The Essential Library
Byline: MALCOLM BRADBURY
by James Joyce
James Joyce (1882-1941), Ireland's greatest modern writer, was famously an exile. After a Jesuit education, he left his native Dublin for Paris in 1902, aged 20, planning to become an artist, a writer of `silence, exile and cunning'. He returned, but only briefly, leaving for good in 1904. He was now with Nora Barnacle; `She'll stick to him,' said his father, as she did.
He first took her out on June16, 1904, which became `Bloomsday', the single day on which his greatest novel, Ulysses (1922), is set.
They lived thereafter in Trieste, Rome, Zurich, and the experimental Paris of the Twenties. Yet the prime setting of everything he wrote during the years when he wandered free of his country - A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Finnegans Wake (1939) and his other major books - was Dublin. Hence the 15 fictional stories of Dubliners (Penguin [pounds sterling]4.99/N&D Bookstore: [pounds sterling]4.74) represent the foundation stones of all his writing. It is here that Joyce's Dublin (a `paralysed city', yet one that deserved a literary monument quite as much as London or Venice) first entered modern literature.
Joyce's stories, written around 1905 but published as a collection in 1914, are precise and poetic, gentle and sad. …