The work and life of Joyce is celebrated annually on 16 June, Bloomsday (the 107th anniversary of the fictional event
s that occur in his Ulysses
), in Dublin and in an increasing number of cities worldwide.
novelist was first a translator
, a student, and teacher of modern language
s. He composed Ulysses
over 8 years in exile, on the run from World War I, supporting himself teaching English to the Italian, German, and French speakers of Trieste, Zürich, and Paris. Part of Ulysses
's celebrated difficulty is its untranslated bits of these three languages, plus snatches of Latin, Greek
, Irish Gaelic
, and more. The most remarkable episode of Ulysses
is the episode 14, Oxen of the Sun. This chapter is remarkable for Joyce's wordplay, which seems to recapitulate the entire history of the English language. After a short incantation, the episode starts with latin
ate prose, Anglo-Saxon alliteration, and moves on through parodies of, among others, Malory, the King James Bible, Bunyan, Defoe, Sterne, Gibbon, Dickens, and Carlyle, before concluding in a haze of nearly incomprehensible slang.
After finishing Ulysses
, Joyce set to work on Finnegans Wake
. The entire book
is written in a largely idiosyncratic language, consisting of a mixture of standard English lexical items and neologistic multilingual
puns and portmanteau words. Till now there is no appropriate translation
of Finnegans Wake
from English to foreign language.