The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920

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9780299169800: The Years of Bloom: James Joyce in Trieste, 1904-1920

Since the publication of Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce in 1959, Joyce has received remarkably little biographical attention. Scholars have chipped away at various aspects of Ellmann’s impressive edifice but have failed to construct anything that might stand alongside it. The Years of Bloom is arguably the most important work of Joyce biography since Ellmann. Based on extensive scrutiny of previously unused Italian sources and informed by the author’s intimate knowledge of the culture and dialect of Trieste, The Years of Bloom documents a fertile period in Joyce’s life.
    While living in Trieste, Joyce wrote most of the stories in Dubliners, turned Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and began Ulysses. Echoes and influences of Trieste are rife throughout Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Though Trieste had become a sleepy backwater by the time Ellmann visited there in the 1950s, McCourt shows that the city was a teeming imperial port, intensely cosmopolitan and polyglot, during the approximately twelve years Joyce lived there in the waning years of the Habsburg Empire.  It was there that Joyce experienced the various cultures of central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. He met many Jews, who collectively provided much of the material for the character of Leopold Bloom. He encountered continental socialism, Italian Irredentism, Futurism, and various other political and artistic forces whose subtle influences McCourt traces with literary grace and scholarly rigour. The Years of Bloom, a rare landmark in the crowded terrain of Joyce studies, will instantly take its place as a standard work.

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About the Author:

John McCourt was born and educated in Dublin. Since 1991 he has lived in Trieste, Italy, where he teaches at the University of Trieste and where he founded and directs the annual Trieste Joyce School. He is author of an illustrated biography of Joyce, James Joyce: A Passionate Exile as well as Dubliners: A Guide to Text Analysis and, with Renzo Crivelli, Joyce in Svevo’s Garden.

From Publishers Weekly:

If we regard biography as a kind of archeology, Joyce's Richard Leakey is unquestionably Richard Ellman, whose 1959 opus James Joyce established the terrain for all future biographies of the great Irish writer. And there have been many. Few, however, quite measure up to McCourt's informative, lucid and wholly engaging record of Joyce in Trieste, which in Joyce's day was as polyglot as Ulysses, as multicultural as any cosmopolitan city of today. Firmly in control of his subject and material, McCourt effortlessly interlaces the details of everyday lifeAmarital storms, economic worries, work habitsAwith larger historical and cultural concerns: Jewish life, the emergence of the futurists, socialist politics. In this milieu, the alchemy of Joyce's most potent art transformed many of the people, places and incidents of Trieste into important sections of Ulysses, which Joyce himself described as "the epic of two races (Israel and Ireland)." Laboring in relative obscurity, Joyce struggled not only with Leopold Bloom, but also with timid publishers who balked when it came to releasing Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. While honoring the work of his predecessors in Joyce scholarship, McCourt (who was born and educated in Dublin and now teaches at the University of Trieste) also examines material that was until recently unused or unavailable. This, along with his understanding of the culture and dialect of the once-vibrant port city, deepens our appreciation of Trieste both as a crossroads of cultures and as a profound influence on Joyce's thinking and writing. As one critic has it, "Joyce was born in Dublin... [but] grew up in Trieste." (July.
- grew up in Trieste." (July)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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