Remembering the great Irish writer James Joyce on his birthday
Life & Style

Remembering the great Irish writer James Joyce on his birthday

JAMES JOYCE, the author of some of Ireland’s most famous works of literature, including the Dubliners and Ulysses, was born on this day in 1882.

Here are some interesting facts about one of the Emerald Isle’s most celebrated authors:

1. Though a pioneer of modernism, Joyce was also a hopeless romantic. The character Molly Bloom in his novel ‘Ulysses’ is based on his wife and lifelong companion, Nora Barnacle. The story even takes place on June 16, the day Joyce met his wife in 1904. 

2. Joyce studied Dano-Norwegian at University College Dublin to read the work of Henrik Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright that he greatly admired, in its original form.

3. He then left Ireland to study medicine in Paris in 1902.

4. After settling in Pola, Austro-Hungary, with his family in 1904, the Irish author was deported as part of the blanket expulsion of all foreigners after a spy ring was uncovered by the imperial authorities.

5. Joyce was a truly international author. He lived outside of Ireland for most of his life, taught in Trieste, Italy, spoke fluent Italian, and was conversational in English, French and German. His literary works, including Finnegan’s Wake and Ulysses, are peppered with multilingual puns.

6. Patrick Pearse – a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising and the “President of the Provincial Government” of the Republic of Ireland – was Joyce’s former Irish teacher.

7. The author (and prolific reader) underwent 25 eye surgeries throughout his life.

9. Unlike his great contemporary and fellow countryman, W B Yeats, Joyce was denied a state funeral. When notified of his death in Zurich in 1941, the secretary of Ireland’s department for external affairs, Joseph Walshe, responded to the telegram: “Please wire details about Joyce’s death. If possible find out if he died a Catholic? Express sympathy with Mrs Joyce and explain inability to attend funeral.”

10. Writing at a time of great censorship – during the UK’S Chatterley ban and the book burnings in Germany in the 1930’s – Joyce’s avant-garde works were often banned. Before Ulysses became legal for distribution in the US, hundreds of illicit copies were seized and burned by the US post office.