Figure 1.--James Joyce wears a white sailor suit in this photograph taken with his parents in 1988. James was about 7 years old.
James Joyce (1882-1941) the Irish novelist and poet was born in
Dublin. His father was John Stanislaus Joyce and May Joyce. His
farther who was born in 1849 came from an upper middle class family.
He grew up in comfortable circumstances, epecially by Irish standards
of the day. His father had access to an upper-class Catholic education,
but made little of it. He enrolled in Queens College as a medical
student, but never earned his degree. Instead of studying, he
devoted his energies to
singing, atletics, acting, and disapation. He mairred May in 1880 and
provided her pregancies, miscairages, childbezring, near peurny, and
financial distress. James, the second child, was born in 1882. He
was reportedly his father's pet.
His father was in short a wastrel. At first John Stanislaus maintained the family reasonably. He obtained
a good paying job as a tax collector and then inherited real estate
from his mother. This began to change in 1892 when James was about 10
years old. His father began drinking and mortgaging his realestate
holdings. Ill disposed to work, he took odd jobs--if suitable for a
gentleman, when he was able
to find them. He was willing to work only if the job involved
mostly gregarious talk. Debts as a result soon piled up. May died
in 1903 after about 16 pregancies. The family was forced to flee from
one rented house toanother, one step ahead of the debt collector.
James never forgave his father for the havoc and poverty he caused.
James himself of course was prone to drink, sloth, and dalliances,
but it was his father's recklessness he objected to.
James' boyhood was not an easyone, the families circumstances were caotic as a result of his father's failure to pursue a serious career. Most Joyce scholars agree that agree that many of his father's quirks and grandiosities found their way into his son's writings. A description in The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man probably describes his father in fact, if not in detail:
A medical student, an oarsman, a tenor, an amateur actor, a small investor, a drinker, a good fellow, a story teller, somebody's secretary, something in a distillery, a tax gatherer, a bankrupt, and a praiser of his own past.
I have few details on Joyce's boyhood yet. One photgraph taken in
1888 when the boy was about 7 years old show him in a white sailor
suit, with long pants.
Joyce was educated at several Irish colleges.
His first published work was the volume of poems,
Chamber Music (1907). He esrablished his
reputation in 1914 with his next book, the collection
of short stories Dubliners, followed in 1916 by
the autobiographical novel The Portrait of the
Artist as a Young Man.
Joyce was a pioneer in the development of the stream
of conssciouness technique in the novel, which describe the
subjective mental life of the characters in highly detailed
accounts of their thoughts and day dreams. Joyce's most
famous novel, Ulyses, published in 1922, deals with a
singke, minutely described day in the life of two Dublin
intellectuals. This novel is notable for radical innovations
in punctuation, free use of invented language, and a frankness
of language that includes both poetic and poetic or obscene
passages. Ulyses has had a great influence on
contemporary writing throughout the world. Authors influenced bu Joyce
include John Dos Pasos (United States), Alfred Doblin (Germany),
and Virginia Wolf (England).
Joyce's last published work, Finnegan's Wake (1939), is
difficult reading for anone who is not aanguage specialist. Joycw
was an accomplished linguist and philogist, and gave free rein in his
work to multilingual puns, allusiins, and double, triple, or
quadruple meanings. He thus created in effect a newlanguage which is
English only in its basics. His other works are a play, Exiles
(1918), and a book of verse, Poems Penyeach (1927).
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