[[caption-width-right:140: Well hello there. [[HarkAVagrant I wrote you a letter.]]]]

->''"This ought to keep the professors busy for a hundred years!"''
-->-- '''James Joyce''', after publishing ''Literature/FinnegansWake''. Damn it all to hell, the bastard was right.

James Joyce (Irish, 1882-1941), likely the most influential writer of the 20th century. If you think that's a bit hyperbolic, in 1998, ''Modern Library'' ranked ''{{Ulysses}}'' No. 1, and ''Literature/APortraitOfTheArtistAsAYoungMan'' No. 3, on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

To those seeking a simple description of Joyce's work, "modernist" is most often applied, though Joyce more defined the term than followed it. Although he lived most of his adult life away from Ireland, his work is almost entirely Irish in tone, manner and location.

Excepting various short stories and poems, and a play called ''Exiles'' that virtually no one reads, Joyce's CV is four works long, yet all of them are considered highly important works and present in many reading lists of college literature:
* ''Literature/{{Dubliners}}'' (1914): a collection of short stories about [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin some Dubliners]].
* ''Literature/APortraitOfTheArtistAsAYoungMan'' (1916): A mostly autobiographical, coming-of-age story. It occasionally veers into ''Ulysses''-like stream of consciousness, but to students who read (or try to read) ''Ulysses'' first, it's a surprisingly catchy page-turner, maybe even a "conventional" novel. (That rumble you hear is Joyce spinning in his grave.)
* ''Literature/{{Ulysses}}'' (1922): LoveItOrHateIt, ''Ulysses'' is a defining novel of the 20th century. The plot? Leopold Bloom and his wife and some friends have experiences on 16 June 1904, known now as "Bloomsday". Simple, right? Ha. It's [[{{Doorstopper}} dense]], delphic, hydra-headed, with multiple story lines [[KudzuPlot mixed together like a bowl of spaghetti]]. Even Joyce himself later admitted he may have overcooked it. Nonetheless, to a determined student of literature, it can be a hugely rewarding undertaking.
* ''Literature/FinnegansWake'' (1939): Whereas ''Ulysses'' broke some rules and bent the rest, ''Finnegans Wake'' absolutely obliterated every single one. We would try to provide a useful description, but we'll let Mr. Joyce himself try to make the case:
-->And that was how the skirtmisshes began. But the dour handworded her grace in dootch nossow: ''Shut''! So her grace o'malice kidsnapped up the jiminy Tristopher and into the shandy westerness she rain, rain, rain.
::If our primary article on the book cannot answer your questions, maybe ''SelfDemonstrating/FinnegansWake'' will?

Real world wearer of an EyepatchOfPower. He died and was buried in Zürich, Switzerland. As of January 1st 2012 his work is in the public domain worldwide.[[note]] During the 80s, 90s and 00s, the Joyce estate had been exercising ever stricter control over Joyce's copyright, to the extent that even people writing scholarly books were being refused permission to quote from the work if the estate didn't like anything about them - it was even reported that one academic was refused permission to quote because Joyce's literary executor (his grandson Stephen) didn't like the name of the university football team. Now that the work is in the public domain, it's expected that Joyce studies will see a revival, and many theatrical adaptations of his work have already been produced. Film, TV and new media versions will likely follow.[[/note]]
!! Joyce's works contain examples of:

* AbusiveParents: Farrington in ''Dubliners's'' "Counterparts", receiving a surprisingly sympathetic, AntiVillain-like portayal.
* AntiHero: Leopold Bloom and Stephen Dedalus.
* TheCity: Joyce claimed that if it was destroyed you could ''rebuild'' Dublin from the detail in ''Ulysses''.
* BeigeProse: Dropped in, as if from nowhere, late in ''Ulysses'', a conversation done in the stlye of a catechism (question-and-answer enquiry used in Church).
* CrapsackWorld: Deconstructed. Joyce depicts early 20th century Dublin as a pretty crappy place, but he also takes pains to show you reasons why that's so, even if his own characters aren't always aware of them.
* CreatorProvincialism: All of Joyce's work is set in Dublin or the surrounding area, though he spent most of his adult life on the Continent.
* CunningLinguist: Joyce had a genius for learning new languages. At the end of his life, he knew English, Gaelic, Italian, French, German, Latin, Greek and Hebrew. In his youth, he was able to write a fan letter to Creator/HenrikIbsen, ''in Norwegian'' and he was able to read Russian authors in the original language. His fluency of course varied but few modern authors(and fewer people) had that facility with language, which he took to the extent of multilingual puns in ''Finnegans Wake''.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Novels as an entire art form and English as a language, starting small with ''Portrait of an Artist'' then going for broke with ''Finnegans Wake''.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The riffs on Creator/{{Homer}}'s ''Literature/TheOdyssey'' are integral to understanding ''Ulysses''.
* UsefulNotes/{{Dublin}}
* EarlyInstalmentWeirdness: ''Stephen Hero'', Joyce's unfinished first draft of ''A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man'', the remaining bits of which read like a much more conventional novel than the kind of thing he later got famous for.
* GenderBender: In one of Bloom's internal dialogues in ''Ulysses'', he is turned into a woman and raped by the Brothel Madam, who has turned into a male ringmaster.
* GenreShift: This trope pops up in ''Portrait'', then rules the day in ''Ulysses''.
* GuideDangIt: In ''Ulysses'' and especially ''Wake'', spoilers and annotations are often necessary to get what the hell is going on.
* HurricaneOfPuns: ''Wake'' could be the trope namer.
* KavorkaMan: Blazes Boylan in ''Ulysses'
* MadArtist: UsefulNotes/CarlJung read ''Ulysses'' and concluded that Joyce was schizophrenic. Joyce for his part regarded Jung as an incompetent psychologist for his failure to properly treat his daughter Lucia.
* MatzoFever: Joyce (and Stephen Dedalus, Bloom and HCE by extension) had a bit of a fascination with the "Oriental mystique" of Jewish women.
* MeaningfulName: Dedalus, Bloom, HCE, etc.
* MindScrew: Some of ''Portrait'', most of ''Ulysses'', all of ''Wake''.
* {{Oireland}}: Subverted, except for the ones Joyce [[TruthInTelevision confirms]].
* {{Portmanteau}}: ''Wake'' could be the trope namer.
* ResetButton: Again, ''Wake'' could be the trope namer. Check out the first and last "sentences".
* RuleOfSymbolism: Used in ''Portrait'', almost overdone in ''Ulysses'', worn to a nub in ''Wake''.
* ShoutOut: At some point, to almost every major novelist and poet in the history of western literature.
* SpiritualSequel: Read his four major works in their published order. Each expands upon the themes of the last, each ups the ambition of the style, and the character of Stephen Dedalus can be seen taking shape in Joyce's mind in the pages of Dubliners.
* TropeNamer: One of the countless throwaway words in ''Wake'', "quark", is used in particle physics. JosephCampbell said he found the word "monomyth" in ''Wake'' too
* TwiceToldTale
* UglyGuyHotWife: Leopold Bloom and Molly.
** Going by their personal letters, Joyce apparently saw himself in a similar situation with Nora.
* ViewersAreGeniuses: Joyce assumes his readers possess quite a bit of intuitive insight. His justification was clear:
--> '''James Joyce''': One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.
* WrittenSoundEffect:
** The thunderclap in ''Wake'':
** "mrkgnao" for the noise a cat makes, in ''Ulysses''.