Exile was the subject of much of Joyce's work. Most of his major characters--Gabriel Conroy, Richard Rowan, Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom, and H. C. Earwicker--are physical or spiritual exiles. Exile was also the means by which Joyce's work was accomplished. One concludes that the forces compelling Joyce to leave Ireland were stronger and more irresistible than those which impelled Pound and Eliot to leave America. Had they remained, Pound and Eliot might still have been writers, but given the fact that Joyce's sole subject was Dublin, a Dublin scathingly presented down to the last sordid detail, Joyce would never have been published had he remained there.
Of the five stages of Joyce's European hegira, as he called it--Pola-Trieste-Zurich-Paris-Zurich--one feels it did not much matter to him where he was, so long as he could look homeward without ruth and write. Although when he wrote, whatever he heard, saw, or felt became grist to his mill, the influence of his European surroundings on both writer and work appears minimal. 58 Joyce's devotion to his art, however, was so all-absorbed and all-absorbing that everywhere he went others got caught up in the vortex of his coldly passionate and ruthless obsession and were often sacrificed willy nilly to his needs. His mismanagement of everyday life through improvidence and irresponsibility were the obverse of his control over his art. Few writers have left behind letters so punctuated by demands, requests, and entreaties for money. Joyce might therefore be said to have exerted an influence on his human environment disproportionate to its influence on him. His most important and lasting influence, of course, has been on the world in which he lived his entire life-- the patria of letters. There he knew no exile.