Happy birthday to literature’s modernist master, James Joyce. Writers are still finding devastatingly beautiful ways to describe the impact that the Ulysses author continues to have on their work, paying homage to one of the most innovative writers of the twentieth century. Here are ten authors on the Irish novelist’s work, life, and enduring influence.
The Lolita author once called Joyce’s 1939 novel Finnegans Wake, “Punningans Wake,” and described it as “a cancerous growth of fancy word-tissue,” citing that the story “hardly redeems the dreadful joviality of the folklore and the easy, too easy, allegory.” Nabokov famously had mixed feelings about Joyce’s canon, but considered certain works, most notably Ulysses, brilliant. “You will enjoy the wonderfully artistic pages, one of the greatest passages in all literature, when Bloom brings Molly her breakfast. How beautifully the man writes!” Nabokov gushed in Lectures on Literature. The author even drew a map (below), tracking the paths Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom took through Dublin on June 16, 1904. To those who teach literature, Nabokov had a blunt suggestion: “Instead of perpetuating the pretentious nonsense of Homeric, chromatic, and visceral chapter headings, instructors should prepare maps of Dublin with Bloom’s and Stephen’s intertwining itineraries clearly traced.”