J is for Joyce


James Augusta Aloysius Joyce was born in 1882 in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. Considered to be one of the most influential writers of the 20th century he wrote his first poem at the age of 9.

He attended University College Dublin and after graduating went to Paris to study Medicine, but returned to Ireland when he heard his mother was dying, where he made a meager living by doing book reviews after her death.

In 1904 he tried to publish an essay entitled “A Portrait of The Artist” unsuccessfully, and years later, completely reworked as a novel this became “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.”

After various stints in Europe (mainly Zurich and Paris) where he met Harriet Shaw Weaver (who became his mentor and gave him thousands of pounds to allow him to write and not have to work) he wrote his famous short story collections and novels such as “Ulysses” and “Finnegan’s Wake.”

Joyce perfected the stream of consciousness technique of writing and his fiction is centered on Dublin, his characters resembling friends and relations he had there.

An alcoholic, he died at the age of 59 due to a perforated ulcer.

My favourite Joyce quotes:

“Mistakes are the portals of discovery.”

“No pen, no ink, no table, no room, no time, no quiet, no inclination.”

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

”I shall write a book some day about the appropriateness of names. Geoffrey Chaucer has a ribald ring, as is proper and correct, and Alexander Pope was inevitably Alexander Pope. Colley Cibber was a silly little man without much elegance and Shelley was very Percy and very Bysshe.”

Clip of Joyce:

Ok, so he pioneered “stream of consciousness” aka “interior monologue” in his novels, which means I have a lot to thank him for. I love using interior monologue (although i call it internal monologue) perhaps too much lol. Do you use interior monologue in your writing?

E is for Eco


Umberto Eco was born in 1932 in Alessandria in Northern Italy. He is the first of the writers I’ve looked into who is actually still alive! Lol. Urged by his father to become a Lawyer, Umberto instead chose to go to University to study medieval philosophy and literature and subsequently became a University Professor. Now, he divides his time between studying semiotics, writing essays, philosophy, literary criticism and writing fiction.

He has written books for children, dozens of non fiction books and 6 novels. But his most famous work was his first fictional novel “In The Name Of The Rose” which was published when he was 48 years old. A historical murder mystery set in a monastery it encapsulates everything that Eco had studied and taught about in the previous years and has sold approximately 50 million copies.

The intricate plots of his fiction are full of references to literature and history. He sites Jorge Luis Borges and James Joyce as his influences. He currently lives in Italy, dividing his time between two homes. In one he has a library of 30,000 books and in the other, 20,000 (and I thought I was bad!!!!).

My Favourite Eco Quotes:

“The real hero is always the hero by mistake; he dreams of being an honest coward like everybody else.”

“It is a myth of publishers that people want to read easy things.”

“Every time I write a novel I am convinced for at least 2 years that it is the last one, because a novel is like a child. It takes 2 years after its birth. You have to take care of it. It starts walking and then speaking.”

“I love the smell of book ink in the morning.”

“Thus I rediscovered what writers have always known (and have told us again and again): books always speak of other books, and every story tells a story that has already been told.”

Check out Umberto Eco’s Rules Of Writing and this rather wonderful interview about his most recent novel.

Ive never read any of Eco’s work (although The Hubster has) and I don’t tend to read books that have an intricate plot structure. So does that mean I choose books that are easy to read? I probably do you know *blush*

What do you think? Do readers want to read easy things? Do you?