|Intro||Irish novelist and poet|
|A.K.A.||Dzhoĭs, Dzheĭms Avgustin Aloiziĭ,, James Augustine Aloysius Joyce|
|Was||Writer Poet Playwright Novelist Journalist|
|Field||Film, TV, Stage & Radio Journalism Literature|
|Birth||2 February 1882, Dublin|
|Death||13 January 1941, Zürich (aged 58 years)|
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist, short story writer, and poet. He contributed to the modernist avant-garde and is regarded as one of the most influential and important authors of the 20th century.
Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he utilised. Other well-known works are the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other writings include three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism and his published letters.
Joyce was born in 41 Brighton Square, Rathgar, Dublin—about half a mile from his mother's birthplace in Terenure—into a middle-class family on the way down. A brilliant student, he excelled at the Jesuit schools Clongowes and Belvedere, despite the chaotic family life imposed by his father's alcoholism and unpredictable finances. He went on to attend University College Dublin.
In 1904, in his early twenties, Joyce emigrated permanently to continental Europe with his partner (and later wife) Nora Barnacle. They lived in Trieste, Paris and Zurich. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe centres on Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there. Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses, he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, "For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal."
James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born on 2 February 1882 to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane "May" Murray, in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar. He was baptised according to the Rites of the Catholic Church in the nearby St Joseph's Church in Terenure on 5 February by Rev. John O'Mulloy. His godparents were Philip and Ellen McCann. He was the eldest of ten surviving children; two of his siblings died of typhoid.
His father's family, originally from Fermoy in County Cork, had once owned a small salt and lime works. Joyce's father and paternal grandfather both married into wealthy families, though the family's purported ancestor, Seán Mór Seoighe (fl. 1680) was a stonemason from Connemara. In 1887, his father was appointed rate collector (i.e., a collector of local property taxes) by Dublin Corporation; the family subsequently moved to the fashionable adjacent small town of Bray 12 miles (19 km) from Dublin. Around this time Joyce was attacked by a dog, which engendered in him a lifelong cynophobia. He also suffered from astraphobia, as a superstitious aunt had described thunderstorms to him as a sign of God's wrath.
In 1891 Joyce wrote a poem on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell. His father was angry at the treatment of Parnell by the Catholic church, the Irish Home Rule Party and the British Liberal Party and the resulting collaborative failure to secure Home Rule for Ireland. The Irish Party had dropped Parnell from leadership. But the Vatican's role in allying with the British Conservative Party to prevent Home Rule left a lasting impression on the young Joyce. The elder Joyce had the poem printed and even sent a part to the Vatican Library. In November of that same year, John Joyce was entered in Stubbs' Gazette (a publisher of bankruptcies) and suspended from work. In 1893, John Joyce was dismissed with a pension, beginning the family's slide into poverty caused mainly by his drinking and general financial mismanagement.
Joyce had begun his education at Clongowes Wood College, a Jesuit boarding school near Clane, County Kildare, in 1888 but had to leave in 1892 when his father could no longer pay the fees. Joyce then studied at home and briefly at the Christian Brothers O'Connell School on North Richmond Street, Dublin, before he was offered a place in the Jesuits' Dublin school, Belvedere College, in 1893. This came about because of a chance meeting his father had with a Jesuit priest who knew the family and Joyce was given a reduction in fees to attend Belvedere. In 1895, Joyce, now aged 13, was elected to join the Sodality of Our Lady by his peers at Belvedere. The philosophy of Thomas Aquinas continued to have a strong influence on him for most of his life.
Joyce enrolled at the recently established University College Dublin (UCD) in 1898, studying English, French and Italian. He also became active in theatrical and literary circles in the city. In 1900 his laudatory review of Henrik Ibsen's When We Dead Awaken was published in The Fortnightly Review; it was his first publication and, after learning basic Norwegian to send a fan letter to Ibsen, he received a letter of thanks from the dramatist. Joyce wrote a number of other articles and at least two plays (since lost) during this period. Many of the friends he made at University College Dublin appeared as characters in Joyce's works. His closest colleagues included leading figures of the generation, most notably, Tom Kettle, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and Oliver St. John Gogarty. Joyce was first introduced to the Irish public by Arthur Griffith in his newspaper, United Irishman, in November 1901. Joyce had written an article on the Irish Literary Theatre and his college magazine refused to print it. Joyce had it printed and distributed locally. Griffith himself wrote a piece decrying the censorship of the student James Joyce. In 1901, the National Census of Ireland lists James Joyce (19) as an English- and Irish-speaking scholar living with his mother and father, six sisters and three brothers at Royal Terrace (now Inverness Road), Clontarf, Dublin.
