James Joyce

James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, the oldest of ten children in a Catholic family. He attended Jesuit schools and, in 1904, moved first to Trieste, then Paris, with Nora Barnacle; they married in 1931. After publishing his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, in 1916, Joyce developed glaucoma, and his eyesight steadily diminished for the rest of his life. His seminal novel Ulysses was published by his friend Sylvia Beach out of her Paris bookstore.Joyce died in Zurich in 1941.
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James Joyce
Ulysses is a modernist novel by Irish writer James Joyce. It was first serialised in parts in the American journal The Little Review from March 1918 to December 1920, and then published in its entirety by Sylvia Beach in February 1922, in Paris. It is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature, and has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire movement". "Before Joyce, no writer of fiction had so foregrounded the process of thinking. "However, even proponents of Ulysses such as Anthony Burgess have described the book as "inimitable, and also possibly mad".
Ulysses chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904 (the day of Joyce's first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle). Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's poem Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between its characters and events and those of the poem (e.g., the correspondence of Leopold Bloom to Odysseus, Molly Bloom to Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus to Telemachus).
Ulysses is approximately 265,000 words in length, uses a lexicon of 30,030 words (including proper names, plurals and various verb tenses), and is divided into eighteen episodes. Since publication, the book has attracted controversy and scrutiny, ranging from early obscenity trials to protracted textual "Joyce Wars." Ulysses' stream-of-consciousness technique, careful structuring, and experimental prose—full of puns, parodies, and allusions, as well as its rich characterisations and broad humour, made the book a highly regarded novel in the Modernist pantheon. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Ulysses first on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday.
James Joyce
A daring work of experimental, Modernist genius, James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is one of the greatest literary achievements of the twentieth century, and the crowning glory of Joyce's life. The Penguin Modern Classics edition of includes an introduction by Seamus Deane

'riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs'

Joyce's final work, Finnegan's Wake is his masterpiece of the night as Ulysses is of the day. Supreme linguistic virtuosity conjures up the dark underground worlds of sexuality and dream. Joyce undermines traditional storytelling and all official forms of English and confronts the different kinds of betrayal - cultural, political and sexual - that he saw at the heart of Irish history. Dazzlingly inventive, with passages of great lyrical beauty and humour, Finnegans Wake remains one of the most remarkable works of the twentieth century.

James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's mental illness.

If you enjoyed Finnegans Wake, you might like Virginia Woolf's The Waves, also available in Penguin Classics.

'An extraordinary performance, a transcription into a miniaturized form of the whole western literary tradition'
Seamus Deane

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