domingo, 9 de junio de 2019

Piedad Bonnett

By Miguel Gomes

Piedad Bonnet studied philosophy and literature at the Universidad de los Andes, Bogotá, where she has been a professor since 1981. She has published six books of poetry, two novels, a book of interviews with five Colombian poets, and four plays.
            In Piedad Bonnet’s poetry, there is an almost furtive connection between two extremes: the collective violence and nocturnal intimacy that have characterized the poetry and, in many senses, the whole culture of her country. She titled one of her collections El resto es silencio (The rest is silence), after Shakespeare – an accurately explicit phrase: if silence is mentioned, its opposite is kept out, turned into a tacit reference.
               El resto es silencio is her third poetry collection, and the second to be published outside Colombia, revealing the ever growing acceptance of her work in Spanish-speaking countries. In this work, Bonnet distributed her poems over four, precisely delimited themes: the symbolic dimensions of the body, the mental space of the family and the ups and downs of eroticism join a fourth theme in which the conflict (inevitably unresolved) between that which belongs to history, already formalized and public, and that which is inscribed in the personal and communal memory is re-enacted.
               The language of the poet, as she questions the fossilized versions of the past and of the present, frequently resorts to an irrationalism of violent, almost expressionist images, impossible to reduce to mental habits: “My night is like a valley of shining bones./ The skin, sand, silica. The lips, cracked open”. (‘Nocturne’); “I have eaten my soup of nails, my bread of ammunition,/my bread with chintz,/I’ve already swallowed my portion of roots and poisons.” (‘Digestive process’); “My fear drank the air of the bedroom with open eyes/ and the monster that lives in me/ stifles my voice with its tail of fish scales” (‘Daily portion’).
In her work, Bonnet engages in a dialogue with all forms of art: she works in the narrow space where the poet’s own work uses the work of another as an instrument of discovery and as a register of personal beliefs and affections. Frida Kahlo is one of the more memorable artists that she uses as such an instrument. ‘La Venadita’ (‘The small doe’), for example, a poem dedicated to Kahlo, shows that the violence of language is not incompatible with a communion through art, and the confidence entailed in it:

Out of sheer pity and sheer love I would give you my body
as a present, Venadita
I, who envy the nocturnal lightning
of your eyebrows, your hands with rings,
the indian voice,
and your haughty mestizo neck!
You, whom God gave lots of everything, even
and above all pain
I would give you,
if I were God,
a chest with little silver
Mexican bones
and a foot of gold . . . 

Bonnet’s poems abound with indirect references to poets or philosophers, in a complex system of allusions not devoid of humor. ‘La Venadita’, however, is an example where her poetics are sharply defined. Moreover, Bonnet manages to do so while rejecting the restrictions set by intellectualism or anti-poetry, two straitjackets that (in numerous variants) have restrained the post-avant-garde movement of Hispanic poetry. Bonnet is one of those authors that, with persistence and talent, have been able to overcome these obstacles.

Bibliography Poetry
De círculo y ceniza (On circle and ashes). 1989.
Nadie en casa (Nobody at home). 1994.
El hilo de los días (The drift of days). 1995.
Ese animal triste (That sad animal). 1996.
Todos los amantes son guerreros (All lovers are warriors). 
No es más que la vida (It’s no more than life). selection, 1998.
demás es silencio (the rest is silence). 2003.
Tretas del débil (The weak’s ruses). 2004.

Después de todo (After all). 2001.
Para otros es el cielo (Heaven is for the others). 2004.

domingo, 26 de mayo de 2019

Haruki Murakami

Haruki Murakami

Japanese novelist, short-story writer, essayist, and translator, whose work combine postmodern techniques and fantasy with influences from American literature. Murakami is one of the most popular and widely translated of all contemporary Japanese authors.

"I wake up, but where? I don't just think this, I actually voice the question to myself: "Where am I?" As if I didn't know: I'm here. In my life. A feature of the world that is my existence." (in Dance, Dance, Dance, 1988)

