Since the publication of Richard Ellmann’s James Joyce in 1959, Joyce has received remarkably little biographical attention. Scholars have chipped away at various aspects of Ellmann’s impressive edifice but have failed to construct anything that might stand alongside it. The Years of Bloom is arguably the most important work of Joyce biography since Ellmann. Based on extensive scrutiny of previously unused Italian sources and informed by the author’s intimate knowledge of the culture and dialect of Trieste, The Years of Bloom documents a fertile period in Joyce’s life.
While living in Trieste, Joyce wrote most of the stories in Dubliners, turned Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and began Ulysses. Echoes and influences of Trieste are rife throughout Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Though Trieste had become a sleepy backwater by the time Ellmann visited there in the 1950s, McCourt shows that the city was a teeming imperial port, intensely cosmopolitan and polyglot, during the approximately twelve years Joyce lived there in the waning years of the Habsburg Empire. It was there that Joyce experienced the various cultures of central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. He met many Jews, who collectively provided much of the material for the character of Leopold Bloom. He encountered continental socialism, Italian Irredentism, Futurism, and various other political and artistic forces whose subtle influences McCourt traces with literary grace and scholarly rigour. The Years of Bloom, a rare landmark in the crowded terrain of Joyce studies, will instantly take its place as a standard work.
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Published June 7, 2000
by The Lilliput Press Ltd.
Biographies & Memoirs, History, Travel, Literature & Fiction.