James Joyce

On this date in 1882, novelist James Joyce (née James Augustine Aloysius Joyce) was born in Ireland, into a prosperous, Roman Catholic family. They moved constantly in search of cheaper lodgings after his father's drinking and financial irresponsibility landed the large family into poverty. James was educated in convents and by the Christian Brothers, who pressured him to become a Jesuit. But Joyce rejected Catholicism by the age of 16. He enrolled in the University College of Dublin in 1898. As a student, he published a broadside, "The Holy Office," in 1904, satirizing the Celtic revival. After living for a time in Paris, Joyce moved to Trieste, Italy, with Nora Barnacle of Galway, whom he married. Dubliners, a book of short stories, was published in 1914. Although James' last glimpse of Ireland was in 1912, as an expatriate he meticulously set his novels there. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in London in 1916, after an enraged Irish printer had destroyed the first edition of the novel in 1912. James and his family, including children Giorgio and Lucia, lived on the continent thereafter. Ulysses, documenting one day in the life of Leopold Bloom in Dublin circa 1904, was published in Paris in 1922. It was banned for many years in Great Britain and the United States. It took Joyce 17 years to finish the stream of consciousness Finnegans Wake, published in 1939. Joyce employed the idea of "epiphanies," or sudden consciousness, in his work. According to photographer Andres Serrano, when he told Joyce he wanted to capture his soul, Joyce replied: "Forget the soul. Just get the tie right." (Cited in Who's Who in Hell by Warren Allen Smith) Joyce once referred to Ireland as "that scullery maid of Christendom" (cited in "Happy Bloomsday" by Andrew Lewis Conn, Village Voice, June 15, 2004). D. 1941.

"I'm the queerest young fellow that ever you heard.
My mother's a jew, my father's a bird.
With Joseph the joiner I cannot agree,
So here's to disciples and Calvary.

—If anyone thinks that I amn't divine
He'll get no free drinks when I'm making the wine
But have to drink water and wish it were plain
That I make when the wine becomes water again.

—Goodbye, now, goodbye. Write down all I said
And tell Tom, Dick and Harry I rose from the dead.
What's bred in the bone cannot fail me to fly
And Olivet's breezy... Goodbye, now, goodbye.”

—James Joyce, Ullysses (1922)

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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