James Joyce: A New Biography
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James Joyce: A New Biography

3.52 of 5 stars 3.52  ·  rating details  ·  80 ratings  ·  25 reviews
A revealing new biography—the first in more than fifty years—of one of the twentieth-century’s towering literary figures

James Joyce was one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century, but he was not immediately recognized as such. At twenty-two he chose a life of exile in cosmopolitan Europe in a bid to escape the suffocating atmosphere and parochial prejudices of hi...more
ebook, 656 pages
Published June 5th 2012 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published May 26th 2011)
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Carl Rollyson
James Joyce called biographers "biografiends." And yet his work is so autobiographical, and he was so meticulous about documenting the real world of Ireland, that he might as well have set up a business licensing biographers. Wary of the curse Joyce had cast upon biographers, Richard Ellmann, the colossus of Joyce biography, proceeded with caution when approaching Joyce's friends and contemporaries, assuring them that his interest arose from a desire to show how Joyce's life gave birth to such g...more
Vivian Valvano
Bowker had so much material at his disposal, more than any Joyce biographer to date. I don't think he uses his sources well, or even adequately, and his practice for source acknowledgments and citations is sorely deficient. He needs serious lessons in clear and complete acknowlegment of sources, both in terms of text and in terms of photographs and illustrations included in his book. I am disappointed in Farrar, Straus and Giroux for allowing the book to be published as is. Quite apart from that...more
Nick Sweeney
Gordon Bowker’s biography of James Joyce is not Richard Ellman’s, I was glad to see. The style and content of this biography shows a man more like the one portrayed in Carol Schloss’ Lucia and Brenda Maddox’s Nora. All Joyce’s vanity, arrogance, disingenuity and self-indulgent foolishness is firmly to the fore. I was also happy to see this; we know Joyce was a (kind of) genius, so we need a bit more if we are to remain interested in him.

The Ellman biography, published in 1959, was for many years...more
ماهر Battuti
I have to interrupt my current readings to read this book that has been just published. Another biography of Joyce is a proof enough that serious works of art are still alive. Will evaluate after reading it.

Just finished reading the book, and it is worth it. The author introduces new features of Joyce's life in a professional way of a master in the art of Biography. The language is elegant and the book is well documented.
Casey72
Why do I keep reading these literary biographies.

His grandmother was named Margaret Flynn, just like me.

Coincidence, probably. It does appear that we are related to the same
Flynn's in Ireland.

What does this mean? That I, too, may make no money on my writing during my lifetime.
John
BTW this book is available...picked it up in a Barnes and Noble .....Just started....interesting new insights , for me anyway , into Joyce and his life and times.....
Ed
The Barnes and Noble e-book of this title for the Nook reader.

This isn't a literary biography although it is, obviously, a biography of a literary giant. Bowker doesn't do the extended literary analysis and plot summaries of the genre although he does find plenty of autobiographical references in Joyce's fiction.

Borwick sometimes a bit too sure, almost glib in drawing a direct parallel from a house in which the young Joyce lived or an encounter with a relative or friend and an episode or image...more
Jim Hale
No one was supposed to dare write another big Joyce bio after Richard Ellmann's massive and exhaustive work, but I'm glad Bowker did. I like this one much better and it's not as if he skims anything here. I came away with newfound appreciation for the suffering Joyce endured with his health, and for the excruciating struggles he had with his daughter, whom he loved very much. Like most great writers, Joyce was a selfish, ungrateful, egomaniac, alcoholic, but Bowker is careful in his judgments an...more
Jason Fritz
Bowker does a fine job describing Joyce's life - his mental state, living conditions, interlocutors - that inspired his work. Bowker also does an admirable job connecting the characters in Joyce's life to the characters they inspired (for better or worse) in Joyce's fiction. If I have one major complaint is that the author does a poor job in managing the sheer influx of people into Joyce's world, making it difficult to remain up to date on who is who. A simple table would have aided in this. Oth...more
Liam Guilar
If you want to know where Joyce was living on any given day, this is your book. For anything else, read Ellmann.

