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||James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (1882-1941)|
Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). During his career Joyce suffered from rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics, and misunderstanding by readers. From 1902 Joyce led a nomadic life, which perhaps reflected in his interest in the character of Odysseus. Although he spent long times in Paris, Trieste, Rome, and Zürich, with only occasional brief visit to Ireland, his native country remained basic to all his writings.
"But when the restraining influence of the school was at a distance I began to hunger again for wild sensations, for the escape which those chronicles of disorder alone seemed to offer me. The mimic warfare of the evening became at last as wearisome to me as the routine of school in the morning because I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad." (from Dubliners)
James Joyce was born in Dublin. His father, John Stanislaus Joyce, was an impoverished gentleman, who had failed in a distillery business and tried all kinds of professions, including politics and tax collecting. Joyce's mother, Mary Jane Murray, was ten years younger than her husband. She was an accomplished pianist, whose life was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and her husband. In spite of the poverty, the family struggled to maintain solid middle-class facade. According to Joyce, his father had been a "a conqueror of women" as a young man and had contracted syphilis. It had been argued that inherited syphilis led to Joyce's near blindnessness in his later years.
From the age of six Joyce, was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (1893-97). Later the author thanked Jesuits for teaching him to think straight, although he rejected their religious instructions. As one of his exercises in Latin, he translated Horace's 'O fons Bandusiae' into English. Stephen Dedalus, his fictional alter ego, mused in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) that "The pages of his timeworn Horace never felt cold to the touch even when his fingers were cold: they were human pages." Once Joyce broke his glasses and was unable to do his lessons. This episode was recounted also in the book.
In 1898 Joyce entered the University College, Dublin, where he found his
early inspirations from the works of Henrik Ibsen,
St.Thomas Aquinas and W.B. Yeats. Joyce's
first publication was an essay on Ibsen's play When We Dead Awaken.
It appeared in Fortnightly Review in 1900. At this time
he began writing lyric poems. As a linguistic exercise, Joyce translated Gerhart Hauptmann's play Vor Sonnenaufgang,
sent the translation to William Butler Yeats to be performed in Dublin.
Yeats rejected the play, saying "you are not a very good German
After graduation in 1902, the twenty-year-old Joyce went to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations in difficult financial conditions. He spent in France a year, returning when a telegram arrived saying his mother was dying. Not long after her death, Joyce was traveling again. He left Dublin in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid (they married in 1931), staying in Pola, Austria-Hungary, and in Trieste, which was the world’s seventh busiest port. Joyce gave English lessons and talked about setting up an agency to sell Irish tweed. Refused a post teaching Italian literature in Dublin, he continued to live abroad.
The Trieste years were nomadic, poverty-stricken, and
productive. Joyce and Nora loved this cosmopolitan port city at the
head of the Adriatic Sea, where they lived in a number of different
A great admirer of the Danish critic Georg Brandes, Joyce quoted Brandes' monumental work William Shakespeare in his lectures on Hamlet at the Universitá Popolare in 1912-13. None of the twelve lectures have survived. The English translation of Brandes' book first apprared in 1898; Joyce had a copy of it in his own library. Later the study served as one of the main sources for "Scylla and Charybdis" episode in Ulysses, in which Stephen Dedalus presents his Shakespeare theory.
During this period Joyce wrote most of Dubliners (1914), all of A Portrait of the Artist, the play, Exiles (1918), and large sections of Ulysses. Several of Joyce's siblings joined them, and two children, Giorgio and Lucia, were born. The children grew up speakin the Trieste dialect of Italian. Joyce and Nora stayed together althoug Joyce fell in love with Anny Schleimer, the daughter of an Austrian banker, and Roberto Prezioso, the editor of the newspaper Il Piccolo della Sera, tried to seduce Nora. After a short stint in Rome in 1906-07 as a bank clerk ended in illness, Joyce returned to Trieste.
In 1907 Joyce published a collection of poems, Chamber Music. The title was suggested, as the author later stated, by the sound of urine tinkling into a prostitute's chamber pot. The poems have with their open vowels and repetitions such musical quality that many of them have been made into songs. "I have left my book, / I have left my room, / For I heard you singing / Through the gloom." Joyce himself had a fine tenor voice; he liked opera and bel canto.
In 1909 Joyce opened a cinema in Dublin, but this affair failed and he was soon back in Trieste, still broke and working as a teacher, tweed salesman, journalist and lecturer. In 1912 he was in Ireland, trying to persuade Maunsel & Co to fulfill their contract to publish Dubliners. The work contained a series of short stories, dealing with the lives of ordinary people, youth, adolescence, young adulthood, and maturity. The last story, 'The Dead', was adapted into screen by John Huston in 1987.
