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James Joyce Quotes


James Joyce
  • Mini Bio
  • Name: James Augustine Aloysius Joyce
  • Born: 2nd February 1882, Dublin, Ireland
  • Died: 13th January 1941, Zurich, Switzerland
  • Alma mater: Clongowes Wood College, Belvedere College and University College Dublin
  • Occupation: Novelist and poet
  • Nickname: Sunny Jim
  • Height: 5' 10" (1.78 m)
  • Major Works: Dubliners (1914), A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Exiles (1918), Ulysses (1922), Pomes Penyeach (1927) and Finnegans Wake (1939)
  • Influenced by: Anton Chekhov, Aristotle, Ben Jonson, Carl Jung, Charles Dickens, Dante Alighieri, Ezra Pound, Friedrich Nietzsche, Gustave Flaubert, Henrik Ibsen, Homer, John Milton, Jonathan Swift, Lord Byron, Oscar Wilde, Leo Tolstoy, Percy Bysshe Shelley, Robert Burns, Thomas Aquinas and William Shakespeare
  • Inspired: Anthony Burgess, Ernest Hemingway, James Blish, Kate Bush, Leonard Cohen, Murray Gell-Mann, Philip Dick, Salman Rushdie, Samuel Beckett, Sylvia Plath, Ted Hughes and William Faulkner
  • Scroll down for full bio and many great quotes

"Shut your eyes and see"

James Joyce

"Madness, in fact, is a medical term that can claim no more notice from the objective critic than he grants the charge of heresy raised by the theologian, or the charge of immorality raised by the police"

James Joyce

"One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age"

James Joyce

"I do not see what good it does to fulminate against the English tyranny while the Roman tyranny occupies the palace of the soul"

James Joyce

"A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery"

James Joyce

"There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being"

James Joyce

"My intention was to write the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to be the center of paralysis"

James Joyce

"My words in her mind: cold polished stones sinking through a quagmire"

James Joyce

"There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present"

James Joyce

"Vast wings above the lambent waters brood of sullen day"

James Joyce

"History ... is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake"

James Joyce

"Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow"

James Joyce

"Fall if you will, but rise you must"

James Joyce

"Mistakes are the portals of discovery"

James Joyce

"Does nobody understand?"

James Joyce

"Your mind will give back to you exactly what you put into it"

James Joyce

"Men are governed by lines of intellect - women; By curves of emotion"

James Joyce

"Redheaded women buck like goats"

James Joyce

"In the particular is contained the universal"

James Joyce

"When I die Dublin will be written on my heart"

James Joyce

"The sacred pint alone can unbind the tongue"

James Joyce

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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"


James Joyce image quote