After graduating from UCD in 1902, Joyce left for Paris to study medicine, but he soon abandoned this. Richard Ellmann suggests that this may have been because he found the technical lectures in French too difficult. Joyce had already failed to pass chemistry in English in Dublin. But Joyce claimed ill health as the problem and wrote home that he was unwell and complained about the cold weather. He stayed on for a few months, appealing for finance his family could ill afford and reading late in the Bibliothèque Sainte-Geneviève. When his mother was diagnosed with cancer, his father sent a telegram which read, "NOTHER [sic] DYING COME HOME FATHER". Joyce returned to Ireland. Fearing for her son's impiety, his mother tried unsuccessfully to get Joyce to make his confession and to take communion. She finally passed into a coma and died on 13 August, James and his brother Stanislaus having refused to kneel with other members of the family praying at her bedside. After her death he continued to drink heavily, and conditions at home grew quite appalling. He scraped a living reviewing books, teaching, and singing—he was an accomplished tenor, and won the bronze medal in the 1904 Feis Ceoil.
On 7 January 1904 Joyce attempted to publish A Portrait of the Artist, an essay-story dealing with aesthetics, only to have it rejected by the free-thinking magazine Dana. He decided, on his twenty-second birthday, to revise the story into a novel he called Stephen Hero. It was a fictional rendering of Joyce's youth, but he eventually grew frustrated with its direction and abandoned this work. It was never published in this form, but years later, in Trieste, Joyce completely rewrote it as A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The unfinished Stephen Hero was published after his death.
The same year he met Nora Barnacle, a young woman from Galway city who was working as a chambermaid. On 16 June 1904, they first stepped out together, an event which would be commemorated by providing the date for the action of Ulysses (as "Bloomsday").
Joyce remained in Dublin for some time longer, drinking heavily. After one of these drinking binges, he got into a fight over a misunderstanding with a man in St Stephen's Green; he was picked up and dusted off by a minor acquaintance of his father, Alfred H. Hunter, who took him into his home to tend to his injuries. Hunter was rumoured to be a Jew and to have an unfaithful wife, and would serve as one of the models for Leopold Bloom, the protagonist of Ulysses. He took up with medical student Oliver St. John Gogarty, who formed the basis for the character Buck Mulligan in Ulysses. After staying for six nights in the Martello Tower that Gogarty was renting in Sandycove, he left in the middle of the night following an altercation which involved another student he lived with, the unstable Dermot Chenevix Trench (Haines in Ulysses), who fired a pistol at some pans hanging directly over Joyce's bed. Joyce walked the 8 miles (13 km) back to Dublin to stay with relatives for the night, and sent a friend to the tower the next day to pack his trunk. Shortly thereafter he left Ireland with Nora to live on the continent.
1904–20: Trieste and Zurich
Joyce and Nora went into self-imposed exile, moving first to Zurich in Switzerland, where he had supposedly acquired a post to teach English at the Berlitz Language School through an agent in England. It turned out that the agent had been swindled; the director of the school sent Joyce on to Trieste, which was then part of Austria-Hungary (until the First World War), and is today part of Italy. Once again, he found there was no position for him, but with the help of Almidano Artifoni, director of the Trieste Berlitz School, he finally secured a teaching position in Pola, then also part of Austria-Hungary (today part of Croatia). He stayed there, teaching English mainly to Austro-Hungarian naval officers stationed at the Pola base, from October 1904 until March 1905, when the Austrians—having discovered an espionage ring in the city—expelled all aliens. With Artifoni's help, he moved back to Trieste and began teaching English there. He remained in Trieste for most of the next ten years.
