James Joyce - Part Four: Paris Summary & Analysis

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Part Four: Paris Summary and Analysis

In 1920, Joyce becomes quieter and more restrained. He is always a little lost with his children and this period of his life is no exception. He works to translate Portrait into French, while having trouble finding an appropriate apartment. He eventually has help from a friend. Around this time, he meets Sylvia Beach, legendary owner of the Shakespeare & Co. bookstore, and still has help from Pound and Weaver, who send him 2,000 pounds. Still working on Circe (a section of Ulysses), Joyce is distraught to learn that the post office censors have burned the Little Review magazine featuring his Ulysses excerpts, claiming they are obscene. For the moment, Exiles too is blocked from performance. The Joyces change apartments yet again.

During the period between 1921 and 1922, Sylvia Beach unites Joyce with Larbaud, a French writer who greatly admires Joyce's work. Joyce is in correspondence with people in Trieste, asking his friend Schmitz to deliver notes from there. There are, as always, small crises, including another volume of the Little Review, which wasisconfiscated. However, good news comes when Beach offers to publish Ulysses and offers Joyce an extremely generous royalty package; he agrees and Weaver collaborates. They take subscriptions in advance, but George Bernard Shaw comically refuses to subscribe. In the meantime, Joyce writes to Weaver, defending himself from rumors that he is drinking. He also moves to a new flat, keeping on with his revisions, adding to the proofs of Ulysses and working with his French translator (who is responsible for the last "yes" of the book). In anticipation of Ulysses, 250 people show up for a reading, most of them taking subscriptions. Finally, the copies arrive. Nora refuses to read it.

Ulysses becomes quite popular between 1922 and 1923, and Joyce refuses to challenge anybody's interpretation of the book. His family in Ireland do not care for it; Stanislaus admires it on the whole. oyce is very frustrated by the slow arrival of reviews. Meanwhile, Harriet Weaver sends more money. Nora goes to visit Ireland and Joyce has another attack of iritis, as well as teeth problems. He goes to visit London, where he is conspicuously loose with Weaver's money. He continues to correspond with his father and aunt, talking about his money troubles, and writes a letter to his friend Budgen, eventually stealing it back. He is struck by an attack of pinkeye, also losing some of his teeth. However, aside from his health problems, it is a very creative period: he comes up with the idea for Finnegan's Wake, playing with dream forms and universal histories in what he imagines to be a "night book" with no present and no past.

The Joyces all travel to London in 1923, except for Giorgio. Nora is resigned to Joyce's writing by this point and happy that he has some money as he works on Finnegan's Wake. On their return to Paris, Giorgio continues work as a banker. Joyce's friend Schmitz works on a book, which Joyce encourages, at the same time as the translation of Portrait appears. Joyce wonders if it would be possible to translate Ulysses, but is convinced that only sections of it would be translatable. He has further eye trouble around this time, needing another operation, which he puts off. Finally, he has it, but his sight is worse, as are his teeth. During his recovery, he has many visitors, but eventually requires another surgery, though he insists on traveling first. His sight ends up very bad but slowly gets better.

During the period from 1926 to 1929, Exiles is performed in London and Stanislaus visits the Joyces in Paris. He does not understand or appreciate Finnegan's Wake and is critical. Eileen also visits and Joyce later travels with Nora to Ostend. In the United States, Ulysses is pirated by a man named Samuel Roth. Joyce has many friends sign a statement against him, to no avail; finally, he takes legal action and Roth stops. Back in Paris, Weaver and Ezra Pound convince Joyce that Finnegan's Wake needs more gloss and Stanislaus announces that he is getting married. While she is away, Eileen's husband commits suicide, which she refuses to believe until they disinter his body to prove it to her. A man named Jolas sees Finnegan's Wake and wants to publish it in serial form; around the same time, Wyndham Lewis is offended by Joyce and tries and fails to make up. Ulysses is translated into German, though Joyce is unhappy with the translations, and Eileen comes for another visit with her children. Joyce is in very bad physical shape around this time, almost blind and down to 112 pounds, while Nora has to have a hysterectomy.

