Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake


In this ground breaking work Carol Shloss shows the extraordinary influence that James Joyce's daughter Lucia exercised on her father's emotions and work. "This is a story that was not supposed to be told", writes Shloss who transforms Lucia from the "mad daughter", and a footnote in her father's life, to a creative kindred spirit.

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Lucia Joyce: To Dance in the Wake

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In this ground breaking work Carol Shloss shows the extraordinary influence that James Joyce's daughter Lucia exercised on her father's emotions and work. "This is a story that was not supposed to be told", writes Shloss who transforms Lucia from the "mad daughter", and a footnote in her father's life, to a creative kindred spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Shloss's patient research expands what could have been a footnote in literary history into a tragedy of wasted promise. Shloss gives us a James Joyce we have never seen before."—Time

"[Carol Loeb Shloss] argues that not only was Lucia an extraordinary artist in her own right, she was also central to the creation of Finnegans Wake....Joyce scholars say that Ms. Shloss's work is important because Lucia was pivotal to Joyce's work."—The New York Times

"A sharply perceptive and disturbing meditation on the terrible price that great art often levies not only on the artist but on those closest to him....Lucia Joyce's story, which Shloss tells so movingly, not only wrings the heart but stirs one's anger."—John Banville, The New York Review of Books

"The most impressive feature of her book is the delicacy with which it handles the complex ambiguities of the Joyce-Lucia relationship....Shloss argues persuasively that the conclusion of Finnegan's Wake pays homage to Lucia, as Joyce poignantly seeks to make amends to his beloved daughter and convince her that all may still be well."—Terry Eagleton, London Review of Books

Publishers Weekly
The author of this groundbreaking new study of the life of Lucia Joyce (1907-1982), the daughter of James Joyce, shares an artistic sensibility with her subject that gives her a special insight for viewing Lucia's life. The origin of Lucia's mental breakdown, Shloss speculates, was her family's decision that she must give up her promising and fulfilling career in modern dance, an art form that Shloss explores with deep empathy. Lucia, she shows, was an artist, "who worked with a fervor and vision comparable to Joyce's own." Deprived of the creative expression that gave her life meaning, yanked from one country to another by her perpetually penurious father and buffeted by a series of emotional crises-her abandonment by several men she loved, including Samuel Beckett and Alexander Calder-Lucia's volatile and sometimes violent behavior resulted in her lifelong incarceration in mental institutions. Shloss further speculates that Joyce came to understand his role in his daughter's mental illness, and that he tried until his untimely death to reunite Lucia with her family-even though his wife, Nora, would not allow Lucia in her home and Giorgio, Lucia's untalented, parasitical brother, insisted that Lucia remain behind institutional bars. Shloss's assiduous research has turned up numerous facts about Lucia's medical and psychiatric history that contradict what other biographers have said; she takes issue with Richard Ellmann, Jane Lidderdale and Brenda Maddox for accepting versions of Lucia's life from unreliable sources. She criticizes Ellmann in particular for deviating from the historical method in his decision to trust the words of Maria Jolas, a family friend whose version of events was colored by her dislike of Lucia. Shloss's research reveals information about the various psychiatrists (including Jung) who used Lucia as human guinea pig to test psychological and physiological theories, all later disproved; it makes painful reading. Even more provocatively, Shloss states that Lucia was her father's muse, that she was aware of her role and that she was both proprietary of her place in her father's creativity and resentful that she was forced to abandon her own attempts at artistic expression. In Shloss's cogent analysis, the character of Anna Livia Plurabelle in Finnegans Wake reflected Joyce's steadfast love for and festering guilt about his daughter, who he truly believed was a genius in her own right. Deeply and intuitively familiar with Joyce's work, Shloss speculates that Finnegans Wake is "an elaborate coded mystery of an actual family." Since most of Lucia's letters have been destroyed, as Shloss acknowledges, she has been forced to imagine Lucia through the eyes of those who knew her and from her medical records. Because it is speculative in many areas where no direct material survives, this study will surely arouse debate, as Shloss admits. Because it is so astutely reasoned, however, it will surely stand as a vivid testament to Lucia's talents as a creative artist, as well as a corrective to the ways that the facts of her life have been hidden and distorted by earlier Joyce scholars. Agent, Tina Bennett, Janklow and Nesbit. (Dec.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312422691
  • Publisher: Picador
  • Publication date: 3/1/2005
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 576
  • Sales rank: 1,007,649
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.27 (d)

Meet the Author

Carol Loeb Shloss is an Acting Professor at Stanford University. She has written extensively on Joyce and other modernists. She divides her time between Stanford, California and the coast of Maine.

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