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The Years of Bloom
James Joyce in Trieste, 1904–1920
John McCourt

"McCourt re-creates more brilliantly than any other Joyce biographer the culture of Trieste during Joyce's years there. He is as careful in his scholarship as he is eloquent in his writing."—Claire Culleton, author of Names and Naming in Joyce

Since the publication of Richard Ellmann's James Joyce in 1959, Joyce has received remarkably little biographical attention. Scholars have chipped away at various aspects of Ellmann's impressive edifice but have failed to construct anything that might stand alongside it. The Years of Bloom is arguably the most important work of Joyce biography since Ellmann. Based on extensive scrutiny of previously unused Italian sources and informed by the author's intimate knowledge of the culture and dialect of Trieste, The Years of Bloom documents a fertile period in Joyce's life.

While living in Trieste, Joyce wrote most of the stories in Dubliners, turned Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and began Ulysses. Echoes and influences of Trieste are rife throughout Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Though Trieste had become a sleepy backwater by the time Ellmann visited there in the 1950s, McCourt shows that the city was a teeming imperial port, intensely cosmopolitan and polyglot, during the approximately twelve years Joyce lived there in the waning years of the Habsburg Empire. It was there that Joyce experienced the various cultures of central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. He met many Jews, who collectively provided much of the material for the character of Leopold Bloom. He encountered continental socialism, Italian Irredentism, Futurism, and various other political and artistic forces whose subtle influences McCourt traces with literary grace and scholarly rigour. The Years of Bloom, a rare landmark in the crowded terrain of Joyce studies, will instantly take its place as a standard work.

John McCourt was born and educated in Dublin. Since 1991 he has lived in Trieste, Italy, where he teaches at the University of Trieste and where he founded and directs the annual Trieste Joyce School. He is author of an illustrated biography of Joyce, James Joyce: A Passionate Exile as well as Dubliners: A Guide to Text Analysis and, with Renzo Crivelli, Joyce in Svevo's Garden.

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July 2000
320 pp.   6 x 9

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The edition from Lilliput Press, Dublin, Ireland, is available elsewhere in the world.

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