Ireland's most controversial novelist, James Joyce, was one of world literature's most important figures. Joyce was an innovator
of the highest order, a writer of dazzling intellect. He was born in 1882 into a Dublin Catholic family of some gentility,
although poverty overtook the family while Joyce was in his teens. He was educated at Ireland's leading Jesuit school and
then at Catholic University College in Dublin.
Joyce rebelled early against the tenets of his class and religion and against Ireland's prevailing politics and culture, both
of which he felt were too “nationalistic.” He left Ireland in 1904 with Nora Barnacle, who became his lifelong partner. After
a visit in 1912, Joyce never returned to Ireland and remained in Europe until his death in Zurich in 1941.
Joyce wrote several books of poetry and novels; his most famous novels were Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Ulysses was a monumental
work, an allegorical saga describing the daylong wandering of its central character, Leopold Bloom, through the streets of
Dublin. The novel developed new literary forms in its exploration and use of language and in its epic structure. It was published
in Paris in 1922 but was banned for obscenity in Britain and in the United States until 1936. Finnegans Wake was published
in 1939 and carried the “stream of consciousness” style of writing to revolutionary limits.
Joyce is a national hero in Ireland, something that would have amused this complex and essentially solitary man. The James
Joyce Cultural Centre is at No. 35 North Great George's Street in north Dublin. And each year on June 16 Dublin celebrates
Bloomsday, during which there are guided walks, readings and numerous events based on Leopold Bloom's progress through the
Dublin of Ulysses. Visits to famous Dublin pubs play a lively part in the festivities; participants dress in Edwardian clothes
from the period featured in the novel and readings and other celebrations of Ulysses are staged.