(12/03/2014)  Chamber Music by James Joyce. New York. 1971. Grossman Publishers/Cape Editions. paperback. 46 pages. Cape Editions 48. keywords: Poetry Ireland Joyce Ireland Literature. 0670211273.


   CHAMBER MUSIC, which appeared originally in 1907, was the first of Joyce’s books to reach the public. Though it brought no royalties, it was to gain him a place in the Imagist Anthology. It was thus to associate him with the Anglo-American group that included Eliot and Pound, who later helped to publicize his books. Elusive and formal, these poems are, above all, musical. Joyce, who trained as a singer in Paris, set out to write lyrics that could be sung, and their imagery – characteristically - appeals chiefly to the ear. Echoes from books, together with images from musical instruments, contribute to Joyce’s ‘elegant and antique phrase’. His models are the Elizabethan lyricists, the airs of Dowland and the words of Shakespeare. Joyce made the selection for CHAMBER MUSIC, sequentially arranged, from the large amount of verse composed during his Dublin days. It was first published by Jonathan Cape in 1927.

James Augustine Aloysius Joyce (2 February 1882 – 13 January 1941) was an Irish novelist and poet, considered to be one of the most influential writers in the modernist avant-garde of the early 20th century. Joyce is best known for Ulysses (1922), a landmark work in which the episodes of Homer's Odyssey are paralleled in an array of contrasting literary styles, perhaps most prominent among these the stream of consciousness technique he perfected. Joyce was born in Dublin, Ireland, on February 2, 1882. He was the oldest of ten children in a family that experienced increasing financial difficulties during his childhood. After attending Clongowes Wood College and Belevedere College (both Jesuit institutions) in Dublin, he entered the Royal University, where he studied languages and philosophy. Upon his graduation, in 1902, Joyce left Ireland for France but returned the following year because his mother was dying. In 1904 he met Nora Barnacle (they fell in love on June 16, ‘Bloomsday’), and in October of that year they went together to Europe, settling in Trieste. In 1909 and again in 1912 Joyce made unsuccessful attempts to publish Dubliners, a collection of fifteen stories that he intended to be ‘a chapter of the moral history of my country focused on Dublin, ‘the centre of paralysis.’ In 1914 Dubliners finally appeared, followed by the semiautobiographical novel A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN, a reworking of an earlier manuscript, STEPHEN HERO. During the First World War Joyce and Nora lived in Zurich; in 1920 they moved to Paris, where Ulysses was published in 1922. FINNEGANS WAKE, Joyce’s most radical and complex work, began appearing in installments in 1928 and was published in its entirety in 1939. After the German occupation of Paris, Joyce and Nora (who were married in 1931) moved to Zurich, where he died in January. His complete oeuvre includes three books of poetry, a play, occasional journalism, and his published letters. Though most of his adult life was spent abroad, Joyce's fictional universe does not extend far beyond Dublin, and is populated largely by characters who closely resemble family members, enemies and friends from his time there; Ulysses in particular is set with precision in the streets and alleyways of the city. Shortly after the publication of Ulysses he elucidated this preoccupation somewhat, saying, ‘For myself, I always write about Dublin, because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.’


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