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That’s Mr. James Joyce to you. Biography. Born 1882 in Dublin, Ireland. Died 1941. His father was an impoverished gentleman who tried his hand in a distillery business (which failed). He also tried politics and tax-collecting.

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Born 1882 in Dublin, Ireland.

Died 1941.

His father was an impoverished gentleman who tried his hand in a distillery business (which failed).

He also tried politics and tax-collecting.

His mother was a tremendous pianist and a devout follower of the Roman Catholic Church (duh, she’s Irish).

They were poor, but managed to fool most people into believing they were middle class.


James attended formal school from age 6 (he was taught by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College).

He later attended Belvedere College and University College Dublin.

After graduation in 1902, Joyce went to Paris and worked as a journalist and teacher, but was poor.

After a year in France, he returned home to see his ailing mother, who died shortly thereafter.

He left again for France with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid, who he married in 1931.


When WWI broke out, he moved to Zurich.

It was at this time he started to craft the work that would become Ulysses.

Ulysses was originally published in France because of censorship issues in GB and North America.

The book did not become available in the US until 1933.

Joyce began Finnegan’s Wake in 1923. It would take him around 15 years to finish it.


Joyce and many others thought FW was a masterpiece. However, it was thought to be unintelligible by many, and thus, was poorly received.

As a side note, part of FW appeared in print in 1924, under the name Work in Progress. The finished version was not released until 1939.

notable dates
Notable Dates

Dubliners published in 1914.

Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man published in 1916.

Ulysses published in 1922.

Finnegan’s Wake published in 1939.

stuff you should know about him
Stuff you should know about him

Known for his experimental use of language and contributions to “the novel as art”.

Known for interior monologue and stream of consciousness.

Ulyssesis based on Homer’s The Odyssey. The chapters are called “Charybdis” and “Telemachus” for a reason.

Some themes and motifs in Ulysses include the quest for paternity, the home usurped, compassion, perspective, conscience, consciousness, and many others.


Dubliners is a collection of 15 short stories.

“The Dead” and “Araby” are included.

They are meant to be a realistic depiction of Irish life around the turn of the century.

They center around the idea of epiphany.

Many of the characters reappear in his later works.

The stories start with child narrators and characters and move to progressively older people.

He believed that life was broken up into childhood, adolescence, and maturity.


This collection has simpler language and relies more on realism.

“The Dead” was made into a movie (it is sometimes considered a novella at 16,000+ words).