Sue Young Histories

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce 1882 – 1941

April 27, 2009

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce 1882 – 1941 was an Irish expatriate author of the 20th century.

James Joyce has been referred to as the ‘Homeopathic Romantic’, and reviewers have commented upon the homeopathic, like cures like analogies in Bloom’s dialogue (Albert Wachtel, The Cracked Looking Glass: James Joyce and the Nightmare of History, (Susquehanna University Press, 1992), Page 120) in _Ulysses, Episode 15, Circe_, _and in _Joyce’s subtle references to the ‘secret cause’ (Shannon Sullivan, Dennis J. Schmidt, Difficulties of ethical life, (Fordham Univ Press, 2008). Page 182) via Stephen Dedalus.

in 1903, James Joyce briefly studied medicine in Paris.

Carl Gustav Jung was the psychoanalyst of James Joyce’s daughter Lucia, who was briefly romatically involved with Samuel Barclay Beckett, who was a close friend of the Joyce family until he rejected Lucia and married someone else.

Joyce was also a friend of Daniel Nicol Dunlop, and William Butler Yeats.

James Joyce does show a surprising knowledge of homeopathy in _Ulysses, Episode 15, Circe_:

Virag: “(His tongue upcurling.) Lyum! Look. Her beam is broad. She is coated with quite a considerable layer of fat. Obviously mammal in weight of bosom you remark that she has in front well to the fore two protuberances of very respectable dimensions, inclined to fall in the noonday soupplate, while on her rere lower down are two additional protuberances, suggestive of potent rectum and tumescent for palpation which leave nothing to be desired save compactness.

“Such fleshy parts are the product of careful nurture. When coopfattened their livers reach an elephantine size. Pellets of new bread with fennygreek and gumbenjamin swamped down by potions of green tea endow them during their brief existence with natural pincushions of quite colossal blubber.  That suite your book, eh?  Fleshhotpots of Egypt to hander after. Wallow in it. Lycopodium.  (His throat twitches.) Slapbang!  There he goes again….”

Bloom: The stye I dislike”.

Virag: “(arching his eyebrows.) Contact with a goldring, they say. Argumentum ad feminam, as we said in old Rome and ancient Greece in the consulship of Diplodocus and Ichthyosaurus.  For the rest Eve’s sovereign remedy. Not for sale. Hire only. Hugenots. (He twitches) It is a funny sound. (He coughs encouragingly) But possibly it is only a wart. I presume you shall have remembered what I will have taught you on that head? Wheatenmeal with honey and nutmeg”.

Bloom: (Reflecting) “Wheatenmeal with Lycopodium and syllabax. This searching ordeal. It has been an unusually fatiguing day, a chapter of accidents. Wait. I mean, wartsblood spreads warts you said…”

Virag: (Severely, his nose hardbumped, his side eye winking) Stop twirling your thumbs and have a good old thunk. See, you have forgotten. Exercise your mnemotechnic. La causa e sante. Tara. Tara. (aside) He will surely remember.”

Bloom: ”Rosemary also did I understand you to say or willpower over parasitic tissues. Then nay no I have an inkling. The touch of a dead hand cures. Mnemo?

Virag: “(Excitedly.) I say so. I say so. E’en so. Technic. (He taps his parchment roll energetically).  This book tells you how to act with all descriptive particulars.  Consult index for agitated fear of aconite, melancholy of muriatic, priapic pulsatilla.  Virag is going to talk about amputation.  Our old friend caustic.. etc.”

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce was born on February 2, 1882 to John Stanislaus Joyce and Mary Jane Murray in the Dublin suburb of Rathgar. He was the oldest of 10 surviving children; two of his siblings died of typhoid.

His father’s family, originally from Fermoy in Cork, had once owned a small salt and lime works. Joyce’s father and paternal grandfather both married into wealthy families. In 1887, his father was appointed rate (i.e., a local property tax) collector 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; this resulted in a lifelong canine phobia. He also suffered from a fear of thunderstorms, which his deeply religious aunt had described to him as being a sign of God’s wrath.

In 1891, Joyce wrote a poem, Et Tu Healy, on the death of Charles Stewart Parnell. His father was angry at the treatment of Charles Stewart Parnell by the Catholic church and at the resulting failure to secure Home Rule for Ireland. The elder Joyce had the poem printed and even sent a copy to the Vatican Library.

