Irish novelist James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882. He attended University College Dublin in 1898 and became closely acquainted with Dublin’s literary and theatrical circles, further fuelling his desire to write. In 1990, a review of a play he wrote for The Fortnightly Review became his very first publication.
Over a decade later in 1914, his collection of short stories, Dubliners, was published. This was followed by his first novel, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. The publication of his novel Ulysses in 1922 subsequently brought him significant fame. The novel is now considered as one of the most important works in modern literature.
In his later life, he worked on Finnegans Wake, which was published in 1939, while the autobiographical novel Stephen Hero was published after his death. Joyce also published a collection of poetry, including Chamber Music. Regarded as one of the most influential and impactful writers of the 20th century, Joyce’s writing mirrors exceptional literature.
Clearly, he had a way with words, transporting his readers into his experiences, point of views, and philosophies through stream of consciousness, allusions, and his overall unique and complex style of writing. To commemorate his life, his fans around the world observe ‘Bloomsday’ every 16th of June, the day the novel Ulysses takes place in 1904.
Here are 30 James Joyce quotes to appreciate the author’s literary brilliance.
Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead. – James Joyce
Why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name? – James Joyce, “The Dead”
Shut your eyes and see. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. – James Joyce, “Dubliners”
He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. – James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day. – James Joyce
First we feel. Then we fall. – James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”
They lived and laughed and loved and left. – James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”
Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
Most people have some purpose or other in their lives. Aristotle says that the end of every being is its greatest good. We all act in view of some good. – James Joyce, “Stephen Hero”
All Moanday, Tearday, Wailsday, Thumpsday, Frightday, Shatterday. – James Joyce
He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet’s soul. – James Joyce, “Dubliners”
Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
Though their life was modest, they believed in eating well. – James Joyce, “Dubliners”
The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails. – James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
There’s music along the river. For Love wanders there. – James Joyce, “Chamber Music”
Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger. – James Joyce, “Dubliners”
Lord, heap miseries upon us yet entwine our arts with laughters low. – James Joyce, “Finnegans Wake”
Some of it is ugly, obscene and bestial, some of it is pure and holy and spiritual: all of it is myself. – James Joyce, “Selected Letters of James Joyce”
To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
I think I would know Nora’s fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women. – James Joyce, “Selected Letters of James Joyce”
The trees do not resent autumn nor does any exemplary thing in nature resent its limitations. – James Joyce, “Stephen Hero”
Moments of their secret life together burst like stars upon his memory. – James Joyce, “The Dead”
The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is is another question. – James Joyce, “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
Love loves to love love. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
Do you know what a pearl is and what an opal is? My soul when you came sauntering to me first through those sweet summer evenings was beautiful but with the pale passionless beauty of a pearl. Your love has passed through me and now I feel my mind something like an opal, that is, full of strange uncertain hues and colours, of warm lights and quick shadows and of broken music. – James Joyce, “Selected Letters of James Joyce”
A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood. – James Joyce, “Dubliners”
Shakespeare is the happy hunting ground of all minds that have lost their balance. – James Joyce, “Ulysses”
Share these 30 James Joyce quotes for all those who love his works.