For those who would like to learn more about James Joyce, but are not prepared to sit down with the pages of lengthy biographies, Edna O’Brien’s “James Joyce” is a worthy read.
O’Brien explores the forces that drove Joyce as a writer, which necessitates a continual look at his life and times. Joyce was forever the troubled writer.
He excessive drinking lead to personal and professional problems. His internal battle with Catholicism lingered a lifetime.
Money was an endless problem and that often lead to his moving about Europe, devising schemes to make a living outside of writing.
Eye problems were a lifetime concern and one can imagine how that affected his ability to read and write.
O’Brien does not deflect from discussing the internal Joyce who was difficult to live and deal with. Joyce’s genius as a writer may have required the existence of internal and external turmoil, for it was always there.
O’Brien relates the difficulty Joyce had finding publishers for his works, including “Ulysses.” Then there were the court battles over his work being called obscene and the battle Joyce waged to keep his “Ulysses” afloat.
As to his writings, Joyce is no easy read. His lasting influence on his art is often said to stem from his stream of conscious development and the use of internal discussions from his characters.
Joyce held and wrote of positions that were not looked upon favorably during his life. “Courage” is a term often used to describe Joyce’s persistence.
His lashing out at religions and finding beauty in sexual encounters lead to endless conflicts with the law, publishers and readers. He persisted.
And always, there was Ireland. His birthplace would not unleash him or he it. That fact paints all Joyce accomplished, for better or worse.
“The book (Joyce’s “Ulysses”) can just as well be read backwards, for it has no back and no front, no top and no bottom. Everything could easily have happened before, or might have happened afterwards. You can read any of the conversations just as pleasurably backwards, for you don’t miss the point of the gags. Every sentence is a gag, but taken together they make no point. You can also stop in the middle of a sentence--the first half still makes sense enough to live by itself, or at least seems to. The whole work has the character of a worm cut in half, that can grow a new head or a new tail as required.” ― C.G. Jung, “The Spirit in Man, Art and Literature”
Gary Thorne is the play-by-play voice of the Orioles on MASN, and the 2017 season is his 11th with the club and 32nd covering Major League Baseball. His blog will appear regularly throughout the season. The Orioles and Sarasota County have partnered on the Big League Reader Program, which rewarded kids who read three books in February with tickets to a Grapefruit League game at Ed Smith Stadium in March.
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