Armytage Open Lecture
 

 

 

James Joyce (1882-1941), novelist, short-story writer, poet, and dramatist, was born at 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin, on 2 February 1882. Joyce shared his birth year, the year of the Phoenix Park Murders, with Eamon de Valera, whose pious cultural nationalism would later earn Joyce's hearty contempt. Joyce's birthday, variously both the same day as Candlemas and, in the United States, Groundhog Day, was always of great importance to him; he would contrive, with considerable difficulty and mixed success, to see the first copies of his two greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake , published on that day.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was the eldest surviving child of John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane ('May') Joyce nee Murray (a child, John Augustine Joyce, had been born in 1880, but had lived for only eight days). James (known always to his family as 'Jim') was the eldest of ten siblings (four boys and six girls), suggesting a physical toll on May Joyce which does not include three misbirths. At the time of James's birth, John Stanislaus was a wealthy man. At the apex of his wealth, his income from inherited properties in Cork and from his position in the Civil Service put him amongst the top per cent of earners in Ireland, but his reckless nature and financial imprudence were to see his properties mortgaged and the family moving again and again to ever smaller and poorer homes. In the course of his childhood and adolescence, James Joyce, like Stephen Dedalus, the protagonist of his novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , would witness the remorseless social decline of his own family from Catholic middle class to almost destitute poor. It was a social slide which undoubtedly stamped Joyce's peculiar genius.

James was named after his paternal grandfather, James Augustine Joyce. The latter had intended that his only child (Joyce's father) be called James, thus continuing the line of first names which derived from his father (and Joyce's great-grandfather), but according to Joyce family lore, James Augustine Joyce's wish was thwarted by a drunken parish clerk who instead wrote down 'John'. James Joyce's family was middle class, Catholic and, in the case of his father John Stanislaus, devotedly Parnellite. John Stanislaus's intense anti-clericalism was to prove a very significant force guiding his son's spiritual development. John Stanislaus was one of the most important influences on his son's life. He was a difficult, witty, licentious, highly irascible man who was capable of mental and physical cruelty to his family, but he loved James above all his children, and James loved him. With a keen self-knowledge, the latter saw the roots of his own genius in his father's character. When John Stanislaus died in 1931, Joyce wrote revealingly of his father to his patron Harriet Shaw Weaver: 'I was very fond of him always [. . .] Hundreds of pages and scores of characters in my books come from him.'

In September 1888, when the young Joyce was 'half past six', as he replied in answer to a question about his age, he entered the Jesuit boys' school, Clongowes Wood College. His gradual disenchantment with and hostility to the Church would later be memorably pictured through the character of Stephen Dedalus in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . Joyce always thought of himself as a Jesuit, rather than a Catholic, and he corrected his friend the artist Frank Budgen when the latter ventured otherwise: 'You allude to me as a Catholic. Now for the sake of precision and to get the correct contour on me, you ought to allude to me as a Jesuit.' Clongowes Wood College laid down the roots of the adult Joyce, of whom it has been said that he was intellectually an anti-clerical Jesuit. For all his later rebellion against ordered religion, Joyce's particular education was very fortuitous for English literature, as David Pierce remarks: 'the Jesuits gave Joyce the most ordered mind of any modern writer'.

Joyce was withdrawn from Clongowes Wood in either late October or early November 1891, probably due to his father's ever-worsening finances. The great Irish political leader Charles Stuart Parnell died on 6 October 1891, and so the period of Joyce's return home from Clongowes was a time of great drama in Ireland. The event caused the eight-year-old Joyce to write 'Et Tu, Healey', his poem on the betrayal of Parnell. No copy survives, but it was Joyce's first published work, printed at his proud father's personal expense.

Joyce subsequently attended Belvedere College, Dublin, from 1893-8. As Stephen Dedalus's father rather shrewdly remarks in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , 'let him stick to the jesuits in God's name since he began with them. They'll be of service to him in after years. Those are the fellows that can get you a position.' No doubt this was taken verbatim from John Stanislaus, who was highly ambitious for his son; undoubtedly Joyce's own personal mixture of lofty arrogance and genius saw him eschew such calculation.

From 1898-1902, Joyce attended University College Dublin, where he was a desultory student who had already moved away intellectually from formal academic study to embark upon his own systematic programme of reading. Never short of confidence, and perceiving university study to be beneath his abilities, he was clearly beginning, like the character in his 1916 poem 'Dooleysprudence', 'to paddle [. . .] his personal canoe'. By this point, Joyce knew himself to be different from his fellows. He was a modern, dissident Irish Catholic intellectual who proudly proclaimed his loss of faith, often with blasphemous disdain. The Luciferian 'non serviam: I will not serve' proclaimed by Stephen Dedalus in both A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses , became Joyce's creed: the pure expression of his will to a self-creating freedom. Whilst at University College, on 1 April 1900, Joyce's article ' Ibsen 's new drama', on Ibsen 's last play, When we Dead Awake , was published in the Fortnightly Review . Ibsen was inspirational to Joyce, as a modern visionary triumphing over reactionary forces, and Joyce was delighted to receive a letter of personal thanks from Ibsen himself. Joyce's reply to this, as an eighteen-year-old, is revealing about his own struggles and his intimation of the artistic road on which he was about to embark:

But we always keep the dearest things to ourselves. I did not tell them what bound me closest to you. I did not say how what I could discern dimly of your life was my pride to see, how your battles inspired me -- not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead, how your resolution to wrest the secret from life gave me heart and how in your absolute indifference to public canons of art, friends and shibboleths you walked in the light of your inward heroism.

The year 1901 saw the publication of Joyce's essay 'The Day of the Rabblement' in the pamphlet Two Essays (the other essay was by Joyce's friend Frank Skeffington), in which, in keeping with the his enthusiasm for Ibsen and the solitary battles of the artist, and knowing too the seductions exacted on principle, Joyce attacks the parochialism and sentimentalities of the Irish Literary Theatre, enjoining the soul of the artist not to 'yield [. . .] up all its hate to a caress'.

Joyce was now moving into a period of key events in his life. In March 1902 his fourteen-year-old brother George died of peritonitis and medical negligence (an occasion which Joyce would later retell around the character and death of Stephen's sister, Isabel, in Joyce's early novel Stephen Hero ). Later that year Joyce graduated from University College Dublin with a degree in modern languages and, in early December, went to Paris to study medicine. This was a career about which he appears never to have been serious, but the apparent purpose presumably satisfied his parents whilst offering him the chance both to free himself from the encumbrances of a backward-looking parochial country, and to experiment with living and thinking in a much freer land.

On 10 April 1903 Joyce received a telegram from his father informing him that his mother was dying and telling him to come home. The garbled words of the telegram are recorded verbatim in Ulysses : 'Nother dying come home father' (sic). Joyce immediately returned to Dublin; his mother died from cancer of the liver on 13 August 1903, aged forty-four, her family at her bedside.

