you thinking, after all it's more than a complex triangle. It's about the implications of love and commitment, of life and freedom. You manage to empathize with some of the characters even if you'd never would do this game of self damage.
Melting Uncle
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished2015

Worst JJ book is better than everybody else's best!

On second thought this is good but pretty forgettable. Fun for JJ fans, tho!
Oct 03, 2018 rated it did not like it
a confused play supposedly based on Joyce's fear/expectation of what would happen if he returned to Ireland after his years living abroad. not worth your time
Ryan Lally
‘Exiles’ is the only play Joyce produced and was, upon its release, derided as filth and rejected by theatres at home and abroad, as well as by esteemed literary and theatre figures like George Bernard Shaw and WB Yeats. Having been familiar with Joyce only through his collection of stories, ‘The Dubliners’, ‘Exiles’ proved somewhat of a departure, and a disappointing one at that. The protagonist is clearly a self-projection of Joyce, and he and his wife’s exile to Rome clearly mirrors that of J ...more
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I feel this play could have been better but I cannot define precisely how. I cannot picture it on stage, but that does not bother me, I've loved many "only to read" plays. Perhaps with some editing and rewriting Exiles could have been really great. ( Here I go with the maybes: If it had been a great success would it have been edited and improved? Ah, questions, questions) It has the potential without doubt, it has some wonderful dialogues but I feel something is missing. It may be that Joyce's t ...more
Christopher Thomas
Nov 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
"It is not in the darkness of belief that I desire you. But in restless, living, wounding doubt."

Don’t read this play too fast.

If you take the time to parse lines such as the one above, instead of skating over their vague emotion, your brain will squirm, bend, and morph as it tries to evolve into a more skillful mechanism. This is the classic Joycean headspace -- or at least the best junior version of it that can be mustered on the predominantly extroverted medium of the Stage.

It is f
Joe Loftus
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A must read if you’re interested in the progression of Joyce.

I started reading this on Bloomsday 2018 sitting on a beach in Lanzarote facing the Atlantic. I write these words on a sun lounger at the Lanzarote Paradise as the sun scorches my already burnt to a crisp fatty back even more. Perhaps it’s just me but Lanzarote Paradise sounds a tad unnerving, a bit Hotel California. On this same cheap ten day trip to the Canary Islands I also turned the pages of The Old Man And The Sea which was writt
andreea.  (paperrcuts)
Supposed to be feminist & kinda liberal, but this play just oozes homoerotic tension and poor writing. I'm not so passionate about reading plays, but I can tell the good from the bad, especially when I know how masterful Joyce is with his prose.

This play was inspired by Ibsen's work and yet remains just as subtly sexist as Joyce's Portrait and Ulysses. At some point in his notes he says Richard is modeled on Schopenhauer's view on women's rights and that's it on Joyce's progressivism.
Dec 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the greatest plays I have ever read.
Unlike some of Joyce's other works, this one is a nice and short and straight-forward story.

Exiles is the story of a love rectangle (not just a love triangle) and if Jimmy had been born half a century later, he might just have been down for the wife-swapping phenomenon. He definitely was a libertine so no wonder he didn't stick around in Ireland and its stifling uber-conservative Catholic society at the time.

There is great tension in the play between
Jul 04, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: irish
Two couples enjoy a somewhat toxic relationship. Richard, returning from working abroad, tests his love for Bertha (or her love for him) by encouraging her in an open relationship with a friend of his, Robert. Things are further complicated by Richard's spiritual betrayal with Robert's cousin, Beatrice.

In typical Joyce fashion there's a lot going on here between the lines, (much of which I'm sure I missed), but the play is quite entertaining and thought provoking. The dialogue comes thick and fa
Sep 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Unsurprisingly, the general consensus is wrong on this; it’s great, though sometimes clumsy (often in the dialogue–strangely, since Joyce is a master of both natural and hieghtened speech in his other works). An emotionally complex study of gender/sexual/marital/homosocial politics with vivid characters, a clockwork structure of rotating conversational duets, cat-and-mouse suspense, and a few lyrical ‘epiphanies’. There are too few romantic relationships in art as honest, confusing, fucked up, a ...more
Oct 29, 2009 added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: drama
"I have wounded my soul for you -- a deep wound of doubt which can never be healed. I can never know, never in this world. I do not wish to know or to believe. I do not care. It is not in the darkness of belief that I desire you. But in restless living wounding doubt. To hold you by no bonds, even of love, to be united with you in body and soul in utter nakedness -- for this I longed. And now I am tired for a while, Bertha. My wound tires me."
Apr 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Although this play draws upon 'The Dead,' I felt that Exiles had far less of an emotional impact than the stories in Dubliners, in general. I only gradually developed a mental picture of the set and the characters, which I could finally visualize by about halfway through the Second Act; I'd really love to see the work performed. ...more
Jennifer Collins
Jun 21, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: plays, drama
Joyce's writing in this play is sort of wonderfully intentional, and it reminded me very much of those works I'd already read by him--The Dead perhaps especially. This is one of those rare cases where I think I'm glad to have read a play rather than seen it in person, and watching the characters play out of the page uncomfortably intimate and real in a way that can only speak to Joyce's mastery.
Biblio Curious
Move along ... nothing to see here .... *blushes profusely* Every writer is allowed a few duds, this one happens to be Joyce's. Save yourself the time and just keep moving till you get back to Ibsen, his plays are much better.
Blake Plante
Sep 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
There are some things that writers don't have to make up, because they live them. I have no idea how autobiographical Exiles is, but I know that, young and inexperienced as I may be, I have lived some semblance of this play, and it is powerful and relatable and madness-inducing.
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Goodreads Librari...: Cover update 5 19 Aug 21, 2018 11:30AM  

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James Joyce, Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature, and created a unique language of invented words, puns, and allusions ...more

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