It was Joyce's last journey to his home country. However, he had became friends with Ezra Pound, who began to market his works. Portrait of the Artist apparently began as a quasi-biographical memoir entitled Stephen Hero between 1904 and 1906. Only a fragment of the original manuscript has survived. The book follows the life of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, from childhood towards maturity, his education at University College, Dublin, and rebellion to free himself from the claims of family and Irish nationalism. Stephen takes religion seriously, and considers entering a seminary, but then also rejects Roman Catholicism. "– Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using my defence the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning." At the end Stephen resolves to leave Ireland for Paris to encounter "the reality of experience". He wants to establish himself as a writer.
There once was a lounger named Stephen
Brandes never reviewed Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist, which the publisher sent to him. With the publication of Ulysses, he was also among the receivers of free copies.
At the outset of the First World War, Joyce moved with his family to Zürich, where Lenin and the poet essayist Tristan Tzara had found their refuge. Joyce's WW I years with the legendary Russian revolutionary and Tzara, who founded the dadaist movement at the Cabaret Voltaire, provide the basis for Tom Stoppard's play Travesties (1974).
In Zürich Joyce started to develop the early chapters of Ulysses, which was first published in France, because of censorship troubles in the Great Britain and the United States, where the book became legally available 1933. The theme of jealousy was based partly on a story a former friend of Joyce told: he claimed that he had been sexually intimate with the author's wife, Nora, even while Joyce was courting her. Ulysses takes place on one day in Dublin (June 16, 1904) and reflected the classic work of Homer (fl. 9th or 8th century BC?).
The main characters are Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising
canvasser, his wife Molly, and Stephen Dedalus, the hero from Portrait
of the Artist as a Young Man. They are intended to be modern
counterparts of Telemachus, Ulysses, and Penelope. Barmaids are the
famous Sirens. One of the models for Bloom was Ettore Schmitz (Italo
Svevo), a novelist and businessman who was Joyce's student at the
Berlitz school in Trieste. The story, using stream-of-consciousness
technique, parallel the major events in Odysseus' journey home.
However, Bloom's adventures are less heroic and his homecoming is less
violent. Bloom makes his trip to the underworld by attending a funeral
at Glasnevin Cemetary. "We are praying now for the repose of his soul.
Hoping you're well and not in hell. Nice change of air. Out of the
fryingpan of life into the fire of purgatory." The
paths of Stephen and Bloom cross and recross through the day. 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. "Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t understand it," Jeremy
Corbyn has said, advising to read a little bit at a time and think
about it and then move on. ('Jeremy Corbyn on Joyce's Ulysses: ‘Don’t beat yourself up if you don’t understand it' by Peter Carty, The Guardian, Fri 14 Jun 2019)
1917 to 1930 Joyce endured several eye operations, being
totally blind for short intervals. (According to tradition, Homer was
also blind.) Probably following the recommendation of T.S. Eliot, who
had stayed at the Rue de l'Université (now Hötel Lenox) when he was
studying at the Sorbonne, Pound booked rooms in this hotel for Joyce
and his family. They ended up using it three different times and
spending the next twenty years in Paris. From 1925 to 1930 they lived
in an apartment on the Square de Robiac, longer than anywhere else in
In March 1923 Joyce began his second major work, Finnegans Wake, suffering at the same time chronic eye troubles caused by glaucoma. The first segment of the novel appeared in Ford Madox Ford's transatlantic review in April 1924, as part of what Joyce called Work in Progress. Wake occupied Joyce's time for the next sixteen years – its final version was completed late in 1938. Occasionally he gave readings from his new material. A copy of the novel was present at Joyce's birthday celebration on February 1939.
Joyce's daughter Lucia, born in Trieste in 1907, became Carl Jung's patient in 1934. In her teens, she studied dance, and later The Paris Times praised her skills as choreocrapher, linguist, and performer. With her father she collaborated in Pomes Penyeach (1927), for which she did some illustrations. Lucia's great love was Samuel Beckett, who was not interested in her. In the 1930s, she started to behave erratically. At the Burghölz psychiatric clinic in Zürich, where Jung worked, she was diagnosed schizophrenic. Joyce was left bitter at Jung's analysis of his daughter – Jung thought she was too close with her father's psychic system. In revenge, Joyce played in Finnegans Wake with Jung's concepts of Animus and Anima. Lucia died in a mental hospital in Northampton, England, in 1982.
