The Years of Bloom
James Joyce in Trieste 1904-1920
By John McCourt
(University of Wisconsin Press, Hardcover, 9780299169800, 306pp.)
Publication Date: July 2000
While living in Trieste, Joyce wrote most of the stories in Dubliners, turned Stephen Hero into A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and began Ulysses. Echoes and influences of Trieste are rife throughout Ulysses and Finnegans Wake. Though Trieste had become a sleepy backwater by the time Ellmann visited there in the 1950s, McCourt shows that the city was a teeming imperial port, intensely cosmopolitan and polyglot, during the intermittent twelve years Joyce lived there in the waning years of the Habsburg Empire. It was there that Joyce experienced the various cultures of central Europe and the eastern Mediterranean. He met many Jews, who collectively provided much of the material for the character of Leopold Bloom. He encountered continental socialism, Italian Irredentism, Futurism, and various other political and artistic forces whose subtle influences McCourt traces with literary grace and scholarly rigour. The Years of Bloom, a rare landmark in the crowded terrain of Joyce studies, will instantly take its place as a standard work.