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James Joyce

Joyce, James (1882–1941), Irish novelist, considered by many the leading 20th-century master of the English language. Though Joyce left his homeland at age 20, returning only infrequently for brief visits, he nevertheless was greatly influenced by his Irish roots. Dubliners, short stories written in 1914, was published in London but suppressed in Ireland because of its topical references. During World War I he worked on the autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), following his protagonist as he comes to realize the grip Irish society has on him and his need for freedom from it. Ulysses, written 1914–21, follows Homer's Odyssey in themes and allusions. It recounts a particular day—June 16, 1904—in the life of three characters, the salesman Leopold Bloom, his wife, Molly, and Stephen Dedalus (the young man in A Portrait). Publication was delayed due to charges of obscenity, and Ulysses did not appear in the United States until 1933. In Finnegans Wake (1939) Joyce develops a complex exploration of dream consciousness. The meaning of the work has been vigorously debated since its publication. Other writings include three volumes of poetry—Chamber Music (1907), Pomes Penyeach (1927), and Collected Poems (1937)—and the play Exiles (1918).

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