James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, into a Catholic family, his father was a supporter of Charles Parnell, the leader of the movement for Ireland’s Home Rule, but after Parnell’s death he retired from politics so Joyce was disappointed. He went to Jesuit schools and he graduated at University College. Because of a voluntary exile he went to Paris, Pola, Trieste in which finished “Dubliners”, a collection of short stories, and a partly autobiographical novel “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”, he went to Zurich where he started “Ulysses”. He was operated against blindness, and then he moved to Paris and finished his masterpiece “Ulysses”, and “Finnegans Wake”. When France was occupied by Germans, he went to Zurich where he died. His relationship with Ireland is complex, he rejected her but his works are centred on Ireland and Dublin with its people, streets.. indeed he said that for him Dublin was the “omphalos” of the world. His self-imposed exile was necessary to give him the artistic climate and the objectivity to write about Ireland, Joyce’s novels show a shift from the particular to the universal, as he writes first short stories, “Dublin”, an autobiographical novel “A portrait of the Artist as a Young man”, to the great picture of Dublin’s life, in “Ulysses”. He used a lyrical style in “A portrait..”, and then he used an epic style, in “Ulysses”.
Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories in which Joyce analyzes the failure of self-realization of a Dublin’s inhabitant. The longest of these stories is the last, “The dead”. It’s considered immoral for its pitiless portrait of city life. It’s a great portrait of Dublin life, he chooses Doblin because for him it’s the centre of paralysis of will, courage that leads men to accept the limitations imposed by the society. The style of Dubliners is complex, is a mixture of realistic and detailed elements and symbolic elements. He coined the definition “epiphany”, which indicate that a simple object suddenly have a great meaning. The Dead is the climax to all the other stories, the narrator uses a lyrical intensity and the central character of The Dead, Gabriel, is the best representative of all failed Dubliners, a dramatic figure because he knows that he has failed.

It begins with a Christmas party that the Morkan sisters organize each year. At this party there are many people, Catholics and Protestants, who talk about Irish politics in relation to Britain. The central character is Gabriel Conroy, nephew to the Morkan sisters, a journalist and a failed. Indeed he would take side to Ireland’s problems, travel eastward towards Europe, write all he feels, but he continues his usual life, and when the party is over he and his wife, Gretta, go back to their hotel in Dublin.

It is the concluding part of “The Dead” , Gabriel has listened the revelation of Gretta’s hidden memory from the past, when she was young her lover died for her. After the revelation Gabriel feels himself a poor part of Gretta’s life, he realizes he has never really know her, he feels his own pettiness. He is jealous, frustrated, but then, he feels elevated to the world of spirit, symbolically mapped out by the snow that is falling all over Ireland uniting the living and the dead.

Circumstances of publication are interesting, it was published in instalment in the “American Little Review” but was stopped for its obscenity, indeed it was rejected by the “Hogart Press” too, the publishing house of Leonard and Virginia Woolf, for the same reason, and finally was published by “Sheakespeare & Co. Bookshop” in Paris, by Sylvia Beach. Ulysses is based on the ancient myth of Homer, but in this novel the hero becomes an anti-hero, because of the lake of heroism, ideals, love, and trust, in Dublin. With Eliot’s Waste Land it is one of the greatest examples of reworking of myth. Joyce uses the stream-of-consciousness technique, he shows character’s mind, the story is based on the life of an individual in a single day, without a dramatic plot. Some of the best passages of Ulysses are uninterrupted and unpunctuated flow of thoughts.

Ulysses tells the story of Leopold Bloom, in a day, he’s a Dubliner of Jewish origin, and works as an advertising agent. He’s the main character, he corresponds to Homer’s Ulysses because he wanders about the streets of Dublin to return home as Ulysses wanders about the Mediterranean, but Leopold is very different from him because he’s not heroic, he makes thinks banal and common, he goes to a funeral, to lunch, to a library.. and finally he goes in a brothel where he meets Stephen Dedalus, and takes him to his home. Dedalus is the central character of the first part of the novel, probably he corresponds to Telemachus, Ulysses’ son, because he is homeless and fatherless, but unlike Telemachus he’s a sensitive young man with literary ambitions, frustrated by Irish provincial life. Molly is Bloom’s wife, and she corresponds to Ulysses’ wife, Penelope, but unlike her she is unfaithful to her husband, and she is the central character of the last part of the novel, indeed it ends with Molly’s stream-of-consciousness monologue about her past and present.

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