In early June 1904 Joyce first saw his future wife Nora Barnacle; on hearing her name and in a remark the truth of which was to be borne out with time, Joyce's father dryly observed 'She'll stick to him'! On 16 June 1904 Joyce first 'walked out with' Nora, the day later immortalised in literature as that on which his great novelUlysses is set, now universally referred to by Joyceans as 'Bloomsday' after Leopold Bloom, the book's protagonist. Nora was very different from the middle-class women whom Joyce had known in his youth, such as Mary Sheehy, the daughter of the Member of Parliament David Sheehy. A chambermaid in a Dublin hotel, Nora was from Galway; she was poorly educated, but with a practical intelligence and a self-contained independence which seem to have been the perfect foil to Joyce's supreme intellectual confidence. Also, for a man of such confidence, it would matter nothing that his wife lacked any cultural sophistication. Joyce's sexual experience was, at this point, predominantly if not exclusively garnered from prostitutes, where he could get uncomplicated sex without the mannered, middle-class gavotte of flirtation which he clearly disdained as dishonest. Nora was possessed of a sexual frankness and a passion which argued against physical hypocrisies and which evidently recommended her to him. Perhaps, alongside her spirited qualities and her streetwise female honesty, part of the key to Nora's attraction for Joyce lay in something associated with her Galway origins. Certainly Joyce's famous 1907 short story 'The Dead' suggests that she put him back in touch with his country in a positive way, and Joyce's own somewhat loose punning on her name in his 'Alphabetical Notebook' under 'Nora', endorses this: 'Wherever thou art shall be Erin to me'.

Not long after their meeting, in August 1904, Joyce wrote Nora what was by any standard, a very direct, revelatory and uncompromising letter designed, in all probability, to test her steadfastness to his credo: My mind rejects the whole present social order and Christianity -- home, the recognised virtues, classes of life, and religious doctrines. How could I like the idea of home? My home was simply a middle-class affair ruined by spendthrift habits which I have inherited. My mother was slowly killed, I think, by my father's ill-treatment, by years of trouble, and by my cynical frankness of conduct. When I looked on her face as she lay in her coffin -- a face grey and wasted with cancer -- I understood that I was looking on the face of a victim and I cursed the system which had made her a victim. [. . .] Six years ago I left the Catholic Church, hating it most fervently [. . .] now I make open war upon it by what I write and say and do.

The relationship was never without its vicissitudes, notably in relation to Joyce's drinking as well as to his occasional romantic involvements with other women such as Marthe Fleischmann (Joyce notably uses the name 'Martha' for the woman in Ulysses with whom Bloom has an epistolary flirtation), but the two stayed together until Joyce's death, finally marrying in 1931 (when Joyce's deep opposition to the convention of marriage finally took second place both to Nora's wishes and to the need to secure his estate for his beneficiaries). Joyce and Nora were to have two children, in 1905 Giorgio (named after Joyce's dead younger brother George), and in 1907 Lucia (named after the patron saint of eyesight, appropriately for Joyce, who, by the time of his daughter's birth, was already mired in the persistent and serious eye problems which would increasingly blight his health).

In October 1904, Joyce and Nora left Dublin for Pola in Austria where Joyce was to teach English at the Berlitz school. He would spend the rest of his life living in continental Europe, mainly in Trieste, Rome, Paris and Zurich. Joyce would return only three brief times to Dublin, twice in 1909 and once in 1912; whilst his home city would remain forever at the heart of his work, he would never live there again. As Joyce would later remark, 'I always write about Dublin because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.'

Shortly before leaving Dublin, Joyce's first mature literary work, his short story 'The Sisters', was published on 13 August 1904, coincidentally the anniversary of Joyce's mother's death. Like the two stories which would follow it, 'Eveline' and 'After the Race', 'The Sisters' first appeared over the signature of 'Stephen Daedalus' in George Russell 's (AE's) paper The Irish Homestead , the publication of the Irish Agricultural Organisation Society. Joyce's brother Stanislaus remarked that Joyce used a pseudonym, 'because he was ashamed of publishing in "the pig's paper"', but he would keep the name for the artist protagonist of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses (albeit losing the somewhat florid Greek 'ae' by changing it to Stephen Dedalus). 'The Sisters' was the first of the fifteen short stories written between 1904 and 1907, and published finally as Dubliners in 1914.

Dubliners ' stories almost uniformly present a harshly commonplace urban world. As Joyce's brother Stanislaus tellingly observed, 'They were the first signs of his [Joyce's] revolt against the environment which had produced him'. The Celtic Revival which had held literary sway in Ireland since the 1890s tended, somewhat like certain elements of Irish nationalism, to mythologise the Irish past and to idealise the Irish character in the present; it was a 'dreamy' attitude with which Joyce's realism was on a direct collision course. In The Holy Office , Joyce's 1904 verse satire, he bitterly contrasts his role with that of the 'mumming company' of Yeats , Russell and the Celtic Revival, whom he intends to 'spurn for evermore':

But all these men of whom I speak
Make me the sewer of their clique.
That they may dream their dreamy dreams
I carry off their filthy streams [. . .]

In Dubliners , Joyce himself made his intentions clear; Dublin and Ireland exacted a heavy toll on its own. As Joyce wrote in May 1906 to Grant Richards, then the would-be publisher of Dubliners , 'My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis.' Dubliners sees Joyce engaged in a struggle for what he termed 'the spiritual liberation of my country', and this involved an insistent emphasis on the realities of Irish life. As ever with Joyce, liberation depended upon complete honesty. In a letter to Nora in September 1904, he complained bitterly of his country: 'There is no life here, no naturalness or honesty'; whilst two years later, writing to his brother Stanislaus in October 1906 and railing at the nationalistic absurdity of Irish sexual purity, Joyce wondered if he himself was 'the only honest person that has come out of Ireland in our time'. Honesty lay necessarily at the heart of Joyce's intellectual rebellion, an honesty that translated into a sexual frankness which would inevitably make publication difficult: there was a seven-year gap between the completion of the stories and the volume's publication.

Dubliners embodies a number of literary developments which signal its early modernist innovation. Joyce identified in the work what he called his style of 'scrupulous meanness': his diminished subject matter, his allowing of his characters to reveal their truths inadvertently, without evident authorial intrusion, and his striking use of 'epiphany' (a term which, in its literary context, he coined), all serve to augment the essence of a style which would be carried into Ulysses , and which would later be emulated by many others including Katherine Mansfield and Virginia Woolf .

Joyce's propensity for systematisation saw him structuring Dubliners into narratives of childhood ('The Sisters', 'An Encounter', 'Araby'), adolescence ('Eveline', 'After the Race', 'Two Gallants', 'The Boarding House'), adult life ('A Little Cloud', 'Counterparts', 'Clay', 'A Painful Case'), and public life ('Ivy Day in the Committee Room', 'A Mother', 'Grace'), with the final story 'The Dead' as a kind of coda. This, in itself, was an innovation in the short-story genre. According to his brother, Joyce's favourite story was 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room'. Set in 1902/3 on Ivy Day, the anniversary of Parnell's death, 'Ivy Day in the Committee Room' registers the collapse into backbiting and betrayal of the nationalist cause for which Parnell himself had done so much, and speaks, as ever, to that realism and truth from which Joyce avowedly would not swerve.

The focus of Dubliners falls almost exclusively upon the Catholic petty bourgeoisie, those to whom Joyce refers scornfully in 'After the Race' as 'the gratefully oppressed'. Yet, if the diagnosis given is negative, it is to some extent qualified by the final story, 'The Dead'; some fifty pages long this is commonly and justly regarded as one of the greatest short stories of the twentieth-century. Chiefly concerned with Gabriel Conroy, his wife Gretta, and her memory of her long-dead lover, Michael Furey, 'The Dead' derived its core story from Nora Joyce's memory of a boyfriend she had known in her youth, and Gretta Conroy, like Nora, hails from Galway.

