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James Joyce

James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882 and he was educated first in a Jesuit school and then at the University College where he graduated in modern languages in 1902.
He grew up a rebel among rebels because he was not attracted by the Irish nationalistic movements he begin to think of himself as an European rather than an Irishman.
The only way to increase Ireland’s awareness was by portraying his life from an external and European point of view.
He moved to Paris and lived there one year, once returned to Ireland the 16th June 1904 met and fell in love with Nora Barnacle. This date is important because is the Bloomsday of Ulysses.
They moved to Trieste where Joyce began teaching English to Italo Svevo .
Joyce and Nora had 2 children Giorgio and Lucia and eventually married in 1931.
He left Dublin at the age of twenty-two into voluntary exile and he settled for some time in Paris, then in Rome, Trieste, where he made friends with Italo Svevo, and Zurich after Hitler’s advance in Europe.

His entire life was characterized by financial problems because his works were considered pornographic such as Ulysses which was published in 1922 in Paris.


• The setting of most of his works --> Ireland, especially Dublin.

    o He represent ordinary people in a realistic way --> represent man reality

• He rebelled against the Catholic Church.

    o Sense of paralysis

• All the facts --> explored from different points of view simultaneously.

    o Medias res

• Greater importance given to the inner world of the characters.
• Time --> perceived as subjective.
• His task --> to render life objectively.
• Isolation and detachment of the artist from society

    o impersonality of the artist

The evolution of Joyce style

In Dubliners he uses:
• Realism
• Disciplined prose
• Different points of view
• Free-direct speech
In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man:
• Third-person narration
• Minimal dialogue
• Language and prose used to portray the protagonist’s state of mind
• Free-direct speech
In Ulysses:
• Interior monologue with two levels of narration
• Extreme interior monologue


Was published in 1914 on the newspaper The Irish Homestead by Joyce with the pseudonym Stephen Dedalus.
The 15 short stories of Dubliners represent a collection of penetrating studies on the subject of the decay ad banality of Dublin life. They are psychologically realistic sketches describing the atmosphere of disintegration.

Joyce's technique is characterized by open structure and by close texture, typically represented by his minute observation. Very little in fact happens in hi stories, and this is one more mark of the paralyzed uneventfulness of life in a modern city. The book's intention, in Joyce's own words, is "to write a chapter in a moral history of my country and I chose Dubli for the scene because the city seemed to me the center of paralysis.
He also writes,
"I have tried to present Dublin's paralysis under four of its aspects, childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. The stories are arranged in this order".
Dublin not only represents the wall of Ireland but he wall of life; Joyce's attitude is moral as well as objectively and realistically descriptive.
Paralysis also is an important word, it indicates an intellectual, moral and spiritual paralysis taht results from the failures and the lights of the frustrated people of Dublin. Joyce notices and notes everything, trying to capture every external revelation of the secret, according to his theory of the epiphanies. Dubliners is in fact the collection of epiphanies made by Stephen Deadulus, the hero of the …..
Dublin is a special city the only one of which Joyce is a citizen for Trieste, Zurich and Paris are only places of exile.
• Dubliners are described as afflicted people.
• All the stories are set in Dublin --> “The city seemed to me the center of paralysis”, Joyce stated.
• The stories present human situations
• They are arranged into 4 groups: Childhood, Adolescence, Mature life, Public Life
• Naturalistic, concise, detailed descriptions.
• Naturalism combined with symbolism --> double meaning of details.
• Each story opens in medias res and is mostly told from the perspective of a character.
• Use of free-direct speech and free-direct thought --> direct presentation of the character’s thoughts.
• Different linguistic registers --> the language suits the age, the social class and the role of the characters.
• Use of epiphany --> “the sudden spiritual manifestation” of an interior reality.
• Themes --> paralysis and escape.
• Absence of a didactic and moral aim because of the impersonality of the artist.

Joyce’s aim --> to take the reader beyond the usual aspects of life through epiphany.
Epiphany It is the special moment in which a trivial gesture, an external object or a banal situation or an episode lead the character to a sudden self-realization about himself / herself or about the reality surrounding him / her. Understanding the epiphany in each story is the key to the story itself.
The main theme of Dubliners is paralysis:We can identify two kind of paralysis: a Physical paralysis caused by external forces and a Moral paralysis linked to religion, politics and culture .
• The climax of the stories is the coming to awareness by the characters of their own paralysis. The only alternative to the paralysis is to escape however it always leads to failure

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man: a semi-autobiographical novel, first serialized in the literary periodical The Egoist from 1914 to 1915, and then published in book form in 1916.
It is divided into five chapters dealing with the spiritual evolution of Stephen Dedalus, a fictional alter-ego of Joyce, from childhood to maturity.  set in Dublin
The indefinite article “A” in the title is really important because it means that this novel is only one of the possible interpretation of a subject.

Joyce and Stephen

• Joyce was the son of a religious mother and a financially inept father.
• Joyce was the eldest of ten children and received his education at Jesuit schools.
• Joyce had early experiences with prostitutes during his teenage years and struggled with questions of faith.
• Joyce left Ireland into voluntary exile to pursue the life of a poet and writer.
His Name
• Stephen --> the name of the Christian martyr

    o He is a martyr of art

• Dedalus --> mythological charater

    He escape from the social, political labyrinth of Dublin’s life

His Transformations
• From a shy little boy to a bright student who understands social interactions.
• From innocence to corruption, from an unrepentant sinner to a devout Catholic.
• From a fanatical religiousness, to a new devotion to art and beauty.

Narrative technique

Joyce tries to describe what is happening without explaining the events that he is showing through the third-person narrative. The narrative is not continuous but fragmented with gaps in the chronology.
Every narrative detail is filtered through Stephen’s consciousness and Joyce used the stream of consciousness technique and proceeds along the flux of the character’s thoughts .
Joyce used different languages and styles --> linked to each phase of Dedalus’s evolution

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