Nora: The Real Life of Molly Bloom

Overview

In 1904, having known each other for only three months, a young woman named Nora Barnacle and a not yet famous writer named James Joyce left Ireland together for Europe—unwed. So began a deep and complex partnership, and eventually a marriage, which endured for thirty-seven years.
This is the true story of Nora, the woman who, transformed by Joyce's imagination, became Molly Bloom, arguably the most famous female character in twentieth-century literature. It is also the story of...

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Overview

In 1904, having known each other for only three months, a young woman named Nora Barnacle and a not yet famous writer named James Joyce left Ireland together for Europe—unwed. So began a deep and complex partnership, and eventually a marriage, which endured for thirty-seven years.
This is the true story of Nora, the woman who, transformed by Joyce's imagination, became Molly Bloom, arguably the most famous female character in twentieth-century literature. It is also the story of Ireland, a social history encapsulated in the vivid recreation of Joyce and his small Irish entourage abroad. Ultimately it is the portrait of a relationship—of Nora's complicated, committed, and at times shocking relationship with a hardworking, hard drinking genius and with his work.
In NORA: THE REAL LIFE OF MOLLY BLOOM, the award-winning biographer Brenda Maddox has given us a powerful new lens through which to see both James Joyce and the woman who was in turn his inspiration and his salvation.

The first authoritative biography of Nora Joyce.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"What Brenda Maddox has given with great success is a love story." The Los Angeles Times

"A fascinating portrait."—Edna O'Brien The New York Times

"Brilliant . . . the first book to read about Joyce himself." Newsweek

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Not only is this a highly engaging Joyce family biographybrightly written, scrupulously researched and full of intimate, little-known Joyceanait also gives an important thrust to a scholarly opinion now gathering force: that far from being an insignificant factor in her husband's work, Nora was the inspiration for Ulysses's Molly Bloom, Finnegans Wake's Anna Livia Plurabelle and principal females in all his other writings. Though she was semiliterate and never read Ulysses, Galway-bred Nora was intelligent, humorous and strong; and, for the exiled Joyce, she was Ireland. This account of how she stood by her hard-drinking, thriftless ``genius'' through years of poverty, physical tribulations and endless nomadism is deeply touching. Others figure prominently in the storymost notably Joyce's brother Stanislaus, benefactor Harriet Weaver, his first publisher Sylvia Beach and the Joyce's two children, Lucia, who went mad, and Giorgio whose career as a singer was disastrousyet the figure who shines through in the freshest, strongest light is Nora. The reader may well agree that Joyce could not have written any of his books without her. Maddox's previous books include Who's Afraid of Elizabeth Taylor and Married and Gay. Illustrations. (June)
Library Journal
Nora Joyce has long been seen as a shrew who was a poor cook, basically illiterate, and an unlikely helpmate for the greatest novelist of the 20th century. Maddox presents a different Noraperfectly ordinary, in the Joycean sense of the word. A caring, devoted wife, with a sharp tongue, fine wit, and strong sense of survival, Nora not only made Joyce a man, but also, at least in part, the author he was. Nora was the model for many of Joyce's heroines, from Lily in ``The Dead'' to Molly of Ulysses and Anna Livia Plurabelle of Finnegans Wake. A carefully written, sensitive study that offers many new insights on the Joyces' family life. Essential for Joyceans. Donald Kaczvinsky, Pennsylvania State Univ., University Park
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780618057009
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 6/16/2000
  • Pages: 510
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.14 (d)

Meet the Author

Brenda Maddox

Brenda Maddox is the author of several books, including D.H. LAWRENCE: THE STORY OF A MARRIAGE and, most recently, YEAT'S GHOSTS: THE SECRET LIFE OF W.B. YEATS. She lives in London.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
List of Illustrations xv
Introduction xvii
Part I Lily
1. Exit from Finn's 3
2. The Man-Killer 7
3. The Summer of 1904 23
Part II Bertha
4. Signora Joyce 49
5. Madonna and Child 74
6. Away Alone 89
7. A House of Joyces 109
Part III Molly
8. Second Exile 135
9. Artists and Models 153
10. "Circe" Goes to Paris 169
11. In a Free State 193
12. Molly 198
13. Fame 211
14. Square Robiac 227
15. Legitimate Interests 255
Part IV Anna Livia
16. Madness in Progress, I 283
17. Madness in Progress, II 305
18. Madness in Progress, III 319
19. Flight into Zurich 336
20. Staying On 346
21. The Sound of Lions 359
22. Nora Speaking 374
Appendix Man of Letters 385
Notes 403
Bibliography 439
Index 453
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