Later that year Nora gave birth to their first child, George, also known as Giorgio. Joyce then managed to talk his brother, Stanislaus, into joining him in Trieste, and secured him a position teaching at the school. Joyce's ostensible reasons were desire for Stanislaus's company and the hope of offering him a more interesting life than that of his simple clerking job in Dublin. Joyce also hoped to augment his family's meagre income with his brother's earnings. Stanislaus and Joyce had strained relations throughout the time they lived together in Trieste, with most arguments centring on Joyce's drinking habits and frivolity with money.
Joyce became frustrated with life in Trieste and moved to Rome in late 1906, having secured employment as a letter-writing clerk in a bank. He intensely disliked Rome, and moved back to Trieste in early 1907. His daughter Lucia was born later that year.
Joyce returned to Dublin in mid-1909 with George, to visit his father and work on getting Dubliners published. He visited Nora's family in Galway and liked Nora's mother very much. While preparing to return to Trieste he decided to take one of his sisters, Eva, back with him to help Nora run the home. He spent only a month in Trieste before returning to Dublin, this time as a representative of some cinema owners and businessmen from Trieste. With their backing he launched Ireland's first cinema, the Volta Cinematograph, which was well-received, but fell apart after Joyce left. He returned to Trieste in January 1910 with another sister, Eileen, in tow. Eva became homesick for Dublin and returned there a few years later, but Eileen spent the rest of her life on the continent, eventually marrying Czech bank cashier Frantisek Schaurek.
Joyce returned to Dublin again briefly in mid-1912 during his years-long fight with Dublin publisher George Roberts over the publication of Dubliners. His trip was once again fruitless, and on his return he wrote the poem "Gas from a Burner", an invective against Roberts. After this trip, he never again came closer to Dublin than London, despite many pleas from his father and invitations from fellow Irish writer William Butler Yeats.
One of his students in Trieste was Ettore Schmitz, better known by the pseudonym Italo Svevo. They met in 1907 and became lasting friends and mutual critics. Schmitz was a Catholic of Jewish origin and became a primary model for Leopold Bloom; most of the details about the Jewish faith in Ulysses came from Schmitz's responses to queries from Joyce. While living in Trieste, Joyce was first beset with eye problems that ultimately required over a dozen surgical operations.
Joyce concocted a number of money-making schemes during this period, including an attempt to become a cinema magnate in Dublin. He also frequently discussed but ultimately abandoned a plan to import Irish tweed to Trieste. Correspondence relating to that venture with the Irish Woollen Mills were for a long time displayed in the windows of their premises in Dublin. Joyce's skill at borrowing money saved him from indigence. What income he had came partially from his position at the Berlitz school and partially from teaching private students.
In 1915, after most of his students in Trieste were conscripted to fight in the First World War, Joyce moved to Zurich. Two influential private students, Baron Ambrogio Ralli and Count Francesco Sordina, petitioned officials for an exit permit for the Joyces, who in turn agreed not to take any action against the emperor of Austria-Hungary during the war. In Zurich, Joyce met one of his most enduring and important friends, the English socialist painter Frank Budgen, whose opinion Joyce constantly sought through the writing of Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. It was also here that Ezra Pound brought him to the attention of English feminist and publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver, who would become Joyce's patron, providing him with thousands of pounds over the next 25 years and relieving him of the burden of teaching to focus on his writing. While in Zurich he wrote Exiles, published A Portrait..., and began serious work on Ulysses. Zurich during the war was home to exiles and artists from across Europe and its bohemian, multilingual atmosphere suited him. Nevertheless, after four years he was restless, and after the war he returned to Trieste as he had originally planned. He found the city had changed, and some of his old friends noted his maturing from teacher to artist. His relations with his brother Stanislaus (who had been interned in an Austrian prison camp for most of the war due to his pro-Italian politics) were more strained than ever. Joyce went to Paris in 1920 at an invitation from Ezra Pound, supposedly for a week, but the family ended up living there for the next twenty years.
