JAMES JOYCE by Richard Ellmann


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At the crossroads between the past and the present, but central to the intellectual temper of our time, James Joyce stands with Mann, Eliot, Yeats, Bergson and Proust. He deserves a definitive and major biography- here accomplished by the critic, essayist and biographer of Yeats. Ellman, with enormous patience, has researched the incredible mass of material which Joyce has provided himself and provoked from others; and along with the critical material, the personal correspondence, he has also apparently interviewed every living person who knew Joyce. He has added a little new knowledge, dealing with his wife and with the prototypes of some of the characters in Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake. The result is a complete account of that "simple middle class man", "a man of small virtue given to alcoholism"- these were Joyce's own words. His raillery, atheism, pride, wit and Rabelaisian vigor are already well known; the book is most illuminating when it deals with Joyce's intellectual aims and accomplishments and this portrait of the writer is certainly just and balanced as well as sympathetic. It will probably answer all curiosities about Joyce, and supplements the works themselves, which still provide the truest portrait of the artist. It is an important literary biography.
Pub Date: Oct. 22nd, 1959
ISBN: 0195031032
Page count: 968pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1st, 1959


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