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James Joyce (1 Viewer)

jipsi

Senior Member
Dubliners, The Dead, and Portrait of the Artist as Young Man I've been through. Lovely to work through all the imagery and symbols and catholic guilt! Then I discovered Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake... which I have not yet attempted , esp once i read a quote by HG Wells stating what an impossible novel it was and how my university even offered an entire semester course on this book! So for any of those who have indeed conquered these two cumbersome works of Joyce, please enlighten those of us who have not: how did you do it!

On another note, the recent issue of Granta magazine offers an exclusive, first-time-in-an-English-publication interview of Joyce by a Czech translator who , i believe, went on to translate Ulysses into Czech after practically begging for permission.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
Dubliners is best sipped slow. So subtle, especially when one takes the time to look into the backstory behind each piece (ie: the stuff about Parnell). Loved them.

Portrait is the first full length thing I read by Joyce. I absolutely loved it, especially the last quarter. I love the religious thematics.

Aside from Ulysses, which I seem to be perpetually going through, he always has a play, Exodus, and two collections of poetry, if I'm not mistaken, Pomes Pennyeach and Chamber Music. And you already know about the inscrutable F. Wake.
 

evadri

Senior Member
I am reading Portrait at the moment. It took me a while to get into it, but that might be the fault of my short attention span. I have really enjoyed section 2, and where I'm up to in section 3. Catholic guilt definately. It's interesting, because being a baptist, I had no idea of all this Catholic stuff. The imagery is great. I've already got 2 all time fav quotes out of it!

Some of it is quite ambiguous as to what exactly, if anything, is happening, and it shifts very quickly. I think that is the difficulty in reading Joyce. But I'm just going with it.
 

Viper9

Member
Oh sweet.

Never got into The Dubliners, and I've read Finnegan's Wake in bits and pieces, in random order. I like it that way.

But Portrait is one of my all time favourite books -- right up there with DeLillo's Underworld and Palahniuk's Fight Club. If you haven't read it, this is what I suggest: alternate reading it with reading Tolstoy's What Is Art -- day one read a chapter of Portrait, day two read a chapter of What Is Art, day three read a chapter of Portrait, etc.

An enriching experience. Trust me on this!
 

evadri

Senior Member
I finished Portrait and I LOVE it!!!!! Wow, how bout that epiphany at the end of ch 4! What a complete turn around of character. Amazing writing. And I just adore the college comraderie! (It actually is the type of banter I'm going for in my screenplay, so it's a very helpful section for me to study). Cranly and Temple had me laughing my head off! And Stephen is just the 'wise' one, sooo cool. I was laughing so much, and also was very interested in the definitions of art, as they are relevant to both my screenplay and the Modernist movement.

You see, I'm gushing, I like it so much. 'You hate it compared to how much I like it!' (Mort, Madagascar).

Right up there with 'Of Human Bondage' and 'Jane Eyre' for me. I love the books where you get right into the characters heads. I never expected to like Joyce, but I really do. As a character driven writer, rather than a plot driven writer, I really got into the stream of consciousness style. It is a great form, as it can go anywhere. It was fun to just 'go with the flow', and trust that it would work out in the end (which it did.) The secret is to give up on trying to understand it, and just let the beauty of the language flow over you. I have sooo many fave quotes out of this book. Here is one:

'And, as you remark, if it is thus I ask emphatically whence comes this thusness.'

And how brilliant is it that they insult each other in dog-latin! Fantastic stuff!

Shall I cease gushing now?

In conclusion, I really love this book.
 

Viper9

Member
He might have got that from Buddhism, but since Plato askled the same question and Joyce was educated in the Western system (as were teh characters in Portrait), it's more likely he got it from Plato. Ah! Who cares?
 

The Evincar

Senior Member
I have a dusty copy of Ulysses that I haven't gotten to reading yet, I will eventually...
But I did really love Dubliners, and Portrait of the Artist as Young Man was great as well.
 

evadri

Senior Member
Essays, blah blah blah, kunsterleroman, la di da, stream of consciousness, discourses, ephiphanic structures oh look the sun is rising...
 

Ralizah

Senior Member
Finnegan's Wake... I got about a page into that before I realized that the only way you can enjoy it is to study the damned thing, all of the bizarre puns and etymology that went into making the language of the book, which I can only refer to as 'Joycean'... Ulysses is weird; Finnegan's Wake isn't even written in English (or any other real language, for that matter). There's really no comparison.

I haven't read Portrait, but I've been wanting to - it actually sounds like it'll be a good novel.
 

Stewart

Senior Member
Ralizah said:
Finnegan's Wake... I got about a page into that before I realized that the only way you can enjoy it is to study the damned thing, all of the bizarre puns and etymology that went into making the language of the book, which I can only refer to as 'Joycean'...

