Friday 20 October 2017

A literary giant, a creative genius – but Joyce was no great Irish icon

John Shevlin dressed as James Joyce during Blomsday celebrations at the James Joyce Centre, North Great George’s Street, Dublin
John Shevlin dressed as James Joyce during Blomsday celebrations at the James Joyce Centre, North Great George’s Street, Dublin

So, did you have a jolly Bloomsday yesterday? Did you celebrate it by having offal for breakfast, attending a horsedrawn funeral, getting stocious at Davy Byrne's, or just reading aloud some of the more sexually explicit passages from 'Ulysses'?

Irish writers are keen to turn Bloomsday into a national holiday at home and abroad, and writers are exactly the people to celebrate James Joyce and his masterpiece. Because Joyce was, as a writer, a giant among men and women (not that he'd expect any competition from women – he didn't believe that women were possessed of "artistic power".)

But JJ shares with Richard Wagner the honour of being a great genius in his work – but, in person, a selfish and not very nice man.

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