On this day: James Joyce

On this day seventy years ago James Joyce died.

To hear his beautiful voice, click here. (Click the first link under his picture: James Joyce MP3.)

He's reading from Finnegans Wake. To follow on the printed page, click here. (He starts at the first full paragraph on p. 213, the one beginning with: "Well, you know or don't you kennet . . .")

Listening to James Joyce's books on CDs or cassettes (like listening to Mark Twain's books) brings them to life in a way that reading them to yourself cannot do. The stories from Dubliners, are read by Frank McCourt, Colm Meaney, Malachy McCourt, Stephen Rea, et al.

Here are a few audio versions of Ulysses.

James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882.

"James, when young, was known as 'Sunny Jim' and being a favorite he would steal out of the nursery and come down the stairs shouting gleefully, 'I'm here, I'm here.'"

He was sent to the Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College when he was six. "Soon the reports were that James spent more time in the infirmary than in the classroom and to make his yearning all the worse he suffered an injustice which he never forgot and never forgave. Forgiveness was anathema to him. A boy had snatched his glasses and stood on them but a priest believed that Joyce had done it himself to avoid lessons and gave him a 'pandying'. He did not show his tears in public but at night he wept, fearing that he would die before his mother came to get to get him. He wrote a hymn to the two mothers, the earthly and the celestial one. As an altar boy, the ritual and liturgy of the Catholic Church engendered a kind of ecstasy in him and the Virgin Mother in her tower of ivory was the creature he adored."

--from James Joyce, by Edna O'Brien.

Edna O'Brien, like many others, regards Richard Ellman's James Joyce as the best biography of the great writer.

He died in Zurich on January 13, 1941.


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