Presentation on theme: "James Joyce Modern Writer Extraordinaire, Genius, Eccentric."— Presentation transcript:
James Joyce Modern Writer Extraordinaire, Genius, Eccentric
In 1882, James Joyce was born in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, to Catholic parents. Dublin figured predominately in Joyce’s writings: "For myself, 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.” In 1887, his father became a tax collector and moved the Joyce family to a more fashionable family. By 1893, Joyce’s father had lost his position. The family would eventually become impoverished.
Joyce studied at Clongowes Wood College from 1888 until 1892. When the family’s financial state devolved, Joyce had to leave the school. After a brief time at Christian Brothers School, Joyce was enrolled at Belvedere College in 1893. In 1898, Joyce began studying Italian, English and French at University College Dublin. At this time, Joyce also began his entry into the artistic life of Dublin. His literary reviews appeared in Fortnightly Review. His review of Henrik Ibsen received a positive personal response from Ibsen himself.
Joyce matriculated from University College of Dublin in 1903. After moving to Paris, Joyce planned on studying medicine. Unfortunately, the lectures were conducted in a technical French that Joyce’s education had not prepared him for. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, Joyce returned to Ireland. Despite his mother’s attempts to get him to return to Catholic Church, Joyce remained unmoved even after her death!
In Dublin, he continued reviewing books. He supplemented his income with singing and teaching. In 1904, he was awarded a bronze medal at Feis Ceoil, a festival of Irish dance and music, for his singing– he was an accomplished tenor. Throughout this period, he would binge drink.
1904 was also the year James Joyce eloped with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid. The young couple would move to Zurich. The move to Zurich was precipitated by the false promise of employment at the Berlitz Language School. Taking sympathy on the young man, the school suggested that he travel to Trieste. Again there were no open positions for Joyce, but the director of the Berlitz School at Trieste was able to secure Joyce a position in Pola. Joyce and his wife were able to stay in Pola with the financial security the job offered from 1904 until 1905. Unfortunately, he was expelled with other aliens from Austro-Hungary
The director at the Berlitz School at Trieste (Almidano Artifoni) was able to intervene and was finally able to provide James Joyce a teaching position in Trieste. Joyce would keep this position for most of a decade. From 1906 until 1907, James Joyce worked at a bank in Rome. Joyce eventually returned to Trieste. He continued to drink and borrow money at this time.
In 1914, Dubliners was published, a collection of short stories that focused on the lives of an array of characters from Joyce’s native city. The fifteen stories in this collection were structured in a standard way. However, the language and atmosphere that Joyce used presaged his later works. 1914 was also the year that Joyce began the writing process for Ulysses.
In 1916, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published. This book relied heavily on Joyce’s autobiographical experience and was written with complexity and an innovative “developing” first- person perspective. This novel did very poorly financially; however, many avant-garde writers admired the book. “I was wondering if he would lend me five shillings.”
Divided into five chapters, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man follows Stephen’s life from childhood through adolescence to the first flush of manhood. As Stephen matures through various family conflicts and periods of study at Jesuit schools, he begins to rebel against his family, his religion, and his nation.
Finally, in order to establish himself as an individual and to find his identity as an artist, he seeks self- imposed exile in Paris. What particularly sets Portrait apart from other “coming of age” books is Joyce’s manipulation of the narrative itself – the language and syntax used at each point in the book reflect the age and intellectual development of Stephen at that time.
In Portrait, we are essentially given a window into Stephen’s consciousness, and the whole world is unveiled to us through that single aperture. The narrative prose follows and reflects the stages of Stephen’s intellectual development, whether imitating the childlike simplicity of his earliest memories or the thrilling awareness of his artistic awakening.
“It swoops when Stephen is high; it crashes when he is brought low. It congeals in the murky muddle of a Jesuit lecture, and it skips and stutters and swirls when chasing the thoughts of an awakening poet. Like Stephen, it can be beautiful and bombastic, witty and self-pitying.”
While all this makes for a very exciting reading experience, it also has another effect, a deeper impact that is not felt until one is well into the book. In most novels, the prose style remains essentially consistent. This allows the reader to generate a subtle image of the author, a ghostly persona haunting the spaces between the text and our comprehension of the text. (In literary theory, this is known as the “implied author.”) But in Portrait, Joyce begins the process of removing himself from his work.
As Stephen remarks, “the artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.” The narrative of Portrait attempts to banish the authorial personality: it is never expository, never judgmental, and never willing to assist the reader – it exists only for Stephen. We are given no clues how to feel or react; we have no privileged position outside of the narrative – Stephen’s environment is just Stephen’s environment, Stephen’s thoughts are just Stephen’s thoughts.
This direct exposure to a character’s interior world takes some getting used to; and may even require a little effort on our part to assimilate – but once sampled, once understood and enjoyed, it sets a new standard for what literary writing can actually accomplish.
Joyce will make the jump to a work called Finnegan’s Wake (we’ll get there eventually), about which THIS is capable of being said: “..a comic, multilingual, dream-encased epic of the cyclical fall and resurrection of humanity encompassing everything that was, is, and will be. To comment on this unique creation with the Wake ’s own words: ‘nobirdy aviar soar anywing to eagle it.’” Joyce said the book was “about the night” and “It’s meant to make you laugh.”
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