James Joyce's World

James Joyce's World

James Joyce's World

James Joyce's World

Excerpt

Most prefaces are written last, when the author has his general conclusions in mind. Unless a reader is familiar with the work and life of James Joyce, after these first few paragraphs he would do well to start in Cork. From there the book moves on to Dublin, out into Europe and back to Ireland again. It is an account of a journey which began perhaps in a house near the Vico Road in Dalkey, above the lovely little harbour of Coliemore, with its pale lion-coloured granite, and the wooded, Italian-like bays beyond. Here I met the hospitable Conan family and later became friendly with one of the daughters, Aileen, who lent me a book on Proust, This essay by Pierre Abraham, published by Les Editions Rieder, with its excellent illustrations, family portraits, photographs of Normandy, reproductions of manuscripts and notebooks, suggested that something similar should be made about Joyce's Dublin background--a few thousand words and numerous photographs. Once started, the text grew riverwise, from talk, books and a casual exploration of the city itself.

The friendly, domestic side of Dublin, with its peace and Victorian security, remained much as Joyce had known it. Not far from the beautiful Georgian squares and gardens were country lanes, fields and barns within the boundaries of the town. The canals and little rivers with their footpaths and trees, and at low tide the wide strands of the Bay, were remembered by Joyce in Pola or Trieste, beside the Zürichsee or as the light on some houses across the Seine brought back an early morning near the Pigeon House. There were many people whose eyes had once held the reality of the man himself. They could see a schoolboy running along the street to Belvedere or a student crossing St Stephen's Green towards University College, a young man who entered the National Library in white canvas tennis shoes and nautical cap. In some ways it was fortunate that Joyce did not return to Dublin in the nineteen-twenties for often these impressions have not been overlaid by those of an older, sadder Joyce with . . .

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