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James Joyce Quotes

Joyce's works in general
"I assume that Joyce's works grow naturally out of literary traditions fostered by the European nineteenth century."
--(David Hayman, preface)

"The stories that followed [1904], written in what Joyce called a style of scrupulous meanness and designed to expose to Dublin its own torpor, are a cross between satire ad social criticism."
--(David Hayman, p.12)

"Reading them [Joyce's works] in order of their composition, we acquire skills and an awareness to correspond in a measure to the artist's own developing and expanding vision which was pushed inevitably toward the communal nightmare of Finnegans Wake. (It is characteristic of Joyce that his first preparations for his last book were made under headings drawn systematically from each of his previous works.) Details, characters, events effects, and techniques from one work carry over into the next much as the image or event occurring in one chapter will turn up in later episodes as a symbol or an echo."
--(David Hayman, p.11)

"We might conclude that Ulysses is, among many other things, an attempt to synthesize the worlds already depicted in Joyce's three completed prose works."
--(David Wright, p.102)



"Already in Dubliners Joyce began tentatively introducing suggestive analogies for his protagonists and action."
--(David Hayman, p.13)

"Epiphany may be defined as 'a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether from some object, scene, event, or memorable phrase of the mind-the manifestation being out of proportion to the significant or strictly logical relevance of whatever produces it.'"
--Morris Beja (Richard Peterson, p.1)

"In the end [of Dubliners], of course, it is not so much format as the sense of illumination that reminds us of the concept of epiphany: the appearance in so many of the stories of those separate moments of perception or self- awareness on the part of a character, or of those fragments in which the reader may feel suddenly illuminated about an aspect of a character's personality, or situation-or entire life."
--Morris Beja (Richard Peterson, p.5)
"Let me provide two examples [of epiphanies in Joyce's works]: the theme of bondage coupled with that of the need to escape, and the imagery of eyes and sight."
--Morris Beja (Richard Peterson, p.5)

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man


"The key to the criticism of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man has been the personality of Stephen Dedalus and Joyce's own attitude or distance from that personality."
--(Richard Peterson, p.15)
"In the Portrait where his [Joyce's] goal was to create an individual type of youthful heroism, he was far more systematic [than in Dubliners]."
--(David Hayman, p.13-14)

"A Portrait opens with 'once upon a time,' the time-honored incantation of the story-teller."
--(Richard Peterson, p.16)

"critics have often chosen between 'the artist' or 'the young man' in their judgement of Joyce's intention in the novel [A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man]."
--(Richard Peterson, p.15)



"The illusion of completeness [in Ulysses] is most strongly conveyed in the experiences and reactions of a Dublin everyman-noman, Leopold Bloom, who is perhaps the most particularized character in all literature but who is also, and consequently, among the most generalized."
--(David Hayman, p.15)
"To this indiscriminate but objective consciousness [of Leopled Bloom], Joyce added the selective, subjective, shaping consciousness of Stephen Dedalus, who experiences metaphorical confusion and struggles to establish for himself workable goals and a sense of his identity within a world he is unable to accept, unwilling to apprehend."
--(David Hayman, p.15)
"With logic, Joyce's schema identifies her with earth or substance and sees the web of words she spins (or the web of her attraction) as motion, for Stephen sees 'movement' through Aristotle's definition as the 'actuality of the possible as possible,' and Molly is the image of the word actualized as flesh."
--(David Hayman, p.36)

"That is, he [Joyce] chose to evoke through a single coherent circumstance and with encyclopedic intensity the quality and spirit of a nation and an epoch."
--(David Hayman, p.16)


