Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A02 - James Joyce: A Study of Perspective

I would just like to say: I am an idiot. I for some reason - who knows why, I don't even recall - thought that this blog was on Joyce or his "project," some undertaking of his to screw over literary critics... A conscious effort on his part to be difficult.

This is what I typed before I realized that I should probably pay a bit more attention:

After searching for a few days, the most I probably got out of researching James Joyce's "project" was this quote:

Writing in English is the most ingenious torture
ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. —James Joyce

From what I have gathered, he was born into a fairly wealthy family and later became poor; his father drank, neglected his affairs, and borrowed money from his office, and his family sank deeper and deeper into poverty. Joyce stayed at home in later years and tried to educate himself. In April 1893 he and his brother Stanislaus were admitted, without fees, to Belvedere College, a grammar school in Dublin. Joyce did well academically but left under the impression that he had lost his Roman Catholic faith. He entered University College, Dublin, which was then staffed by Jesuit priests. There he studied languages and reserved his energies for extracurricular activities, reading widely—particularly in books not recommended by the Jesuits—and taking an active part in the college’s Literary and Historical Society. Joyce was leading a dissolute life at this time but worked sufficiently hard to pass his final examinations, matriculating with "second-class honours in Latin" and obtaining the degree of B.A. He wrote verses and experimented with short prose passages that he called "epiphanies," a word that Joyce used to describe his accounts of moments when the real truth about some person or object was revealed. He went back home in April 1903 - his mother was dying. He had begun writing Stephen Hero, based on the events of his own life. Joyce began writing The Dubliners when he was offered money for some short stories with

And that's about where I gave up, thinking that if I was unable to find ANYTHING about him attempting to screw with the minds of his critics... then I was probably barking up the wrong tree entirely. Also, it was getting to be a really lame post. I've had beef jerky that was less dry than that post. (Wah-wah-waaah.) I think I was just pissed off that I couldn't find what I was looking for.

Anyway - onto a notable project of his: I maintain that James Joyce's Ulysses is a fantastic work of art. I read Ulysses for a class that specifically used it as an example of stream of consciousness writing... Maybe that biased my reading of it (probably in the way that it should have?) but I was so taken in by it, by the amount of perspective that it lent to the reader. I got a true glimpse total immersion in the character's perspective, the way they actually thought. Not just "Leopold thought, 'Huh. Imagine that. She's a gimp.'" I received the truest path of thought that can come from a person, the unbroken internal dialogue running through the mind while accepting external stimuli. It was riveting.

As for Joyce himself, I chose to snippet his early biography becuase so much of it resonates within my own experience (I verbally told a friend earlier, "it set my heart a-knockin'"). I also find interesting the struggle with religion that he faced as well as the tragedies he'd seen. That's not entirely fair, I guess -- perspective, as I was telling a professor some weeks ago, is a point of great interest to me... The fact that Joyce could so accurately and in so many different ways encapsulate that infinitive concept is nothing short of awe-inspiring; I assume that the things he experienced somehow developed his distinct style...

Am I actually getting across a point here?

Read Ulysses, if you haven't already. Then we'll have lunch. And talk.

A lot.