In November of that same year, John Joyce was entered in Stubbs Gazette (an official register of bankruptcies) and suspended from work. In 1893 John Joyce was dismissed with a pension. This was the beginning of a slide into poverty for the family, mainly due to John’s drinking and general financial mismanagement.

James Joyce was initially educated by the Jesuit order at Clongowes Wood College, a boarding school near Clane in County Kildare, which he entered 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 school on North Richmond Street, Dublin, before he was offered a place in the Jesuits’ Dublin school, Belvedere College, in 1893. The offer was made at least partly in the hope that he would prove to have a vocation and join the Order.

Joyce, however, was to reject Catholicism by the age of 16, although the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas would remain a strong influence on him throughout his life.

He enrolled at the recently established University College Dublin (UCD) in 1898. He studied modern languages, specifically English, French and Italian. He also became active in theatrical and literary circles in the city.

The article Ibsen’s New Drama, his first published work, was published in 1900 and resulted in a letter of thanks from Henrik Ibsen himself. 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 would appear as characters in Joyce’s written works. He was an active member of the Literary and Historical Society, University College Dublin, and presented his paper Drama and Life to the L&H in 1900.

After graduating from UCD in 1903, Joyce left for Paris to “study medicine”, but in reality he squandered money his family could ill afford. He returned to Ireland after a few months, when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. 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 August 13, Joyce 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, he attempted to publish A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 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 and turn it into a novel he planned to call Stephen Hero. However, he never published this novel in this original name.

This was the same year he met Nora Barnacle, a young woman from Galway city who was working as a chambermaid at Finn’s Hotel in Dublin. On 16 June 1904, they went on their first date, an event that would be commemorated by providing the date for the action of _Ulysses___.

Joyce remained in Dublin for some time longer, drinking heavily. After one of his alcoholic 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 brought him into his home to tend to his injuries. Hunter was rumored to be Jewish and to have an unfaithful wife, and would serve as one of the models for Leopold Bloom, the main protagonist of Ulysses.

He took up with medical student Oliver St John Gogarty (who also used homeopathic metaphor in his writings), who formed the basis for the character Buck Mulligan in _Ulysses___. After staying in Oliver St John Gogarty’s Martello Tower for 6 nights he left in the middle of the night following an altercation that involved Oliver St John Gogarty shooting a pistol at some pans hanging directly over Joyce’s bed. He walked all the way back to Dublin to stay with relatives for the night, and sent a friend to the tower the next day to pack his possessions into his trunk. Shortly thereafter he eloped to the continent with Nora.

Joyce and Nora went into self imposed exile, moving first to Zürich, where he had supposedly acquired a post teaching English at the Berlitz Language School through an agent in England. It turned out that the English agent had been swindled, but the director of the school sent him on to Trieste, which was part of Austria Hungary until World War I (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 Pula, then also part of Austria Hungary (today part of Croatia). He stayed there, teaching English mainly to Austro Hungarian naval officers stationed at the Pula base, from October 1904 until March 1905, when the Austrians - having discovered an espionage ring in the city - expelled all aliens.

With Almidano Artifoni’s help, he moved back to the city of Trieste and began teaching English there. He would remain in Trieste for most of the next 10 years.

Later that year Nora gave birth to their first child, Giorgio. Joyce then managed to talk his brother, Stanislaus, into joining him in Trieste, and secured him a position teaching at the school. Ostensibly his reasons were for his company and offering his brother a much more interesting life than the simple clerking job he had back in Dublin, but in truth, he hoped to augment his family’s meagre income with his brother’s earnings. Stanislaus and James had strained relations the entire time they lived together in Trieste, with most arguments centering on James’ frivolity with money and drinking habits.

With chronic wanderlust much of his early life, Joyce became frustrated with life in Trieste and moved to Rome in late 1906, having secured employment in a bank. He intensely disliked Rome, and moved back to Trieste in early 1907. His daughter Lucia was born in the summer of the same year.

Joyce returned to Dublin in the summer of 1909 with Giorgio, to visit his father and work on getting Dubliners published. He visited Nora’s family in Galway, meeting them for the first time (a successful visit, to his relief). When preparing to return to Trieste he decided to bring one of his sisters, Eva, back to Trieste with him to help Nora run the home.

