James Joyce and “the Dead”
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It has been said that if people wish to see change in the world then they must be bold both in action and in speech. At the turn of the twentieth century and the beginning of the modern literature movement the words of James Joyce became embodied the bold architecture of creating change through writing.

James Joyce was born James Augustus Alyosius Joyce on February 2, 1882 in the small Rathgar borough of Dublin, Ireland (Dettmar). James Joyces family was of meager means as his father was in a constant state of financial and social decline which caused the family to move constantly, “each one less genteel and more shabby than the previous” (Greenblatt). Joyces mother, Mary Jane Murray Joyce, on the other hand is described by Richard Ellman, James biographer, as the person who brought peace to the family situation and was a stronghold for Joyce (Dettmar).

James Joyce began his Catholic education at Clongowes Wood College as well as Belvedere College, both of which “were Jesuit institutions and were normal roads to the priesthood (Greenblatt). Joyce then attended University College in Dublin where he studied modern languages (Greenblatt). In the same way that many youth find reasons for rebelling against their present lifestyle and circumstance, so too did James. Yet for James, the rebellion was much more than many would imagine for such a young man. While many young children and teenagers find fault in their parents, Joyce on the other hand “regarded himself as a rebel against the shabbiness and philistinism of Dublin” thus prompting his later writings and justly so all of his writings as centering around topics of his home country (Greenblatt). An interesting point about Joyce that helps to understand his drive and motivation as a writer is that he took it upon himself to learn “Dano-Norwegian in order to read Ibsen and write to him.” In one of Joyces first articles “on the Norwegian Playwright Henrik Ibsen”, which was published when Joyce was only still a teenager, Joyce came to terms with the notion that his writing was indeed “outspoken” and against social norms (Greenblatt).

After Joyce finished his college degree he felt a strong need to move away from his home land in order to “preserve his integrity, to avoid involvement in popular causes, and to devote himself to the life of the artist”(GreenBlatt). The reasons which prompted Joyce to move abroad are indicative of someone who feels that their present situation is stifling their creative genius as well as someone who has in a sense lost any sense of nationalistic pride. After living in Paris for a short time Joyce went back to Dublin on account of his mothers terminal illness and worked briefly as a schoolteacher at the Clifton School in Dalkey, Ireland (Gale). After the short stint as a teacher in Ireland, Joyce moved back to Paris and then taught English again in Trieste and Zurich (Greenblatt). Joyces career as a writer came about when he started writing “a series of short stories etching with extraordinary clarity aspects of Dublin life” (Greenblatt). These short stories came to be published under the title Dubliners of which “The Dead” acts as the final coda to the compilation. “The Dead” has as its central theme, “the mood of supreme neutrality that Joyce saw as the beginning of artistic awareness” (Greenblatt).

In addition the composite work of “The Dubliners” promotes Joyces feelings that the people of Ireland are beset by what he termed “paralysis” (Greenblatt). Joyces outspoken views of his native country are best understood in the words by Joyce himself to his first publisher: “it is not my fault that the odour of ash pits and old weeds and offal hangs round my stories. I seriously believe that you will retard the course of civilization in Ireland by preventing the Irish people from having one good look at themselves in my nicely polished looking glass” (Gale). It is quite obvious from this statement alone that Joyce sought to rectify the problems he saw in his countryside growing up and yet while his prose is often viewed as very harsh it also shows compassion in that he sees the need for change.

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James Joyce And Words Of James Joyce. (July 10, 2021). Retrieved from https://www.freeessays.education/james-joyce-and-words-of-james-joyce-essay/