“It seems that I have outgrown the Toys of frilly praises And I can not take seriously the Singers the squeaky ideal; Love, even to the heavens, praise – But there is a drop of falsehood in any. ”
(From “Chamber Music”)
Irish writer and poet James Joyce is best known to the general public for his multipage work – the novel "Ulysses". His appearance in 1933, the novel created a furor, as it was a completely new format, hitherto unknown to the reader. The novel was long banned and not printed — after some chapters appeared in print in 1918–21, the novel was banned, accusing the author of obscenity. It was first published entirely only 12 years after the end of the manuscript. However, the beginning of the twentieth century was a time of experimentation – in literature, art, the time of emergence of famous philosophers and the theory of Freud. “A novel is a stream of consciousness” – under such a “code” it is taught in universities in philological faculties. Sparing the students ’feelings and brains, the teachers recommend reading three chapters to familiarize themselves with the novel in order to get a general idea of the novel (as it was at least 15 years ago) and those who mastered the novel among a huge amount of required reading of literature were considered heroes of its time. But, apparently, the time of "Ulysses" came today. In the modern world, when such an object as human consciousness is being actively studied, interest in Ulysses – a novel about one day on seven hundred pages – has revived again. The Pyotr Fomenko Workshop even staged a play with the same name: the action lasts 6 hours to match the novel and receives mixed reviews. But still – the novel has existed for almost 100 years, which means that it is not only a non-standard form of presentation.
How did the idea of the novel-stream of consciousness come about and why did James Joyce become its author? This is evidenced by the peculiarities of the character and way of life of the writer. The writer’s immersion in his own thoughts and experiences was unusually deep, as evidenced by one episode. In 1932, Joyce, then a well-known author, the Moscow International Revolutionary Writers Union asked about how he reacted to the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia. The answer received from his secretary stunned Soviet writers. It said something like this: Joyce “learned with interest that such an event occurred in Russia in 1917. so far it is difficult for him to appreciate the importance of the event, and he would only like to note that, judging by the signature of your secretary, the changes are probably not so great. ” Note that at that time the countries had already survived the First World War, and half of the Soviet state was covered in blood.
The works of James Joyce are largely autobiographical, like any writer, but the researchers of his life and work noticed that his characters were more tragic, less successful and adapted to life than their prototype – the author. And what was the writer in life?
His surname is one of the most common in Ireland, the birthplace of the writer, and is translated as “joyful” (from French joyeux). All the Irish with this surname always defended their kinship with the noble family of the Galway Joyces – and in the house of the writer there was also the emblem of this family. Joyce’s father justified his name, happily spending time at parties, matinees and holidays. He had a good voice, and was the soul of the company, performing songs. The father of the writer John Stanislaus continued the wine trading business, like all the men of their family, and belonged to the wealthy bourgeois. For Mary May, the future mother of the famous writer, they also gave a decent dowry. Having started life with prosperity, the family quickly became impoverished. The wine trading did not go well, but thanks to his character and talent, the father was able to get a job at the place of the tax collector – a dusty and bread place. Mary May took care of the household and raised 15 children, of whom only 10 survived. James Joyce was the second child in the family – he was born on February 2, 1882.
His father loved him, and while the family had the means, James arranged for Klongouz Wood in a guesthouse in Dublin’s neighboring Kilder County, to one of the best schools in the country. James was a talented student, of course, he was best at work in literature and languages, and in the mean – in mathematics and science. But after a while the family could not pay for the education, and James was transferred to another, official, school. Having lost his job in the tax service, Joyce’s father kept his large family on a meager pension, and since then their life has dramatically rolled downhill. The family constantly changed apartments, one poorer than the other, the mother wanted to somehow feed the family on meager means, so the feeling of bitterness, contempt and hatred for the father grew and strengthened in children, and later it was reflected in the writer’s works. However, James Joyce was not an unresponsive and weak creature – neither in childhood, nor in his youth, nor being already an adult. Contemporaries noted that he always knew his worth (in the family, thanks to his success at school, he was generally a star), he could freely manipulate people using his talent in communication, but James’s feelings of kindness and compassion were also well known, otherwise his works forgotten.