Not having read the complete text of Finnegans Wake (please, everyone, note the lack of apostrophe) I must say I'm surprised at some of the reactions. I've skimmed it a few times, never committing to giving it six months out of my life, and have enjoyed what I read. I can get some of the multi-language puns (Joyce used researchers to find the translations of various words in myriad languages, especially when blind) while others elude me.

When I first looked at the text I didn't know where to look - what the hell was this? - but, as you read through it, the story begins to come through with select words as we find Finnegan hard at work on the scaffolding before falling off and dying. Study it, by all means, to understand the many layers but I think it's worth reading throught in bits, not paying too much attention to detail, to get the flavour. It's supposed to be a representation of our thoughts in dreams so lose concentration, read it when tired, and see what you think.
 
F

FPSchubert

I'm reading Ulysses currently, though it is hard to understand at times (especially the absence of quotation marks), the writing is absolutely brilliant. Joyce really was a student of human nature. His sequences of the characters thinking reflect that of real humans.
 

Ralizah

Senior Member
Connor Wolf said:
Not having read the complete text of Finnegans Wake (please, everyone, note the lack of apostrophe) I must say I'm surprised at some of the reactions. I've skimmed it a few times, never committing to giving it six months out of my life, and have enjoyed what I read. I can get some of the multi-language puns (Joyce used researchers to find the translations of various words in myriad languages, especially when blind) while others elude me.

When I first looked at the text I didn't know where to look - what the hell was this? - but, as you read through it, the story begins to come through with select words as we find Finnegan hard at work on the scaffolding before falling off and dying. Study it, by all means, to understand the many layers but I think it's worth reading throught in bits, not paying too much attention to detail, to get the flavour. It's supposed to be a representation of our thoughts in dreams so lose concentration, read it when tired, and see what you think.

Well, I suppose my problem with Finnegans Wake is that it's not a book you can read like you'd read any other book - you have two options, as I had said before, you can study it, or you can just read it without thinking and enjoy the wordplay and clever puns. I have an extremely hard time reading it because for me reading is a logical process of identification and integration... my mind is very rational, so it crunches books up like a machine. So when I encounter a book like this, my first instinct is to call it rubbish and throw it down. I know it isn't rubbish (one can only fathom how much thought went into the creation of this thing), but I still find it difficult to read without thinking. Thinking is something very important to me. It might be much easier to read when tired, though. It'll be easier on my tired mind than Hamlet is (I tend to read Shakespearean tragedies when it's late and I'm tired as hell). If anything, I tried it the other night when I was tired and fell over in hysterical laughter after encountering the word 'Fishygods' in the text.
How he wrote this when he was nearly blind goes beyond me.

A RANDOM NOTE: From what I've read, the guy who discovered the Quark was a fan of this novel, and named it after a word he'd found in the book (I'd assume it was 'quark') Not sure if this is true or not, but this is interesting.
 

Shepard

Member
Dubliners is the only book I never appreciated. Precisely because I never read any commentary on the backstory. Love Ulysses with a sick passion.

Interesting story about Portrait. I picked up a copy at the library. Someone had written insightful notes in the margins. Turned out to be a girl I met later and developed a crush on.
 

strangedaze

Senior Member
On the subject of Ulysses, evidently a new draft of one of its chapters has recently been discovered. Read it at school. Too lazy to learn more.
 

shinbook

Member
I am just starting to get into Joyce, read Dubliners and Artist, starting Ulyses. I love the stream of conciousness style. It just fits the way I think. I have tried, unsuccessfully, to write in that style several times. How did that man do it. I always wind up with 15 pages of rambling hogwash, I don't know, any advice???
 

doctor

Senior Member
so far i have only read portrait. although i occasionally found the language a bit thick, and draining on my attention span (i have this same problem, to a far greater degree, reading dickens), i still thought it was a beautifully written novel. i found his style of prose original and brilliant. i would love to be able to write with such seeming effortlessness. (although i know that alot of years of work went into many of his novels, it does not seem so as you read it)
 

Shepard

Member
I found some old notes of mine from when I was a kid written in SOC and I was blown away at how good it was. The plot was crap, but compared to my current complete inability to write in anything but simple sentences I was impressed. SOC isn't that great. It's been rendered to novelty nowadays.
 

daisy

Senior Member
If you are enjoying Joyce's SOC style, you should read Faulkner and Woolf as well. Personally, I've had more success with Woolf than Faulkner, but as writers in the "modernist era," they were all influenced by one another and developed some really interesting, personal styles that can still be classified as SOC.
 

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