"He could hear nothing: the night was perfectly silent. He listened again: perfectly silent. He felt that he was alone." The Dubliners
It's no secret that Irish writers occupy a special place in my heart and on my book shelves. I'm known for getting a bit excited when my students announce that they are studying W.B. Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, Oscar Wilde or Seamus Heaney. Previous Year 12s can tell you that I make a point of working Roddy Doyle and Frank McCourt into their study of Belonging.
So, it comes as no surprise that I did a little jig upon discovering that James Joyce and Seamus Heaney have found their way on to Module A of the new 2015-2020 HSC English Prescriptions. I can only hope that teachers will seriously consider taking the plunge.
So, by way of celebrating James Joyce's 132 birthday and peaking your interest in one of Ireland's most beloved writers, I give you a few of the most interesting facts about him:
- On June 16th, the Irish celebrate 'Bloomsday' in honour of Leopold Bloom, one of the main protagonists in Ulysses who took a bit of walk around Dublin that day.
- June 16th was the day that James Joyce met his wife, Nora Barnacle.
- The poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath decided to get married on June 16th in honour of Bloomsday.
- Ulysses was first published in 1922, but was banned in America until 1934. The story goes that hundreds of illegal copies of the novel were seized and burnt by the US Post Office throughout the 1920s.
- James Joyce wasn't exactly the conversationalist. When he met the French writer and literary giant Marcel Proust at a party, he spent the whole time talking about his headaches!
- James Joyce didn't exactly get along with his fellow writers. Apparently, after agreeing to let W.B. Yeats read his poetry, he told Yeats that "I attach no more importance to your opinion than to anybody one meets in the streets."
- James Joyce could speak 17 languages - including Arabic, Sanskrit, and Greek.
- When living in Italy, Joyce insisted that only Italian be spoken in his home.
- Famous psychiatrist Carl Jung was of the belief that James Joyce and his daughter Lucia both suffered schizophrenia.
- His final words were reported to have been "Does nobody understand?"