He would spend only a month in Trieste before returning to Dublin, this time as a representative of some cinema owners to set up a regular cinema in Dublin. The venture was successful (but quickly fell apart in his absence), and he returned to Trieste in January 1910 with another sister in tow, Eileen. While Eva became very homesick for Dublin and returned a few years later, Eileen spent the rest of her life on the continent, eventually marrying Czech bank cashier František Schaurek.

Joyce returned to Dublin briefly in the summer of 1912 during his years long fight with his 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 as a thinly veiled invective against George Roberts.

It was his last trip to Ireland, and he never again came closer to Dublin than London, despite the many pleas of his father and invitations from fellow Irish writer William Butler Yeats.

Joyce concocted many money making schemes during this period, such as his attempt to become a cinema magnate in Dublin, as well as a frequently discussed but ultimately abandoned plan to import Irish tweeds into Trieste. His expert borrowing skills saved him from indigence. His income was partially from his position at the Berlitz school and from teaching private students.

Many of his acquaintances through meeting these private students proved invaluable allies when he faced problems getting out of Austria Hungary and into Switzerland in 1915.

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. Ettore Schmitz was a Catholic of Jewish origin, and became the primary model for Leopold Bloom; most of the details about the Jewish faith included in _Ulysses_ came from Ettore Schmitz in response to Joyce’s queries.

Joyce would spend most of the rest of his life on the Continent. It was in Trieste that he was first beset with eye problems, ultimately requiring over a dozen surgeries.

In 1915, when Joyce moved to Zurich to avoid the complexities (as a British subject) of living in Austria Hungary during World War I, he met one of his most enduring and important friends, Frank Budgen, whose opinion Joyce constantly sought through the writing of _Ulysses_ and Finnegans Wake.

It was also here where Ezra Pound brought him to the attention of English feminist and publisher Harriet Shaw Weaver, who would become Joyce’s patron, providing him thousands of pounds over the next 25 years and relieving him of the burden of teaching to focus on his writing.

After the war he returned to Trieste briefly, but found the city had changed, and his relations with his brother (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 headed to Paris in 1920 at an invitation from Ezra Pound, supposedly for a week, but he ended up living there for the next twenty years.

During this era, Joyce traveled frequently to Switzerland for eye surgeries and treatments for Lucia, who, according to the Joyce estate, suffered from schizophrenia. Lucia was even analyzed by Carl Gustav Jung at the time, who was of the opinion that her father had schizophrenia after reading _Ulysses_.

Carl Gustav Jung noted that she and her father were two people heading to the bottom of a river, except that he was diving and she was falling. In depth knowledge of Joyce’s relationship with his schizophrenic daughter is scant, because the current heir of the Joyce estate, Stephen Joyce, burned thousands of letters between Lucia and her father that he received upon Lucia’s death in 1982.

Stephen Joyce stated in a letter to the editor of the New York Times that “Regarding the destroyed correspondence, these were all personal letters from Lucia to us. They were written many years after both Nonno and Nonna [i.e. Joyce and Nora Barnacle..] died and did not refer to them. Also destroyed were some postcards and one telegram from Samuel Barclay Beckett to Lucia. This was done at Samuel Barclay Beckett’s written request.”

In Paris, Maria and Eugene Jolas nursed Joyce during his long years of writing Finnegans Wake. Were it not for their unwavering 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 now legendary literary magazine Transition, the Maria and Eugene Jolas published serially various sections of Joyce’s novel under the title Work in Progress.

He returned to Zürich in late 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France. On 11 January 1941, he underwent surgery for a perforated ulcer. While 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 en route when he died 15 minutes later.

He is buried in the Fluntern Cemetery within earshot of the lions in the Zürich zoo. Although two senior Irish diplomats were in Switzerland at the time, neither attended Joyce’s funeral, and the Irish government subsequently declined Nora’s offer to permit the repatriation of Joyce’s remains.

Nora, whom Joyce had finally married in London in 1931, survived him by 10 years. She is buried now by his side, as is their son Giorgio, who died in 1976. Ellmann reports that when the arrangements for Joyce’s burial were being made, a Catholic priest tried to convince Nora that there should be a funeral Mass. Ever loyal, she replied, ‘I couldn’t do that to him’. Swiss tenor Max Meili sang Addio terra, addio cielo from Monteverdi’s L’Orfeo at the funeral service.


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