25 James Joyce Quotes to Teach You the Power of the Written Word

James Joyce was an Irish author known for his unique, complex and explicit writing style.

Joyce brought innovation to literature by using symbolic parallels drawn from mythology,  history, and, of course literature. His writings include a deep inner monologue, allusions, as well as complex analysis of life events and a unique style of playing with words. He even invented some of his own words in order to create his own, distinct language.

Joyce’s Ulysses is often referred to as one of the finest novels ever written, even though at the time the book was banned in the US and the UK because of its supposedly obscene content. It took a while for the courts to rule that the book was not pornographic, leaving Joyce’s fans free to buy and read the iconic book.

James Joyce loved literature so much that he taught himself Norwegian just so that he could read one of his favorite author’s work in its original language. He could also speak another 16 languages including Greek, Arabic and Sanskrit. Impressive, I know!

Joyce was as intelligent as he was gifted, with his love for literature and the written word shining through his works. Here are 25 James Joyce quotes to teach you the power of language and words.


Think you’re escaping and run into yourself. Longest way round is the shortest way home.


Shut your eyes and see.


Love loves to love love.


james-joyce-quote-man-of-geniusA man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals of discovery.


He wanted to cry quietly but not for himself: for the words, so beautiful and sad, like music.


All Moanday, Tearday, Wailsday, Thumpsday, Frightday, Shatterday.


Every life is in many days, day after day. We walk through ourselves, meeting robbers, ghosts, giants, old men, young men, wives, widows, brothers-in-love, but always meeting ourselves.


They lived and laughed and loved and left.


Your battles inspired me – not the obvious material battles but those that were fought and won behind your forehead.


But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.


Life is too short to read a bad book.


Why is it that words like these seem dull and cold? Is it because there is no word tender enough to be your name?


I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.


Welcome, O life! I go to encounter for the millionth time the reality of experience and to forge in the smithy of my soul the uncreated conscience of my race.


First we feel. Then we fall.


To learn one must be humble. But life is the great teacher.


james-joyce-quote-the-now-the-future-the-pastHold to the now, the here, through which all future plunges to the past.


This race and this country and this life produced me, he said. I shall express myself as I am.


All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light.


Men are governed by lines of intellect – women by curves of emotion.


Can’t bring back time. Like holding water in your hand.


Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.


Absence, the highest form of presence.


Every jackass going the roads thinks he has ideas.

I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that is the only way of insuring one’s immortality.

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