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James Joyce

He was born in Dublin in 1882; was educated at Jesuit school, he studied French, Italian and German; he grew up like a rebel, fighting for the freeing of Ireland form English dominance. He’s interested at broader European culture and this led him to begin to think of himself as a European rather than an Irishman. Joyce, in contrast to the contemporaries literary, believe that the only way to increase Ireland’s awareness was by offering a realistic portrait of its life from a European cosmopolitan viewpoint.
He stays to Paris and in 1903, after mother’s death, returns to Dublin. He fell in love in 1904 with Nora Barnacle. They moved in Italy and he teaches English in Trieste (where made friends with Italo Svevo). They have two children; he publishes Dubliners (1914) and a portrait of the artist as a young man (1916), his semi autobiographical novel. He received in 1917 the first of several anonymous donations which enabled hit to continue writing Ulysses, published in Paris in 1922 in 1934 in USA (it was considered pornographic) and in 1936 in Britain. He died in Switzerland in 1941.
Joyce influenced by the French authors Flaubert and Baudelaire, believed in the impersonality of artist, as Eliot. The artist’s task was to render life objectively in order to give back to the readers a true image of it. This necessarily led to the isolation from society. The author doesn’t express his point of view: Joyce uses different point of view and narrative techniques appropriate to the several characters portrayed. His style developed from realism and the disciplined prose of the Dubliners, through an exploration of the characters’ impression and point of view, the use of the free direct speech and the epiphany, to monologue with two level of narration, up to the extreme interior monologue. The language broke down into a succession of words without punctuation or grammar connections, into infinity reality that became the place of psychological projections, of symbolical archetypes and cultural knowledge.

Dubliners: Joyce makes a realistic psychologically picture of Dubliners as afflicted people oppressed by the effect of religion, politics, culture and economy. Dubliners consist of 15 short story, divided in 4 groups that symbolize childhood, adolescence, mature life and public life. The last story, the dead, is the first Joyce’s masterpiece: it’s similar in theme with the others story but it’s denser and more elaborate: It’s the summary and climax of Dubliners. The omniscient narrator and the single point of view are rejected: each story is told from the prospective of a character. Narrated monologue in the form of free direct speech and free direct thought is widely used.

Epiphany (correspond to moment of being of Woolf): the description in each story is realistic, concise with abundance of external details. The use of realism is mixed with symbolism have a deeper meaning: Joyce wants to take the reader beyond the usual aspects of life and he employed a peculiar technique to reach his purpose, the epiphany that is the “sudden spiritual manifestation, caused by a trivial gesture, an external object or a banal situation used to led the character to a sudden self realization; the epiphany is often the key to the story: the episode is apparently unimportant but essential to the life of characters. Joyce wants to portray the paralysis of Dublin: it’s both physical, resulting from external forces, and moral, linked to religion, politics and culture. Dubliners accept this condition because they don’t have the courage for break this chains: all Dubliners are spiritually weak and afraid. The main theme is the failure to find a way out of paralysis: Dubliners live as exiled.
Eveline: this short story describes the life of a 19 year old girl who has the opportunity of changing he routine life but she is unable to leave her familiar community in Dublin. He uses the stream of consciousness; there isn’t introduction, the time is subjective and the plot is presented by Eveline’s thoughts.

Ulysses (1922): this novel takes place on a single day (like Virginia Woolf Mrs. Dalloway), Thursday, June 16, 1904, which is the day when Joyce fell in love with Nora. There are three main characters that wake up, have various encounters in Dublin and go to sleep eighteen hours later. The central character Leopold Bloom, a middle aged canvasser non practicing Jew, is Joyce’s common man. During his wanderings Bloom meets Stephen Dedalus who is the alienated protagonist of A portrait of an artist as a young man. Finally there is Bloom’s wife, Molly a singer who is planning an afternoon of adultery with her music director.

Ulysses is related to Odyssey. Joyce uses the Odyssey as a framework for his book, arranging its characters and events around Homer’s heroic model with Bloom as Ulysses, Stephen as his son Telemachus and Molly as Penelope. Ulysses is divided into three parts and eighteen episodes: Telemachiad (1-3), Odyssey (4-15) and Nostos (16-18), embodying the 3 main characters and the 3 parts of Odyssesy. Each chapter is organized around a different hour, color, organ of the body, sense, symbol, narrative technique. Ulysses is the climax of Joyce’s creativity and sums up the themes and techniques used in his previous works. He made the very air of Dublin, the atmosphere, felling, place : Dublin becomes itself a character. Dedalus, Bloom are more than individuals: they represent two aspects of human nature; Stephen is pure intellect, Mrs Bloom stands for flash since she identifies herself totally with her sensual nature. Mr. Bloom is everybody. The theme of the novel is moral: human life means suffering, falling but also struggling to rise and seek the good. It’s present also the themes of search of meaning, exile.
This novel represent anxiety, search for new values and loneliness. The traditional novel of the XX century (Defoe’s Robinson Crouse) represent society. the style is innovative, depends by the mood of characters and the setting. The writer, following aesthetic theory, is impersonal, like God, invisible and indifferent. The story is multi layered, the plot is complex. There are two levels of narration: realistic (the story of Bloom) and symbolic; this use of symbolic narration in a realistic story is innovative. The tones is mock, ironic but also prosaic.
The mythical method: the author make a parallel with Odyssey and provides the book with symbolic meaning. Homer’s myth was used to enlarge by resemblance and difference the action and people of a Dublin day, to give another dimension and to express the universal in the particular. Joyce called his work “novel” declaring he wanted to write a “modern epic in prose”: Ulysses has a new form of realism.
Ulysses has a complex structure and it’s complex. Joyce combines stream of consciousness, the cinematic technique with the literary, the flashbacks, the dramatic dialogue, the juxtaposition of events in a “collage technique”. In Ulysses Joyce catch the perfection of the interior monologue with two levels of narration: one external to the character’s mind, and the other internal where the character’s thoughts flowing freely without interruption. The language is rich in puns, images, contrasts, paradoxes, juxtapositions, interruptions, symbols. The range of vocabulary is amazing, moreover in every episode slang, nicknames, expression from advertising are present.
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