8 James Joyce Facts: A Look at the Artist as a Young Man

By February 2, 2016Authors

James Joyce was born on 2nd February 1882 and his ground breaking style of writing and experimental use of language would win him fans that would continue long after his death in 1941. The author of many works, Joyce is considered to be one of the most influential and important authors of the twentieth century.

We know much about Joyce’s books, and most of us are versed in a quote or two, so here are some facts about the author that you may not know.

Bloomsday is a Real Thing

If you’re into obscure dates then 16th June is Bloomsday. The day all events in Joyce’s Ulysses take place. The name comes from Leopold Bloom, the novel’s protagonist.

But Why June 16th?

Well, we know Joyce didn’t just pluck this date out of the air, it was the date he went on the first date with Nora Barnacle, who would become his wife.

They Had Quite the Affair

Today’s teens might think they invented raunchy talk with all their sexting, but when letters from James Joyce to Nora were sold at Sotheby’s in 2004, their contents were quite surprising. “The two parts of your body which do dirty things are the loveliest to me.” Is one of the tamer parts of the letter we will share here.

Joyce had Some Unusual Phobias

Joyce was attacked by a neighbourhood dog when he was a child, leading to lifelong cynophobia, but was also left with keraunophobia after a religious aunt told him that thunder was an angry God sounding his wrath.

Joyce gave us Quark

The word Quark first appeared in Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, as in the cry of a gull. Scientist Murray Gell-Mann had been reading the classic in 1963 when he perfected the unit of measurement ‘Three quarks for Muster Mark.’ Inspired him to take the word.

James Joyce and Virginia Woolf

James Joyce and Virginia Woolf were both groundbreaking authors, but they share many other similarities too. Both authors were born in and died in the same year. Both authors also published landmark modernist novels in the 1920s where the action takes place over a single day (Ulysses and Mrs Dalloway), leading both to be equally considered pioneers in stream of consciousness writing.

The Best Dinner Party of All Time

In 1922, the year that Ulysses was published, Joyce met fellow novelist Marcel Proust for dinner, also present were Pablo Picasso and Igor Stavinsky. The meeting took place in May, before Proust died in the November and much of the meal was spent discussing how ill the pair were, and led to both admitting they hadn’t read each other’s work.

Does Nobody Understand?

These were said to be Joyce’s words when he passed away on January 13th, 1941.

Joyce would in the end be one of Ireland’s greats, as the most influential and groundbreaking author of his day. It may be 134 years since his birth, but his words and influence reverberate through to the present day.

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