Contextualization (J.J.) Copy

JAMES JOYCE (1882-1941)


  • At the beginning of the First World War I (1914), Great Britain was the greatest colonial power in the world;
  • During the First World War (1914-1918) 1 million Britons died and 2 million were wounded;
  • After the First World War, the colonies increased their demands for independence. The British Commonwealth of Nations was set up in 1926.
  • The first half of the 20th century marked the end of the British Empire and the Industrial Revolution;
  • Ireland was fighting for political independence from Great Britain.


Britain’s economic and military position was weakened by the wars;

After World War I, debt and unemployment led to:

  • The General Strike (1926)
  • The World Economic Depression (1930)

Women started to take on new roles:

  • The Suffragette movement led to women being granted the right to vote;
  • Women enjoyed more freedom, unlike in the Victorian era, when they were generally housebound.

The start of the 20th century marked a dramatic rise in the number of writers and readers;

Ireland was affected by religious conflicts between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants and by nationalistic manifestations that affected the individual’s relationship with authorities and institutions.


Modernism is a collective term for several literary orientations, such as Decadence, Expressionism, Imagism, Symbolism, and Post-Impressionism;

Modernism is a reaction against realism and naturalism, which aimed at representing reality as we see it;

Modernism is influenced by:

  • Einstein’s theory of relativity;
  • Freud’s psychological studies;
  • Marx’s political theories.

The Modernist novel:

  • Non-chronological, it experiments with the representation of time (temporal juxtapositions, sudden jumps);
  • The modernist narration moves from one level of narration to another without warning; thus, it breaks narrative frames.
  • The modernist narration focuses on the inner world. The plot of events becomes less important than the character’s consciousness, unconsciousness, memory, and perception.
  • Experiments with form and style.


Born in Dublin in a middle-class family;

Educated as a Catholic, but during his teenage years he rejected Catholicism;

Lived in self-imposed exile in Trieste, Paris, and Zürich;

Worked as an English teacher and bank clerk;

Wrote poetry, stories, and theories of aesthetics;

Corresponded with Modernist writers (Samuel Beckett and Ezra Pound);

His work is tied with Irish political and cultural history.


  • “The Dubliners”
  • “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man”
  • “Ulysses”
  • “Finnegans Wake”