Today marks 80 years since James Joyce’s death. Joyce’s flirtation with organized socialist politics was brief, but he continued to find inspiration in socialist texts throughout his life.
By Donal Fallon | Jacobin
Ulysses is a book in which everything happens and nothing happens. The story of a day in the life of a city — the Hibernian metropolis, as James Joyce saw Dublin — is a journey in a rambling flow of consciousness, where the very serious political issues of the day (the book is set on June 16, 1904) wrestle for space with the mundanities and excitement of the lives of his characters. Speaking of his appreciation for the book, Jeremy Corbyn noted how “Joyce references and richly describes what’s happening in the street. So somebody is holding forth about a big political issue and then the refuse cart goes by.” Edna O’Brien, one of Joyce’s finest biographers, has rightly maintained that “no other writer so effulgently and so ravenously recreated a city.”
Joyce is now eighty years dead, and yet his reputation as a writer whose work is difficult, even daunting to approach, remains. Anthony Burgess would insist that “If ever there was a writer for the people, Joyce was that writer,” yet others saw only pretension and inaccessibility in Joyce’s work, not least Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Continue reading