Selected Essays On James Joyce

Selected Essays On James Joyce-38
In public, Joyce’s manners were impeccable and his letters demonstrate a remarkable courteousness but at home, it was very different.Quite apart from the regular drinking binges, his life was driven by his one-eyed obsession to fulfil his destiny and there was perhaps only one woman in the world who could have put up with the selfishness that such a vocation entailed.

In public, Joyce’s manners were impeccable and his letters demonstrate a remarkable courteousness but at home, it was very different.Quite apart from the regular drinking binges, his life was driven by his one-eyed obsession to fulfil his destiny and there was perhaps only one woman in the world who could have put up with the selfishness that such a vocation entailed.For as long as I can remember, I have looked for signs and patterns; anything to help me navigate the impossible map that is the business of living.

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The truth is that there would be no Joyce without the three women who supported him: Nora, his life-long partner, Sylvia Beach, the first publisher of , and Harriet Shaw Weaver, his benefactor. Chance indeed furnished him with exactly what he needed. He was from India, sent to Australia for his education at great expense by his parents. Like so many before me, I have come to realise that there is a reason why Joyce’s nickname is Mr Difficulty.

So he certainly doesn’t need another handmaiden in the form of a small-time Australian essayist. I felt sorry for him so I had invented some cash-in-hand filing work, much of which involved compiling notes, essays, articles, emails and letters in relation to Now he was daring to ask whether the book I’d spent much of my adult life devoted to was really of any importance.‘Yes! Novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder was a serious One of the first and most important Wakean scholars was an Australian named Clive Hart. I tracked him down when he was well into retirement, hoping he might provide a clue, given he had written one of the definitive texts: is that it is, in an important sense, unreadable.’ And in any case, the end isn’t really the end.

The great man’s shadow falls far and wide and writers, especially Irish ones, continually complain about the effort to crawl out from under it.

I am just one of many cowering under his monumental weight.

So perhaps it’s more accurate to say that I’ve tried to give up the dependency. The only way I can really give up is by putting myself in the thick of it.

So I have taken up a residency at the Tyrone Guthrie House in Country Monaghan to write, ostensibly, the first draft of a manuscript that, for the first time in decades, has nothing to do with James Joyce. I have brought no Joyce books or copies of the chat groups. On my first evening at Tyrone Guthrie House on the Annaghmakerrig estate in Ireland, I sat down at the long table for the communal meal and was immediately introduced to a crime novelist whose name I assumed I had misheard.‘I beg your pardon? The middle-aged gentleman showed me his blue Visa card to prove it: James Joyce.‘I use a pen name instead,’ he said. ‘Until recently.’ Just a few months ago, he confessed, he finally and wrote an essay about the curse of being a contemporary writer named James Joyce. Do I break my commitment to abstain from reading, thinking or talking about Joyce?The author has determined my daily work of writing and teaching; he has also provided friends, colleagues, lovers, and once, a husband.Even my social life is arranged around Joyce, anchored each month by a meeting of the once accused, ‘the most pretentious book club in Sydney’.)In many ways, Joyce has been my longest long-term relationship.My companion waved the bottle away and then cocked his head to one side, asking me to speak up, explaining he had recently suffered sudden and complete hearing loss in one ear.Immediately I was reminded of the central male character in characters, has multiple names and identities.‘To Joyce reality was a paradigm, an illustration of a possibly unstateable rule…According to this rule, reality, no matter how much we try to manipulate it, can only shift about in continual movement, yet movement limited in its possibilities…’ giving rise to ‘the notion of the world where unexpected simultaneities are the rule.’ In other words, a coincidence such as sitting down to dinner with James Joyce is actually just part of a continually moving pattern, like a kaleidoscope. My house companion is not the only contemporary writer to feel that Joyce’s legacy is a curse.A couple of years ago I decided we were in a co-dependent relationship. Some might think that travelling to Ireland in order to give up an Irishman is just asking for trouble.Except how could that be true if I was the only dependent one? But I see it as similar to the alcoholic who has to be comfortable at a table full of rollicking drinkers.Facing up to the possibility that there is no pattern– no inherent meaning in Joyce’s work or my own – (or at least, only that which, Daedalus-like, we invent) – is deeply disturbing.For thirteen years I’ve been studying, making notes, writing essays, subscribing to James Joyce newsletters, attending symposiums, presenting papers. I’ve begun to feel that this belief in signs has led me into a kind of madness and I can’t help wondering whether Joyce’s genius, upon which I have depended for direction, has only encouraged this form of lunacy.

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