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Aug 13 James Joyce, Faith and Ulysees

We travel to 1903 Dublin , Ireland were the Irish novelist and poet, James Joyce returned to Ireland from studies in Paris when his mother was diagnosed with cancer. Fearing for her son’s “impiety”, his mother tried unsuccessfully to get Joyce to make his confession and to take communion. She finally passed into a coma and died on August 13. Joyce refused to kneel with other members of the family praying at her bedside.


Joyce is now considered to be one of the most influential writers of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), the short-story collection Dubliners (1914), and the novels A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) and Finnegan's Wake (1939). His family were middle class and both his parents were Catholic, his mother in particular was extremely devout, but Joyce rejected Catholicism very early on. My mind rejects the whole present social order and Christianity—home, the recognised virtues, classes of life, and religious doctrines. [...] Six years ago I left the Catholic church, hating it most fervently. I found it impossible for me to remain in it on account of the impulses of my nature. I made secret war upon it when I was a student and declined to accept the positions it offered me. By doing this I made myself a beggar, but I retained my pride. Now I make open war upon it by what I write and say and do.

He excelled as a student at the Jesuit schools of Clongowes and Belvedere, then at University College Dublin and often spoke positively about his experience of Jesuit education. There is some scholarly debate about whether he reconciled to his faith during his life as it was such a central part of his work. Some scholars argued that he never really left it. Somewhat cryptically, in an interview after completing Ulysses, in response to the question "When did you leave the Catholic Church", Joyce answered, "That's for the Church to say." He attended Catholic Mass and Orthodox Divine Liturgy, especially during Holy Week, purportedly for aesthetic reasons His sisters noted his Holy Week attendance and that he did not seek to dissuade them. One friend reported that Joyce cried "secret tears" upon hearing Jesus' words on the cross and another suggested that he was a "believer at heart" because of his frequent attendance at church. T. S. Eliot believed that he saw between the lines of Joyce's work the outlook of a serious Christian and that beneath the veneer of the work lies a remnant of Catholic belief and attitude However when he died at the young age of 58 and the arrangements for his burial were being made, a Catholic priest offered a religious service, which Joyce's wife, Nora, declined, saying, "I couldn't do that to him."

One of his biographers Andrew Gibson argued that Joyce "remained a Catholic intellectual if not a believer" since his thinking remained influenced by his cultural background, even though he lived apart froSwm that culture. His relationship with religion was complex and not easily understood, even perhaps by himself. He acknowledged the debt he owed to his early Jesuit education. Joyce told the sculptor August Suter, that from his Jesuit education, he had 'learnt to arrange things in such a way that they become easy to survey and to judge.' Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), chronicling the appointments and encounters of the itinerant Leopold Bloom in Dublin in the course of an ordinary day, 16 June 1904. Ulysses is the Latinised name of Odysseus, the hero of Homer's epic poem the Odyssey, and the novel establishes a series of parallels between the poem and the novel, with structural correspondences between the characters and experiences of Bloom and Odysseus, Molly Bloom and Penelope, and Stephen Dedalus and Telemachus, in addition to events and themes of the early 20th-century context of modernism, Dublin, and Ireland's relationship to Britain. The novel is highly allusive and also imitates the styles of different periods of English literature. Since its publication, the book has attracted controversy and scrutiny, most notably an obscenity trial in the United States in 1921. The novel's stream of consciousness technique, and experimental prose—replete with puns, parodies, and allusions—as well as rich characterisation & broad humour have led it to be regarded as one of the greatest literary works in history; Joyce fans worldwide now celebrate 16 June as Bloomsday.

Troubled with problems for his eyes throughout the 1930s, he travelled frequently to Switzerland for eye surgeries and for treatments for his daughter Lucia, who according to the Joyce, suffered from schizophrenia. Lucia was analysed by Carl Jung at the time, who after reading Ulysses is said to have concluded that her father had schizophrenia. Jung said that she and her father were two people heading to the bottom of a river, except that Joyce was diving and Lucia was sinking. Lucia, who was briefly romantically involved with Samuel Beckett, who was a close friend of the Joyce family until he rejected Lucia and married someone else. Joyce returned to Zürich in late 1940, fleeing the Nazi occupation of France. Joyce used his contacts to help some 16 Jews escape Nazi persecution.


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