The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses

The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses

The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses

The Classical Temper: A Study of James Joyce's Ulysses

Excerpt

Published in 1922, after sixteen years of thought and seven years of writing, Ulysses was the third of James Joyce's creative explorations of Dublin -- the Dublin in which his imagination dwelt all his life. He had voluntarily exiled himself in the flesh from the other, the "real" Dublin as early as 1904, returning only for occasional brief visits; his mind, on the other hand, never left its home, for there lived the people, the human experience, that had formed his imagination and that he knew in his very marrow. Time after time his memory and imagination turned back to it, lived in it, circled out from it, always seeking the fullest meaning of his knowledge. No spiritual exploration was finished before he was already meditating the next. The first was begun before he left Dublin in the flesh -- the book of short stories, Dubliners , finally published in 1914, "a chapter", as Joyce called it, "of the moral history of my country". The second was made over the years 1904-14 -- A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man , a chapter in the moral history of an exceptional individual born in that country. This was a much more difficult history to relate. At first it had seemed a simple matter of reporting events, thoughts, conversations, in order to explain his own personal case, of presenting his own life from within, perhaps, until he reached the stage where he was able to present it from without: rather like the old ballad of Turpin Hero , which begins in the first person and ends in the third person. But in 1906 this first attempt at a portrait, Stephen Hero , was put aside. The truth about his own case, he found, was not quite the deeper and more significant truth his hero, Stephen Dedalus, could embody; but to portray that required a maturer insight, a harder discipline of the imagination. Between Stephen Hero and the eventual Portrait Joyce learned both. Yet even while immersed in Dubliners he had conceived yet a third imaginative exploration of Dublin, and even before finishing the Portrait he had begun to plan it. The moral life of Dublin, the moral life of the isolated individual in it, contained a larger and more universal truth, although to . . .

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