James Joyce (1882-1941)
Most important modern novelist together with Virginia Wolf
Influenced by the new concept of time (Bergson) + Freud's investigations
He was born in Dublin
1902- He graduated in Modern Languages
He grew up as a rebel
He had a cosmopolitan point of view, he thinks of himself as a Dubliner but above all as a European.
Joyce did not want to rediscover the Celtic culture like the other Irish, such as Yeats, he was a modernist, he thought that the only way to increase Ireland’s awareness was to portrait of its life from a cosmopolitan point of view.
He felt surrounded by religious upbringings and oppressed by a limited cultural and literary perspective.
His life was characterized by a lot of traveling--> around Europe and the first choice is Paris. But he had to come back to Dublin because of his mother’s illness.
He met Nora and fell in love with her
They moved to Italy, Trieste--> he started teaching English +friendship with Italo Svevo
1922- Ulysses published in Paris
Financial problems (always) --> therefore problems with publishers, nobody wanted to publish his works. 10 years to have Dubliners published. Ezra Pound helped him.
He moved to Switzerland because of Hitler’s advances in Europe and he died there.
He aims at describing the stream of consciousness through a number of very important techniques such as the interior monologue.
His techniques develop in time
1939- Finnegans Wake
These two are the most experimental works
A collection of 15 short stories all set in Dublin.
They all revolve around one major theme: PARALYSIS.
Why Dublin? Because it is the “center of paralysis”, explained Joyce.
Every major character is morally paralyzed. They are trapped in their mediocrity, in their little lives. They are safe and sound but at the same time they are prisoners. No matter how they try to break free from this, they fail, none of them succeed in overcoming what keep them paralyzed. Every character becomes aware of his paralysis, this is the most important step: that moment in the story is called epiphany, which is a sudden self-realization. They all have a glimpse of escape (which is the opposite of paralysis).
Structure--> 4 categories--> it reinforces the moral paralysis, no escape.
The last short story is The Dead (it is not part of this division): it is the summary and the climax of the other ones, it's more remarkable and elaborated.
• discipline, order, structured narration.
• no omniscient narrator, but anonymous, almost invisible. Why? Because the focus is on the character's mind
• impersonality of the poet (like Eliot)-->the artist’s task is to render facts objectively and this is possible only with the detachment of the poet.
• Free indirect speech
• Minute descriptions of Dublin --> a bit of Realism. The characters are wandering through the streets of Dublin (like the Waste Land). All the details given usually have a deeper meaning (symbolism).
Eveline (from the section Adolescence)
She's a 19 years old girls whose mother is dead.
It opens in medias res, she is sitting at the window. His stories usually open like this because the time of the mind is subjective (Bergson).
Eveline is caught in a moment of crisis, the crossroad in her life. She's always lived in Dublin and now she has the opportunity to move to Buenos Aires because she has fallen in love with Frank. She doesn't know whether to stay or to leave, there are pros and cons.
Then: the flux of thoughts starts, because something invades the stillness: a man passing in front of her house reminds her of a field it used to be there and it reminds her of her past when she used to be happy and her mother was still alive.
Elements for her to leave vs elements for her to stay.
Her home is full of dusted objects, yellowing photographs that oppress her. Nonetheless, this home represents a shelter, protection. Her father was violent, a lot of arguments, but he would miss her. There is also the promise she has made to her mother before she died.
On the other hand in Buenos Aries there is a man who would treat her with respect. Frank is a perfect man, who loves he and he's also rich.
Moment of epiphany---> glimpse of escape is offered. It seems that she's leaving with Frank BUT the story goes back to the very beginning. Moment triggered by something happening: she heard a melody that reminds her of the promise made to her mother to keep home together as long as she could because that was the melody played when she died.
At the same time she becomes aware of her life and the risk of ending up in the same way of her mother: A life of commonplace sacrifices closing in final craziness. She doesn't want that life.
Eventually, when she’s about to leave with Frank, she’s feels motionless, passive, she’s incapable of taking this important action and she ends up more trapped than she was before.