Few people, if any, in the twentieth century have inspired as much careful study and criticism as James Joyce. His work represents a great labyrinth which many have entered but none have returned from the same. Joyce himself is a paradoxical figure, ever the artist, ever the commoner. He has been called the greatest creative genius of our century and, by some, the smartest person in all of history. His most famous novel, Ulysses, is considered by many to be the greatest novel ever written. Beyond all of these superlatives lies a perfect case study in the creative mind and process.
Joyce was born in a Dublin suburb on February 2, 1882 to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Joyce. He was the first born of ten children and, as the family grew, their financial situation worsened. With each new child John was forced to mortgage another of his inherited properties until there was nothing left. Despite his predicament, John remained a very witty man, and often used his wit to undermine that which was bothering him at the time, whether it was the church, the government or his wife's family. This distinctive trait would also be adopted by his eldest and most dear son James in later years. In September of 1888 young James was enrolled in Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit school of some prestige, but was withdrawn in June of 1891 because of his father's poor finances. This period is significant, however, since this was the first that he was separated from his supportive family for any length of time. Some of his experiences at Clongowes would later be recounted in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The rigorous Jesuit training he received appears to have been a turn off to the young Joyce and ...
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...ver 100,000 copies a year. In 1993 Joyce's picture along with the opening paragraph of Finnegans Wake was printed on the Irish ten pound note and every year more careful study of his work is done. In the end, Joyce was devastated at the poor reception of his last work, but if he had lived he would have seen his star rise to greater heights than any writer of our century.
Ellman, Richard. James Joyce. Oxford University Press, New York: 1982.
Joyce, James. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The Viking Press, New York: 1964.
Joyce, James. Ulysses. Random House, New York: 1990.
Magalaner, Marvin and Richard Kain. Joyce: The man, the Work, the Reputation. New York University Press, New York: 1956.
Power, Arthur. Conversations With James Joyce. Harper & Row Publishers, New York: 1974.
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