Part of the problem for his biographer is that Joyce didn't do a great deal except write several books and a lot of unattractive letters. Bowker never gets beyond the details.

But for anyone interested in Joyce's life and his writing, I'd suggest they read Ellmann's biography of Joyce which is everything this book isn't...and Brenda Maddox's "Nora" which fills in the bits Ellmann left...more
Carol
This book is no Ellman, but it was written in a straightforward, chronological manner that I liked. I also liked how the author tied events in Joyce's life to his writings. No doubt Joyceans may have a problem with some liberties that might be taken in that regard, but as an a mere enthusiastic reader it was an enjoyable and enlightening read. I would have liked to hear a bit less on the daily updates to Joyce's bank account and borrowings, but it is clear that money played a large role in Joyce...more
Chuck Lowry
If you are interested in who the model was for every drunken carouser or feckless layabout in Joyce's fiction his is the book for you. I am not, however, a professional reader. I merely want a literary biography to make me want to read the author again.

The constant financial struggle and vision struggle are interesting stories, but they certainly do not make me want to read or reread more Joyce. One did, though, feel very sympathetic to Nora and Lucia by the end of the book.
Sean de la Rosa
I tried to read Ulysses but found it totally inaccessible. I thought reading his biography would give me insights into the author and his cryptic work. Surprisingly the biography confirmed that he wrote his books in such a way that a "key" was required to understand them and that his works were widely considered a frustrating read at the best of times. His life for me was reminiscent of Proust. It truly was a life lived at the extremes.
Pat
I must confess that I abandoned this book 1/2 through, not because I didn't like it, but because it is so heavy I have to take a break. In fact, I love the book but it is a library book and has to be returned tomorrow. I can't renew it because of the requests for it. I will request it again in a couple of months after some lighter reading.
Zachary Martin
I think the information is fine, but found some sections to be glossed over with subjective judgements that I am not really sure are necessary. I think Bowker's book on Lowery is a very good biography on a writer who neede one, this one not so much. That said I did enjoy reading it and would recommend.
Olivia
Not as comprehensive as Ellman's, though more approachable; gets just as dry somewhere after the middle. Relies heavily on 2 biographies of Lucia's regarding her illness. Presented some new information there, though perhaps that comes from the biography of Lucia that I haven't read.
Josh
Pretty definitive (certainly ridiculuosly extensive). Some really interesting insights, but overall just a bit too dry and fully of unnecessary details (about his budget, his housing, etc) to really enjoy.
Glad I read it. Wouldn't recommend unless you're a major Joyce lover.
Diarmid Sullivan
Marred by errors; a comparative lack of style and a tendency to ground all of Joyce's life in Finnegan's Wake render the Ellmann Biography superior: consequently, Ellmann's remains the definitive choice for a biography of Joyce for student and interested party alike.
Andrew Higgins
Brilliant very well written bio of Joyce - a must for all lovers of his works. Especially enjoyed Bowker's analysis of Ulysses and Finnigan's Wake which I am planning to re-explore sometime before I leave this realm!!!
Thomas Walsh
I especially like the part on Pound. He was more generous and more of a friend than I ever imagined. The book's style was fresh and not too bogged down with scholarly "show off" which made it more accessible, to me.
Laura
Jun 17, 2011 Laura rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Bettie, Carey, Wanda, Hayes
From BBc Radio 4 Extra:

Gordon Bowker's account of the Irish writer's years spent in exile. Read by Jim Norton, with Andrew Scott as Joyce.
Uwe Hook
It was tedious and boring. If you want where Joyce was on any given day, buy the book. If you want to understand him better, look somewhere else.
David Melbie
Aug 12, 2013 David Melbie rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of Joyce
Recommended to David by: Library pick
The best biography on Joyce -- ever! I have read a few, but this one was the most fun.
Richard MacManus
Absorbing biography, I very much enjoyed it.
Nick Black
happy bloomsday 2012! (a few days late)
Alexa
Alexa marked it as to-read
Apr 14, 2014
Tedwards
Tedwards marked it as to-read
Mar 23, 2014
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