- Used Books
- Kobo eReading
- Staff Picks
- Gifts & Gift Cards
- Sell Books
- Stores & Events
Special Offers see all
More at Powell's
Recently Viewed clear list
Ships in 1 to 3 days
This title in other editions
James Joyce: A New Biographyby Gordon Bowker
Synopses & Reviews
A revealing biography of one of the twentieth centurys towering literary figures
James Joyce is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, foundational in the history of literary modernism. Yet Joyces genius was not immediately recognized, nor was his success easily won. At twenty-two he chose a life of exile; he battled poverty and financial dependency for much of his adult life; his out-of-wedlock relationship with Nora Barnacle was scandalous for the time; and the attitudes he held toward Ireland, England, sexuality, politics, Catholicism, popular culture—to name a few—were complex, contradictory, and controversial.
In James Joyce, Gordon Bowker, draws on material recently come to light and reconsiders the two signal works produced about Joyces life—Herbert Gormans authorized biography of 1939 and Richard Ellmanns magisterial tome of 1959. By intimately binding together the life and work of this singular artist, Bowker gives us a masterful, fresh, eminently readable contribution to our understanding both of Joyces personality and of the monumental opus he created.
Bowker goes further than his predecessors in exploring Joyces inner depths—his ambivalent relationships to England, to his native Ireland, and to Judaism—and uncovers revealing evidence. He draws convincing correspondences between the iconic fictional characters Joyce created and their real-life models and inspirations. And he paints a nuanced portrait of a man of enormous complexity, the clearest picture yet of an extraordinary writer who continues to influence and fascinate more than a century after his birth.
"I guess the man's a genius, but what a dirty mind he has,' Nora Barnacle said after reading Ulysses. For 'dirty,' substitute Joyce's view of the human condition as comedy: Rabelaisian, rather than divine. Bowker's splendid, insightful, and witty biography illuminates the connection between Joyce's erotic imagination and humane spirit, offering a clear-eyed celebration of his perverse comic genius. Joyce was an apostate Catholic who still considered himself a Jesuit, a permanent 'exile who never left Dublin,' and an extreme egotist. Drawing on material published since the 1982 revision of Richard Ellman's classic Joyce biography, including biographies of Nora herself and their troubled daughter, Lucia, Bowker (Pursued by Furies: A Life of Malcolm Lowry) explores Joyce's inner landscape, most of it shaped by Dublin and his Jesuit education. Bowker captures the human comedy that surrounded Joyce, describing Ezra Pound, whose review of Dubliners in 1913 launched Joyce's career, as 'Literature's own fairy godmother.' As Joyce's reputation grew, he retreated into a circle of friends and family and the increasingly interior world of his writing. His last years were increasingly darkened by illness and concern for his family. Joyce thought his daughter Lucia's strangeness was untapped genius similar to his own and fought to keep her out of the hands of doctors and clinics — egocentric in the extreme, but far from heartless. Photos. Agent: Phyllis Westberg, Harold Ober Associates. (June)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
A revealing new biography—the first in more than fifty years—of one of the twentieth-centurys towering literary figures
James Joyce was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, but he was not immediately recognized as such. At twenty-two he chose a life of exile in cosmopolitan Europe in a bid to escape the suffocating atmosphere and parochial prejudices of his native Dublin. His life followed the classic “flight into exile” path taken by so many creative writers. His relationship with Nora Barnacle long aroused curious fascination, not least since—scandalously for the time—they lived together for twenty-seven years before marrying in 1931.
Joyces unstinting dedication to authorship picks him out as a writer in the romantic tradition. He battled against poverty and financial dependency for much of his adult life. He suffered, too, the slings and arrows of uncomprehending critics. Ulysses, now widely regarded as the most innovative and influential of modernist texts, immediately ran into trouble with the censors of both Britain and America after it was published in Paris in 1922.
Drawing on new material that has only recently come to light, Gordon Bowkers biography ventures beyond the exterior life to explore the inner landscape of an extraordinary writer who continues to influence and fascinate over a century after his birth.
About the Author
Gordon Bowker has written highly acclaimed biographies of Malcolm Lowry (Pursued by Furies, a New York Times Recommended Book of the Year), George Orwell, and Lawrence Durrell, and articles and reviews for The Observer, The Sunday Times, The Independent, The New York Times, and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in Notting Hill, London.
What Our Readers Are Saying