             Murakami Haruki was born in Kyoto, but he grew up in Ashiya, Hyogo. His father, Ciaki, the son of of a Kyoto Buddhist priest, had fought in China in his youth, and prayed every morning at the Buddhist altar in their house for the people who had died in the war. Murakami's mother, Miyuki, was the daughter of an Osaka merchant. Both of his parents taught Japanese literature. Murakami himself became a voracious reader and was permitted to buy books on credit at the local bookstore. However, he was more interested in American hard-boiled detective stories and science fiction than Japanese classics. "Alone in my room I would listen to American jazz and rock-and-roll, watch American television shows and read American novels," Murakami has recalled in an interview. (New York Times, September 27, 1992)
              In 1968 Murakami moved to Tokyo to study theater at Waseda University, Before graduating in 1975, Murakami opened with his wife, Yoko Takahashi, a jazz club called Peter Cat, which they managed until 1981. Originallyn the club was a windowless undergroud place, which had Spanish-style white walls, wooden tables and chairs. His friend, the photographer Eizo Matsumura has recalled, that it was a place "where time stood still." Its specialty was stuffed cabbage. In 1977, the couple moved the club to a central downtown location. Its interior was decorated all over with cat theme; even chopstick wrappers had cat designs. 
            Murakami started to write at the age of 29. His first novel, Kaze no uta o kike (1979, Hear the Wind Sing) won the Gunzo New Writer's Award. This 130-page story, where nothing much happens, was followed by Sen kyuhyaku nanaju san nen no pinboru (1980, Pinball 1973), which featured a possibly sentient pinball machine. It was awarded Kondansha publisher's Shinjin Bunkaku prize for best newcomer in 1980. These works introduced Murakami's protagonist, known as Boku, whose character owes debt to Chandler's Philip Marlowe and the existentialist antiheroes of the nouveau roman. He was also the narrator in Hitsuji o meguru boken (1982, A Wild Sheep Chase), in which he searched for a mysterious sheep. Before disappearing, the creature had "lived" inside a powerful businessman as the embodiment of his Nietzschean will-to-power. Murakami has regarded A Wild Sheep Chase as his real debut work. The Sheep Man appeared again in Dance Dance Dance (1988), saying: "Dance. As long as the music plays." 
            Following his success as a writer, Murakami sold his jazz club and devoted himself full time to writing. Between 1986 and 1989 Murakami lived in Greece. He has been a visiting fellow in East Asian studies at Princeton University and taught at Tufts University in Medford, MA. After spending years abroad, Murakami returned to Japan in 1995. 
            Murakami's fourth novel, Sekai no owari to hadoboirudo wandarando (1985, Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World), a kind of science fiction novel built on two separate but intricately related stories, won the Tanizaki Prize. Kafka on the Shore (2002), which also alternated between two storylines, was a tribute to the power of imagination, containing several riddles, "but there aren't any solutions provided," as Murakami said. The Steppenwolf Theatre Company produced in 2008 a stage version of the book, written and directed by Frank Galati. 
            In Noruwei no mori (1987, Norwegian Wood), named after the Beatles song, Murakami's approach was untypically realistic and straightforward. The two-volume love story set in the 1960s became a highly popular novel in Japan, selling over four million copies. Until Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru (1994-95, Wind-up Bird Chronicle) Murakami had not touched political subjects in his imaginative novels, but in this work he also dealt with the Japanese campaign in Manchuria during the Pacific War. "In trying to depict a fragmented, chaotic and ultimately unknowable world, Mr. Murakami has written a fragmentary and chaotic book," said Michiko Kakutani in The New York Times (October 31, 1997). When Murakami accepted the prestigious Jerusalem Prize in 2009, he told in his speech that he stands on the side of unarmed civilians, not "The System" that sometimes takes on a life of its own, and "then begins to kill us and cause us to kill others – coldly, efficently, systematically."  Murakami has also criticized Japan's nuclear industry. 
            After the Quake (2000), a collection of short fiction, took its material from the 1995 Kobe earthquake. Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (1997-98), Murakami's first book on non-fiction, was about the terrorist attack on the Tokyo subway system in 1995 by the Aum Shinrikyo cult. Murakami returned to the theme of strage cults in 1Q84 (2009-2010), originally published in three volumes in Japan. The long tale told of a man, Tengo, and a woman, Aomame, searching for each other after parting at the age of 10. "Please remember," says a taxi driver in the beginning, "things are not what they seem." The title refers to the alternate world, into which Aomame stumbles. A bestseller, this work sold immediately 1.5 million copies. 
            Murakami has translated into Japanese works by F. Scott Fitzgerald, Truman Capote, Raymond Carver, Paul Theroux, John Irving, Tim O'Brien, and others. At the age of 33, Murakami began to run regularly for exercise. He has ran the classic route from Athens to Marathon, completed dozens of marathons and participated in triathlons. His fastest marathon was in New York City in 1991 with a time of 31:31:27. 
            In 2011, Murakami was rumored to be among the front-runners for the Nobel Prize in Literature. Murakami keeps a disciplined schedule throughout the day, wakes up at 4 a.m. without an alarm, writes for five to six hours in his office, runs or swims in the early afternoon, and spends the evening reading or listening to music of all kinds: jazz, classical, folk, rock. From early on, music has been an essential part of his life and writing. "My style boils down to this: First of all, I never put more meaning into a sentence than is absolutely necessary. Second, the sentences have to have rhythm. This is something I learned from music, especially jazz. In jazz, great rhythm is what makes great improvising possible." (from Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin, 2005)

