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James Joyce, 1882-1941

joyce.jpg (6272 bytes)James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born at Dublin and was educated at the National University of Ireland. In 1903 he went to Paris to study medicine and subsequently took up voice training for a concert career. Back in Dublin, he published a few stories, but, unable to make a living as a writer, he left for Trieste as an English language tutor. Dublin saw him for the last time in 1912, when he started the short-lived Volta Cinema Theatre; and at the outbreak of the Great war he was again in Trieste. He went to Z�rich in 1915, where he formed a company of Irish players to perform his Exiles. He settled in Paris in 1920, remaining there until 1940 when he returned to Z�rich, where he died the following year.

His first publication was a collection of lyrics, Chamber Music (1907). Dubliners, a collection of short stories, appeared in 1914 to be followed by Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1917), originally serialized by Ezra Pound in the Egoist during 1914-15. His best known book, Ulysses, appeared in Paris in 1922, but was banned in Britain and the United States (until 1933). Work in Progress began to appear in 1927, in sections and under different titles, and finally emerged as Finnegans Wake (1939).

These novels flout the accepted conventions of the novel form prior to Joyce. The time factor becomes elastic and consciousness takes over and dictates the sequence of events. Plot and character emerge in a stream of association that carries on its ripples all the mental flotsam and jetsam that in the "ordinary" novel do not rise to the surface. In addition, Joyce employed language like a musical notation, that is, the sound superficially supersedes the sense, but in reality communicates (like music) profundities which conventional words cannot hope to express. That, at any rate, is what Joyce intends, but not many readers can go along with him all the way. Of the value of his experiment with his elaborate system of analogy there can be no doubt, and he conducts the experiment brilliantly, but it is self-evident that further analogy must turn back on itself. There can be no development after a certain point is reached, and that point is reached in Finnegans Wake.

Joyce's peculiar achievement has been to translate to the art of writing the conception and technique of the art of musical composition.

Dubliners (HTML)
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Hypermedia Joyce Studies
International James Joyce Foundation
James Joyce Resource Center
The James Joyce Center

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