1920–41: Paris and Zurich
Joyce set himself to finishing Ulysses in Paris, delighted to find that he was gradually gaining fame as an avant-garde writer. A further grant from Miss Shaw Weaver meant he could devote himself full-time to writing again, as well as consort with other literary figures in the city. During this time, Joyce's eyes began to give him more and more problems and he often wore an eyepatch. He was treated by Dr Louis Borsch in Paris, undergoing nine operations before Borsch's death in 1929. Throughout the 1930s he travelled frequently to Switzerland for eye surgeries and for treatments for his daughter Lucia, who, according to the Joyces, suffered from schizophrenia. Lucia was analysed by Carl Jung at the time, who after reading Ulysses is said to have concluded that her father had schizophrenia. Jung said that she and her father were two people heading to the bottom of a river, except that Joyce was diving and Lucia was sinking.
In Paris, Maria and Eugene Jolas nursed Joyce during his long years of writing Finnegans Wake. Were it not for their support (along with Harriet Shaw Weaver's constant financial support), there is a good possibility that his books might never have been finished or published. In their literary magazine transition, the Jolases published serially various sections of Finnegans Wake under the title Work in Progress. Joyce returned to Zurich in late 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France.
On 11 January 1941, he underwent surgery in Zurich for a perforated ulcer. While he at first improved, he relapsed the following day, and despite several transfusions, fell into a coma. He awoke at 2 a.m. on 13 January 1941, and asked for a nurse to call his wife and son, before losing consciousness again. They were still on their way when he died 15 minutes later.
Joyce's body was interred in the Fluntern Cemetery near Zurich Zoo. Buried originally in an ordinary grave, he was moved in 1966 to a more prominent "honour grave," with a seated statue of Joyce by American artist Milton Hebald nearby. Swiss tenor Max Meili sang Addio terra, addio cielo from Monteverdi's L'Orfeo at the burial service. Although two senior Irish diplomats were in Switzerland at the time, neither attended Joyce's funeral, and the Irish government later declined Nora's offer to permit the repatriation of Joyce's remains. Nora, who had married Joyce in London in 1931, survived him by 10 years. She is buried by his side, as is their son Giorgio, who died in 1976.
Joyce and religion
The issue of Joyce's relationship with religion is somewhat controversial. Early in life, he lapsed from Catholicism, according to first-hand testimonies coming from himself, his brother Stanislaus Joyce, and his wife:
My mind rejects the whole present social order and Christianity—home, the recognised virtues, classes of life and religious doctrines. [...] Six years ago I left the Catholic church, hating it most fervently. I found it impossible for me to remain in it on account of the impulses of my nature. I made secret war upon it when I was a student and declined to accept the positions it offered me. By doing this I made myself a beggar but I retained my pride. Now I make open war upon it by what I write and say and do.
My brother’s breakaway from Catholicism was due to other motives. He felt it was imperative that he should save his real spiritual life from being overlaid and crushed by a false one that he had outgrown. He believed that poets in the measure of their gifts and personality were the repositories of the genuine spiritual life of their race and the priests were usurpers. He detested falsity and believed in individual freedom more thoroughly than any man I have ever known. [...] The interest that my brother always retained in the philosophy of the Catholic Church sprang from the fact that he considered Catholic philosophy to be the most coherent attempt to establish such an intellectual and material stability.
When the arrangements for Joyce's burial were being made, a Catholic priest offered a religious service, which Joyce's wife Nora declined, saying: "I couldn't do that to him."
However, Leonard Strong, William T. Noon, Robert Boyle and others have argued that Joyce, later in life, reconciled with the faith he rejected earlier in life and that his parting with the faith was succeeded by a not so obvious reunion, and that Ulysses and Finnegans Wake are essentially Catholic expressions. Likewise, Hugh Kenner and T. S. Eliot believed they saw between the lines of Joyce's work the outlook of a serious Christian and that beneath the veneer of the work lies a remnant of Catholic belief and attitude. Kevin Sullivan maintains that, rather than reconciling with the faith, Joyce never left it. Critics holding this view insist that Stephen, the protagonist of the semi-autobiographical A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man as well as Ulysses, is not Joyce. Somewhat cryptically, in an interview after completing Ulysses, in response to the question "When did you leave the Catholic Church", Joyce answered, "That's for the Church to say." Eamonn Hughes maintains that Joyce takes a dialectic approach, both affirming and denying, saying that Stephen's much noted non-serviam is qualified—"I will not serve that which I no longer believe...", and that the non-serviam will always be balanced by Stephen's "I am a servant..." and Molly's "yes". It is also known from first hand testimonies and his own writing that Joyce attended Catholic Mass and Orthodox Sacred Liturgy, especially during Holy Week, purportedly for aesthetic reasons. His sisters also noted his Holy Week attendance and that he did not seek to dissuade them. One friend witnessed him cry "secret tears" upon hearing Jesus' words on the cross and another accused him of being a "believer at heart" because of his frequent attendance at church.
