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40 Enthralling James Joyce Quotes

Last updated on Feb 1st, 2021

40 Enthralling James Joyce Quotes

James Joyce (born February 2, 1882, Dublin, Ireland—died January 13, 1941, Zürich, Switzerland), in full James Augustine Aloysius Joyce, was an Irish novelist, short-story writer, poet, and one of the leading figures in Modernism.

Famous for experimental use of language, Joyce wrote three novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916), Ulysses (1922), and Finnegans Wake (1939). His other works include the short story collection Dubliners (1914), the play Exiles (1918), and collections of poetry, Chamber Music (1907), Giacomo Joyce (written 1907, published 1968), and Pomes Penyeach (1927).

Joyce’s work and literary methods had a profound impact on modern literature. Many later writers were influenced and inspired by his work.

Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.Chapter V, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Think you're escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.Part II, Chapter 13, Ulysses (1922)

Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age. - James Joyce (Dubliners Quotes)
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Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.The Dead, Dubliners (1914)

Absence is the highest form of presence. - James Joyce Quotes
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Absence is the highest form of presence.Letter to Lucia Joyce (May 29, 1935)

A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.Part II, Chapter 9, Ulysses (1922)

Our civilization, bequeathed to us by fierce adventurers, eaters of meat and hunters, is so full of hurry and combat, so busy about many things which perhaps are of no importance, that it cannot but see something feeble in a civilization which smiles as it refuses to make the battlefield the test of excellence. - James Joyce Quotes
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Our civilization, bequeathed to us by fierce adventurers, eaters of meat and hunters, is so full of hurry and combat, so busy about many things which perhaps are of no importance, that it cannot but see something feeble in a civilization which smiles as it refuses to make the battlefield the test of excellence.A Suave Philosophy, in Daily Express, Dublin (February 6, 1903)

Time is, time was, but time shall be no more. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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Time is, time was, but time shall be no more.Chapter III, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.Part I, Chapter 2, Ulysses (1922)

Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse. - James Joyce (Dubliners Quotes)
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Love between man and man is impossible because there must not be sexual intercourse and friendship between man and woman is impossible because there must be sexual intercourse.A Painful Case, Dubliners (1914)

Love (understood as the desire of good for another) is in fact so unnatural a phenomenon that it can scarcely repeat itself, the soul being unable to become virgin again and not having energy enough to cast itself out again into the ocean of another's soul. - James Joyce Quotes
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Love (understood as the desire of good for another) is in fact so unnatural a phenomenon that it can scarcely repeat itself, the soul being unable to become virgin again and not having energy enough to cast itself out again into the ocean of another’s soul.Notes (1913) made by Joyce for his play Exiles

Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Every life is many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.Part II, Chapter 9, Ulysses (1922)

Every age must look for its sanction to its poetry and philosophy, for in these the human mind, as it looks backward or forward, attains to an eternal state. - James Joyce Quotes
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Every age must look for its sanction to its poetry and philosophy, for in these the human mind, as it looks backward or forward, attains to an eternal state.James Clarence Mangan (1902)

The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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The artist, like the God of creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.Chapter V, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Our souls, shamewounded by our sins, cling to us yet more, a woman to her lover clinging, the more the more. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Our souls, shamewounded by our sins, cling to us yet more, a woman to her lover clinging, the more the more.Part I, Chapter 3, Ulysses (1922)

Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality. - James Joyce Quotes
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Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality.James Clarence Mangan (1902)

There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being. - James Joyce Quotes
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There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.Letter to Augusta Gregory (November 22, 1902)

Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants, willing to be dethroned.Part I, Chapter 2, Ulysses (1922)

Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the human sufferer.Chapter V, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

First we feel. Then we fall. - James Joyce (Finnegans Wake Quotes)
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First we feel. Then we fall.Part IV, Chapter I, Finnegans Wake (1939)

We are all born in the same way but we all die in different ways. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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We are all born in the same way but we all die in different ways.Part II, Chapter 14, Ulysses (1922)

Beauty, the splendour of truth, is a gracious presence when the imagination contemplates intensely the truth of its own being or the visible world, and the spirit which proceeds out of truth and beauty is the holy spirit of joy. These are realities and these alone give and sustain life. - James Joyce Quotes
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Beauty, the splendour of truth, is a gracious presence when the imagination contemplates intensely the truth of its own being or the visible world, and the spirit which proceeds out of truth and beauty is the holy spirit of joy. These are realities and these alone give and sustain life.James Clarence Mangan (1902)

He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.Chapter I, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep.Part III, Chapter 16, Ulysses (1922)

All moanday, tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, frightday, shatterday till the fear of the Law. - James Joyce (Finnegans Wake Quotes)
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All moanday, tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, frightday, shatterday till the fear of the Law.Part II, Chapter II, Finnegans Wake (1939)

I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use - silence, exile and cunning. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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I will tell you what I will do and what I will not do. I will not serve that in which I no longer believe, whether it call itself my home, my fatherland, or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use – silence, exile and cunning.Chapter V, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

What's yours is mine and what's mine is my own. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.Part II, Chapter 15, Ulysses (1922)

There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present. - James Joyce Quotes
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There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present.To Jacques Mercanton, on the structure of Ulysses, as quoted in 'The Hours of James Joyce, Part I' by Jacques Mercanton (1962)

One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot. - James Joyce Quotes
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One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.Letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver (November 24, 1926)

Shut your eyes and see. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Shut your eyes and see.Part I, Chapter 3, Ulysses (1922)

To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life! - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life!Chapter IV, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman. - James Joyce (Exiles Quotes)
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You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman.Second Act, Exiles (1918)

Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.Part II, Chapter 9, Ulysses (1922)

God spoke to you by so many voices, but you would not hear. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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God spoke to you by so many voices, but you would not hear.Chapter III, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light. - James Joyce Quotes
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All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light.Letter to Augusta Gregory (November 22, 1902)

History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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History is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.Part I, Chapter 2, Ulysses (1922)

Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end. - James Joyce Quotes
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Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.Notebook entry (Paris, March 28, 1903)

In this life our sorrows are either not very long or not very great because nature either overcomes them by habits or puts an end to them by sinking under their weight. - James Joyce (A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man Quotes)
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In this life our sorrows are either not very long or not very great because nature either overcomes them by habits or puts an end to them by sinking under their weight.Chapter III, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Never know whose thoughts you're chewing. - James Joyce (Ulysses Quotes)
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Never know whose thoughts you’re chewing.Part II, Chapter 8, Ulysses (1922)

No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination. - James Joyce Quotes
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No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.Letter to Stanislaus Joyce (December 7, 1906)

Phall if you but will, rise you must. - James Joyce (Finnegans Wake Quotes)
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Phall if you but will, rise you must.Part I, Chapter I, Finnegans Wake (1939)