Friday, December 26, 2014

James Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" was Published - December 26, 1916

This week (December 26-January 1) in English literary history – William Shakespeare’s King Lear was performed at the court of King James I (December 26, 1606); Charles Lamb died (December 27, 1834); J.M. Barrie’s play Peter Pan opened in London (December 27, 1904); John Steinbeck married Elaine Anderson (December 28, 1950); Theodore Dreiser died (December 28, 1945); James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published (December 29, 1916); Rudyard Kipling was born (December 30, 1865); Percy Shelley married Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (December 30, 1816); Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was published (January 1, 1818); James Fenimore Cooper married Susan Augusta de Lancey (January 1, 1811). 

Highlighted Story of the Week -  

On December 29, 1916, James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published. The book had been previously serialized in Ezra Pound's review The Egoist. Joyce was born on February 2, 1882 in Dublin, Ireland, the eldest of 10 children of a cheerful ne'er-do-well who eventually went bankrupt. He attended Catholic school and University College in Dublin, where he learned Dano-Norwegian so he could read the plays of Henrik Ibsen in the original. In college, he began a lifetime of literary rebellion, self-publishing an essay rejected by the school's literary magazine adviser. 

After graduation, Joyce moved to Paris where he resolved to study medicine to support himself while writing but soon gave it up. He returned to Dublin to visit his mother's deathbed and remained to teach school and work odd jobs. On June 16, 1904, he met Nora Barnacle, whom he convinced to return to Europe with him. The couple settled in Trieste, where they had two children, and then in Zurich. Joyce struggled with serious eye problems, undergoing 25 operations for various troubles between 1917 and 1930. In 1914, he published The Dubliners, and his 1916 novel, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, brought him fame and the patronage of several wealthy people, including Edith Rockefeller. 

In 1918, his revolutionary stream of consciousness novel Ulysses began to be serialized in the American journal Little Review. However, the U.S. Post Office stopped the publication's distribution in December of that year on the grounds that the novel was obscene. Sylvia Beach, owner of the bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris, where Joyce moved in 1920, published the novel herself in 1922, but it was banned in the United Kingdom and the United States until 1933. Joyce's final novel, Finnegans Wake, was published in 1939. James Joyce died on January 13, 1941 in Zurich, Switzerland and was buried at the Flutern Cemetery.  

Check back every Friday for a new installment of “This Week in English Literary History.” 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of six nonfiction books that include Literary Legends of the British Isles and America’s Literary Legends. Visit Michael’s website for more information. His books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:

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