James Joyce Quotes

I shall write a book some day about the appropriateness of names. Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was very Percy and very Bysshe.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Quoted in Frederic Prokosch, Voices: A Memoir, "At Sylvia's," (1983). Joyce was replying to a question from the young author and poet Prokosch, "What do you think of Virginia Woolf?" Joyce answered that it was "an impressive name ... she married her wolfish husband purely in order to change her name. Virginia Stephens is not a name for an exploratory authoress."
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Dubliners, strictly speaking, are my fellow-countrymen, but I don't care to speak of our "dear, dirty Dublin" as they do. Dubliners are the most hopeless, useless and inconsistent race of charlatans I have ever come across, on the island or the continent. This is why the English Parliament is full of the greatest windbags in the world. The Dubliner passes his time gabbing and making the rounds in bars or taverns or cathouses, without every getting 'fed up' with the double doses of whiskey and Home Rule, and at night, when he can hold no more and is swollen up with poison like a toad, he staggers from the side- door and, guided by an instinctive desire for stability along the straight line of the houses, he goes slithering his backside against all walls and corners. He goes "arsing along" as we say in English. There's the Dubliner for you.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Originally transcribed by Alessandro Francini Bruni in his pamphlet, Joyce intimo spogliato in piazza (Trieste, 1922). Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, Viking (revised 1982). Joyce recited this and other vignettes while at the Berlitz school in Trieste in order to teach English to Italians.
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And in spite of everything, Ireland remains the brain of the Kingdom. The English, judiciously practical and ponderous, furnish the over-stuffed stomach of humanity with a perfect gadget—the water closet. The Irish, condemned to express themselves in a language not their own, have stamped on it the mark of their own genius and compete for glory with the civilized nations. This is then called English literature.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Originally transcribed by Alessandro Francini Bruni in his pamphlet, Joyce intimo spogliato in piazza (Trieste, 1922). Richard Ellmann, James Joyce, Viking (revised 1982). Joyce recited this and other vignettes while at the Berlitz school in Trieste in order to teach English to Italians.
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While you have a thing it can be taken from you ... but when you give it, you have given it. No robber can take it from you. It is yours then for ever when you have given it. It will be yours always. That is to give.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Richard Rowan, in Exiles, act 2 (1918).
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You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Robert Hand, in Exiles, act 2 (1918).
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I think a child should be allowed to take his father's or mother's name at will on coming of age. Paternity is a legal fiction.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. letter, Sept. 18, 1905, to his brother Stanislaus. Selected Letters, ed. Richard Ellmann (1975).
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"Dubliner" seems to me to have some meaning and I doubt whether the same can be said for such words as "Londoner" and "Parisian" both of which have been used by writers as titles. From time to time I see in publishers' lists announcements of books on Irish subjects, so that I think people might be willing to pay for the special odour of corruption which, I hope, floats over my stories.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Letter, October 15, 1905, to Grant Richards, prospective publisher of Dubliners. Selected Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann, Viking (1975). Joyce explains his title for his collection of stories, Dubliners.
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My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis. I have tried to present it to the indifferent public under four of its aspects: childhood, adolescence, maturity and public life. The stories are arranged in this order. I have written it for the most part in a style of scrupulous meanness and with the conviction that he is a very bold man who dares to alter in the presentment, still more to deform, whatever he has seen and heard.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Letter, May 5, 1906, to Grant Richards, prospective publisher of Dubliners. Selected Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann, Viking (1975). Joyce explains the subject of his stories, their format, their style, and the necessity of not submitting them to censorship.
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I suppose I now have the reputation of being an inscrutable dipsomaniac. One woman here originated the rumour that I am extremely lazy and will never do or finish anything. (I calculate that I must have spent nearly 20,000 hours in writing Ulysses.) A batch of people in Zurich persuaded themselves that I was gradually going mad and actually endeavoured to induce me to enter a sanatorium where a certain Doctor Jung (the Swiss Tweedledum who is not to be confused with the Viennese Tweedledee, Dr. Freud) amuses himself at the expense (in every sense of the word) of ladies and gentlemen who are troubled with bees in their bonnets.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Letter, June 24, 1921, to Harriet Shaw Weaver. Selected Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann, Viking (1975). Part of Joyce's long description of himself in a letter.
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Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.
James Joyce (1882-1941), Irish author. Letter, September 5, 1918. Selected Letters of James Joyce, ed. Richard Ellmann (1975).
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