James Joyce

James Joyce : A Biography

3.71 (192 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

In almost every recent poll, Ulysses has been acclaimed the greatest novel of the twentieth century. It is generally regarded as one of the outstanding landmarks of literary modernism, as important as T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land in expressing the experimental and international spirit of post-war Europe in the 1920s. Of all the modernists, James Joyce has had probably the most lasting effect on serious fiction. Indeed, Eliot said he had 'killed the nineteenth century'. Joyce's life followed the classic 'flight into exile' path taken by many creative writers in search of a broader vision. His fight against Irish parochial prejudices and censoriousness, his self-imposed exile from the country he loved, his stoical endurance of near-blindness, cast him in a heroic light. He was fine singer who could have had a successful career in opera and the concert hall. His dedication to authorship also picks him out as a writer in the romantic tradition of total commitment, suffering near-poverty and financial dependency for much of his life in his determination simply to write. He was fortunate in his benefactors.Four women in particular (Harriet Shaw Weaver, Margaret Anderson, Sylvia Beach and Adrienne Monnier), through their generosity, ensured that Joyce was able to focus fully and continuously on his great literary projects, Ulysses and Finnegans Wake.
Richard Ellmann's much admired biography of Joyce first appeared in 1959 and was republished in 1982. But new material continues to emerge, and this new biography draws on that and attempts to get beyond the exterior life to explore the inner landscape of a writer who continues to influence and fascinate, well over a century after his birth.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 624 pages
  • 164 x 239 x 43mm | 1,010g
  • WEIDENFELD & NICOLSON
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 16
  • 0297848038
  • 9780297848035
  • 415,506

Review quote

'This biography is both learned and readable; it is an attractive monument to a brilliant, kind-hearted, often unfortunate man.' -- Edmund Gordon THE SUNDAY TIMES - 19 June 2011 'a scrupulously researched, entertainingly readable biography of a maddeningly protean, contradictory genius.' -- John Walsh THE INDEPENDENT - 10 June 2011 'a sound and readable telling of the writer's tale for newcomers, into whose hands it may be given without a qualm." LITERARY REVIEW - June 2011 'Bowker's biography - packed as it is with incidents, ideas and sympathy - proves inspiring.' -- Richard Davenport-Hines SUNDAY TELEGRAPH - 19 June 2011 'This sound, hefty biography is enjoyable and fair...' -- Peter Lewis DAILY MAIL - 17 June 2011 'a readable, reliable biography in a new voice.' -- Iain Finlayson THE TIMES 18 June 2011 'This is an entertainingly readable biography of a genius." BELFAST TELEGRAPH - 18 June 2011 'a very accessible and solid biography.' -- Lesley McDowell THE SCOTSMAN - 18 June 2011 'The author excels in his wit, clarity and sheer readability as he tackles in full the life of Ireland's greatest writer.' METRO - 24 June 2011 'superb at capturing the sorrowful aspects of Joyce's circumstances.' METRO - 22 June 2011 'Gordon Bowker's new biography of James Joyce draws on new materialto explore in greater depth than ever before the life and legacy of this extraordinary writer.' CHOICE - July 2011 'informed by many new biographical sources and discoveries... a usefully demystifying version of the life of one of the 20th century's most complicated literary artists.' NEW STATESMAN - 27 June 2011 'good time for a strong new biography of James Joyce, 70 years after his death and almost 30 since the revised version of Richard Ellmann's classic contribution to the form...Bowker devotes a greater proportion of his book to Joyce's life after Ulysses than Ellmann does, the period of his physical decline, obsession with the mental health of Lucia, and dogged engagement with the night games of what became Finnegans Wake.' -- Adam Mars-Jones THE OBSERVER - 3 July 2011 'Reading Bowker on the genesis of Finnegans Wake make me want to read it again.' -- Tibor Fischer STANDPOINT - 1 July 2011 "Bowker has already written brilliantly on Malcolm Lowry and George Orwell and this new book extends the record - and not only the record, but the entire epistemology of the Joycean discourse... has restored Joyce to his contradictory, ambivalent humanity... shrewd and highly readable biography." -- Thomas McCarthy Irish Examiner - 9 July 2011 "A wonderfully lively and meticulously researched account of the life and work of a fascinatingly inexplicable paradox... wonderfully detailed, gripping..." -- Chris Proctor The Tribune 'This new biography is both learned and readable. It is an admirable monument to a brilliant yet often unfortunate man whose star still shines.' -- John Hinton Catholic Herald 'Detailed, thoughtful and illuminating, Gordon Bowker's portrait of the inimitable artist is sympathetic, challenging and thoroughly entertaining.' Good Book Guide "We owe Mr Bowker a debt of gratitude for his considerable courage in undertaking this mammoth task." -- Hugh McFadden Books Ireland
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About Gordon Bowker

Gordon Bowker is the acclaimed author of a biography of Malcolm Lowry (author of UNDER THE VOLCANO), entitled PURSUED BY FURIES and an excellent biography of George Orwell. He lives in Notting Hill, London.
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Rating details

192 ratings
3.71 out of 5 stars
5 25% (48)
4 38% (72)
3 24% (47)
2 10% (20)
1 3% (5)
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