After the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zürich, where he was taken ill. He was diagnosed of having a perforated duodenal ulcer. Joyce died after an operation, on January 13, 1941, still disappointed with the reception of Finnegans Wake, published on 4 May, 1939, by Faber and Faber. His last words were: "Does nobody understand?" Joyce was buried in Zürich at Fluntern cemetery.
Finnegans Wake was the last and most revolutionary work of the author, partly based on Freud's dream psychology, Bruno's theory of the complementary but conflicting nature of opposites, and the cyclic theory of history of Giambattista Vico (1668-1744). There is not much plot or characters to speak of – the life of all human experience is viewed as fragmentary. Some critics considered the work masterpiece, though many readers found it incomprehensible. "The only demand I make of my reader," Joyce once told an interviewer, "is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works." When the American writer Max Eastman asked Joyce why the book was written in a very difficult style, Joyce replied: "To keep the critics busy for three hundred years." The novel presents the dreams and nightmares of H.C. Earwicker (Here Comes Everywhere) and his family, the wife and mother Anna Livia Plurabelle, the twins Shem/Jerry and Shaun/Kevin, and the daughter Issy, as they lie asleep throughout the night. In the frame of the minimal central story Joyce experiments with language, combines puns and foreign words with allusions to historical, psychological and religious cosmology. The characters turn up in hundreds of different forms – animal, vegetable and mineral. Transformations are as flexible as in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The last word in the book is 'the', which leads, by Joyce's ever recurrent cycles, to the opening word in the book, the eternal 'riverrun.'
Although the events are set in the Dublin suburb of Chapelizod, the place is an analogy for everywhere else. Wake's structure follows the three stages of history as laid out by Vico: the Divine, the Heroic, and Human, followed period of flux, after which the cycle begins all over again: the last sentence in the work runs into the first. The title of the book is a compound of Finn MaCool, the Irish folk-hero who is supposed to return to life at some future date to become the savior of Ireland, and Tim Finnegan, the hero of music-hall ballad, who sprang to life in the middle of his own wake.
For further reading: James Joyce by Herbert Gorman (1939); Introducing James Joyce, ed. by T.S. Eliot (1942); Stephen Hero, ed. by Theodore Spencer (1944); James Joyce by W.Y. Tindall (1950); Joyce: The Man, the Reputation, the Work by M. Maglaner and R.M. Kain (1956); Dublin's Joyce by Hugh Kenner (1956); My Brtother's Keeper by S. Joyce (1958); James Joyce by Richard Ellmann (1959); A Readers' Guide to Joyce (1959); The Art of James Joyce by A.W. Litz (1961); Surface and Symbol: The Consistency of James Joyce's Ulysses by R.M. Adams (1962); J. Joyce-again's Finnegans Wake by B. Benstock (1965); James Joyce's 'Ulysses': Critical Essays, ed. by Clive Hart and David Hayman (1974); A Conceptual Guide to 'Finnegans Wake' by Michael H. Begnal and Fritz Senn (1974); James Joyce: the Citizen and the Artist by C. Peake (1977); James Joyce by Patrick Parrinder (1984); Joyce's Anatomy of Culture by Cheryl Herr (1986); Joyce's Book of the Dark: 'Finnegans Wake by John Bishop (1986); Reauthorizing Joyce by Vicki Mahaffey (1988); 'Ulysses' Annotated by Don Gifford (1988); An Annotated Critical Bibliography of James Joyce, ed. by Thomas F. Staley (1989); The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, ed by Derek Attridge (1990); Joyce's Web by Margot Norris (1992); James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by David Seed (1992); Critical Essays on James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake ed. by Patrick A. McCarthy (1992); James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus's Nightmare by Robert E. Spoo (1994); Gender in Joyce, ed. by Jolanta W. Wawrzycka (1997); A Companion to James Joyce's Ulysses, ed. by Margot Norris (1999); Toiseen maailmaan. James Joycen novelli "Kuolleet" kirjallisuustieteen kohteena by Pekka Vartiainen (1999); The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920 by John McCourt (2000); Joyce's "Ulysses" for Everyone, Or How To Skip Reading It the First Time by John Mood (2004); James Joyce: A New Biography by Gordon Bowker (2012); 'Hamlet… Shakespeare. Brandes… Joyce' by Benjamin Boysen, in Shakespearean Joyce - Joycean Shakespeare, edited bt John McCourt (2016)