Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake

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9780374194246: Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake

“Whatever spark or gift I possess has been transmitted to Lucia and it has kindled a fire in her brain.” —James Joyce, 1934

Most accounts of James Joyce’s family portray Lucia Joyce as the mad daughter of a man of genius, a difficult burden. But in this important new book, Carol Loeb Shloss reveals a different, more dramatic truth: her father loved Lucia, and they shared a deep creative bond.

Lucia was born in a pauper’s hospital and educated haphazardly across Europe as her penniless father pursued his art. She wanted to strike out on her own and in her twenties emerged, to Joyce’s amazement, as a harbinger of expressive modern dance in Paris. He described her then as a wild, beautiful, “fantastic being” whose mind was “as clear and as unsparing as the lightning.” The family’s only reader of Joyce, she was a child of the imaginative realms her father created, and even after emotional turmoil wrought havoc with her and she was hospitalized in the 1930s, he saw in her a life lived in tandem with his own.

Though most of the documents about Lucia have been destroyed, Shloss painstakingly reconstructs the poignant complexities of her life—and with them a vital episode in the early history of psychiatry, for in Joyce’s efforts to help her he sought the help of Europe’s most advanced doctors, including Jung. In Lucia’s world Shloss has also uncovered important material that deepens our understanding of Finnegans Wake, the book that redefined modern literature.

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From the Back Cover:

In this ground breaking work Carol Shloss shows the extraordinary influence that James Joyce's daughter Lucia exercised on her father's emotions and work. "This is a story that was not supposed to be told", writes Shloss who transforms Lucia from the "mad daughter", and a footnote in her father's life, to a creative kindred spirit.

"Shloss's patient research expands what could have been a footnote in literary history into a tragedy of wasted promise. Shloss gives us a James Joyce we have never seen before."--Time

"[Carol Loeb Shloss] argues that not only was Lucia an extraordinary artist in her own right, she was also central to the creation of Finnegans Wake....Joyce scholars say that Ms. Shloss's work is important because Lucia was pivotal to Joyce's work."--The New York Times

"A sharply perceptive and disturbing meditation on the terrible price that great art often levies not only on the artist but on those closest to him....Lucia Joyce's story, which Shloss tells so movingly, not only wrings the heart but stirs one's anger."--John Banville, The New York Review of Books

"The most impressive feature of her book is the delicacy with which it handles the complex ambiguities of the Joyce-Lucia relationship....Shloss argues persuasively that the conclusion of Finnegan's Wake pays homage to Lucia, as Joyce poignantly seeks to make amends to his beloved daughter and convince her that all may still be well."--Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books

Carol Loeb Shloss is an Acting Professor at Stanford University. She has written extensively on Joyce and other modernists. She divides her time between Stanford, California and the coast of Maine.

About the Author:

Carol Loeb Shloss teaches English at Stanford University. She has written extensively on Joyce and other modernists and is the author of three other books, including a study of Flannery O’Connor. She lives in Palo Alto, California.

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