DAVE VORLAND: It Occurs To Me — Reading James Joyce

Winter in Minnesota is not my favorite season. But there IS one benefit to lousy weather.

It provides time to a catch up on the reading you’ve deferred in order to enjoy being outdoors in the spring, summer and fall.

My winter goal is to dip into the literature created by the Irish novelist and poet James Joyce, 1882-1941. He still is regarded as one of the most influential writers in the history of the English language.

When Dorette and I were in Ireland in September with Pat and Donna Herbel, I planned to pay homage at his grave. It turned out Joyce is buried in Zurich, Switzerland.

He was born in Dublin, a city most visitors fall in love with. I sure did.

“For myself,” Joyce once wrote, “I always write about Dublin because if I can get to the heart of Dublin I can get to the heart of all of the cities of the world. In the particular is contained the universal.”

In Paris, he met two of my favorite writers, Ernest Hemingway and Marcel Proust.

When Hemingway returned to the United States in the 1920s, he smuggled in copies of the novel “Ulysses” on Joyce’s behalf. It had been banned in the U.S. for alleged obscenity. Now it is sold at most bookstores in the U.S. and often a mandatory read for college literature majors.

On May 15, 1922, Joyce attended a Parisian dinner party with a guest list that included Proust, Picasso, Diaghilev and other luminaries of the era. Writing about that evening later, Joyce remarked, “Proust would talk about duchesses, while I was more concerned with their chamber maids.”

He was also among the select few Proust invited to his home later that evening, but Joyce was so drunk the group flagged down a taxi to take him to his hotel.

It seemed SO right to buy my copy of “Ulysses” in Ireland.

But I’ve decided to read Joyce’s “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man” before “Ulysses,” then “Finnegan’s Wake.” Plus some of his poetry.

This could take a while, but there’s a long winter ahead.

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