At 15, James Joyce is experiencing a change of values. The world of religion, Catholicism ceases to attract it. “How I hate God and death!” He wrote then. Religion then seemed to him deathly. Young Joyce could not stand the constant fear of the torments of hell for human behavior and the oppressive feeling of guilt for the human need – to live and enjoy life. And he chose his way – an artist, a free man, with his own view, who takes life in all its manifestations. Such a challenge to generally accepted morality became part of the novel "Ulysses" (among other important topics). In the novel, the writer describes in great detail the manifestations of corporeality in a person, and ironically on completely different topics and themes. As the author himself wrote, his chapters not only resonate with Homer’s "Odyssey", but are devoted to some particular part of the body. Someone this naturalism will not taste, but. the novel is still being read, since an unusual format, everyday earthiness is combined with deep reflections on human themes and the richness of the language.
"Ulysses" – a challenge to society or the search for new forms?
What is unique about the novel, which did not give rest to contemporaries and evokes such interest in the 21st century? James Joyce created a new genre in his novel – the narrative, the main character of which is the author. The novel echoes Homer’s Odyssey, but in a peculiar way. All 18 episodes of "Ulysses" are associated with certain Homer’s events – in meaning and theme. However, the connection with the work of Homer – in opposites. Odysseus is a king, a great traveler; the main character of "Ulysses" – advertising agent Bloom. Penelope is a symbol of feminine loyalty, Molly Bloom is the exact opposite, it is around the infidelity of his wife that the central events of the novel unfold. The time of the work of Homer’s work is the years of wandering around different cities and countries, the time of Joyce’s novel is one day in one city. Moreover, according to the author, each episode is associated with a particular organ of the human body. In fact, this is a novel-body, and here it is possible to interpret it in two ways: some researchers said that the novel is excessively naturalistic, others traced the connection with the ancient philosophical views of man as a microcosm, the central link of life on earth around which events unfold. James was interested in the inner world of a person, his experiences, thoughts, connection of thoughts with behavior. In this, many saw an analogy with the psychoanalysis of Freud, who had already stirred up the educated part of the population of Europe with his discoveries. The peculiarity of the Ulysses genre – the stream of consciousness – allowed James Joyce to touch on a huge number of themes and philosophical ideas, and many autobiographical episodes were included in the novel. In particular, the theme of Bloom’s wife’s unfaithfulness is an echo of the intrigue that happened to the writer in his homeland. Its essence is that a friend of the writer, wanting to take revenge on James, said that his future wife, Nora, met both Joyce and him at the same time. Whether this was really so is unknown, but the wave of jealousy and bitterness that stirred the writer turned into the pages of the novel in the form of Bloom’s unfaithful wife. There is no possibility to retell the novel – the whole storyline will fit into one paragraph, but it gave a rich ground for interpretations: the criticism of the 700-page novel has more than one dozen volumes. But all fans of the novel note the extraordinary expressiveness of the writer’s language and the variety of topics covered. But the main thing is that this novel is not just a designation of urgent questions and anxieties – it is a novel of answers, the fruits of the thoughts and conclusions of James Joyce, unusual and interesting even for the sophisticated reader of our time.
Works of James Joyce
James Joyce was very prolific in his work. Already at the age of 16 he wrote a series of essays, individual plays, lyric poems (which he began to compose as early as 6 years old, than the family was terribly proud of). In his youth, he was greatly impressed by Ibsen’s creative work: in 1899–1901, the philosophical essays Drama and Life, the play Brilliant Career (imitating Ibsen), translations of Hauptmann’s plays Michael Cremer and Before the Sun Rise (which the writer considered a new Ibsen), the article "Celebration of the mob" (about the Irish currents) and others.
The main works that made James Joyce famous, including notorious, are:
- Epiphanies (1901-1903)
- "Chamber Music" (Chamber Music) 1902-1906 – Collection of poems
- “Portrait of an Artist” (A Portret of the Artist) 1904, January 7.
- The Holy Office 1904
- Dubliners 1904–1914
- "Gas From A Burner" (Gas From A Burner) 1912, September
- Giacomo Joyce 1911–1914
- "Hero Stephen" (Stephen Hero) (the prototype of the novel "Portrait of the artist in his youth").
- "Portrait of the artist in his youth" (A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man) 1907-1914
- "Exiles" (Exiles) 1914-1915
- Ulysses 1914–1921
- "Poems, pennies apiece" (Poems Pennyeach) 1927
- "Behold, Child" (Ecce Puer) 1932
- Finnegans Wake 1922-1939
"Dubliners" and "Ulysses" for several years were officially banned by censorship for publication or simply rejected by publishers. However, most of the disturbing "non-patriotic" places will seem innocent to the modern reader. For each time, your rebel. And yet, the form of the stream of consciousness allows every reader of those years and modernity to see something personal, personal in the novel, and so it is valuable and interesting today.