"The 'local ironies of Ulysses-those which operate chiefly within a word, phrase, sentence or paragraph-are the most pervasive, conspicuous, and inconsistent ironies in the novel."
--(David Wright, p.19)
"a few episodes…seem especially dependent on such [local] ironies, or…make especially interesting use of them-essentially, 'Telemachus,' 'Eumaeus,' and 'Penelope.'"
--(David Wright, p.19)
"Some such examples [of local irony] might be better classified as ambiguities or puns."
--(David Wright, p.19)
"In other words, the more significant meaning is the initially concealed one, and irony privileges this meaning by 'de-privileging' its secondary (overt) counterpart."
--(David Wright, p.19)
"Thus all three episodes ['Telemachus,' 'Eumaeus,' and 'Penelope'] are marked by an ironic disjunction between surface mood and deeper action. Moreover, in each case this 'deeper action' in itself involves irony."
--(David Wright, p.41)
"Many such [analogous ironical] patterns seem more elusive than the local instances, since they require us to juxtapose a particular component of the novel with a textual (or extra-textual) entity which may be found some distance away."
--(David Wright, p.42)
"Such ['intra-episode'] ironies occur in all the episodes of Ulysses, but here it seems most useful to concentrate on two episodes which especially depend on them: 'Wandering Rocks' and 'Ithaca.'"
--(David Wright, p.42)
"Ulysses is tied together by various kinds of links associating widely separated segments of the text; ironies are a favourite kind of structural bond, perhaps partly because of the ways in which they energise their contexts in the novel, making both ends of the link operate as vital participants in the transaction."
--(David Wright, p.62)
"[There is] one particularly striking example linking 'Hades' and 'Penelope' … [and also other] ironic associations between 'Nausicaa' and those episodes which display especially strong structural and thematic bonds with it."
--(David Wright, p.63)
"the contexts required for revaluation of an ironic passage in Ulysses are to be found not only beyond the episode containing it, but beyond the novel [in Dubliners, Exiles, and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man]."
--(David Wright, p.80)
"Joyce incorporates into Ulysses many strikingly ironic links to literary texts produced by other writers."
--(David Wright, p.103)

"Ulysses can be thought of as the last and greatest tale in Dubliners, the full-scale portrait designed to convey the beauty and squalor of a city to which the writer could not return but which he could never get out of his head."
--(David Hayman, p.6)
"The Ireland that Leopold Bloom feels is important because he wishes to belong to it and that Stephen Dedalus values because it belongs to him was not always the cultural backwater depicted by Joyce in Ulysses, a country praising its own past, a land whose best and most valuable export is 'wild geese' and artists, who fight, each in his way, on foreign soil."
--(David Hayman, p.1)
"Ulysses, like its principle models (The Odyssey, The Divine Comedy, Hamlet, and Faust) depicts a man's world, a world of ideas, objects, and actions, but woman provides a background and a focus for male activity."
--(David Hayman, p.15)
"Among Joyce's most astonishing feats is his vital and engaging portrait of Dublin as modern commercial and cultural capital, ironically analogous to all cities in all ages."
--(David Hayman, p.42)

"[Ulysses is] a book which combines a Platonic 'symbolism' (a tendency to deal with man as a glass through which we glimpse a higher or at least more universal reality) with an Aristotelian 'realism' (a tendency to treat existence as an opaque fact).
--(David Hayman, p.62)

"All of this and much more is important to the reader of Ulysses, in which Joyce builds on his technical discoveries and in a sense reverses the perspective of the Portrait presenting the individual in terms of the society upon which he reflects and in which he will find his own image."
--(David Hayman, p.14)

Finnegan's Wake


"The Dreamer in the Wake is more than just a single individual, even if one assumes that on the literal level we are viewing the dream of publican H.C. Earwicker."
--Bernard Benstock (McCarthy, p.107)

"Perhaps the earliest assumption (made [about Finnegan's Wake])by Harriet Weaver was that Joyce was mad: the book was the product of a mind totally alienated from the world of ordinary readers, from ordinary users of language."
--Clive Hart (McCarthy, p.15)
"Joyce not only made Finnegans Wake difficult, but also based some of it on irrational linguistic principles."
--Clive Hart (McCarthy, p.16)
"Joyce set out to turn vulgarity and scatology to his artistic purpose."
--Robert Boyle, S.J. (McCarthy, p.59)

"there is a plot to Finnegans Wake, but it is a plot which is being told in a completely new and experimental way."
--Michael Begnal (McCarthy, p.120)

"As we move though the move [Finnegans Wake] we notice that…different narrative techniques are used from chapter to chapter, and within individual chapters, just as they were in Ulysses."
--Michael Begnal (McCarthy, p.119)

"Paradoxically, it [Finnegan's Wake] displays point-by-point fidelity to Joyce's early experiences without reflecting-as do Portrait and Ulysses-a full sense of reality of those experiences."
--Derek Attridge (McCarthy, p.74)

"Joyce wrote the book [Finnegan's Wake] to express the dissolution of the universe [and modern society], and hence the association of materials in the portmanteau words is, by intention, self-contradictory, self-destructive, fortuitous, based on unreason."
--Clive Hart (McCarthy, p.17)
"Depending of one's notions about its [Finnegans Wake's] communicative techniques, it can mean whatever one wants it to mean."
--Clive Hart (McCarthy, p.18)