80+ Enlightening James Joyce Quotes

James Joyce Quotes

In the literary world, few authors have left as indelible a mark as the Irish mastermind, James Joyce (1882-1941). A prominent figure in the early 20th century, Joyce revolutionized the realm of modern literature through his experimental and complex writing style. His works, such as the groundbreaking novel “Ulysses” and the remarkable collection of short stories in “Dubliners,” continue to captivate readers and provoke thought over a century later.

Delving into the mind of this enigmatic wordsmith, one can uncover a treasure trove of wisdom and insight. James Joyce quotes not only reflect his extraordinary talent for language but also offer profound observations on life, love, and the human experience. These timeless gems are not only worth reading but merit deep contemplation, as they possess the power to resonate with readers across generations and cultures. In this blog post, we will explore some of the most poignant and thought-provoking quotes by James Joyce, allowing you to savor the richness of his intellect and appreciate the lasting impact of his literary genius.

Some of the quotes appear in the following video:

Table of Contents

James Joyce Quotes on Life

Every life is in 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.


It is as painful perhaps to be awakened from a vision as to be born.


Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.


Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.


The supreme question about a work of art is out of how deep a life does it spring.


Life is too short to read a bad book.


To learn, one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.


Fall if you will, but rise you must.


I fear those big words which make us so unhappy.


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.


The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole Life to reading my works.


Men are governed by lines of intellect – women by curves of emotion.


There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.


I care not if I live but a day and a night, so long as my deeds live after me.


There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present.


The men that is now is only all palaver and what they can get out of you.


I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.


But we are living in a sceptical and, if I may use the phrase, a thought-tormented age: and sometimes I fear that this new generation, educated or hyper-educated as it is, will lack those qualities of humanity, of hospitality, of kindly humour which belonged to an older day.


I wanted real adventures to happen to myself. But real adventures, I reflected, do not happen to people who remain at home: they must be sought abroad.


Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.


To live, to err, to fall, to triumph, to recreate life out of life.


There’s no friends like the old friends.


The pleasures of love last but a fleeting but the pledges of life outlasts a lifetime.


History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.


We are all born in the same way, but we all die in different ways.


Read your own obituary notice; they say you live longer. Gives you second wind. New lease of life.

James Joyce Quotes on Love

But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.


My words in her mind: cold polished stones sinking through a quagmire.


First we feel. Then we fall.


Whatever else is unsure in this stinking dunghill of a world a mother’s love is not.


They lived and laughed and loved and left.


Man and woman, love, what is it? A cork and a bottle.


First kiss does the trick. The propitious moment. Something inside them goes pop.


Children must be educated by love, not punishment.

James Joyce Quotes on Nation

When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.


A nation is the same people living in the same place.


Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honored by posterity because he was the last to discover America.


If Ireland is to become a new Ireland she must first become European.


Nations have their ego, just like individuals.


I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.


Ireland sober is Ireland stiff.


It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked looking-glass of a servant.


Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.


An Irishman needs three things: silence, cunning, and exile.


There was no doubt about it: if you wanted to succeed you had to go away. You could do nothing in Dublin.

Thought-Provoking James Joyce Quotes

Shut your eyes and see.


Ask no questions and you’ll hear no lies.


Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.


Why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?


Absence, the highest form of presence.


Mistakes are the portals of discovery.


A corpse is meat gone bad. Well and what’s cheese? Corpse of milk.


Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.


God spoke to you by so many voices but you would not hear.


People trample over flowers, yet only to embrace a cactus.


Satan, really, is the romantic youth of Jesus re-appearing for a moment.


Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality.


Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.


I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.


My mouth is full of decayed teeth and my soul of decayed ambitions.


Beware the horns of a bull, the heels of the horse, and the smile of an Englishman.


The light music of whiskey falling into glasses made an agreeable interlude.


I am, a stride at a time. A very short space of time through very short time of space.


Jesus was a bachelor and never lived with a woman. Surely living with a woman is one of the most difficult things a man has to do, and he never did it.


As I am. As I am. All or not at all.


The object of the artist is the creation of the beautiful. What the beautiful is, is another question.


Places remember events.


Time’s ruins build eternity’s mansions.


Hold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.


You can still die when the sun is shining.


People could put up with being bitten by a wolf but what properly riled them was a bite from a sheep.


All fiction is autobiographical fantasy.


Civilization may be said indeed to be the creation of its outlaws.


God made food; the devil the cooks.


A woman loses a charm with every pin she takes out.


As you are now so once were we.


Too excited to be genuinely happy


Time is, time was, but time shall be no more.


What’s yours is mine and what’s mine is my own.


His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.


My puns are not trivial. They are quadrivial

Interesting Facts about James Joyce

After you had some time to ponder these great James Joyce quotes, here are some interesting facts about James Joyce. Enjoy.

  1. Publishing His First Writing at the Age of 9 – In 1891, when he is only 9-years old, James Joyce wrote a poem called “Et Tu Healy?” His father decided to publish his poem and send it to his friends, but that’s not all. His father was so proud and impressed, that he even sent a copy of the poem to the pope. There are no known complete copies of the poem existing.
  2. He Invested in a Movie Theater – In 1909, James Joyce helped open the Volta Cinematograph, which is considered “the first full-time, continuous, dedicated cinema” in Ireland. Joyce got the idea after he was having trouble getting Dubliners published, yet noticed the abundance of cinemas while living in Trieste. His sister told him that there weren’t any movie theaters in Ireland, so Joyce joined up with four Italian investors to get 10 percent of the profits and together they opened up the Volta on Dublin’s Mary Street, not for the love of cinema, but more of a money-making opportunity. The investment failed since the movie theatr didn’t attract a lot of viewers, due to the fact that it showed mostly Italian and European movies. After only 7 months, Joyce cut his losses and pulled out of the investment. The movie theater itself closed in 1919.
  3. A Famous Drinking Buddy and Bodyguard – Ernest Hemingway was James Joyce’s drinking buddy and at times his bodyguard. When Joyce got drunk at bars, he would sometimes start fights, but then leave the consequences for Hemingway to deal with. Because Joyce had bad eyes, he couldn’t even see the guy he started the fight with, and would ask Hemingway to deal with that guy.
  4. He Was Afraid of Thunder and Lightning – James Joyce was afraid of thunder and lightning all of his life. This fear began at childhood when he believed (thanks to the church) that thunder and lightning are God manifesting his anger on him. This fear also manifested to his works and writings.
  5. He Taught English – James Joyce was eager to leave Ireland, and so in 1904, he responded to an ad for a teaching position in Europe. By the end of 1904, Joyce and his wife (Nora) left Dublin and moved to Zurich, Switzerland. However, there was no open position there for Joyce to teach, so the two left to Trieste, Italy, to teach English at a Berlitz school, but there was no open position there as well. At the end, Joyce found a Berlitz teaching job in Pola in Austria-Hungary, now Pula, Croatia. English was only one of 17 languages that Joyce could supposedly speak.

For more quotes from famous authors, please visit our pages dedicated to Neil Gaiman quotes, Jane Austen quotes, Leo Tolstoy quotes, and Franz Kafka quotes.

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