James Joyce



His "Ulysses" stroke me heavily and helped me through military service. Only later I read "The Dubliners", the artist as young man (which Michael gave to me as a present, Stephen Hero and very much later parts of Finnegan's Wake, like "Anna Livia Plurabelle" which I read to my father in a Tunisian Hotel when he already was semi dead. Joyce's language and speach! Every word is loaded with tenthousand others, all the languages of the world show up. He's extending, like Samuel Beckett is concentrating to the point. What do I know about him? Rather much. I read Stanislav Joyce, I read Fritz Senn, I read the compendium "The artist and the labyrinth" and everything falling into my hands. I read the biography of Nora Barnacle, the girl from Galway he run away with, first to Paris, then to Trieste, then to Zurich. Nora Joyce pulled him out of the ditches when he was drunk, gave birth to his children, learned the languages and dialects of the towns they dwellt, took care of him when he was ill and when he felt good and - as they say - was the example for his famous Molly Bloom, yes she said yes yes. And while reading him I travelled with Sindbad, the sailor, Windbad, the whailor, Tindbad, the Tailor, Mindbad, the mailer, Hindbad, the hailer........


James Joyce spent nearly 20 years in Paris,
 the longest and most productive stretch of his life
in exile from Ireland.   At the urging of Ezra Pound
he arrived in July 1920  with the goal of finishing Ulysses
which was published by Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare
and Company,  a bookstore on the rue de l’Odéon in 1922.
Numerous references to Paris are embedded in Finnegans Wake,
 published in May 1939. Eight months later,  the Joyces left the city
gripped by fear of advancing German armies.


Joyce and Proust met on May 18, 1922 but there are a number of conflicting versions of what occurred and little evidence of their assessment of each other's work. "What he envied Proust were his material circumstances: 'Proust can write; he has a comfortable place at the Etoile, floored with cork and with cork on the walls to keep it quiet. And, I, writing in this place, people coming in and out. I wonder how I can finish Ulysses." (Ellmann, pg. 509). When Proust died on November 18, 1922, Joyce attended his funeral.  Furthermore, cork had a special significance for Joyce: his father was from County Cork. Always the punster, Joyce once mounted a portrait of his father in a cork frame.


Joyce in Paris:

He walked miles; almost always, because of his faltering vision, with a companion. It was a triumph for him when, after one operation, he could make out the lights of the Place de la Concorde. Otherwise, leafy in the summer and damp gray in the winter, all his walks were in the fog. He would walk up the Champs Elysees, in the Bois de Boulogne, through the Champs de Mars and the Invalides, and above all, along the Seine.

He was joining all the rivers of the world in his 16 years on ''Finnegans Wake,'' and of all the frail geography the Joyce pilgrim encounters in Paris, the most substantial and evocative thing is the ''sequan-strewn'' river. From the Pont d'Alma - he used to stand there with his secretary, Paul Leon - the Seine was as powerful to him, and as barely visible, as time passing.