For further reading
Murakami Haruki: The Simulacrum in Contemporary Japanese Culture by Michael Robert Seats (2006); Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words by Jay Rubin (2005); Postmodern, Feminist and Postcolonial Currents in Contemporary Japanese Culture: A Reading of Murakami Haruki, Yoshimoto Banana, Yoshimoto Takaaki and Karatani Kojin by Murakami Fuminobu (2005); Haruki Murakami's The Wind-up Bird Chronicle: A Reader's Guide by Matthew Strecher (2002); Encyclopedia of Wold Literature in the 20th Century, Vol. 3., ed. by Steven R. Serafin (1999); Contemporary World Writers, ed. by Tracy Chevalier (1993)

Selected works
Kaze no uta o kike, 1979 - Hear the Wind Sing (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 1987)
Sen kyuhyaku nanaju san nen no pinboru, 1980 - Pinball 1973 (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 1985)
Hitsuji o meguru boken, 1982 - A Wild Sheep Chase (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 1989) Zojo kojo ni happiendo, 1983
Kangaru biyori, 1983
Chugoku iki no surou Boto, 1983
Murakami Asahido, 1984 (with Anna Mizumaru)
Nami no e. nami no hanashi, 1984
Murakami asahido, 1984
Hotaru naya o yaku sonota no tanpen, 1984
Kaiten mokuba no deddo hito, 1985
Sekai no owari to hadoboirudo wandarando, 1985 - Hard-Boiled Wonderland and The End of the World (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 1991)
Hitsuji otoko no kurisumasu, 1985
Kaiten mokuba ni deddo hito, 1985
Rangeruhansuto no gogo, 1986
Panya saishugeki, 1986
Murakami asahido no gyakushu, 1986
Noruwei no mori, 1987 (2 vols.) - Norwegian Wood (translations into Japanese: Alfred Birnbaum, Jay Rubin, 2000) - Film 2011, dir. Tran Ahn Hung, prod. Asmik Ace Entertainment, Fuji Television Network, Toho Company, starring Rinko Kikuchi, Ken'ichi Matsuyama and Kiko Mizuhara
'The Scrap' natsukashi no 1980 nendai, 1987
Hi izuru kuni no kojo, 1987
Za sukkotto fittsugerarudo bukku, 1988
Dansu, dansu, dansu, 1988 - Dance Dance Dance (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 1994)
Murakami asahido haiho!, 1989
Toi taiko, 1990
Uten enten, 1990
Murakami Haruki zensakuhin, 1979-1989, 1990-92 (8 vols.)
Kokkyoh no minami, taiyoh no nishi, 1992 - South of the Border, West of the Sun (transl. by Philip Gabriel, 1999)
The Elephant Vanishes: Stories, 1993 (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum)
Nejimaki-dori kuronikuru, 1994-95 - Wind-up Bird Chronicle (transl. by Jay Rubin, 1997)
Andaguraundo / Yakusoku sareta basho de, 1997-98 - Underground: The Tokyo Gas Attack and the Japanese Psyche (transl. by Alfred Birnbaum, 2001)
Supuutoniku no koibito, 1999 - Sputnik Sweetheart (transl. by Philip Gabriel, 1999)
Kami no Kodomotachi-wa nuba Idoru, 2000 - After the Quake (transl. by Jay Rubin, 2002)
Umibe no Kafuka, 2002 - Kafka on the Shore (transl. by Philip Gabriel, 2005)
Afutadaku, 2004 - After Dark (transl. by Jay Rubin)
Birthday Stories, 2004  (Basudei sutorizu, selected and introduced by Haruki Murakami)Tokyo Kitanshu, 2005
Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman: Twenty-Four Stories, 2006 (transl. by Philip Gabriel and Jay Rubin)
Hashiru Koto Ni Tsuite Kataru Toki Ni Boku No Kataru, 2007 - What I Talk About When I Talk About Running (transl. by Philip Gabriel, 2008)
Murakami Diary 2009, 2008
1Q84, 2009-2010 (3 vols.) - 1Q84 (transl. by Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, 2011)

viernes, 19 de abril de 2019

James Joyce

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce
(1882 - 1941)

