Monday, September 3, 2007

James Joyce (1882-1941)

Sierra Club


The only demand I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works.


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Born James Augustine Aloysius Joyce in Dublin, Ireland on February 2, 1882. Died in Zurich, Switzerland on January 13, 1941. James Joyce was an Irish writer and poet, and is widely considered one of the most significant writers of 20th century. He was born into a well-off Catholic family in Dublin which suffered numerous set-backs in its fortunes, and slid into poverty. He studied literature in university, where he rejected Catholicism. He made his first visit to Paris in 1902 to be part of the artist movement going on in Montparnasse and Montmartre at the time. He left the city in 1904, running off with the chambermaid Nora Barnacle, to spend the rest of his life on the Continent. He returned to Paris in 1920 and would remain there for the next twenty years until just before his death in 1941. His Irish experiences are essential to his writings which are exclusively on Irish subjects. The early volume of short stories, Dubliners, is a penetrating analysis of the stagnation and paralysis of Dublin society. The stories are epiphanies, a word used particularly by Joyce, by which he meant a sudden consciousness of the "soul" of a thing. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, largely autobiographical, shows the process of attaining maturity and self-consciousness by a young gifted man. The main character is Stephen Dedalus. In this novel some glimpses of Joyce's later techniques are evident, in the use of interior monologue and in the concern with the psychic rather than external reality. In Ulysses, Joyce employs stream of consciousness, parody, jokes, and virtually every other literary technique to present his characters. The novel, which occurs in a single day, sets the ancient myth of Ulysses, Penelope and Telemachus in modern Dublin and impersonates them in the characters of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, parodically contrasted with their lofty models. The book explores various areas of Dublin life, dwelling on its squalor and monotony. His method of stream of consciousness, literary allusions and free dream associations was pushed to the limit in Finnegans Wake, which abandoned all conventions of plot and character construction, and is written in a peculiar and obscure language, based mainly on complex multi-level puns. James Joyce died January 13, 1941 at: Zurich, Switzerland and is buried in the Fluntern Cemetery, Zurich, Switzerland with his wife, Nora. [This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on James Joyce.]

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