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(06/17/2008) James Joyce by Richard Ellmann. Oxford. 1959. Oxford University Press. keywords: James Joyce Biography Ireland Literature. 842 pages. Jacket design By Frank Wilimczyk.

The first complete biography of Joyce written since his death.

FROM THE PUBLISHER -

   It presents Joyce as son, lover, husband, and father-but always as writer. Although the author's method is ostensibly chronological, it is also thematic: each chapter is a spot of time and a state of mind by narrative, by reports of conversation, by many unpublished as well as published letters, by anecdote, and by comment, Mr. Ellmann captures the personality of the most elusive of contemporary artists. In the process of creating this masterpiece of literary biography, the author obtained access in many countries to unexpected new Joyce material. His search took him to Dublin, London, Zurich, Trieste, Paris, and other cities in Europe as well as to many parts of this continent. In his travels he talked to such people as Joyce's son George, Joyce's brother Stanislaus, his three sisters, Mrs. Joyce's sister, Dr. Carl Jung, and an old blind man who knew all the turnings in Dublin. Mr. Ellmann's literary detective work discovered, among other things, the actual woman who inspired the character of Molly Bloom, and the old man in a junk shop on the quays who in part was the model for Hugh Boy Ian in ULYSSES. He uncovers the raw material in Joyce's waits and shows how Joyce converted it into fiction. The book gives a fascinating account of literary life in Europe in Joyce's lifetime, telling of his relations with Yeats, Shaw, Eliot, Hemingway, Proust, and Pound, among others, and paints an altogether fresh picture of Joyce's acquaintances - writes, artists, and musicians. It reveals new details of Joyce's meeting with his future wife Nora Barnacle, of their life together, and of her quizzical attitude toward his writings. Light is thrown on his break with the Roman Catholic Church, and on his relationship with his emotionally disturbed daughter, Lucia. Altogether, the book presents Joyce dramatically and completely, good and bad combined. It shows that Joyce the man and Joyce the artist were products of the same central energy. The biographer's point of view is unobtrusive, but in the end the reader is persuaded into an understanding of Joyce and his works. Mr. Ellmann's scholarly odyssey also turned up many photographs which have never before been published in a book. A rare picture of Joyce and Nora Barnacle on their wedding day is included in the 16 pages of half-tone illustrations.

Richard Ellmann, whose discoveries will delight all Joyce enthusiasts and fascinate everyone interested in the search for literary sources, was Professor of English at Northwestern University. He was co-editor of THE CRITICAL WRITINGS OF JAMES JOYCE, editor of MY BROTHER'S KEEPER by Stanislaus Joyce and editor of LETTERS OF JAMES JOYCE. His other books include THE IDENTITY OF YEATS and YEATS: THE MAN AND THE MASKS.

 

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