7 things you may not know about James Joyce

james-joyceIn honor of Bloomsday, I thought I’d share this again.

James Joyce is unquestionably one of the most influential writers of the early 20th Century. Joyce continues to be the master of the stream of consciousness style of writing. Oh sure, Virginia Woolf and William Faulkner are two authors who also come to mind when discussing stream of consciousness master pieces, but nothing has come close to  Joyce’s career defining work” Ulysses” a modern version of Homer’s Odyssey with three main characters similar to the ones in Odyssey. Ulysses is said to be among the finest novels ever written. It took me three tries but in 2010, while my son was in the hospital, I finally got through it. Though good, it is not among my favorites. But to honor this literary giant I give you:

7 things you may not know about James Joyce!


Full Name: James Augustine Aloysius Joyce

BIRTH DATE: February 02, 1882

DEATH DATE: January 13 1941

EDUCATION: Clongowes Wood College, Belvedere College, and University College Dublin

PLACE OF BIRTH: Dublin, Ireland

PLACE OF DEATH: Zurich, Switzerland

The word “quark” first appeared in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake.

Scientist Murray Gell-Mann had been thinking about calling the unit “kwork,” but when he found the invented word in the Joyce classic, he knew he had discovered the spelling he wanted to use. Gell-Mann says this about the discovery:

“In 1963, when I assigned the name ‘quark’ to the fundamental constituents of the nucleon, I had the sound first, without the spelling, which could have been “˜kwork”. Luckily for science, quark won the day.

Joyce suffered from two phobias.

Cynophobia (fear of dogs) and keraunophobia (fear of thunder and lightning). Both phobias were brought about in childhood.

The cynophobia was a result of an attack by a neighborhood dog when Joyce was just five years old. And his keraunophobia, came about when his religious aunt told him that thunder was an angry God.

No he didn’t wear an eye-patch because he wanted to be a pirate

Besides phobias Joyce suffered from poor eyesight. He endured 25 eye surgeries and was almost blind by the end of his life. At one point he wrote in red crayon and relied on his daughter to edit his writing.

Let’s all say “Ahhh

The character Molly Bloom in his novel “Ulysses” is based on his wife Nora Barnacle The novel even takes place on June 16th, the day Joyce met his future wife.

Ulysses was not built in a day.

What started out as a short story ended up being a seven-year venture. Ulysses was written in the years between 1914 and 1921.

shakespeare bookstore_et_co_thumb

First edition

Supposedly Shakespeare and Co. is the most famous bookshop in the world. Not just because of its namesake but because of the high number of visitors the store receives annually thanks to the original owner Sylvia Beach having published and marketed Ulysses.

And now you know!

12 Christmas Fun Facts

Happy Christmas Eve everyone! Here’s my annual Christmas list.

How ever you celebrate the holiday season, I wish you good glad tiding sand holiday cheer!

12  fun Christmas facts

What’s so special about mistletoe?

The Druids considered mistletoe sacred because it remains green and bears fruit during the winter when all other plants appear to die. Druids would cut the plant with golden sickles, never allowing the plant to touch the ground. It was thought it have the power to cure infertility, nervous diseases and to ward off evil.

Yule do what with that log?

 A  medieval Nordic tradition. A Yule log is a massive wooden log that is typically burned during the Twelve Days of Christmas. Scholars believe that the word Yule means “revolution” or “wheel,” which symbolizes the cyclical return of the sun. A burning log or its charred remains is said to bring health, fertility, and luck.

Oh, it’s your birthday too?

 Christmas has its roots in pagan traditions, one being the Roman winter festival Saturnalia and another the Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun. The Roman sun god’s birthday just happens to fall on December 25th. So…..

In 350 BCE, Pope Julius I proclaimed December 25 the official celebration date for the birthday of Christ. Yet it would take hundreds of years for the celebration to fully take hold.


Twinkle twinkle little candle

According to German lore, the first person to decorate a Christmas tree was the Protestant reformer Martin Luther .According to legend he was so moved by the beauty of the stars shining between the branches of a fir tree Luther brought home an evergreen tree and decorated it with candles to share the image with his children.

Hey my house isn’t dusty, these are my Christmas decorations

In Poland,  spiderwebs are common Christmas trees decorations. According to legend, a spider wove a blanket for Baby Jesus. In fact, Polish people consider spiders to be symbols of goodness and prosperity at Christmas. Meanwhile in America….

 Because they viewed Christmas as a decadent Catholic holiday, the Puritans in America banned all Christmas celebrations from 1659-1681 with a penalty of five shillings for each offense. Some Puritan leaders condemned those who favored Christmas as enemies of the Christian religion. So, I guess we can say the “war on Christmas” started way back in 1659.

Trivia time!

Christmas wasn’t an official holiday in the United States until June 26, 1870.

Oklahoma was the last U.S. state to declare Christmas a legal holiday, in 1907.

All the gifts in the Twelve Days of Christmas would equal 364 gifts.

Most of Santa’s reindeer have masculine names, such as Blitzen, Comet, and Cupid. But, did you know….? Male reindeer shed their antlers around December so the reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh are likely not male, but female.

 The westernized idea of a white jolly fat man in a red suit only dates back to 1931 when Coco-cola  Coca-Cola commissioned illustrator Haddon Sundblom to develop advertising images using Santa Claus. Sundblom in turn used Clement Clark Moore’s 1822 poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” as inspiration for his “jolly elf”.

And now you know..Merry Christmas my friends!
Updated from 2013.
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