19 April 2013
James Joyce: Reflections on the Legacy of the Artist
James Joyce is certainly not remembered as one of the most prolific authors of his time, producing only “a handful of poems, two plays, a single book of short stories, and just three complete ‘novels’” in his lifetime throughout the late-19th and early-20th centuries (Ruch). However this handful of works dominates the literary world of the 1900’s, marking James Joyce “as one of the greatest literary talents of the … century” (“James Joyce” 1207). Born in 1882, Joyce worked with new ideas of realism and modernism to create masterpieces, being almost immediately recognized by critics as “the best prose writer of [the] generation” (Pound 123).
Each of Joyce’s major works takes place in or near Dublin, the city of his birth and residence until entering a period of self-exile after being “dissatisfied … with Irish nationalism, Catholicism, and his family background” in 1902 (“Biography of James Joyce” 10). Joyce’s works received mixed reviews. After publishing his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist of a Young Man, Joyce received praise from renowned authors, poets and critics such as Ezra Pound, who proclaimed that Joyce was undoubtedly one of the “best contemporary authors” of his generation (Pound 123). Recurring themes and subjects in Joyce’s works incorporated religion in Ireland and the Home Rule movement, the struggle for Irish independence from the United Kingdom (Monahan 280). Joyce used Dublin as his setting to be able to artistically express life in Ireland. This decision would also bring him negative criticism. Critics not familiar with life in Dublin and Joyce’s technique of vividly documenting odors and tastes were aghast at the unpleasant scenes in his novels and short stories (Kershner). However those who complained of Joyce’s improprieties were far outnumbered by critics and readers who knew immediately that his novels would be permanent....