'The Dead' marks a watershed both in Joyce's writing and, beyond that, in modern short-story writing. Richard Ellmann has famously remarked on Joyce's recognition, in a letter to Stanisalus in September 1906, of his having been 'unnecessarily harsh' to Ireland in the previous Dubliners ' stories, adding 'I have not reproduced its [. . .] hospitality'. Yet whilst 'The Dead' certainly functions as a corrective in this respect, it also continues to bear witness to what Joyce in the same letter calls 'the perverse devil of my literary conscience sitting on the hump of my pen'. Certainly 'The Dead' offers a significant broadening of perspective from the mordant social and cultural anatomy of the earlier stories, with the Europeanised Irishman Gabriel Conroy and the narrower, more parochial Gaelic League or Irish revival proponent Molly Ivors, as the two opposing wings of an ideological duality which is finally burst asunder by the advent into Gabriel's life of the dead Michael Furey. Clearly, if the Europeanised Irishman Gabriel can be said to be something of the self-exiled Joyce's projection of himself, then 'The Dead' sees the cosmopolitan Joyce, who bitterly rejected anything to do with his country, now included within, and subject to, a new and subtler critique.

Whilst Joyce consistently dismissed the bigoted excesses of Irish cultural nationalism, 'The Dead' sees him positively appreciating something of his country and, by extension, of the broad hue of Irish culture, but crucially refining and deepening it in the process. It is the subtlety of this change, which serves to make The Dead such a difficult story to come to terms with in relation to the earlier Dubliners ' stories. Joyce in effect carves out a new position whereby the 'Europeanised' Gabriel, who almost savagely rejects the parochial prescriptions of the Gaelic League, discovers, in Michael Furey, something universal and true coming from 'the west' of Ireland hitherto beloved of Gaelic Ireland. Love too is an elusive and hard-won thing in the story. In compassionate consciousness for his wife, Gabriel knows that Gretta's face, 'is no longer the face for which Michael Furey had braved death'; his destiny is not, like Michael Furey, to die for Gretta, but presumably to live with her in a deeper consciousness of that Ireland which she has opened to him, much as Nora did for Joyce. It is perhaps the harder thing. As befits its title, 'The Dead' looks to mortality, concluding with the beautiful passage of Gabriel's imagined image of the churchyard where Michel Furey lies buried, a silent community of living and dead united in mortal dissolution: 'His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.'

In 1987 John Huston 's film The Dead was released, starring Anjelica Huston and Donal McCann.

In a single day, in January 1904, Joyce wrote his essay 'A Portrait of the Artist'; rejected by George Russell 's Dana , it was to form the basis for his long autobiographical novel Stephen Hero , which he began writing almost immediately, and ultimately too for A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man . Joyce worked on Stephen Hero , with its 'traditional' linear narrative, at least from 1904-5, before abandoning and radically recasting it in the ground-breaking modernist narrative of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man .

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in December 1916, having been initially published serially in the Egoist across 1914 to 1915. The novel's protagonist Stephen Dedalus experiences the slow, remorseless social decline of his family; it was a journey that was, in many of its details, the same as that made by Joyce, but crucially Stephen is not Joyce -- he is presented through ironic distance. David Pierce in Reading Joyce has called the novel, 'a modern Pilgrim's Progress , except that now the progress is that of an exile, away from God [. . .] towards an unknown future'. In an evident allusion to its multi-perspective quality, Hugh Kenner in his essay 'The Cubist Portrait' has called A Portrait 'the first Cubist novel'. Both of these comments are highly revealing of the novel's content as well as of its radical literary innovation.

From the novel's beginning we see Stephen gradually developing an unease with the history and matter of his country. Historically we move from Parnell's fall and death in 1891, the ensuing family division powerfully depicted in the novel's famous Christmas table scene, through the depiction of the religious retreat with the Church's campaign for human souls on Stephen, through the feverish atmosphere of the novel's university chapter and the first performance of Yeats 's play The Countess Cathleen in 1899, to the year of Joyce's own initial departure for Paris in 1902.

Unsurprisingly, given Joyce's unrivalled mastery of the English language, the subject of A Portrait might be said to be language. From the novel's opening line, 'Once upon a time and a very good time it was', in which we enter into the world of the infant Stephen listening to the voice of his story-teller father, through to the first person of Stephen's voice in the diary entries at the novel's end, the artist's handling of words is almost mystically invoked; as Stephen says, echoing the beginning of St John's gospel, 'In the virgin womb of the imagination the word was made flesh.' Language is at the heart of A Portrait , as it would also be at the heart of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake . As the novel progresses, there is the insistence on the colonial history of language, offsetting what has seemed in Stephen's growth to be the individual's acquisition of an authentic language of self. As Stephen poignantly reflects during his conversation with the Dean of Studies, an English convert to Catholicism, 'The language in which we are speaking is his before it is mine [. . .] His language, so familiar and so foreign, will always be for me an acquired speech [. . .] My soul frets in the shadow of his language.'

A Portrait sees the developing Stephen engaging with a number of key conflicts. These are essentially apparent in relation to the politics of Irish nationalism, the Church and the Anglo-Irish literary revival. As Stephen grows, he negotiates the shibboleths of politics, religion and culture. His is a fierce independence, resonating down the ages from Satan's biblical and Miltonic 'non serviam': 'I will no longer serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself my home, my fatherland or my church.' Stephen's bravery here was also that of Joyce; no wonder that Samuel Beckett would one day do homage to Joyce's literary heroism, writing of Joyce in 1980: 'I welcome this occasion to bow once again, before I go, deep down, before his heroic work, heroic being.'

Through Stephen in A Portrait , Joyce makes a case for a new kind of literary and individual consciousness in Ireland. Stephen's stated intention, 'to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge [. . .] the uncreated conscience of [his] race', refutes the 'nets' of the past and, as Seamus Deane remarks, signals Stephen's "open[ing] [Ireland] to the future". Yet, whilst Stephen embraces exile, as Joyce himself had done, beginning to identify Ireland in his own historical terms, 'the shortest way to Tara is via Holyhead', we nonetheless have an ironic relief on a young man who, as he will remark in Ulysses , still has 'much to learn'.

Joyce's writing of A Portrait saw a long and difficult gestation. At one point, when Nora taunted him about his lack of success as an author, Joyce threw the manuscript on the fire, from where it was fortunately rescued by his sister Eileen. Joyce renewed his efforts, but exclaimed in frustration, 'What do I need to do to get this thing into print?' When published, such had been the problems both with creation and publication that it had taken him at least ten years to complete. Ezra Pound helped with the novel's publication and trumpeted its originality. Following Pound 's lead, critics detected the novel's crucial advance beyond both Edwardian and naturalistic fiction, its intercalated passages and thematically related episodes resurfacing crucially through the protagonist's awareness. With A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , the modernist novel was fully born, crying a new, raw and dissonant beauty into the world.

In mid 1914, Joyce wrote Giacomo Joyce , a strangely poetic and somewhat elliptical short work which would not finally be published until 1968. Giacomo Joyce concerns its writer's emotional upheaval, his erotic torment, for a young female pupil, very much his junior in years, to whom he is teaching English. Although disputed, the woman in the book has been identified by Richard Ellmann as Amalia Popper, a Triestene student of Joyce's. Joyce abandoned the manuscript in Trieste when he departed for Zurich in 1915. Aside from the emotion it depicts and the consequent insight it gives into Joyce's character, Giacomo Joyce significantly evidences what Ellmann calls Joyce's 'newer manner' of language 'evolving for Ulysses , of sharp, certain, shorthand phrases which need no signalled emphasis'.

What might helpfully be viewed as this 'pre- Ulysses ' period also saw Joyce produce his only extant play, Exiles . Begun in November 1913 and completed on 1 April 1915, Exiles deals with the personal relationships between an Irish writer, Richard Rowan (the symmetry of the initials cannot go unremarked: RR=JJ), just returned to Dublin, his wife Bertha, his cousin Beatrice, and an old friend of Rowan's, the journalist Robert Hand. Exiles revolves around the threat of infidelity between Rowan's wife and his journalist friend. Rowan believes that he cannot interfere to prevent this relationship, but in typically Joycean frankness (Joyce understood, possibly like no other writer, the tyrannous secrecies which bind people to and from one another), he insists that it must be done openly, honestly, with no secrets. Joyce had encouraged and then finally repulsed a Triestene friend, Roberto Prezioso, who had, around 1912-13, endeavoured to become Nora's lover.

