James Joyce

(1882—1941) writer

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James Joyce in Context. Ed. John McCourt. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2009. xx + 414 pp. £60.00. ISBN 978–0–521–88662–8

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novelist, born at Rathgar, Dublin, educated at University College, Dublin, where Gogarty was a fellow student. Early influences included Gerhard Hauptmann, Dante, G. Moore, Ibsen, and Yeats. Joyce went to Paris for a year in 1902, where he lived in poverty, wrote verse, and discovered Dujardin's novel Les Lauriers sont coupés (1888), which he was to credit as the source of his own use of interior monologue (see Stream of Consciousness). He returned to Dublin for his mother's death, then left Ireland more or less for good with Nora Barnacle, the woman with whom he spent the rest of his life. They lived at Trieste and Zurich, and settled finally after the war in Paris. His first published work was a volume of verse, Chamber Music (1907), followed by Dubliners (1914), a volume of short stories published after great delays and difficulties; they were greeted with enthusiasm by Pound, whose friendship and support greatly encouraged Joyce's career and reputation. Joyce's play Exiles was published in 1918 and staged unsuccessfully in the same year in Munich, then first performed in London in 1926. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published serially in the Egoist, 1914–15 (part of a first draft, Stephen Hero, appeared in 1944). With strong backing from Yeats and Pound, Joyce received a grant from the Royal Literary Fund in 1915, and shortly after a grant from the civil list.

His famous novel Ulysses (1922, Paris; 1936, England) was received as a work of genius by writers as varied as T. S. Eliot, Hemingway, and Arnold Bennett. This work, together with Finnegans Wake (1939), revolutionized the form and structure of the novel, decisively influenced the development of the ‘stream of consciousness’ or ‘interior monologue’ (see also Richardson, D.), and pushed language and linguistic experiment (particularly in the latter work) to the extreme limits of communication. There is a Life by R. Ellmann (1959, 2nd edn 1982) See Modernism.

Subjects: literature.

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