The Life Of James Joyce Essay, Research Paper
In selecting James Joyce’s Ulysses as the best novel of the twentieth century, Time magazine affirmed Joyce’s lasting legacy in the realm of English literature. James Joyce (1882-1941), the twentieth century Irish novelist, short story writer and poet is a major literary figure of the twentieth-century. Regarded as “the most international of writers in English K[with] a global reputation (Attridge, pix), Joyce’s stature in literature stems from his experimentation with English prose. Influenced by European writers and an encyclopedic knowledge of European literatures, Joyce’s distinctive writing style includes epiphanies, the stream-of-consciousness technique and conciseness.
Born in Rathgar, near Dubtin, in 1882, he lived his adult life in Europe and died in Zurich, Switzerland in 1941. The eldest of then children, Joyce attended a Jesuit boarding school Clongowes Wood from 18888-1891 and Belvedere College, another Jesuit school from 1893-1898. In 1902, Joyce graduated from University College and went to live in exile in Europe unable to tolerate the narrow-mindedness of his native country. Ironically, Ireland and Irish people become the subject of his short stories and novels. The two central preoccupations of his work are a sense of betrayal. Ireland, dominated both political and economically by Britain and religiously by the Catholic Church caused Joyce to regard them as “the two imperialisms” (Attridge P. 34). Roman Catholicism is an integral aspect of the novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. In 1917, the English novelist H.G. Wells in a review of the novel in the New Republic wrote, “by far the most living and convincing picture that exists of an Irish Catholic upbringing.” Joyce’s focus on betrayal was a consequence of the downfall in 1889of the Irish leader Charles Stuart Parnell when he was attacked by the Irish Catholic Church when named a correspondent in a divorce case. This treachery left an indelible mark on Joyce’s mind.
Joyce literary talent emerged at Belvedere as he began to read the work of European writers and in particular the Norwegian dramatist, Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). At the age of eighteen, Joyce wrote an essay entitled “Ibsen’s New Drama” which was published in the Fortnightly Review. When Ibsen sent him a note of thanks, “the awestruck Joyce resolved to learn Norwegion and other languages and transform himself into an Irish European.” (Cahalan, p.132) Another European that Joyce identified with was the German writer, Gerhart Hauptmann (1862-1900). Hauptmann’s comprehensive version of the portrait of an artist helped Joyce develop his own interpretation. A further clarification was provided by the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzche (1844-1900). Joyce adapted Nietzsche’s concept of the Superman in developing his portrait of an artist. Although Joyce rejected the Catholic Church all his life, Reynords, in Joyce and Dante: The Shaping Imagination clams that the Italian poet and the greatest of Catholic poets Dante Alighier (1265-1321) “whose influence pervades all Joyce’s writing is never cowed by authority” (Attridge p. 56-57). Perhaps that is why Joyce was attracted to Dante’s writing.
Of all his literary countryman, the only Irish literary who’s left a profound impression on Joyce was that Irish nationalist poet, James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849). In the short story “Araby,” Joyce pays tribute to the poet by naming the narrator’s classmate, Mangan. Joyce identified with Mangen because of his linguistic skill and knowledge of the literature of Italy, Spain, France and Germany. Furthermore, Mangan was disdained by his Irish contemporaries–a gesture Joyce considered an act of treachery.
Joyce’s use of the stream-of consciousness technique first appeared record these epiphanies with extreme care, “seeing that they themselves are the moments.” (Kalasty, p.199) Although all the stories in Dubliners contain epiphanies, two stand out: the young boy in ‘Araby’ who suddenly realizes fickleness of romantic love and Gabriel Conroy the husband in “The Dead” who realizes the false image he has had of his wife all the years of their married life*. Noteworthy, Gerhart Hauptmann, had likewise collected such epiphanies in the 1880s when, “as a young man, he walked through the streets with a note book and a pencil.” (Arnold p.10)
Joyce’s experimentation with prose continued in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man published in 1916. Although the novel contains stories of epiphanies, there is the beginning of Joyce’s use of the stream-of-consciousness technique. The narration in the novel takes place in the mind of the protagonist, Stephan Dedalus undergoes a self-analysis to gain insight into his true nature. Having gained confidence employing the stream-of-consciousness technique, Joyce used it extensively in Ulysses (1922) and Finnegan’s Wake (1939). In Ulysses, Joyce depicted the experiences and the fantasies of various men and women in Dublin on a summer day in 1904. Joyce spent seventeen years writing Finnegan’s Wake, a 628 page “labyrinthe novel.” (Rice p.32) The novel has confounded not only readers but critics also; Michael Begnal offers this explanation: “the basic plot of Finnegan’s Wake is a level of narration which is interlaid, or sandwiched in among several of other levels.” (Cahalan p.150) Added to these layers of narration are the world larguages that Joyce employs. For instance the character, Leopold Bloom makes use of four different Irish accents as if Joyce were returning to the Irish ural tradition for his fiction, the carious points of view of the narration is a further complexity.
In the stream-of-consciousness made Joyce had his characters conceive of the events in their minds rather than present them chronologically. Furthermore, he become very adept with his precision with words form Ibsen Joyce learned about economy of words “Ibsen manages to compress into the space of a few hours or one or two days the about life span of his characters-as Joyce world do in ‘The Dead’ in Ulysses, and perhaps in Finnegan’s Wake.” (Atteridge p.65) There was an increasing concentration on form and language in Joyce’s five novels. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Joyce in a few lines, describes Stephan, Dedalues’s mood and characters.
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