Irish novelist, noted for his experimental use of language in such works as Ulysses (1922) and Finnegans Wake (1939). During his career Joyce suffered from rejections from publishers, suppression by censors, attacks by critics, and misunderstanding by readers. From 1902 Joyce led a nomadic life, which perhaps reflected in his interest in the character of Odysseus. Although he spent long times in Paris, Trieste, Rome, and Zürich, with only occasional brief visit to Ireland, his native country remained basic to all his writings.

"But when the restraining influence of the school was at a distance I began to hunger again for wild sensations, for the escape which those chronicles of disorder alone seemed to offer me. The mimic warfare of the evening became at last as wearisome to me as the routine of school in the morning because I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad." (from Dubliners)

            James Joyce was born in Dublin. His father, John Stanislaus Joyce, was an impoverished gentleman, who had failed in a distillery business and tried all kinds of professions, including politics and tax collecting. Joyce's mother, Mary Jane Murray, was ten years younger than her husband. She was an accomplished pianist, whose life was dominated by the Roman Catholic Church and her husband. In spite of the poverty, the family struggled to maintain solid middle-class facade.

          From the age of six Joyce, was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and then at Belvedere College in Dublin (1893-97). Later the author thanked Jesuits for teaching him to think straight, although he rejected their religious instructions. At school he once broke his glasses and was unable to do his lessons. This episode was recounted in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916). In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin, where he found his early inspirations from the works of Henrik Ibsen, St.Thomas Aquinas and W. B. Yeats. Joyce's first publication was an essay on Ibsen's play When We Dead Awaken. It appeared in Fortnightly Review in 1900. At this time he began writing lyric poems.

           After graduation in 1902 the twenty-year-old Joyce went to Paris, where he worked as a journalist, teacher and in other occupations in difficult financial conditions. He spent in France a year, returning when a telegram arrived saying his mother was dying. Not long after her death, Joyce was traveling again. He left Dublin in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid (they married in 1931), staying in Pola, Austria-Hungary, and in Trieste, which was the world’s seventh busiest port. Joyce gave English lessons and talked about setting up an agency to sell Irish tweed. Refused a post teaching Italian literature in Dublin, he continued to live abroad.

           The Trieste years were nomadic, poverty-stricken, and productive. Joyce and Nora loved this cosmopolitan port city at the head of the Adriatic Sea, where they lived in a number of different addresses. During this period Joyce wrote most of Dubliners (1914), all of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the play, Exiles (1918), and large sections of Ulysses. Several of Joyce's siblings joined them, and two children, Giorgio and Lucia, were born. The children grew up speakin the Trieste dialect of Italian. Joyce and Nora stayed together althoug Joyce fell in love with Anny Schleimer, the daughter of an Austrian banker, and Roberto Prezioso, the editor of the newspaper Il Piccolo della Sera, tried to seduce Nora. After a short stint in Rome in 1906-07 as a bank clerk ended in illness, Joyce returned to Trieste.

           In 1907 Joyce published a collection of poems, Chamber Music. The title was suggested, as the author later stated, by the sound of urine tinkling into a prostitute's chamber pot. The poems have with their open vowels and repetitions such musical quality that many of them have been made into songs. "I have left my book, / I have left my room, / For I heard you singing / Through the gloom." Joyce himself had a fine tenor voice; he liked opera and bel canto.

           In 1909 Joyce opened a cinema in Dublin, but this affair failed and he was soon back in Trieste, still broke and working as a teacher, tweed salesman, journalist and lecturer. In 1912 he was in Ireland, trying to persuade Maunsel & Co to fulfill their contract to publish Dubliners. The work contained a series of short stories, dealing with the lives of ordinary people, youth, adolescence, young adulthood, and maturity. The last story, 'The Dead', was adapted into screen by John Huston in 1987.
           It was Joyce's last journey to his home country. However, he had became friends with Ezra Pound, who began to market his works. In 1916 appeared Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, an autobiographical novel. It apparently began as a quasi-biographical memoir entitled Stephen Herobetween 1904 and 1906. Only a fragment of the original manuscript has survived. The book follows the life of the protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, from childhood towards maturity, his education at University College, Dublin, and rebellion to free himself from the claims of family and Irish nationalism. Stephen takes religion seriously, and considers entering a seminary, but then also rejects Roman Catholicism. "– Look here, Cranly, he said. You have asked me what I would do and what I would not do. I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using my defence the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile, and cunning." At the end Stephen resolves to leave Ireland for Paris to encounter "the reality of experience". He wants to establish himself as a writer.

