James Joyce Biography
James Joyce was the Dublin born wordsmith whose prose flowed from his multiplexed mind that conjured symbolic systems so complex yet so easy on the tongue that they gripped the readers thoughts in a vice like hold until enlightenment dawned as the pages slid into the winter of each particular narrative.
His effective use of symbolism was not just in his works as he lived by this code also as his masterpiece "Ulysses" was officially published on his fortieth birthday on 2nd February 1922 by his publisher Sylvia Beach who ran the Shakespeare & Company publishing house in Paris. Whilst he chose the publication date on his birthday for luck he added his own symbolic touch by having it bound in a blue cover with white letters as these were his lucky colours.
Much to the disdain of James and the delight of bootleggers Ulysses was banned in the United States as it was deemed obscene. It took eleven years and the high court judge John Monro Woolsey patience to read it from cover to cover to make it legally available in the U.S. from 1933 onwards.
The judges landmark decision was welcome and in the courts summing up he was quoted as saying:
"But in 'Ulysses', in spite of its unusual frankness, I do not detect anywhere the leer of the sensualist. I hold, therefore, that it is not pornographic". The Chinese communist leader Mao Zedong also banned the book (amongst many others he deemed deviant western literature) and it was not until 1995 that Ulysses would be available in China, even then it took 5 years to translate with some 6,000 footnotes explaining the rudiments of Roman Catholicism and Irish history.
Joyce came from an impoverished but creative family and was the eldest of 10 siblings. His first published work was a poem scribed at the age of 9 about the death of the prominent Irish politician Charles Stewart Parnell. Upon leaving Ireland at the age of 20 he spent much of his life living in Paris and Trieste whilst moving to Geneva during both world wars as Switzerland's neutrality meant it was a haven for refugees, the politically displaced, illicit funds and creative artists. He was a polyglot who could speak 17 languages including Arabic, Greek, Hebrew, Latin, Russian, Sanskrit and he even learned Norwegian to understand the native meaning of the works by the playwright Henrik Ibsen.
As a writer Joyce's career ran on a parallel track with Virginia Woolf as they were both pioneers of the literary technique known as the "stream of consciousness" but there were more eerie commonalities as they were both born and died in the same years and they wrote watershed modernist novels (Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway) in the 1920's with both books having major events happening in the month of June.
Joyce's legacy just like his Irish literary rival George Bernard Shaw, has placed him firmly in the stratosphere of the most influential novelists of the 20th century. His sharp witted imagination made him good for a one liner also, so here is my compilation of 21 of the best James Joyce quotes
Quotes About James Joyce
Ernest Hemingway was glowing in his reference to Ulysses when he said:
"Joyce has written a most goddam wonderful book". He added the ultimate compliment when Hemingway called him: "The greatest writer in the world"
Author Arnold Goldman summed him up by saying:
"He was a prominent symbolist, modernist, realist and formalist whose work have marked the beginning of an era in prose writing"
Author Derek Attridge spoke of the literary boundaries he expanded with this quote:
"The unprecedented explicitness with which Joyce introduced the trivial details of ordinary life into the realm of art opened up a rich new territory for writers"
The novelist Samuel Beckett once described Joyce's style:
"His writing is not about something. It is that something itself"