Umberto Eco compares Joyce to the ancient episcopi vagantes (wandering bishops) in the Middle Ages. They left a discipline, not a cultural heritage or a way of thinking. Like them, the writer retains the sense of blasphemy held as a liturgical ritual.
Some critics and biographers have opined along the lines of Andrew Gibson: "The modern James Joyce may have vigorously resisted the oppressive power of Catholic tradition. But there was another Joyce who asserted his allegiance to that tradition, and never left it, or wanted to leave it, behind him." Gibson argues that Joyce "remained a Catholic intellectual if not a believer" since his thinking remained influenced by his cultural background, even though he dissented from that culture. His relationship with religion was complex and not easily understood, even perhaps by himself. He acknowledged the debt he owed to his early Jesuit training. Joyce told the sculptor August Suter, that from his Jesuit education, he had 'learnt to arrange things in such a way that they become easy to survey and to judge.'
Joyce and music
Music is central to Joyce's biography and to the understanding of his writings. In turn, Joyce's poetry and prose became an inspiration for composers and musicians. There are at least five aspects to consider:
1. Joyce's musicality: Joyce had considerable musical talent, which expressed itself in his singing, piano and guitar playing, as well as in a melody that he composed. His own musicality (which once made him consider music as a profession) is the root of his strong adoption of music as a major driving force in his fiction, in addition to his own experience of music in Ireland before he left in 1904. Joyce had a light tenor voice; he was taught by Vincent O'Brien and Benedetto Palmieri; in 1904 won a bronze medal at the competitive music festival Feis Ceoil. His only composition is a melody to his poem Bid adieu, to which a piano accompaniment was added in the 1920s in Paris by the American composer Edmund J. Pendleton (1899–1987).
2. The music Joyce knew: Music frequently found its way into Joyce's poetry and prose. Often this happens in the form of allusions to (or partial quotations from) texts of Irish traditional songs, popular ballads, Roman Catholic chant and opera arias. His operatic references include works by Balfe, Wallace and Arthur Sullivan, in addition to Meyerbeer, Mozart, and Wagner (among many others). Joyce also makes frequent use of the Irish Melodies of Thomas Moore and ballads such as George Barker's Dublin Bay and J.L. Molloy's Love's Old Sweet Song.
3. Opera as a genre: Joyce had a lifelong preoccupation with opera as a generic precedent for his own fiction. Although Joyce scholarship has long identified an explicit recourse to musical structures in Ulysses (in particular the 'Sirens' episode) and Finnegans Wake, more recent criticism has established a decisive reliance on Wagner's Ring in Finnegans Wake and an attempt to adapt the structures of opera and oratorio to the medium of fiction, notably in the 'Cyclops' episode of Ulysses. George Antheil's unfinished setting of 'Cyclops' as an opera attests this attempt.
4. Music to Joyce's words: Music that uses Joyce's texts most frequently appears as settings of his poems in songs, and occasionally as excerpts from prose works. Irish composers were among the first to set Joyce's poetry, including Geoffrey Molyneux Palmer (1882–1957), Herbert Hughes (1882–1937) and Brian Boydell (1917–2000), but the musical qualities of Joyce's verse also attracted European and North American composers, with early settings by Karol Szymanowski (Songs to Words by James Joyce op. 54, 1926) and Samuel Barber (Three Songs op. 10, 1936) in addition to settings by major exponents of the 1950s and '60s avant-garde such as Elliott Carter (String Quartet No. 1, 1951) and Luciano Berio (Chamber Music, 1953; Thema (Omaggio a Joyce), 1958; etc.) In 2015 Waywords and Meansigns presented an unabridged version of Finnegans Wake, collaboratively read and set to music, by contributors from around the globe.