There once was a lounger named Stephen
Whose youth was most odd and uneven
He throuve on the smell
Of a horrible hell
That a Hottentot wouldn't believe in
(Joyce's limerick on the book's protagonist)

           At the outset of the First World War, Joyce moved with his family to Zürich, where Lenin and the poet essayist Tristan Tzara had found their refuge. Joyce's WW I years with the legendary Russian revolutionary and Tzara, who founded the dadaist movement at the Cabaret Voltaire, provide the basis for Tom Stoppard's play Travesties (1974).

           In Zürich Joyce started to develop the early chapters of Ulysses, which was first published in France, because of censorship troubles in the Great Britain and the United States, where the book became legally available 1933. The theme of jealousy was based partly on a story a former friend of Joyce told: he claimed that he had been sexually intimate with the author's wife, Nora, even while Joyce was courting her. Ulysses takes place on one day in Dublin (June 16, 1904) and reflected the classic work of Homer (fl. 9th or 8th century BC?).
          The main characters are Leopold Bloom, a Jewish advertising canvasser, his wife Molly, and Stephen Dedalus, the hero from Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. They are intended to be modern counterparts of Telemachus, Ulysses, and Penelope. Barmaids are the famous Sirens. One of the models for Bloom was Ettore Schmitz (Italo Svevo), a novelist and businessman who was Joyce's student at the Berlitz school in Trieste. The story, using stream-of-consciousness technique, parallel the major events in Odysseus' journey home. However, Bloom's adventures are less heroic and his homecoming is less violent. Bloom makes his trip to the underworld by attending a funeral at Glasnevin Cemetary. "We are praying now for the repose of his soul. Hoping you're well and not in hell. Nice change of air. Out of the fryingpan of life into the fire of purgatory." The paths of Stephen and Bloom cross and recross through the day. Joyce's technical innovations in the art of the novel include an extensive use of interior monologue; he used a complex network of symbolic parallels drawn from the mythology, history, and literature.

           From 1917 to 1930 Joyce endured several eye operations, being totally blind for short intervals. (According to tradition, Homer was also blind.) In March 1923 Joyce began in Paris his second major work, Finnegans Wake, suffering at the same time chronic eye troubles caused by glaucoma. The first segment of the novel appeared in Ford Madox Ford's transatlantic review in April 1924, as part of what Joyce called Work in ProgressWake occupied Joyce's time for the next sixteen years – its final version was completed late in 1938. A copy of the novel was present at Joyce's birthday celebration on February 1939.

          Joyce's daughter Lucia, born in Trieste in 1907, became Carl Jung´s patient in 1934. In her teens, she studied dance, and later The Paris Times praised her skills as choreocrapher, linguist, and performer. With her father she collaborated in Pomes Penyeach (1927), for which she did some illustrations. Lucia's great love was Samuel Beckett, who was not interested in her. In the 1930s, she started to behave erratically. At the Burghölz psychiatric clinic in Zürich, where Jung worked, she was diagnosed schizophrenic. Joyce was left bitter at Jung's analysis of his daughter – Jung thought she was too close with her father's psychic system. In revenge, Joyce played in Finnegans Wake with Jung's concepts of Animus and Anima. Lucia died in a mental hospital in Northampton, England, in 1982.

           After the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zürich, where he was taken ill. He was diagnosed of having a perforated duodenal ulcer. Joyce died after an operation, on January 13, 1941, still disappointed with the reception of Finnegans Wake, published on 4 May, 1939, by Faber and Faber. His last words were: "Does nobody understand?" Joyce was buried in Zürich at Fluntern cemetery.