Exiles is important because it both echoes and predicts Joyce's other writings; in particular, it portends the themes of sexual betrayal and guilt which are so central to Ulysses , as well as to his work as a whole. At the play's end, when Robert declares that Bertha remained faithful to Richard, the latter says to Bertha, 'I do not wish to know or to believe. I do not care. It is not in the darkness of belief that I desire you. But in restless living wounding doubt. [. . .] My wound tires me.'

Joyce claimed that his style of writing in Dubliners was one of 'scrupulous meanness', and Exiles might be accused of bearing witness to an over-scrupulous morality, but the goad of sexual betrayal goes to the very heart of Joyce's vision of the creative artist. As he would later have Stephen Dedalus, in the 'Scylla and Charybdis' episode of Ulysses , sum up Shakespeare 's creative imagination as the wounding fusion of Iago and Othello: 'His unremitting intellect is the hornmad Iago ceaselessly willing that the moor in him shall suffer.' As Exiles so eloquently testifies, doubt was also of the greatest significance for Joyce. As he would remark to a friend in 1923: 'What would you say was the greatest power in holding people together, complete faith or doubt? [. . .] doubt is the thing. Life is suspended in doubt like the world in the void.'

Exiles was published in 1918, by which time Joyce was well advanced in his writing of Ulysses . The fairly nomadic life of the Joyces was further affected by the First World War, and Joyce completed drafts of the first twelve episodes of Ulysses in Zurich between 1915 and 1919. In July 1919 Harriet Shaw Weaver revealed herself to Joyce as his benefactress. Her generosity, which meant Joyce had no need to work again, would continue throughout the rest of his life, even paying for his funeral. Joyce returned briefly to Trieste before going to Paris in July 1920 where he completed Ulysses , the book which, almost single-handedly, changed modern literature.

Originally conceived as a short story for Dubliners , and set on 16 June 1904, Ulysses essentially concerns the experiences and consciousnesses of three persons: Stephen Dedalus, the young Irish Catholic (in terms of origin) protagonist of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , now very much a changed man; Leopold Bloom, an Irish-Jewish placer of advertisements for a Dublin newspaper, The Freeman's Journal ; and Molly Bloom, his wife. The book famously opens on the Martello tower at Sandycove, Dublin, where Joyce had himself stayed from 9-14 September 1904 with Oliver St. John Gogarty (the model for the novel's Buck Mulligan), and Gogarty 's friend from Oxford, the Anglo-Irish Samuel Chenevix Trench (the model for the Englishman Haines). As Joyce was evidently keenly aware, the Martello tower is a telling symbol of colonial invasion, and there is much throughout the novel which addresses the politics and culture of a colonially dispossessed Ireland. Above all, however, Ulysses is about life in all its reality, and for those fastidious souls, like Virginia Woolf , who professed to finding its physical directness repugnant, Joyce had a telling rebuke: 'If Ulysses isn't fit to read, then life isn't fit to live.'

Ulysses bears devastating witness to the deep establishment bigotry of the colonial Ireland of its time. Indeed, following the book's publication, in a remark encapsulating the attitude to which Joyce, like the Stephen Dedalus of Ulysses , knew himself to be a victim, the classics professor at Ireland's oldest university, Trinity College Dublin, J.P. Mahaffy, seized the opportunity for the establishment university, which had long been central to the education of Ireland's ruling Protestant ascendancy, to sneer at its upstart rival, the less auspicious and much more recently founded, University College Dublin. Mahaffy gave full expression to establishment bigotry with his remark directed at the Irish Catholic population for whom Dublin's 'lesser' university had been established: 'James Joyce is a living argument in favour of my contention that it was a mistake to establish a separate university for the aborigines of this island -- for the corner-boys who spit into the Liffey.' Such deep prejudice gives a window into the dispossession and social ignorance that Ulysses unflinchingly confronts. Joyce's feelings of dispossession, as someone of Irish-Catholic background stymied both by Church and State, are represented directly in Stephen Dedalus. As Stephen pointedly remark of the disfiguring complicity of Ireland by the Catholic Church and the British State: 'I am a servant of two masters [. . .] an English and an Italian.'

In the summer of 1918, Joyce told Frank Budgen, with whom he discussed the book as he worked on it, 'I am now writing a book based on the wanderings of Ulysses. The Odyssey, that is to say, serves me as a ground plan. Only my time is recent time and all my hero's wanderings take no more than eighteen hours.' As the critic Hugh Kenner has remarked, 'It is hard to think of three sentences better contrived to turn an unwritten book into something that could be talked about.' T.S. Eliot would use this to signal the importance of this approach for modernism in his 1923 essay 'Ulysses, order, and myth', in which he remarks on the inspiration for Joyce's book as well as the burden which it placed on other writers (including, no doubt, Eliot himself): 'I hold this book to be the most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape'.

To the book's first readers, the impact of the title Ulysses with its conjuration of classical associations inviting expectations of a modern novelisation of Homer 's epic, is impossible to underestimate. Clearly, as David Pierce has remarked, the title has a 'capacious resonance'. Significantly, Joyce removed the Homeric titles from the book before publication, presumably because he didn't want his reader to give too much emphasis to something which, whilst it was a significant comic device, might nevertheless essentially be likened to scaffolding for the book's construction. It is worth remembering, however, that Joyce, like most readers of Ulysses , always referred to the chapters by their Homeric titles.

Many of the Homeric correspondences in Ulysses are comically pleasing, such, for instance, as Bloom's cigar in 'Cyclops' recalling the burning brand with which the cyclops Polyphemus' eye is blinded, or the Jacob's biscuit tin flung after him by the angry Citizen, paralleling the rock which Polyphemus hurled after Odysseus and his crew. However, the characters of Ulysses are much more complex than their Homeric correspondences. Stephen Dedalus, for instance, may be cast as Telemachus according to the structural parallel with the Odyssey, but he appears to think of himself as playing Hamlet. Bloom may similarly be cast as Odysseus, but as such he encompasses many ingenious sophistications. Unlike Odysseus who strives to return home, Bloom delays his return home for fear that he will have to confront his wife Molly's adultery with the 'bounder [. . .] bester' and wielder of 'that tremendous big red brute of a thing', Blazes Boylan. Supremely, Molly Bloom herself, in all her physical faithlessness to her husband, clearly resonates against the archetypal faithfulness of Odysseus's wife, Penelope.

Ulysses is written in a gathering complexity of styles which can be almost bewildering for the first-time reader. Joyce famously remarked that 'the style of Ulysses is the subject', but style in Ulysses apparently has a very radical agenda. For example, in the 'Oxen of the Sun' episode where the many literary styles run through the canon of English literature, the cultural ideology and dominance of English national literature is both parodied and subverted.