5. Music inspired by Joyce: Often, instrumental music was also inspired by Joyce's writings, including works by Pierre Boulez, Klaus Huber, Rebecca Saunders, Toru Takemitsu and Gerard Victory. With Luciano Berio's Thema (Omaggio a Joyce (1958) there is also a key work in the development of electro-acoustic music. In 2014 the English composer Stephen Crowe set Joyce's explicit letters to Nora as a song-cycle for tenor and ensemble.
Joyce himself took a keen interest in musical settings of his work, performed some of them himself, and corresponded with many of the composers. He was particularly fond of the early settings by Palmer.
Joyce's Irish experiences constitute an essential element of his writings, and provide all of the settings for his fiction and much of its subject matter. His early volume of short stories, Dubliners, is a penetrating analysis of the stagnation and paralysis of Dublin society. The stories incorporate epiphanies, a word used particularly by Joyce, by which he meant a sudden consciousness of the "soul" of a thing.
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is a nearly complete rewrite of the abandoned novel Stephen Hero. Joyce attempted to burn the original manuscript in a fit of rage during an argument with Nora, though to his subsequent relief it was rescued by his sister. A Künstlerroman, Portrait is a heavily autobiographical coming-of-age novel depicting the childhood and adolescence of protagonist Stephen Dedalus and his gradual growth into artistic self-consciousness. Some hints of the techniques Joyce frequently employed in later works, such as stream of consciousness, interior monologue, and references to a character's psychic reality rather than to his external surroundings, are evident throughout this novel.
Exiles and poetry
Despite early interest in the theatre, Joyce published only one play, Exiles, begun shortly after the outbreak of the First World War in 1914 and published in 1918. A study of a husband and wife relationship, the play looks back to The Dead (the final story in Dubliners) and forward to Ulysses, which Joyce began around the time of the play's composition.
Joyce also published a number of books of poetry. His first mature published work was the satirical broadside "The Holy Office" (1904), in which he proclaimed himself to be the superior of many prominent members of the Celtic Revival. His first full-length poetry collection Chamber Music (1907; referring, Joyce joked, to the sound of urine hitting the side of a chamber pot) consisted of 36 short lyrics. This publication led to his inclusion in the Imagist Anthology, edited by Ezra Pound, who was a champion of Joyce's work. Other poetry Joyce published in his lifetime includes "Gas From A Burner" (1912), Pomes Penyeach (1927) and "Ecce Puer" (written in 1932 to mark the birth of his grandson and the recent death of his father). It was published by the Black Sun Press in Collected Poems (1936).
As he was completing work on Dubliners in 1906, Joyce considered adding another story featuring a Jewish advertising canvasser called Leopold Bloom under the title Ulysses. Although he did not pursue the idea further at the time, he eventually commenced work on a novel using both the title and basic premise in 1914. The writing was completed in October 1921. Three more months were devoted to working on the proofs of the book before Joyce halted work shortly before his self-imposed deadline, his 40th birthday (2 February 1922).
Thanks to Ezra Pound, serial publication of the novel in the magazine The Little Review began in March 1918. This magazine was edited by Margaret C. Anderson and Jane Heap, with the intermittent financial backing of John Quinn, a successful New York commercial lawyer with an interest in contemporary experimental art and literature. Unfortunately, this publication encountered problems with New York Postal Authorities; serialisation ground to a halt in December 1920; the editors were convicted of publishing obscenity in February 1921. Although the conviction was based on the "Nausicaä" episode of Ulysses, The Little Review had fuelled the fires of controversy with dada poet Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven's defence of Ulysses in an essay "The Modest Woman." Joyce's novel was not published in the United States until 1933.
Partly because of this controversy, Joyce found it difficult to get a publisher to accept the book, but it was published in 1922 by Sylvia Beach from her well-known Rive Gauche bookshop, Shakespeare and Company. An English edition published the same year by Joyce's patron, Harriet Shaw Weaver, ran into further difficulties with the United States authorities, and 500 copies that were shipped to the States were seized and possibly destroyed. The following year, John Rodker produced a print run of 500 more intended to replace the missing copies, but these were burned by English customs at Folkestone. A further consequence of the novel's ambiguous legal status as a banned book was that a number of "bootleg" versions appeared, most notably a number of pirate versions from the publisher Samuel Roth. In 1928, a court injunction against Roth was obtained and he ceased publication.