           Finnegans Wake was the last and most revolutionary work of the author, partly based on Freud's dream psychology, Bruno's theory of the complementary but conflicting nature of opposites, and the cyclic theory of history of Giambattista Vico (1668-1744). There is not much plot or characters to speak of – the life of all human experience is viewed as fragmentary. Some critics considered the work masterpiece, though many readers found it incomprehensible. "The only demand I make of my reader," Joyce once told an interviewer, "is that he should devote his whole life to reading my works." When the American writer Max Eastman asked Joyce why the book was written in a very difficult style, Joyce replied: "To keep the critics busy for three hundred years." The novel presents the dreams and nightmares of H.C. Earwicker (Here Comes Everywhere) and his family, the wife and mother Anna Livia Plurabelle, the twins Shem/Jerry and Shaun/Kevin, and the daughter Issy, as they lie asleep throughout the night. In the frame of the minimal central story Joyce experiments with language, combines puns and foreign words with allusions to historical, psychological and religious cosmology. The characters turn up in hundreds of different forms – animal, vegetable and mineral. Transformations are as flexible as in Ovid's Metamorphoses. The last word in the book is 'the', which leads, by Joyce's ever recurrent cycles, to the opening word in the book, the eternal 'riverrun.'

           Although the events are set in the Dublin suburb of Chapelizod, the place is an analogy for everywhere else. Wake's structure follows the three stages of history as laid out by Vico: the Divine, the Heroic, and Human, followed period of flux, after which the cycle begins all over again: the last sentence in the work runs into the first. The title of the book is a compound of Finn MaCool, the Irish folk-hero who is supposed to return to life at some future date to become the savior of Ireland, and Tim Finnegan, the hero of music-hall ballad, who sprang to life in the middle of his own wake.


James Joyce Dies; Wrote 'Ulysses'


ZURICH, Switzerland, Monday, Jan 13- James Joyce, Irish author whose "Ulysses" was the center of one of the most bitter literary controversies of modern times, died in a hospital here early today despite the efforts of doctors to save him by blood transfusions. He would have been 59 years old Feb. 2.

Joyce underwent an intestinal operation Saturday afternoon at the Schwesternhaus von Rotenkreuz Hospital. For a time he appeared to be recovering. Only yesterday his son reported him to have been cheerful and apparently out of danger.

During the afternoon, however, the writer suffered a sudden relapse and sank rapidly. He died at 2:15 A.M. (8:15 P.M., Eastern standard time).

His wife and son were at the hospital when he died.

Hailed and Belittled by Critics

The status of James Joyce as a writer never could be determined in his lifetime. In the opinion of some critics, notably Edmund Wilson, he deserved to rank with the great innovators of literature as one whose influence upon other writers of his time was incalculable. On the other hand, there were critics like Max Eastman who gave him a place with Gertrude Stein and T.S. Eliot among the "Unintelligibles" and there was Professor Irving Babbitt of Harvard who dismissed his most widely read novel, "Ulysses," as one which only could have been written "in an advanced stage of psychic disintegration."

Originally published in 1922, "Ulysses" was not legally available in the United States until eleven years later, when United States Judge John Monro Woolsey handed down his famous decision to the effect that the book was not obscene. Hitherto the book had been smuggled in and sold at high prices by "bookleggers" and a violent critical battle had raged around it.

Judge Woolsey's Decision

"'Ulysses' is not an easy book to read or understand," Judge Woolsey wrote. "But there has been much written about it, and in order properly to approach the consideration of it it is advisable to read a number of other books which have now become its satellites. The study of "Ulysses" is therefore a heavy task.

"The reputation of 'Ulysses' in the literary world, however, warranted my taking such time as was necessary to enable me to satisfy myself as to the intent with which the book was written, for, of course, in any case where a book is claimed to be obscene it must first be determined whether the intent with which it was written was what is called, according to the usual phrase, pornographic, that is, written for the purpose of exploiting obscenity.

"If the conclusion is that the book is pornographic that is the end of the inquiry... But in 'Ulysses," in spite of its unusual frankness, I do not detect anywhere the leer of the sensualist. I hold, therefore, that it is not pornographic."

On the passages dealing with sex, Judge Woolsey paused to remark that the reader must not forget that "the characters are Celtic and the time is Spring." His decision was hailed as one of the most civilized ever propounded by an American judge. After he had admitted Ulysses to the country, there was a rush to but the almost immediately available authorized and uncensored edition published by Random House. Since then the book, unlike many another once banned by the censor and then forgotten, has been read widely; less for the passages once objected to than for the book as a whole.

Although Joyce appeared in many of his writings, "notably "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" and "Ulysses," as Stephen Dedalus, many details of his life are missing. The most comprehensive study is Herbert Gorman's biography published in 1940.

