James Joyce

UlyssesAuthor James Joyce was born On 2 February 1882, in Rathgar, Dublin, Ireland. Joyce’s father was John Stanislaus Joyce and his mother was Mary Jane “May” Murray. He was the eldest of ten surviving siblings; two died of typhoid. James was baptised according to the Rites of the Catholic Church in the nearby St Joseph’s Church in Terenure on 5 February 1882 by Rev. John O’Mulloy. Joyce’s godparents were Philip and Ellen McCann. In 1887, his father was appointed rate collector by Dublin Corporation; the family subsequently moved to the fashionable adjacent small town of Bray, 12 miles (19 km) from Dublin. Around this time Joyce was attacked by a dog, leading to his lifelong cynophobia. He suffered from astraphobia; a superstitious aunt had described thunderstorms as a sign of God’s wrath.

In 1891 Joyce wrote a poem on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell. His father was angry at the treatment of Parnell by the Catholic Church, the Irish Home Rule Party and the British Liberal Party and the resulting collaborative failure to secure Home Rule for Ireland. The Irish Party had dropped Parnell from leadership. But the Vatican’s role in allying with the British Conservative Party to prevent Home Rule left a lasting impression on the young Joyce. The elder Joyce had the poem printed and even sent a part to the Vatican Library. In 1891 John Joyce was entered in Stubbs’ Gazette (a publisher of bankruptcies) and suspended from work. In 1893, John Joyce was dismissed with a pension, beginning the family’s slide into poverty caused mainly by his drinking and financial mismanagement.

Joyce Enrolled at Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit boarding school near Clane, County Kildare, in 1888 but had to leave in 1892 when his father could no longer pay the fees. Joyce then studied at home and briefly at the Christian Brothers O’Connell School on North Richmond Street, Dublin, before he was offered a place in the Jesuits’ Dublin school, Belvedere College, in 1893. In 1895, Joyce was elected to join the Sodality of Our Lady by his peers at Belvedere. In 1898 Joyce enrolled at the recently established University College Dublin (UCD) studying English, French and Italian. He became active in theatrical and literary circles in the city. In 1900 his laudatory review of Henrik Ibsen’s When We Dead Awaken was published in The Fortnightly Review. Joyce also wrote a number of other articles and at least two plays- Many of the friends he made at University College Dublin appeared as characters in Joyce’s works. His closest colleagues included, Tom Kettle, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and Oliver St. John Gogarty. Joyce was first introduced to the Irish public by Arthur Griffith in his newspaper, United Irishman, in November 1901. Joyce had written an article on the Irish Literary Theatre and had it printed and distributed locally. Griffith himself wrote a piece decrying the censorship of the student James Joyce.

After graduating from UCD in 1902, Joyce left for Paris to study medicine, but he soon abandoned this. However Joyce had already failed to pass chemistry in English in Dublin, although Joyce claimed ill health as the problem and wrote home that he was unwell and complained about the cold weather. Joyce returned to Ireland When his mother was diagnosed with cancer and She finally passed into a coma and died on 13 August, After her death he continued to drink heavily, and conditions at home grew quite appalling. He scraped together a living reviewing books, teaching, and singing—he was an accomplished tenor, and won the bronze medal in the 1904 Feis Ceoil.

In 1904 Joyce attempted to publish A Portrait of the Artist, an essay-story dealing with aesthetics, only to have it rejected by the free-thinking magazine Dana. He decided, on his twenty-second birthday, to revise the story into a novel he called Stephen Hero. It was a fictional rendering of Joyce’s youth, but he eventually grew frustrated and abandoned it. However years later, in Trieste, Joyce completely rewrote it as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The unfinished Stephen Hero was published after his death. In 1904 he also met Nora Barnacle, a young woman from Galway city who was working as a chambermaid. The time when they first dated provides the date for the action of Ulysses (as “Bloomsday”). Joyce remained in Dublin drinking heavily and After one such drinking binge, he got into a fight over a misunderstanding with a man in St Stephen’s Green, but was rescued by a minor acquaintance of his father, Alfred H. Hunter, Who served as the inspiration for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. He also took up with the medical student Oliver St. John Gogarty, who informed the character for Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. After six nights in the Martello Tower that Gogarty was renting in Sandycove, he left  following an altercation with Dermot Chenevix Trench (Haines in Ulysses), who fired a pistol at some pans hanging directly over Joyce’s bed.  Joyce returned to Dublin to stay with relatives for the night and left Ireland to live on the continent shortly afterwards.

Joyce and Nora went into self-imposed exile, moving first to Zurich in Switzerland, where he  taught English at the Berlitz Language School. The director of the school sent Joyce on to Trieste, which was then part of Austria-Hungary (until the First World War), and is today part of Italy, where with the help of Almidano Artifoni, director of the Trieste Berlitz School, he became a teacher in Pola, Croatia Where between 1904 and 1905 he taught English mainly to Austro-Hungarian naval officers. With Artifoni’s help, he moved back to Trieste and began teaching English for the next ten years. In 1905 Nora gave birth to their first child, George (known as Giorgio). Joyce persuaded his brother, Stanislaus, to join him in Trieste, as a School Teacher.