With the appearance of both Ulysses and T. S. Eliot's poem The Waste Land, 1922 was a key year in the history of English-language literary modernism. In Ulysses, Joyce employs stream of consciousness, parody, jokes, and virtually every other established literary technique to present his characters. The action of the novel, which takes place in a single day, 16 June 1904, sets the characters and incidents of the Odyssey of Homer in modern Dublin and represents Odysseus (Ulysses), Penelope and Telemachus in the characters of Leopold Bloom, his wife Molly Bloom and Stephen Dedalus, parodically contrasted with their lofty models. Both Bloom and Dedalus represent Joyce in difference ages: youth and middle age. And both relate to each other symbolically in the novel as father and son. The key to this father/son relationship is revealed by Stephen on the Sandymount strand when he contemplates the Nicene Creed and the 'consubstantial' relationship of God the Father to Son. The book explores various areas of Dublin life, dwelling on its squalor and monotony. Nevertheless, the book is also an affectionately detailed study of the city, and Joyce claimed that if Dublin were to be destroyed in some catastrophe it could be rebuilt, brick by brick, using his work as a model. To achieve this level of accuracy, Joyce used the 1904 edition of Thom's Directory—a work that listed the owners and/or tenants of every residential and commercial property in the city. He also bombarded friends still living there with requests for information and clarification. The book consists of 18 chapters, each covering roughly one hour of the day, beginning around 8 a.m. and ending sometime after 2 a.m. the following morning. Each chapter employs its own literary style, and parodies a specific episode in Homer's Odyssey. Furthermore, each chapter is associated with a specific colour, art or science, and bodily organ. This combination of kaleidoscopic writing with an extreme formal schematic structure renders the book a major contribution to the development of 20th-century modernist literature. The use of classical mythology as an organising framework, the near-obsessive focus on external detail, and the occurrence of significant action within the minds of characters have also contributed to the development of literary modernism. Nevertheless, Joyce complained that, "I may have oversystematised Ulysses," and played down the mythic correspondences by eliminating the chapter titles that had been taken from Homer. Joyce was reluctant to publish the chapter titles because he wanted his work to stand separately from the Greek form. It was only when Stuart Gilbert published his critical work on Ulysses in 1930 that the schema was supplied by Joyce to Gilbert. But as Terrence Killeen points out this schema was developed after the novel had been written and was not something that Joyce consulted as he wrote the novel.
Having completed work on Ulysses, Joyce was so exhausted that he did not write a line of prose for a year. On 10 March 1923 he informed a patron, Harriet Weaver: "Yesterday I wrote two pages—the first I have since the final Yes of Ulysses. Having found a pen, with some difficulty I copied them out in a large handwriting on a double sheet of foolscap so that I could read them. Il lupo perde il pelo ma non il vizio, the Italians say. 'The wolf may lose his skin but not his vice' or 'the leopard cannot change his spots.'" Thus was born a text that became known, first, as Work in Progress and later Finnegans Wake.
By 1926 Joyce had completed the first two parts of the book. In that year, he met Eugene and Maria Jolas who offered to serialise the book in their magazine transition. For the next few years, Joyce worked rapidly on the new book, but in the 1930s, progress slowed considerably. This was due to a number of factors, including the death of his father in 1931, concern over the mental health of his daughter Lucia, and his own health problems, including failing eyesight. Much of the work was done with the assistance of younger admirers, including Samuel Beckett. For some years, Joyce nursed the eccentric plan of turning over the book to his friend James Stephens to complete, on the grounds that Stephens was born in the same hospital as Joyce exactly one week later, and shared the first name of both Joyce and of Joyce's fictional alter-ego, an example of Joyce's superstitions.
Reaction to the work was mixed, including negative comment from early supporters of Joyce's work, such as Pound and the author's brother, Stanislaus Joyce. To counteract this hostile reception, a book of essays by supporters of the new work, including Beckett, William Carlos Williams and others was organised and published in 1929 under the title Our Exagmination Round His Factification for Incamination of Work in Progress. At his 57th birthday party at the Jolases' home, Joyce revealed the final title of the work and Finnegans Wake was published in book form on 4 May 1939. Later, further negative comments surfaced from doctor and author Hervey Cleckley, who questioned the significance others had placed on the work. In his book, The Mask of Sanity, Cleckley refers to Finnegans Wake as "a 628-page collection of erudite gibberish indistinguishable to most people from the familiar word salad produced by hebephrenic patients on the back wards of any state hospital."
