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Famous Irish Names: James Joyce

March 17, 2011
by findingDulcinea Staff
James Joyce wove tales from the memories of his youth. Though Joyce left Dublin forever when he was just 20 years old, the epic texts he produced throughout his life were drawn from childhood memories of the city. Joyce once remarked that the most difficult challenge he faced as a boy was the divide between the world of literature and daily life. As any Joyce reader can attest, his work effaces the boundary between imagination and reality.

An Oft-Referenced Literary Great

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Born in Dublin on Feb. 2, 1882, Joyce lived at the cusp of the modern era and his literature embodies the artistic tendencies of the time. In two of his major works, “Ulysses” and “Finnegans Wake,” Joyce invents his own idiom by creating phrases and sentences that stem from combinations of English words, foreign languages and endless literary allusions.

Through works like “Ulysses,” “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man,” “Dubliners” and “Finnegans Wake,” Joyce emerged as one of the most consistently referenced writers of our time. According to the site The Modern Word, Joyce is referenced in literature more than any other author—second only to Shakespeare.

Visit the site for a complete list of Joycean references and influences that include works by authors like Jorge Luis Borges, filmmakers like Woody Allen and movies like “The Third Man.”

Although Joyce died in 1940 and couldn’t witness the full range of his influence on literature and film, he was able to leave his mark on the emerging world of audio technology. Visit Salon to listen as Joyce reads an excerpt of “Finnegans Wake.”

Bloomsday: A Holiday Just for Joyce

“Ulysses” is commonly regarded as a defining work of Irish literature—not only because of its artistic merit but also because of its poignant representation of Irish life. To celebrate the influence of the book, devotees of Joyce celebrate every June 16 as Bloomsday, named after “Ulysses” protagonist Leopold Bloom. On Bloomsday, Joyce fans relive the events of the book, which took place on June 16, 1904.

Today’s Bloomsday festivities consist of Joyce readings and “Ulysses” re-enactments; pub-crawls and Edwardian costumes also proliferate. View a photo tour of Bloomsday in Dublin.

The most dedicated followers of James Joyce celebrate the author year-round. Numerous Joyce-inspired literary clubs (and pubs) have sprung up. Should you chance to visit Dublin as a Joyce fan, make sure to stop by the James Joyce Centre, which hosts walking tours of Dublin, literary seminars, lectures and readings, as well as creative writing workshops for the dedicated would-be author.
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