Was Born in Dublin

The writer was born Feb. 2, 1882, in Dublin, Ireland, the son of John Stanislaus Joyce (The Simon Dedalus of "Ulysses" whom Bloom hears singing in the Ormond bar) and Mary Murray Joyce. His father supposedly had one of the finest tenor voices in Ireland. James Joyce had an equally fine voice.

The Joyce family was not prosperous and it was large. James stood out among his brothers and sisters and, at the age of 9, is supposed to have written an attack on Tim Healy, the anti-Parnellite, which was printed but of which no known copy exists. Since he was literary it was decided to give him an education and he was sent first to Clongowes Wood College, then to Belvedere College, also in Ireland, and later he received his Bachelor of Arts degree from the Royal University in Dublin.

He was an amazing scholar, and an independent and solitary figure. When he was 17 he read Ibsen's plays and wrote an essay for the Fortnightly Review about the author of "The Doll's House." Dissatisfied with the English translations, Joyce learned Norwegian when he was 19 years old so that he might read his literary god in the original. At the same time he was reading and studying Dante, all the Elizabethan poets, St. Thomas Aquinas and Aristotle.

In those days, according to Padraic Colum, who knew him at the Royal University (later reorganized as the National University), Joyce was a tall, slender young man with "a Dantesque face and steely blue eyes," who sauntered along the street in a peaked tennis cap, soiled tennis shoes, carrying an ashplant for a cane. Stephen Dedalus carries a similar cane in "Ulysses" and frequently talks with it! He loved to sing and recite poetry in his fine tenor voice, but he spoke harshly and used "many of the unprintable words he got printed in 'Ulysses.'"

Conceit and arrogance were his characteristics. When he first met Yeats he remarked:

"We have met too late; you are too old to be influenced by me."

AE (George Russell) recognized his "keen and cold intelligence," but told the young man, "I'm afraid you have not enough chaos in you to make a world."

Joyce was in continuous rebellion against Ireland and its life and said: "When the soul of a man is born in this country there are no nets flung at it to hold it back from flight."

The words are Stephen Dedalus's in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man," but it was Joyce speaking, and, at the age of 20, he left Ireland for Paris where he intended, and for a time pretended, to study medicine.

At this time he started the stories that were eventually published as "Dubliners" (this book was later publicly burned in a Dublin public square) and started his first novel. This, the "Portrait of the Artist," was ten years in the writing. His first published work- except for the forgotten attack on Tim Healy- was "Chamber Music," a collection of Elizabethan-like verse, which were printed in 1907.

It was at this time that he met Nora Barnacle, "a sleek blond beauty" from Galway, the daughter of Thomas and Ann Healy Barnacle. They soon went to the continent to live (their marriage was not regularized until twenty-seven years later, when they visited a London registry office to legalize the status of their two children, George and Lucia). In Trieste, where they settled after some wandering, Joyce taught English at the Berlitz School and the Commercial Academy. He knew seventeen languages, ancient and modern, including Arabic, Sanskrit and Greek.

"Dubliners" Issued in 1914

In 1914 Dubliners was published in London. In the same year he also finished his novel "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man."

When war was declared Joyce and his wife, who were British citizens, were in Austria. He was forced out of his job as a teacher, and the couple moved to Zurich.

While living in Zurich Joyce began to suffer from severe ocular illness and eventually underwent at least ten operations on his eyes. For years he was almost totally blind and much of his later writing was done with red crayon on huge white sheets of paper.

"Ulysses" was begun under this difficult situation. Much of it was published by Margaret Anderson in The Little Review, the magazine which Otto Kahn, New York banker, once subsidized for his Greenwich Village friends. Chapters appeared between March, 1918, and August, 1920, when the Society for the Suppression of Vice had The Review stopped by court order.

After the war the Joyces returned to Trieste, where they lived with Stanislaus Joyce, the author's brother. Then, in 1919, they went to Paris, where they made their home until the next war sent them again to Zurich to occupy the house they had known in 1914.

In 1922 Joyce's greatest book, "Ulysses," was published in Paris. Great Britain, Ireland and the United States banned the book.

For many years after "Ulysses" was done Joyce worked on what he called "Work in Progress." Much of it appeared in Transition, the magazine published in the Nineteen Twenties in Paris by Eugene Jolas. In May, 1939, it was published as "Finnegan's Wake," a book "distinguished" by such "words" as Goragorridgeorballyedpuhkalsom, to name one of the simpler ones, and many puns. In it Mr. Joyce suggested the book was the work of "a too pained whitelwit laden with the loot of learning."

