James Joyce: A New Biography
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A revealing biography of one of the twentieth century's towering literary figures
James Joyce is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, foundational in the history of literary modernism. Yet Joyce's genius was not immediately recognized, nor was his success easily won. At twenty-two the author chose a life of exile; he battled poverty and financial dependency for much of his adult life; his out-of-wedlock relationship with Nora Barnacle was scandalous for the time; and the attitudes he held toward Ireland, England, sexuality, politics, Catholicism, popular culture―to name a few―were complex, contradictory, and controversial.
In James Joyce, Gordon Bowker, draws on material recently come to light and reconsiders the two signal works produced about Joyce's life―Herbert Gorman's authorized biography of 1939 and Richard Ellmann's magisterial tome of 1959. By intimately binding together the life and work of this singular Irish novelist, Bowker gives us a masterful, fresh, eminently readable contribution to our understanding both of Joyce's personality and of the monumental opus he created.
Bowker goes further than his predecessors in exploring Joyce's inner depths―his ambivalent relationships to England, to his native Ireland, and to Judaism―and uncovers revealing evidence. He draws convincing correspondences between the iconic fictional characters Joyce created and their real-life models and inspirations. And he paints a nuanced portrait of a man of enormous complexity, the clearest picture yet of an extraordinary writer who continues to influence and fascinate more than a century after his birth.
of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs’). On reading the passage and notes, Harriet wrote back, ‘I am much interested in your way of beginning and ending (as you say) the book: or rather, not beginning and not ending: making a sort of circle of it, I suppose like those serpents of myth with their tails in their mouths, and adding that without the clues in his key the reader was left floundering.’ Would it, she asked, be ‘utterly against the
recalled the scene. Tables had been cleared back, and around a hundred chairs set out. Edel found himself sitting just opposite Joyce, noticing his sad face and clipped moustache - a distant, melancholy and aloof figure, wrapped in deep gloom. Soupault spoke ‘with charm and liveliness’ about translating Anna Livia, and Adrienne Monnier, dressed in her long robes with a white shawl, read from it ‘in the accents of the Comedie Francaise, singsong, in her high musical voice, up and down, up and
for its obscenity being afterwards reclaimed by the weight of literary opinion’. He expressed scepticism about Joyce enthusiasts acclaiming Ulysses ‘a classic’. However, he acknowledged that the book, was ‘the repository of a whole corpus of unwritten poetry, doggerel as it bobs to the surface of the mind, soliloquies of a modern Hamlet, phrases and fag-ends of lines, the brooding commentary of Stephen Dedalus and the Bouvard-like reveries of Bloom’, which, together with its brilliant pastiches,
Something had passed out of his life. They moved to the rue des Vignes on 15 April. When Maria Jolas called on them, Nora told her, ‘I’ve just spent the most awful day - tearing up his letters to me.’ Joyce, she reported, didn’t budge or pay any attention. ‘Why did you do that?’ she asked. ‘Oh they were nobody’s business,’ said Nora. ‘There weren’t many anyway - we’ve never separated.’10 But enough of them have survived to give a flavour of their likely contents. In his own strange way, Joyce
Zumsteg referred Joyce to the Geneva lawyer Georges Haldenwang. On 15 October he asked Ruggiero if it was a matter of money or because there were already too many foreigners in Zurich? Haldenwang seemed to provide the answer two days later. For 200 Swiss francs, or 3,000 French francs, he said, he could get visas issued within a month rather than the usual four to nine months. But Brauchbar senior was now dragging his feet over the guarantee. The plan was to get to Lausanne, then arrange for