James Joyce by Gordon Bowker
A New Biography

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Ultimately, Mr. Bowker's biography leaves the reader with a picture that feels true—of a brilliant, somewhat broken but ineffably brave author...
-WSJ online

Synopsis

A revealing new biography—the first in more than fifty years—of one of the twentieth-century's towering literary figures

James Joyce is one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, his novels and stories foundational in the history of literary modernism. Yet Joyce's genius was by no means immediately recognized, nor was his success easily won. At twenty-two he chose a life of exile; he battled poverty and financial dependency for much of his adult life; his out-of-wedlock relationship with Nora Barnacle was scandalous for the time; and the attitudes he held towards the Irish and Ireland, England, sexuality, politics, Catholicism, popular culture—to name a few—were complex, contradictory, and controversial.

Gordon Bowker draws on material recently come to light and reconsiders the two signal works produced about Joyce's life—Herbert Gorman's authorized biography of 1939 and Richard Ellman's magisterial tome of 1959—and, most importantly by binding together more intimately than has ever before been attempted the life and work of this singular artist, Gordon Bowker here gives us a masterful, fresh, eminently readable contribution to our understanding, both of Joyce's personality and of the monumental opus he created.
Bowker goes further than his predecessors in exploring Joyce's inner depths—his ambivalent relationships to England, to his native Ireland, and to Judaism—uncovering revealing evidence. He draws convincing correspondences between the iconic fictional characters Joyce created and their real-life models and inspirations. And he paints a nuanced portrait of a man of enormous complexity, the clearest picture yet of an extraordinary writer who continues to influence and fascinate over a century after his birth. Widely acclaimed on publication in Britain last year, perhaps the highest compliment paid was by Chris Proctor, of London's Tribune: "Bowker's success is to lead you back to the texts, perhaps understanding them better for this rich account of the maddening insane genius who wrote them."

 

About Gordon Bowker

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Gordon Bowker has written highly acclaimed biographies of Malcolm Lowry (Pursued by Furies, a New York Times Recommended Book of the Year), George Orwell, and Lawrence Durrell, and articles and reviews for The Observer (London), The Sunday Times (London), The Independent, The New York Times, and The Times Literary Supplement. He lives in Notting Hill, London.
 
Published June 5, 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 651 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Literature & Fiction. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for James Joyce
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WSJ online

Above average
Reviewed by Joseph Oconnor on Jun 01 2012

Ultimately, Mr. Bowker's biography leaves the reader with a picture that feels true—of a brilliant, somewhat broken but ineffably brave author...

Read Full Review of James Joyce: A New Biography | See more reviews from WSJ online

NY Times

Below average
Reviewed by James Traub on Aug 19 2012

But a more serious flaw is that Crist cannot tell us what we need to know about Iran.

Read Full Review of James Joyce: A New Biography | See more reviews from NY Times

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