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Choice Joyce: Essential Reading for Joyce's Birthday

By idi

Ireland's most celebrated and influential author, James Joyce, was born in Dublin in 1882 and died in Switzerland in1941 . His best-known work, Ulysses,which takes place during one day in the life of Leopold Bloom, is based on Homer’s The Odyssey. Other major work includes his novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Finnegans Wake, and his collection of short stories, Dubliners.

Joyce and his wife Nora Barnacle lived abroad beginning 1904 for the most part in Paris, where Sylvia Beach helped him get Ulysses published in 1922. Joyce was at the vanguard of the Modernism movement, and his work, in bold, experimental style, in which he often used mythology in a contemporary account, makes him one of the most important literary figures of the 20th century.

Sadly, it is that very style that often sees Joyce labelled as difficult or even inaccessible. This is a particular shame as Joyce devotees see him as the apex of writing in the English language. For those of us who have never quite gotten around to reading Joyce, the complexity of his prose can be daunting. That said, there are few better ways to start than to dive in head first; try not to worry about the idea that you’re missing some of the nuance, and just enjoy the elegance of the text.


Introduction and Notes by Laurence Davies, Dartmouth College, New Hampshire. Living overseas but writing, always, about his native city, Joyce made Dublin unforgettable. The stories in Dubliners show us truants, seducers, gossips, rally-drivers, generous hostesses, corrupt politicians, failing priests, amateur theologians, struggling musicians, moony adolescents, victims of domestic brutishness, sentimental aunts and poets, patriots earnest or cynical, and people striving to get by. In every sense an international figure, Joyce was faithful to his own country by seeing it unflinchingly and challenging every precedent and piety in Irish literature.

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A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

The first, shortest, and most approachable of James Joyce's novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man portrays the Dublin upbringing of Stephen Dedalus, from his youthful days at Clongowes Wood College to his radical questioning of all convention. In doing so, it provides an oblique self-portrait of the young Joyce himself. Exuberantly inventive in style, the novel subtly and beautifully orchestrates the patterns of quotation and repetition instrumental in its hero's quest to create his own character, his own language, life, and art. This Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition, published for the novel's centennial, is the definitive text, authorized by the Joyce estate and collated from all known proofs, manuscripts, and impressions to reflect the author's original wishes.

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Finnegans wake

A daring work of experimental, Modernist genius, James Joyce's Finnegans Wake is one of the greatest literary achievements of the twentieth century, and the crowning glory of Joyce's life. The Penguin Modern Classics edition of includes an introduction by Seamus Deane 'riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs' Joyce's final work, Finnegan's Wake is his masterpiece of the night as Ulysses is of the day. Supreme linguistic virtuosity conjures up the dark underground worlds of sexuality and dream. Joyce undermines traditional storytelling and all official forms of English and confronts the different kinds of betrayal - cultural, political and sexual - that he saw at the heart of Irish history. Dazzlingly inventive, with passages of great lyrical beauty and humour, Finnegans Wake remains one of the most remarkable works of the twentieth century. James Joyce (1882-1941), the eldest of ten children, was born in Dublin, but exiled himself to Paris at twenty as a rebellion against his upbringing. He only returned to Ireland briefly from the continent but Dublin was at heart of his greatest works, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. He lived in poverty until the last ten years of his life and was plagued by near blindness and the grief of his daughter's mental illness. If you enjoyed Finnegans Wake, you might like Virginia Woolf's The Waves, also available in Penguin Classics. 'An extraordinary performance, a transcription into a miniaturized form of the whole western literary tradition' Seamus Deane

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Pomes penyeach

This early work by James Joyce was originally published in 1927 and we are now republishing it with a brand new introduction. 'Pomes Penyeach' is a collection of Joyce's poetry. James Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1882. He excelled as a student at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, and then at University College Dublin, where he studied English, French, and Italian. Joyce produced several prominent works, including: 'Ulysses', 'A Portrait of the Young Artist', 'Dubliners', and 'Finnegans Wake. He is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century and his legacy can be seen throughout modern literature.

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'Everybody knows now that Ulysses is the greatest novel of the century' Anthony Burgess, Observer Following the events of one single day in Dublin, the 16th June 1904, and what happens to the characters Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and his wife Molly, Ulysses is a monument to the human condition. It has survived censorship, controversy and legal action, and even been deemed blasphemous, but remains an undisputed modernist classic: ceaselessly inventive, garrulous, funny, sorrowful, vulgar, lyrical and ultimately redemptive. It confirms Joyce's belief that literature 'is the eternal affirmation of the spirit of man'. 'The most important expression which the present age has found; it is a book to which we are all indebted, and from which none of us can escape' T. S. Eliot 'Intoxicating ... a towering work, in its word play surpassing even Shakespeare' Guardian

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