The style of Joyce's prose commands immediate attention and involvement, not least because it disrupts traditional assumptions about the role and the perceptual abilities of readers, while engaging those readers in the attempt to discover alternative ways of experiencing the text. Ulysses ' evolving form, almost from episode to episode, supplies narration with the power to make its characters and events interesting whilst constraining the reader to participate in the creation of the text by attempting to bring meaning to it. After progressing through the first third of the work, Joyce begins strikingly to vary the style and form of succeeding episodes, continually shifting narrative perspective and compelling his reader to reconstruct standards for interpretation. Within chapters he confronts readers with the disjointed impressions of the central characters through various forms of stream of consciousness or interior monologue, what Joyce himself referred to as the 'uninterrupted unrolling of thought'. The result of Joyce's prolonged experimentation with narrative form, Joyce himself ascribed his invention of the literary device of stream of consciousness to his chance discovery, whilst in France, of Edouard Dujardin 's 1888 novel Les Lauriers sont coupes (the ascription, unusually for Joyce, is excessively modest, for if he found the kernel of an idea there, he perceived and radically developed it, virtually beyond recognition). Through stream of consciousness, the reader is able to enter the mind of a character without the apparent chaperonage of the author. All this gives a life and a realism to those characters and to the Ireland it depicts which is probably unrivalled in literature. It is a device which others, notably Virginia Woolf , would swiftly emulate, and which now commonly defines the modernist novel.

Joyce wrote to Carlos Linati that Ulysses 'is the epic of two races (Israel-Ireland) and at the same time the cycle of the human body as well as a little story of a day (life) [. . .] It is also a kind of encyclopaedia.' This touches on a number of issues. As an epic of the human body, many of the episodes are each dominated by a particular bodily organ. Stephen, like Bloom, is of a subject people, and as such he can empathise fully with the Jews. He, like them, is of an oppressed and landless people. The reader of Ulysses will recall the character of Stephen Dedalus whom he left at the end of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man in spring 1902 about to leave Ireland for Europe; now in Ulysses , his mother having died, we encounter Stephen back in Ireland to where he had been summoned by his father's telegraph informing him that his mother was dying. Perhaps above all, the significance of Bloom's ethnicity, at a time when anti-Semitism was endemic throughout Europe, should not be underestimated. Joyce declared his contempt for what he termed 'the old pap of racial hatred' as far back as 1906; his compassionate humanitarianism and democratic breadth of perspective in Ulysses marks him apart from virtually all other major modernist writers who tended to be burdened by a narrowness of political and social perspective.

In true encyclopaedic nature, Ulysses moves through an 'art' for each episode, thus the 'art' for the second episode, 'Nestor', is history. 'Nestor' includes the famous line, 'history [. . .] is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake', and, as with the 'Telemachiad' (book 1 of Ulysses , embracing the first three chapters) as a whole, it both articulates Stephen's 'nightmare' of the fetters of Irish history on the individual, and indicates certain avenues of resistance. The 'Telemachiad' concludes with the linguistically dazzling episode 'Proteus', the 'art' of which is 'Philosophy'; itself a modernist landmark, dense, lyrical and beautiful, and resembling nothing in English known before.

The book's seventh episode, 'Aeolus', with its device of the headings which function appropriately like newspaper headlines, signals the disruption of what has hitherto been a comparatively straightforward narrative, radically serving to give the reader notice that the form of the novel is becoming obsolete. It is an emphatic sign that Ulysses is embarking on a plurality of styles which will pointedly destroy the economy of the single artistic perspective. Another episode, 'Scylla and Charybdis', has as its 'art' literature; focusing on Shakespeare 's life, it sees Stephen insisting on the interaction between literature and the historical conditions of its making, something which goes to the heart of Ulysses itself.

Episodes in Ulysses are each marked with an ingenious play on Homeric themes, thus, in episode five, 'Lotus Eaters', Dublin is a city of drugged lethargy, after the drugged contentment in the land of the Lotus-Eaters of Odysseus's warriors who, becoming addicts of the lotus-flower, forget all thoughts of returning to their homes. Joyce's episode offers a gamut of anaesthetics, from religion and pharmaceuticals, to the imagery of flowers and perfume, finally to Bloom's anticipation of his bath, his limp penis 'a languid floating flower'. Episode eight, 'Lestrygonians', again appropriately for the Homeric theme of cannibalism, sees food as the ostensible theme: 'Pineapple rock, lemon platt, butter scotch'. Even more strikingly, episode ten, 'Sirens', recounts events via, as Joyce himself remarked, 'a fugue with all musical notations: piano , forte , rallentando , and so on'; commencing with an overture, and concluding with a fart, the episode sees sound reduced to its written equivalent. Episode twelve, 'Cyclops', with its 'technic' of 'Gigantism', lampoons a narrow type of Irish nationalism, and as such is punctuated throughout by comic passages which parody or expand 'gigantically' upon the narrative. The style of the following episode, 'Nausicaa', derives its narrative style from the cliche-ridden romanticism of nineteenth-century popular romantic fiction and sentimental women's magazines. 'Nausicaa's' handling of the Homeric episode is characteristically ironic. A triumph in terms of narrative device in the ingenious extent to which character informs narrative, it was this episode which fell foul of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice's charge that it was 'obscene, lewd, lascivious, filthy, indecent and disgusting'. Episode fourteen, 'Oxen of the Sun', is intricate and complex, each style presenting part of truth, none offering certitude; it as if English literature were, through the triumph of Joyce's art, to deconstruct itself. Set in the brothel area of Dublin, and written in the style of a play, episode fifteen, 'Circe', sees the Homeric adventure in which the enchantress Circe turns men into swine, providing a ready metaphor for the transformation through lust of men into beasts. Here the underlying fantasies and fears of the principal characters are acted out in dramatic form, including Stephen's hallucinatory confrontation with his dead mother, and Bloom's pantomimic vision of his long-dead son. Finally, in episode eighteen, 'Penelope', the book's concluding episode, Joyce gives the last word to Molly Bloom, an avowedly non-literary character at the end of a profoundly literary book. Here, ironically again, it is Molly, rather than Odysseus-Bloom, who directly slays the suitors through her gathering recognition of Bloom's superiority to them. Consisting of eight long unpunctuated, unbroken sentences (some of as many as 2,500 words), and utterly without third-person narrative, 'Penelope' evolves around what Joyce called the 'four cardinal points [. . .] the female breasts, arse, womb and cunt expressed by the words because , bottom [. . .], woman , yes ', and in place of the repression and dispossession to which the book has borne witness, soars to the heights of memories of lovers and Molly's girlhood in Gibraltar, finally beautifully to assert Joyce's affirmation of life: 'I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes.'

First published on Joyce's fortieth birthday, 2 February 1922, Ulysses had taken him nearly eight years to write. The list of subscribers for Ulysses included Winston Churchill , Arnold Bennett , H.G. Wells and W.B. Yeats . Joyce remarked of the book: 'I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.' Nora Joyce's remark on the book was characteristically down to earth: 'I guess the man's a genius, but what a dirty mind he has, hasn't he?' Virginia Woolf seemingly in a mixture of snobbishness and jealousy called Joyce 'underbred [. . .] a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples', before going on to write Mrs Dalloway based similarly to Ulysses , on a twenty-four hour time cycle, and geographically located in a single city. Ezra Pound , however, reviewing Ulysses in an essay in the Dial , showed both his instinctive critical acumen and his gift for defiant overstatement, declaring : 'All men should "Unite to give praise to Ulysses "; those who will not, may content themselves with a place in the lower intellectual orders.' The book's immediate history was one of seizure by American and British customs. In 1923, when F.R. Leavis , then a young lecturer at Cambridge University, requested permission of H.M. Customs to be allowed to import a copy of Ulysses , the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions supplied the Vice-Chancellor of the University with a police report on the percentage of women attending Leavis 's lectures, and the Director (who presumably had never read the book) described the work as 'incredibly filthy'. Pound 's scorn and Joyce's weary lack of surprise at such things, can only be imagined.