Joyce has many issues with his family from 1939-1932. His father requests that he visit before he die and Joyce is meanwhile very laissez-faire with his own children. Giorgio enjoys singing, while Lucia has an odd squint and a scar that makes her self conscious, though she enjoys singing and dancing and various other creative pursuits. Meanwhile, Joyce contributes to the artistic community, to a collection of stories, having his portrait done by Brancusi, and serving on a magazine's editorial committee. His work, Anna Livia Plurabelle, is published as well. Physically, his eye trouble continues and his doctors suggest more operations. Joyce takes advantage of this trouble to publicize a theatre, standing up at the end of the play and claiming that his sight has been miraculously restored. He keeps working on Finnegan's Wake, but finds the work hard going. Noted psychiatrist Carl Jung writes a disparaging letter to Joyce around this time. Joyce becomes more and more mysterious, deciding eventually that he would like his biography written by a man named Herbert Gorman. He still has money problems, but is as reckless as ever. Eventually, he gets frustrated by the idea of possible publicity that he and Nora are not married, so they go to England and finally get married (though he claims they had been married before, with technical difficulties). Lucia begins to act more and more strangely while John Joyce becomes ill and dies. Joyce is filled with grief and is named the sole heir to his father's small estate. Finally, when Lucia throws a chair at her mother, the Joyces send her to an asylum for help. Giorgio (now going by the name of George) marries an American girl named Helen and has a son, named Stephen.

Though he is delighted at his grandson's birth in 1932, Joyce has to be kept in the dark that Stephen has been baptized. Lucia is still in the institution. She is almost catatonic and diagnosed as a schizophrenic. Joyce feels very guilty and brings her back home, bringing in a psychiatrist to see her there. Joyce becomes friends with Samuel Beckett, whose work he is obsessed with. There is a lot of tension at this time between Joyce and Weaver and Joyce and Beach about rights.

Meanwhile, Lucia is showing overt hostility toward Nora and Joyce takes her to Feldkirch with a nurse, eventually sending her to an institution. She is preoccupied with creative work at this time, doing a lot of painting. Still, he is having bad problems with his eye. Yeats suggests nominating him for the Irish Academy, but Joyce refuses. He suffers from some sickness, which is alternately diagnosed as nerves and colitis. Lucia, who has been in a sanatorium, is withdrawn from it and becomes Nora's responsibility.

At the same time, Ulysses is published uncensored in the United States. Lucia, sadly, runs away, has to be sedated, hits Nora, and has to go to the sanatorium again. George and his wife Helen move to the States for a year, where George sings professionally, as the Joyces move into a new apartment and Lucia worsens, setting a fire in her room at the asylum. Eventually, she is transferred to Zurich. Joyce goes to visit her and she is very upset when he leaves; eventually, he takes her back home and Eileen comes to look after her, but Lucia escapes. Joyce is optimistic about her possibility for recovery as she has a new treatment in London and is eventually moved to a clinic in France.

By 1936, Lucia's care accounts for three-quarters of the Joyce's expenses, as Nora threatens to leave Joyce because of his drinking. The rest of the Joyces are not doing very well either, as George has a throat condition and has to stop singing, and Stanislaus is expelled from Trieste. Stanislaus is eventually restored to his position at the university. Joyce goes on a vacation to Copenhagen but is widely recognized there, though he finds the city charming. Overall, the Joyces' social life is quieter. A man named Paul Léon begins to work for Joyce as an unpaid secretary, as Joyce requests a lot of professional help from friends, though he is very loyal himself. He visits Lucia weekly.

The Joyces briefly consider a trip to Ireland, but James and Nora go to Switzerland instead, as Joyce works hard on Finnegan's Wake. He does a lot of proofreading, desperately wanting the book to be done by his birthday. When Samuel Beckett, a friend, is stabbed, Joyce helps him a lot. George and Helen have to return to the United States at this time for a brief period. Helen is also in a fragile mental state.

The book is finished by his birthday and the family celebrates.

This section contains 1,577 words
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