James Joyce in Zurich


Irish novelist James Joyce was born in Dublin in 1882, the son of John Stanislaus Joyce, a rather hard-up, failed businessman, and Mary Jane Murray, ten years younger and an accomplished pianist. Despite their poverty, the family managed to maintain a middle-class facade. Joyce was educated by Jesuits at Clongowes Wood College, at Clane, and later at Belvedere College in Dublin. In 1898 he entered the University College, Dublin, from where he graduated in 1902. He then went to Paris where he held various jobs including journalist and teacher, struggling financially. A year later he returned home from France when he got the news that his mother was dying.
In 1904, shortly after his mother’s death, Joyce left Dublin again to live abroad with Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid. The couple married in 1931 and lived in numerous places, including Trieste, where their children, Giorgio and Lucia were born. Although poverty-stricken, these were productive years for Joyce. During this time he wrote most of ‘Dubliners’ and ‘Ulysses’ and completed ‘A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man’ and the play ‘Exiles’.

World War 1 broke out and in June 1915, Joyce and his family moved to Zurich (Zürich, Switzerland). They lived at various addresses including Reitergasse, Reinhardstrasse, Kreuzstrasse, Universitätsstrasse and Seefeldstrasse. They also stayed at the Hotel St. Gotthard, Carlton Elite and Pension Delphin. One of Joyce’s favourite areas was the industrial quarter around the Platzspitz Park. Infamous in the early 1990s as “Needle Park” because of its drug scene, it is now one of the trendiest spots in Zurich.

From 1917 to 1930 Joyce underwent a series of eye operations and at times was totally blind. Joyce and his family moved to Paris in 1920. In March 1923 he started his second major work, ‘Finnigan’s Wake’, which took him until 1938 to complete. In late 1940, after the fall of France in WWII, Joyce returned to Zurich. On 11 January 1941, he had surgery for a perforated ulcer. After an initial improvement, his condition deteriorated and despite being given several blood transfusions, he fell into a coma. He awoke at 02.00 hrs on 13 January 1941 and asked for his wife and son but then lost consciousness again and died fifteen minutes later, before they arrived. He is buried in Fluntern Cemetery in Zurich, which also holds the graves of Elias Cannetti, 1981 Nobel Prize for Literature, and Johanna Spyri, author of Heidi.

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reiter-gasse-7uj.jpg (102177 Byte) Reitergasse, Zürich reitergasse-bn6t.jpg (91529 Byte) Reitergasse, Zürich universitaet-h6ru.jpg (123442 Byte) Universitätsstrasse, Zurich, Switzerland joyce-4zgq.jpg (129622 Byte) Universitaetstrasse 38, Zurich
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gotthard.jpg (156877 Byte) Hotel Gotthard, Zürich foundation-bhgn.jpg (112435 Byte) James Joyce Foundation, Augustinergasse 9, Zurich entrance-bhnj.jpg (112410 Byte) James Joyce Foundation, entrance