In 1920 the Joyces moved to Paris where they were to stay for twenty years. It was, however, whilst Joyce and his family, along with Nora's sister Kathleen, were spending the summer of 1923 on holiday at a boarding house in Bognor Regis that Nora remarked wearily to her sister: 'He's on another book again'. Joyce had begun writing Finnegans Wake that March, thirteen months after the publication of Ulysses . Although he was not publicly to reveal the book's title until its publication sixteen years later in 1939 ('Work in Progress' was the title he used throughout the period of its creation), he already knew it: the name of the nineteenth-century Irish ballad 'Finnegan's Wake', but crucially for the resurrection of all Finnegans, without the apostrophe. The cyclicality of the ballad, with the fall and rise of the dead hodsman Tim Finnegan, hints at the cyclicality which both embraces and invades Joyce's book.

Finnegans Wake is the most supersaturated and encyclopaedic of Joyce's writings, with a polymorphous cast of characters centred around husband Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker/ Here Comes Everybody (HCE), wife Anna Livia Plurabelle, and their sons and daughter, Shem the Penman, Shaun the Post, and Issy. Earwicker and his family assume an immense variety of roles -- historical and mythological -- giving local habitation to Joyce's themes and ideas whilst at the same time recalling figures and events from across history and mythology. Joyce's use of Giambattista Vico 's division of human history into recurring cycles is broadly structural; as he himself remarked, 'I use his cycles as a trellis', but it is much less clear-cut and seemingly much less invasive than his 'scaffolding' use of Homer in Ulysses .

Evidently referring to Christ's words to Simon Peter ('you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church') Joyce remarked to Frank Budgen, 'The Holy Roman Catholic Apostolic Church was built on a pun. It ought to be good enough for me.' Finnegans Wake is full to bursting with portmanteau words and multilingual puns. It puns throughout on its title -- 'Timm Finn again's weak', or 'Finn again! Take'. The most complex and elusive work in modern literature, Joyce alluded to the difficulties of writing Finnegans Wake to the sculptor August Suter: 'I feel like an engineer boring through a mountain from two sides. If my calculations are correct we shall meet in the middle. If not [. . .].'

Finnegans Wake is regarded by many (but by no means all, and by definition by those who haven't read it) as close to unreadable. David Pierce indicates something of the book's peculiar demands when he recalls, 'I once overheard a distinguished professor of English concede without a fight, "That's one text I don't feel embarrassed about not having read".' Certainly there are many who would echo Nora's down-to-earth frustration when she remarked to Joyce: 'Why don't you write sensible books that people can understand?' In 1926 Ezra Pound , previously a great champion of Joyce's work, wrote back to Joyce on receiving a typescript of Book III of 'Work in Progress' as it was then called: 'nothing short of divine vision or a new cure for the clap can possibly be worth all the circumambient peripherization.'. Even Harriet Weaver, in a letter to Joyce in the following year, dared to refer to the work as 'wallowing in its verbiage'. Joyce and Weaver made their peace, as they had to, and Weaver became much more sympathetic to 'Work in Progress'. Weaver's criticism indicates the extreme word play which others, such as Max Eastman , would recognise more positively: 'Joyce is equipped for creative etymology as few men ever were. [. . .] what is there that we experience in common with him? A kind of elementary tongue dance [. . .].'

One reason that Finnegans Wake is so difficult is that it is evidently atemporal or, more exactly, 'all temporal'. As Joyce himself remarked, 'Wherever the book begins it also ends.' Elsewhere Joyce explained the book's distinctive portmanteau words in which he draws on as many as sixty languages, as written 'to suit the esthetic of the dream, [. . .] where the brain uses the roots of vocables to make others from them which will be capable of naming its phantasms, its allegories, its allusions'. The idea of the book as, in the words of Edmund Wilson 's famous essay, 'the dream of H.C. Earwicker' is, in terms of the reading experience, helpful, but ultimately a little misleading, and has been nicely skewered by the critic Derek Attridge.

For those readers who require a plot of the book they are reading, what can be said of Finnegans Wake is that guilt is present from the outset. HCE perpetrates some kind of sexual misdemeanour in Phoenix Park, Dublin, and becomes the victim of accusations. His wife, ALP, defends him in a letter written by their son, Shem, and carried by their other son, Shaun. The letter, which may or may not be Finnegans Wake itself, is retrieved by a hen scratching in a midden heap. HCE grows old and impotent, is repeatedly buried and revives. His aged wife, ALP, prepares to return as her daughter Issy, to catch his eye again. Finally, in compelling testimony to this cyclicality, the book ends with its unfinished phrase in a circular sentence: 'A way a lone a last a loved a long the    '. Memory is crucial. One thing we learn from the book, if we haven't learnt it already from life, is that the past is always with us; 'waz is', or what was, is. Finnegans Wake is best termed 'a creative simultaneity', a gigantic, 'eternal' memory of all dead and living, which is both a funereal Irish wake and an awakening. In Finnegans Wake memory eternally remakes history and transcends fixation.

Finnegans Wake was first published in seventeen instalments as 'Work in Progress' by Eugene and Maria Jolas in their literary journal transition from 1927 to 1938, as well as in the form of individual booklets of parts (for example, Anna Livia Plurabelle , first published in 1928). Finnegans Wake itself was finally published simultaneously in London and New York on 4 May 1939 (Joyce having previously received the first bound copy of the book on 2 February, his birthday). When Joyce finished writing the book's beautiful final pages, he later told Jolas, 'I felt so completely exhausted, as if all the blood had run out of my brain. I sat for a long time on a street bench, unable to move.'

Reception of Finnegans Wake was divided, almost in equal measure, between disciples and detractors. Reviewing the book for the Atlantic Monthly , Richard Aldington declared it '628 pages of pedantic nonsense'; whilst, somewhat similarly, Malcolm Muggeridge 's review in Time and Tide pronounced the book 'a complete fiasco'. Strangely enough, given the antipathy between two men who had long fallen out of friendship, Oliver Gogarty writing in the Observer balanced his criticism with a shrewd recognition both of Joyce's 'indomitable spirit' and the book's 'magnitude'. If Joyce was understandably infuriated to see in the Irish Times Finnegans Wake listed as written by Sean O'Casey , he must have been heartened to receive O'Casey's homage: 'My mind is still far away from the power of writing such a book. I wish I could say that such a power is mine. I am reading it now, and, though I meet many allusions, the book is very high over my head. [. . .] It is an amazing book; and hardly to be understood in a year, much less in a day.' Instead of 'a year', O'Casey could more accurately have written 'a lifetime'. Finally, writing in Babel (1940), Louis Gillet paid what, with hindsight, almost reads as an obituary for Joyce: ' Paris 1922-1939 . One book in seventeen years. But what a book and what an adventure. [Joyce] was content to make his salute, in writing [. . .] the chronicle of eternity and the motionless history of man. Everything is said and done, and everything remains to be done.'

The long period of writing Ulysses and Finnegans Wake (over thirty-five years) with all their insuperable difficulties, had been one of personal illness and familial worry. Joyce had undergone seventeen eye operations and the anguish of seeing his daughter descend into mental illness. During the writing of Finnegans Wake , he told Andre Gide : 'It is a wonderful experience to live with a book. Since 1922, when I began Work in Progress , I haven't really lived a normal life. It has required an enormous expenditure of energy. Having written Ulysses about the day, I wanted to write this book about the night. [. . .] Since 1922 my book has been a greater reality for me than reality. Everything gives way to it. Everything outside the book has been an insuperable difficulty.'

James Joyce died, following an operation to relieve a perforated duodenal ulcer, on 13 January 1941, less than three weeks short of his sixtieth birthday. He was buried at Fluntern Cemetery, Zurich. When she was told of his death and burial, his daughter Lucia responded: 'What is he doing under the ground, that idiot? When will he decide to come out? He's watching us all the time.'

