Joyce, James Augustine Aloysius (1882-1941), Irish novelist and poet, whose psychological perceptions and innovative literary techniques, as demonstrated in his epic novel Ulysses, make him one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. Joyce was born in Dublin on
February 2, 1882, the son of a poverty-stricken civil servant. He was educated at Jesuit schools, including University College, Dublin. Raised in the Roman Catholic faith, he broke with the church while he was in college. In 1904 he left Dublin with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid whom he eventually married. They and their two children lived in Trieste, Italy, in
Paris, and in Zurich, Switzerland, meagerly supported by Joyce's jobs as a language instructor and by gifts from patrons. In 1907 Joyce suffered an attack of iritis, the first of the severe eye troubles that led to near blindness. After 20 years in Paris, early in World War II, when the Germans invaded France, Joyce moved to Zurich, where he died on January 13, 1941.
James Joyce was the first who introduce the psychological discoveries of S. Freud into fiction. He did not write very much, but what he wrote was revolutionary. After his first books, “The Dubliners” – brilliant short stories of simple citizens of Dublin – and “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” – an auto biographical report of his own youth – he developed the rest of his own life only to two books. The first,
“Ulysses” , takes us through the idle wanderings of a Dublin Jew, Leopold
Bloom, from the beginning to the end of one single day. The fusion of facts and feelings, of external events and internal reflections is so disconcerting that you are often puzzled, sometimes bored and sometimes left like an idiot. But reading on, you are so inevitably forced into the dark and mysterious atmosphere of the hero’s life and thoughts that you cannot evade the singular “streams of consciousness” which to bring forth is the author’s single aim. Even move complicated and difficult to read is his second book: “Finnegan’s Wake”, which adds to the day-light of consciousness the confusing night-dreams of the subconscious, a single stream of incomprehensible mysteries and visions, floating like broken fragments of the mind in the vast ocean of the human soul”. – In order to get a first impression of Joyce’s psychological attempts it is better to begin with his early autobiographical work, in which the often quoted
“Stream of Consciousness” can already be observed.
As an undergraduate Joyce published essays on literature. His first book, Chamber Music (1907), consists of 36 highly finished love poems, which reflect the influence of the Elizabethan lyricists and the English lyric poets of the 1890s. In his second work, Dubliners (1914), a collection of 15 short stories, Joyce dealt with crucial episodes of childhood and adolescence and of family and public life in Dublin. His first long work of fiction, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), is largely autobiographical, re-creating his youth and home life in the story of its protagonist, Stephen Dedalus. In this work Joyce made considerable use of the stream-of-consciousness, or interior-monologue, technique, a literary device that renders all the thoughts, feelings, and sensations of a character with scrupulous psychological realism. Another early work was the play Exiles (1918).
Joyce attained international fame with the publication (1922) of
Ulysses, a novel, the themes of which are based on Homer's Odyssey.
Primarily concerned with a 24-hour period in the life of an Irish Jew,
Leopold Bloom, Ulysses describes also the same day in the life of Stephen
Dedalus, and the story reaches its climax in the meeting of the two characters. The main themes are Bloom's symbolic search for a son and
Dedalus's growing sense of dedication as a writer. Joyce further developed the stream-of-consciousness technique in this work as a remarkable means of character portrayal, combining it with the use of mimicry of speech and the parody of literary styles as an overall literary method. Finnegans Wake
(1939), Joyce's last and most complex work, is an attempt to embody in fiction a cyclical theory of history. The novel is written in the form of an interrupted series of dreams during one night in the life of the character Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker. Symbolizing all humanity, Earwicker, his family, and his acquaintances blend, as characters do in dreams, with one another and with various historical and mythical figures. Joyce carried his linguistic experimentation to its furthest point in Finnegans Wake by writing English as a composite language based on combinations of parts of words from various languages. His other late publications include two collections of verse, Pomes Penyeach (1927) and Collected Poems (1936), and