Joyce's method of stream of consciousness, literary allusions and free dream associations was pushed to the limit in Finnegans Wake, which abandoned all conventions of plot and character construction and is written in a peculiar and obscure English, based mainly on complex multi-level puns. This approach is similar to, but far more extensive than that used by Lewis Carroll in Jabberwocky. This has led many readers and critics to apply Joyce's oft-quoted description in the Wake of Ulysses as his "usylessly unreadable Blue Book of Eccles" to the Wake itself. However, readers have been able to reach a consensus about the central cast of characters and general plot.
Much of the wordplay in the book stems from the use of multilingual puns which draw on a wide range of languages. The role played by Beckett and other assistants included collating words from these languages on cards for Joyce to use and, as Joyce's eyesight worsened, of writing the text from the author's dictation.
The view of history propounded in this text is very strongly influenced by Giambattista Vico, and the metaphysics of Giordano Bruno of Nola are important to the interplay of the "characters." Vico propounded a cyclical view of history, in which civilisation rose from chaos, passed through theocratic, aristocratic, and democratic phases, and then lapsed back into chaos. The most obvious example of the influence of Vico's cyclical theory of history is to be found in the opening and closing words of the book. Finnegans Wake opens with the words "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." ("vicus" is a pun on Vico) and ends "A way a lone a last a loved a long the." In other words, the book ends with the beginning of a sentence and begins with the end of the same sentence, turning the book into one great cycle. Indeed, Joyce said that the ideal reader of the Wake would suffer from "ideal insomnia" and, on completing the book, would turn to page one and start again, and so on in an endless cycle of reading.
Joyce's work has been an important influence on writers and scholars as diverse as Samuel Beckett, Seán Ó Ríordáin, Jorge Luis Borges, Flann O'Brien, Salman Rushdie, Robert Anton Wilson, John Updike, David Lodge and Joseph Campbell. Ulysses has been called "a demonstration and summation of the entire [Modernist] movement". French literary theorist Julia Kristéva characterised Joyce's novel writing as "polyphonic" and a hallmark of postmodernity alongside poets Mallarmé and Rimbaud.
Some scholars, most notably Vladimir Nabokov, have mixed feelings on his work, often championing some of his fiction while condemning other works. In Nabokov's opinion, Ulysses was brilliant, Finnegans Wake horrible—an attitude Jorge Luis Borges shared.
Joyce's influence is also evident in fields other than literature. The sentence "Three quarks for Muster Mark!" in Joyce's Finnegans Wake is the source of the word "quark", the name of one of the elementary particles proposed by the physicist Murray Gell-Mann in 1963. The French philosopher Jacques Derrida has written a book on the use of language in Ulysses, and the American philosopher Donald Davidson has written similarly on Finnegans Wake in comparison with Lewis Carroll. Psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan used Joyce's writings to explain his concept of the sinthome. According to Lacan, Joyce's writing is the supplementary cord which kept Joyce from psychosis.
In 1999, Time magazine named Joyce one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th century, and stated: "Joyce ... revolutionised 20th century fiction".
The work and life of Joyce is celebrated annually on 16 June, known as Bloomsday, in Dublin and in an increasing number of cities worldwide, and critical studies in scholarly publications, such as the James Joyce Quarterly, continue. Both popular and academic uses of Joyce's work were hampered by restrictions placed by Stephen J. Joyce, Joyce's grandson and executor of his literary estate. On 1 January 2012, those restrictions were lessened by the expiry of copyright protection for much of the published work of James Joyce.
In April 2013 the Central Bank of Ireland issued a silver €10 commemorative coin in honour of Joyce that misquoted a famous line from his masterwork Ulysses.
The Irish Naval Service named an offshore patrol vessel in Joyce's honour. In a service attended by members of the Joyce family, the LÉ James Joyce (P62) was commissioned on 1 September 2015.