Joyce's writing has attracted a body of literary criticism probably unsurpassed by any other twentieth-century writer, so consideration of the critical reception of his work here must necessarily be highly selective. The final chapter of Lee Spinks's James Joyce: A Critical Guide (2009), entitled 'Criticism', offers a very well-structured survey of its subject. The first three sections, 'First Responses', ' Ulysses and After' and 'The Reception of Finnegans Wake ' cover the period from 1922 to the 1960s, and then a subsequent division from the 1960s to the present day covers such areas as 'Post-Structuralist Joyce', 'Psychoanalytic Criticism' and 'Political Joyce'. Joseph Kelly's Our Joyce: From Outcast to Icon (1998) provides a highly informative study of the development of Joyce's critical reception from his very first readers to the present day.

Early reception of Joyce appears to have been somewhat shaped by Ezra Pound and T.S. Eliot , in a curious symbiosis with Joyce himself. Pound played a critical role in advancing the careers of both Joyce and Eliot ; and if Joyce was never short of a facility for utilising others in the advancement of his cause, that advancement came at a cost. Whilst, in particular, Ulysses impacted on Eliot and Pound , both creatively as poets and as critics, they understood Joyce very much in their own terms, and this has impacted on Joyce criticism down almost to the present. In his 1922 critical essay 'James Joyce et Pecuchet', Pound defines Ulysses in terms of the Flaubertian tradition: 'He has done what Flaubert set out to do in Bouvard and Pecuchet , done it better, more succinct.' To read the entire book in this way is wilfully to confine it and to ignore the cultural and narrative expansiveness of the book's second half, where the scope of Ulysses sees Joyce's artistic aims as departing more and more from the Flaubertian tradition. Further, Pound 's other 1922 essay on Joyce, 'Ulysses', confirms that he ( Pound , the great cosmopolitan intellectual) wasn't culturally equipped fully to embrace the inherently Celtic diversity of the novel's second part, remarking of the Homeric elements that such broader issues 'are part of Joyce's medievalism and are chiefly his own affair'. In addition, Pound , in his little known article 'On Criticism in General' ( The Criterion , January 1923), makes it clear that his particular view of 'realism' precludes his full appreciation of those qualities in Ulysses which, to his credit, Eliot was to identify as part of Joyce's major contribution to literature. Pound 's spirit as a man, his idiosyncratic, energetic assertiveness, is not shared by Eliot , and it is, in this case, to Eliot 's advantage; yet Eliot too is limited. Eliot 's great praise of Ulysses in his 1923 essay 'Ulysses, Order, and Myth' is well known. Eliot , who centres his essay on a mock quarrel with Richard Aldington , who had criticised Ulysses as deficient in classical order, reads Joyce very much in his ( Eliot 's) own terms and to his own purposes. If, in this early wave of Joyce criticism, these three great figures of twentieth-century literature, Joyce, Eliot , and Pound , used one another, it was not something of which Joyce was unaware. A few years later, in 1928, he remarked to Harriet Weaver: 'the more I hear of the political, philosophical, ethical zeal and labours of the brilliant members of Pound 's big brass band the more I wonder why I was ever let into it "with my magic flute"'. Critical reception has had to learn fully to acknowledge the unflinching uniqueness of Joyce's work. These and other key early essays, including Pound on Dubliners and A Portrait , and reviews by, amongst many others, W.B. Yeats , George Russell , H.G. Wells , Wyndham Lewis , George Bernard Shaw , and Arnold Bennett , are covered in Robert H. Deming (ed,) James Joyce: The Critical Heritage , Volume 1 (1970).

A handful of books stand out in the early phase of Joyce criticism. Stuart Gilbert's James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (1930) is noteworthy for Joyce's direct involvement, but this is not always a good thing. Gilbert's book served Joyce's cause, but lacks any real depth of critical analysis, preferring instead description (this is understandable when one realises that Ulysses was commonly banned and so largely unavailable to the would-be reader). Frank Budgen's James Joyce and the Making of 'Ulysses' (1934) again bears many descriptive passages in lieu of the book itself, but it retains an anecdotal freshness. Budgen had been in the unique position of being the person with whom Joyce discussed his work as he was writing it. Whilst Hugh Kenner 's remark that Budgen's book was 'the best ever written about Joyce', is clearly excessive, it does say something for its enduring value. Harry Levin's James Joyce: A Critical Introduction (1941) is significant as the first general book-length study of Joyce's work. Levin's book placed Joyce firmly as a major figure within modern European literature.

Herbert Gorman's James Joyce (1940) was the first and only biography of Joyce prior to 1959. Gorman's book suffers from a lack of objectivity, partly through Gorman's relationship with Joyce himself, but mainly through Joyce's active interference in the book's writing, including the exercise of veto over some material. Richard Ellmann 's famous biography, James Joyce (1959, revised 1982) carries a very big reputation, but has, more recently, had its detractors. For comprehensiveness and accuracy, it long reigned supreme in the world of biographies, but it lacks the awareness of Irish cultural politics which has notably advanced Joyce studies in the last two decades. Ostensibly revised in 1982, the revision was in fact not as wide-ranging as the trumpeting by the book's publishers appeared to suggest. Ellmann 's biography has been criticised for being overly influenced in its portrayal of Joyce by Joyce's brother, Stanislaus, whom Ellmann consulted first-hand and at some length. Certainly Stanislaus Joyce's own book, My Brother's Keeper: James Joyce's Early Years (1958), is invaluable. Offering an intimate depiction of the sometimes strained relationship between the two brothers, it is a book which only Stanislaus, with all his distinctive candour, could have written, shrewdly appreciative of his brother's genius, critical too (the book's biblical title is significant), yet, at core, affectionate. A relatively recent biography, Peter Costello's James Joyce: The Years of Growth, 1882-1915 (1991), is certainly worthy of mention; as are, in relation respectively to Joyce's wife and to his father, Brenda Maddox's Nora (1988), and John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello's John Stanislaus Joyce: The Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce's Father (1997). Edna O'Brien 's James Joyce (1999), offers a fairly light but highly readable biography. Andrew Gibson's, James Joyce (2006) is an excellent introduction to the writer, placing him within his Irish context.

By turns richly informative of Joyce's Dublin and eccentric, Silent Years: An Autobiography with Memories of James Joyce and our Ireland (1953), by J.F. Byrne (who inspired Cranly in Joyce's A Portrait ), must serve here as representative of the many useful texts by Joyce's early friends in Dublin. For Joyce's later period, Arthur Power's Conversations with James Joyce (1974) provides an interesting record of Joyce during the period in which he began work on Finnegans Wake .

The Letters of James Joyce , edited by Richard Ellmann (3 volumes, 1957-64), was an important publication. The Selected Letters of James Joyce (1975) was significant too, not least for its inclusion of the so-called 'pornographic letters' of 1909 which had been omitted from the three-volume edition. What Ellmann describes as their 'blunt ardour' does shed light on the occasional extremes of sexual imagery in Joyce's work. Three other publications of hitherto unpublished writing by Joyce should be noted. Stephen Hero , the book which Joyce drastically rewrote as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , was published in 1944. The Critical Writings of James Joyce , edited by Ellsworth Mason and Richard Ellmann (1959), is an invaluable adjunct for any serious student of Joyce, and was essentially republished (together with a couple of Joyce's early essays including his fairly scathing dismissal of Charles Dickens ) as Occasional , Critical and Political Writings (2000). Finally, as far as Joyce's own writing is concerned, Poems and Shorter Writings (1991), edited by Richard Ellmann , A. Walton Litz, and John Whittier-Ferguson, brings together a number of Joyce's minor works, including a collection of his poetry volumes Chamber Music and Pomes Penyeach , as well as a large number of his other poems, including 'Ecce Puer', his epiphanies, his 1904 essay 'A Portrait of the Artist' and Giacomo Joyce .

