James Joyce

“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.”

Today, January 13th, we are conmemorating the death anniversary of one of the greatest writers and poets in English language of the early 20th century, James Joyce.

James Joyce most famous work is his masterpieces”Ulysses” and other important works are: ” A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, “Finnegans Wake” and the short-story collection “Dubliners”.

The year of 1922 was one of the most important years for the history of English literature, it was the year of the appearance of James Joyce’s “Ulysses” and T. S. Eliot’s poem, “The Waste Land”, 1922 was a key year in the history of English-language literary modernism.


As everyone knows, “Ulysses” had a lot of controversy, Joyce found it difficult to get a publisher to accept the book, but it was published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach from her well-known Rive Gauche bookshop, Shakespeare and Company.

Some James Joyce trivia:

Umberto Eco compares James Joyce to the ancient episcopi vagantes (stray bishops) in the Middle Ages. They left a discipline, not a cultural heritage or a way of thinking. Like them, the writer retains the sense of blasphemy held as a liturgical ritual.

Ezra Pound was a champion of Joyce’s work.

James Joyce’s work has been subject to intense scrutiny by scholars of all types.

He has also been an important influence on writers and scholars as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Jorge Luis Borges, Flann O’Brien, Salman Rushdie, Robert Anton Wilson, John Updike, David Lodge and Joseph Campbell.

Ulysses has been called “a demonstration and summation of the entire (Modernist) movement”.

French literary theorist Julia Kristéva characterised Joyce’s novel writing as “polyphonic” and a hallmark of postmodernity alongside poets Mallarmé and Rimbaud.

Some scholars, most notably Vladimir Nabokov, have mixed feelings on his work, often championing some of his fiction while condemning other works. In Nabokov’s opinion, “Ulysses” was brilliant, “Finnegans Wake” horrible, an attitude Jorge Luis Borges shared.

Joyce’s influence is also evident in fields other than literature. The sentence “Three quarks for Muster Mark!” in Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is the source of the word “quark”, the name of one of the elementary particles, proposed by the physicist, Murray Gell-Mann in 1963.

The French philosopher Jacques Derrida has written a book on the use of language in Ulysses, and the American philosopher Donald Davidson has written similarly on Finnegans Wake in comparison with Lewis Carroll.

Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used Joyce’s writings to explain his concept of the sinthome. According to Lacan, Joyce’s writing is the supplementary cord which kept Joyce from psychosis.

In 1999, Time Magazine named Joyce one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, and stated; “Joyce … revolutionised 20th century fiction”.

In 1998, the Modern Library, US publisher of Joyce’s works, ranked Ulysses No. 1, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man No. 3, and Finnegans Wake No. 77, on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

The work and life of Joyce is celebrated annually on 16 June, Bloomsday, in Dublin and in an increasing number of cities worldwide, and critical studies in scholarly publications, such as the James Joyce Quarterly, continue. Both popular and academic uses of Joyce’s work were hampered by restrictions placed by Stephen J. Joyce, Joyce’s grandson and executor of his literary estate.

On 1 January 2012, those restrictions were lessened by the expiry of copyright protection for much of the published work of James Joyce.

Remembering James Joyce


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