James Augustine Joyce was born in Dublin and died in Zürich. His relatively small literary output became one of the most influential in European and American literature of the twentieth century. His works include A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), a novelized account of his childhood and education; Dubliners (1914), a collection of short stories detailing the life of Dublin's petty bourgeoisie at the turn of the century; his monumental comic epic Ulysses (1922); and, lastly, Finnegans Wake (1939), the inscrutable, multilingual novel that he jokingly boasted would keep scholars guessing for three hundred years. His major writings were revolutionary in their relentless and minute examination of the mundane things of life and the celebration of ordinariness through art. He popularized the “stream-of-consciousness” technique used to such astonishing and humorous effect in the Molly Bloom soliloquy at the end of Ulysses. In all of his novels laughter bubbles right beneath the surface, occasionally bursting forth in mirthful affirmations of life.
Spending most of his life in Italy and France and possessing a wide appreciation of other cultures and languages, Joyce was the very embodiment of multiculturalism at a time before it became perceived as a good; indeed, this was at a period of history—between the two world wars—when it could be positively dangerous. The first child of a lower-middle-class Catholic family of ten children, Joyce from an early age studied foreign languages and music, two fields for which he would retain a passionate interest until the end of his life. He received an excellent education and soon evinced an uncommon confidence in his own exceptional abilities, but he was not to follow a common path to success. Totally disregarding matters of financial security, he led a nomadic adult life, with long periods of poverty in which he and his own family lived largely on the handouts given them by various family members, friends, and