One of the most important names in the history of Joyce criticism, alongside Ellmann , is that of Hugh Kenner . Kenner 's Dublin's Joyce (1955) offers powerful and enduring insights, rooting Joyce's work firmly within its geographical subject. Kenner 's Joyce's Voices (1978) investigates narrative form, famously advancing 'the Uncle Charles principle' whereby the seemingly objective narrative is informed by the subjective voice of character. His Ulysses (1987) offers a helpful guide to the book. Richard Ellmann 's Ulysses on the Liffey (1972) has an enduring freshness and an immediacy of style; his The Consciousness of Joyce (1977) includes an appendix listing Joyce's Trieste library in 1920. Marilyn French 's The Book as World: James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (1993) offers a somewhat overlooked, helpful general commentary on Ulysses . Charles Peake's James Joyce: The Citizen and the Artist (1977) remains both an excellent introduction for the general reader and a valuable book for the more seasoned specialist. David Pierce's Reading Joyce (2008) offers an excellent introduction for the new reader, uniquely informative in the lightness of touch by which a lifetime of Joyce studies is unostentatiously conveyed.

In 1984 Hans Walter Gabler produced the 3-volume critical and synoptic edition of Ulysses . The result of many years of scholarly and editorial work, it resulted in the single volume 'corrected text' of Ulysses (1986) with more than five thousand changes from the 1922 edition. Although many of these changes were subsequently criticised by a number of scholars, most notably John Kidd, Gabler's version is rightly held in high esteem and is currently the nearest thing to that impossible dream, a definitive text of Ulysses . The best annotated companion to Ulysses is Don Gifford with Robert J. Seidman, 'Ulysses' Annotated: Notes for James Joyce's 'Ulysses' (2nd ed. 1988). This edition is keyed usefully to the line numbers in the Gabler 'corrected text' edition of Ulysses . Gifford's book has really superseded Weldon Thornton's Allusions in Ulysses (1961). For the first-time reader of Ulysses , a more general, much less detailed guide than Gifford's is Harry Blamires's The New Bloomsday Book: A Guide Through 'Ulysses' (1996); this is keyed variously to the Gabler (1986), Penguin (2000, and 1992), and O.U.P. 'World Classics' (1993) editions of Ulysses . Finally, as far as guides to Ulysses are concerned, Terence Killeen's Ulysses Unbound: A Reader's Companion to James Joyce's Ulysses (2004) offers a first-rate guide by a lifelong Joyce scholar.

Declan Kiberd's Ulysses and Us: the Art of Everyday Living (2009) ingeniously looks anew at Ulysses in part as a practical guide to enlightened living. Kiberd's introduction to the Penguin Ulysses (2000, and 1992) is, as an introduction to the book, incomparable, embracing the cultural and political contexts of the work. Kiberd's work is part of the most significant development in Joyce studies in the last twenty years, namely an awareness in Joyce's work of a pronounced concern with English and Irish cultural politics, something which Ellmann and the earlier generation of Joyce criticism had largely overlooked. Seamus Deane 's essay 'Joyce the Irishman' in The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce , edited by Derek Attridge (1990), and his two essays on Joyce in Celtic Revivals (1985), signal this development. Vincent J. Cheng's Joyce, Race and Empire (1995) looks crucially at Joyce's insistence on colonial dispossession as defining Irishness, and Len Platt's Joyce and the Anglo-Irish: A Study of Joyce and the Literary Revival (1998) somewhat similarly considers Joyce's work as marking a radical intervention in the politics of nationalism. Maria Tymoczko's The Irish Ulysses (1994) is a scrupulously well-researched and highly informative study of Joyce's engagement in Ulysses with Irish cultural nationalism and Irish mythology; an excellent work, it nonetheless perhaps underestimates the extent of Joyce's political critique. Perhaps the most meticulous, disciplined and incisive book to come out of this historicised sense of Joyce's work, however, is Andrew Gibson's Joyce's Revenge: History, Politics, and Aesthetics in 'Ulysses' (2002).

Psychoanalytical criticism has a long pedigree in Joyce studies, notably from Sheldon Brivic's Joyce between Freud and Jung (1980). Most recently, Luke Thurston's James Joyce and the Problem of Psychoanalysis (2004) powerfully revivifies this critical approach to Joyce's work.

Feminist criticism in Joyce studies has a similarly long, if somewhat chequered, history. Suzette Henke and Elaine Unkeless (eds.) Women in Joyce (1982) is a collection of essays on the female presence in Joyce. More recently, Katie Mullin's James Joyce, Sexuality, and Social Purity (2003) offers a compelling study of Joyce's critique of the social purity movement's cultural history and sexual discourses in relation to women.

Karen Lawrence's The Odyssey of Style in 'Ulysses' (1981), provides a reader-orientated analysis of narrative in Ulysses , and Katie Wales's The Language of James Joyce (1992) offers the first comprehensive consideration of Joyce's language since Anthony Burgess 's Joysprick: An Introduction to the Language of James Joyce (1973). Tony Thwaites's Joycean Temporalities: Debts, Promises, and Countersignatures (2001) is an engaging study of narrative theory in Joyce, with some excellent close readings of Joyce's work, notably in relation to the narrative concerning Gerty and Bloom in 'Nausicaa'.

Roland McHugh's Annotations to 'Finnegans Wake' (3rd ed. 2006) is indispensable to the study of Joyce's great final work. Other recent texts which deserve to be borne in mind are Len Platt's Joyce, Race and 'Finnegans Wake' (2007), and Luca Crispi and Sam Slote (eds.) How Joyce Wrote 'Finnegans Wake': A Chapter-by-Chapter Genetic Guide (2007). The latter is a highly significant study which testifies to the expertise of all its contributors (who include, among others, Slote, Crispi, Geert Lernout, Patrick McCarthy, David Hayman, Wim Van Mierlo, Jean-Michel Rabate, and Daniel Ferrer) and helps to bring the reader a little closer to a sense of Joyce's colossal achievement. George Cinclair Gibson's Wake Rites: The Ancient Irish Rituals of 'Finnegans Wake' (2005) draws on an impressive array of sources to argue that Finnegans Wake is Joyce's re-creation of the 'Dark Tongue', the obscure Druidic speech ruthlessly repressed in Ireland by St Patrick. That language lies at the heart of the act of colonisation is no surprise either to Joyceans or to historians, but the precise extent to which Gibson reads Finnegans Wake as 'a radical religious text' is ingenious.

Thomas F. Staley's An Annotated Critical Bibliography of James Joyce (1989) offers a detailed chronological and critical reference to Joyce scholarship. The James Joyce Collection, comprising most of Joyce's working papers, notebooks, manuscripts, correspondence and private library, resides in the United States at the University of Buffalo, New York State. Finally, The James Joyce Archive (63 vols.), general editor Michael Groden (Garland Publishing, 1977-80) offers a cornerstone research tool in Joyce studies. A facsimile of JoyceA’s entire 'workshop' (excluding his letters), it covers some 2,500 pages of unpublished notebooks, manuscripts, typescripts, corrected proofs, and other erratically dispersed pre-publication materials from a number of research institutions, including the University of Buffalo, the University of Texas at Austin, the British Library, and the National Library of Ireland.

MSu , 2010

 

 

 

 

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