Letters of James Joyce

Letters of James Joyce

Letters of James Joyce

Letters of James Joyce

Excerpt

These Letters should be read in conjunction with an authoritative biography of James Joyce. At the time of writing this Introduction the only such biography is that by Herbert Gorman; but I should call attention to two important books which we are promised, and which should shortly be forthcoming. The first is a full-length study of Joyce's life by Mr Richard Ellmann (author of Yeats, the Man and the Masks and The Identity of Yeats) who has spent a considerable time on research work in Ireland, Trieste, Zurich and elsewhere. The second is a memoir by Joyce's brother Stanislaus; this is unfinished, as Stanislaus Joyce died before he was able to complete it; but it will shed new light on James Joyce's family background and boyhood. Appearances notwithstanding, neither Stephen Hero nor A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man should be regarded as autobiographical in any strict sense; as the brief Memoir published by the late Stanislaus Joyce in The Hudson Review (Volume II, Number 2, Winter, 1950) made it clear, Joyce, like many modern portrait-painters, did not refrain from occasional 'distortions' when these furthered the artistic integrity of the composi- tion as a whole. For Joyce's Zurich period (1915 to 1919) we have Mr Frank Budgen reminiscences in his fascinating James Joyce and the Making of 'Ulysses', first published in 1933. On the technical side, so to speak, we have now the bibliography compiled by John J. Slocum and Herbert Cahoon, which, besides giving an exact, carefully documented account of Joyce's oeuvre, from the famous broadside Et Tu, Healy (no copy of which has so far been found) to the posthumous publication Stephen Hero, is full of interesting sidelights on his literary career.

This being so, I shall for the most part confine myself in this Introduction to recording, for what they may be worth, such personal impressions and reminiscences of the writer of the Letters as may help to throw light on their contents and on the singular personality of James Joyce; and also to some description of his relations with the various correspondents to whom these letters were addressed.

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