During all his years as a writer Joyce was carefully protected by his wife, who once said she cared for him despite "his necessity to write those books no one can understand." His conversation was clear, never anything like his writing, and his wit as keen.

Joyce's son, George Joyce, married the former Miss Helen Castor of Long Branch, N.J. They had one son, Stephen James Joyce. James Joyce and his wife made their home with his son for many years before the present war.

For further reading: James Joyce by Herbert Gorman (1939); Introducing James Joyce, ed. by T.S. Eliot (1942); Stephen Hero, ed. by Theodore Spencer (1944); James Joyce by W.Y. Tindall (1950); Joyce: The Man, the Reputation, the Work by M. Maglaner and R.M. Kain (1956); Dublin's Joyce by Hugh Kenner (1956); My Brtother's Keeper by S. Joyce (1958); James Joyce by Richard Ellmann (1959); A Readers' Guide to Joyce (1959); The Art of James Joyce by A.W. Litz (1961); Surface and Symbol: The Consistency of James Joyce's Ulysses by R.M. Adams (1962); J. Joyce-again's Finnegans Wake by B. Benstock (1965); James Joyce's 'Ulysses': Critical Essays, ed. by Clive Hart and David Hayman (1974); A Conceptual Guide to 'Finnegans Wake' by Michael H. Begnal and Fritz Senn (1974); James Joyce: the Citizen and the Artist by C. Peake (1977); James Joyce by Patrick Parrinder (1984); Joyce's Anatomy of Culture by Cheryl Herr (1986); Joyce's Book of the Dark: 'Finnegans Wake by John Bishop (1986); Reauthorizing Joyce by Vicki Mahaffey (1988); 'Ulysses' Annotated by Don Gifford (1988); An Annotated Critical Bibliography of James Joyce, ed. by Thomas F. Staley (1989); The Cambridge Companion to James Joyce, ed by Derek Attridge (1990); Joyce's Web by Margot Norris (1992); James Joyce's 'A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man' by David Seed (1992); Critical Essays on James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake ed. by Patrick A. McCarthy (1992); James Joyce and the Language of History: Dedalus's Nightmare by Robert E. Spoo (1994); Gender in Joyce, ed. by Jolanta W. Wawrzycka (1997); A Companion to James Joyce's Ulysses, ed. by Margot Norris (1999); Toiseen maailmaan. James Joycen novelli "Kuolleet" kirjallisuustieteen kohteena by Pekka Vartiainen (1999); The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920 by John McCourt (2000); Joyce's "Ulysses" for Everyone, Or How To Skip Reading It the First Time by John Mood (2004) 

Selected works

  • DUBLINERS, 1914
    films: A Painful Case, 1984, prod. Channel 4 Television Corporation (Ireland), dir. John Lynch; The Dead, 1987 (based on the last story in the collection) dir. by John Huston, starring Anjelica Huston, Donal McCann, Dan O'Herlihy, Donal Donnelly; The Dead, 2004, prod. PIB Productions, dir. Prince Bagdasarian, screenplay Celin Cuadra
    film 1979, dir. by Joseph Strick, starring Bosco Hogan, T.P. McKenna, John Gielgud
  • EXILES, 1918
  • ULYSSES, 1922
    films: 1967, dir. by Joseph Strick, starring Barbara Jefford, Molo O'Shea, Maurive Roeves, T.P. McKenna; Uliisses, 1982, prod. Werner Nekes Filmproduktion (West Germany), dir. Werner Nekes, starring Armin Wölfl, Tabea Blumenschein, Russel Derson, Shezad Abbas; Bloom, 2003, prod. Odyssey Pictures (Ireland), dir. Sean Walsh, starring Stephen Rea, Angeline Ball, Hugh O'Conor, Neilí Conroy
    films: 1965, prod. Expanding Cinema, dir. by Mary Ellen Bute, starring Martin J. Kelley, Jane Reilly, Peter Haskell,  Page Johnson, John V. Kelleher; The Wake, 2000, prod. Wake Film (Denmark), dir. Michael Kvium, Christian Lemmerz
  • STEPHEN HERO, 1944
  • THE LETTERS OF JAMES JOYCE, 1957-66 (3 vols.)
  • THE JAMES JOYCE ARCHIVES, 1977-80 (63 vols.)
  • ULYSSES: A READER'S EDITION, 1997 (ed. by Danis Rose)