Unfortunately Stanislaus and Joyce had strained relations while they lived together in Trieste, arguing about Joyce’s drinking habits and frivolity with money. Joyce also became frustrated with life in Trieste and moved to Rome in late 1906, working as a bank clerk. However He disliked Rome and returned to Trieste in early 1907. His daughter Lucia was born later that year. Joyce returned to Dublin in mid-1909 with George, to visit his father and work on getting Dubliners published. He also visited Nora’s family in Galway. He decided to take one of his sisters, Eva, back to Trieste with him to help Nora run the home. He spent a month in Trieste before returning to Dublin as a representative of some cinema owners and businessmen from Trieste. With their backing he launched Ireland’s first cinema, the Volta Cinematograph. He returned to Trieste in 1910 accompanied by another sister, Eileen, Eva became homesick for Dublin and returned there a few years later, but Eileen spent the rest of her life on the continent, eventually marrying Czech bank cashier Frantisek Schaurek. Joyce returned to Dublin in 1912 to solve his altercation with Dublin publisher George Roberts over the publication of Dubliners and wrote the poem “Gas from a Burner”, an invective against Roberts shortly afterwards. After this trip, he never again came closer to Dublin than London, despite many pleas from his father and invitations from fellow Irish writer William Butler Yeats. One of his students in Trieste was Ettore Schmitz, better known by the pseudonym Italo Svevo. They met in 1907 becoming friends. Schmitz was a Catholic of Jewish origin and was another inspiration for Leopold Bloom.

Sadly While living in Trieste, Joyce was first beset with eye problems that ultimately required over a dozen surgical operations. Joyce concocted a number of money-making schemes, including an attempt to become a cinema magnate in Dublin and importing Irish tweed to Trieste. His income came from teaching at the Berlitz school Or teaching private students. In 1915, after most of his students in Trieste were conscripted to fight in the First World War, Joyce moved to Zurich. Two influential private students, Baron Ambrogio Ralli and Count Francesco Sordina, petitioned officials for an exit permit for the Joyces, who in turn agreed not to take any action against the emperor of Austria-Hungary during the war. In 1924 Joyce decided to finish Ulysses in Paris, delighted to find that he was gradually gaining fame as an avant-garde writer. A further grant from Miss Shaw Weaver meant he could devote himself full-time to writing And meet with other local literary figures

Sadly  Joyce’s eyes got worse and he often wore an eyepatch. He was treated by Dr Louis Borsch in Paris, undergoing nine operations before Borsch’s death in 1929.  Throughout the 1930s he travelled frequently to Switzerland for eye surgeries and for treatments for his daughter Lucia, who, according to the Joyces, suffered from schizophrenia. Lucia was analysed by Carl Jung at the time, who after reading Ulysses is said to have concluded that her father had schizophrenia. In Paris, Maria and Eugene Jolas nursed Joyce during his long years of writing Finnegans Wake and published serially various sections of Finnegans Wake under the title Work in Progress. In their literary magazine transition, the Jolases  Joyce returned to Zurich in late 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France.

Joyce’s had a controversial relationship with religion, he lapsed from Catholicism, rejecting the whole social order, recognised virtues, classes of life and religious doctrines, and hating it most fervently. This had a financial impact but he retained his pride. When the arrangements for Joyce’s burial were being made, a Catholic priest offered a religious service, which Joyce’s wife Nora declined. However, Leonard Strong, William T. Noon, Robert Boyle and others have argued that Joyce, later in life, reconciled with the faith he rejected earlier in life and that his parting with the faith was succeeded by a not so obvious reunion, and that Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are essentially Catholic expressions. Although Joyce did attend Catholic Mass and Orthodox Sacred Liturgy, especially during Holy Week, purportedly for aesthetic reasons. Umberto Eco compares Joyce to the ancient episcopi vagantes (wandering 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. Some argue that Joyce “remained a Catholic intellectual if not a believer” since his thinking remained influenced by his cultural background, even though he lived apart from that culture. His relationship with religion was complex and not easily understood. He acknowledged the debt he owed to his early Jesuit training stating thathe had ‘learnt to arrange things in such a way that they become easy to survey and to judge.’

In 1941, Joyce underwent surgery in Zurich for a perforated ulcer. He fell into a coma the following day. He awoke at 2 a.m. on 13 January 1941, and asked a nurse to call his wife and son, before losing consciousness again. They were still en route when he died 15 minutes later, less than a month short of his 59th birthday. His body was interred in the Fluntern Cemetery, Zurich but was moved in 1966 to a more prominent “honour grave,” with a seated portrait statue by American artist Milton Hebald nearby. Swiss tenor Max Meili sang Addio terra, addio cielo from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the burial service. Although two senior Irish diplomats were in Switzerland at the time, neither attended Joyce’s funeral, and the Irish government later declined Nora’s offer to permit the repatriation of Joyce’s remains. Nora, whom he had married in 1931, survived him by 10 years. She is buried by his side, as is their son Giorgio, who died in 1976.

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