Swirly Joyce

Flinging phrases here, there.
Quotations every day in the year. To be or not to be. Wisdom while you wait

Joyce Quotes
This page houses a collection of Joycean quotes -- the majority have been pulled from his work, but I have included a section on his personal statements as well as what others have said in reference to him. In a few cases for the lengthier quotations, I have deleted a few sentences to make for a tidier paragraph. Sorry if this offends anyone.
When selecting these quotes, I have made every effort not to include any quotes that could potentially spoil a paragraph, chapter, or even a joke for the first-time reader. This is especially relevant with respect to Dubliners, as more than a few people have suggested I include the last few sentences from "The Dead." Although these are, indeed, some of the most beautiful lines ever written, I feel it would rob them of their power to divorce them from the text and put them on display here. Call me a Romantic fool. . . .
I am always looking for more quotes to add, so if you have a favorite pithy Joyce quote, please mail it to me!


"He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen."
-- Dubliners, "A Little Cloud"

One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
-- Dubliners, "The Dead"

A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

Pity is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the sufferer. Terror is the feeling which arrests the mind in the presence of whatsoever is grave and constant in human sufferings and unites it with the secret cause.

Ireland is the old sow that eats her farrow.

--It is a curious thing, do you know, Cranly said dispassionately, how your mind is supersaturated with the religion in which you say you disbelieve.

The artist, like the God of the creation, remains within or behind or beyond or above his handiwork, invisible, refined out of existence, indifferent, paring his fingernails.

I will not serve that in which I no longer believe whether it call itself home, my fatherland or my church: and I will try to express myself in some mode of life or art as freely as I can and as wholly as I can, using for my defence the only arms I allow myself to use, silence, exile, and cunning.

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.


The snotgreen sea. The scrotumtightening sea.

It is a symbol of Irish art. The cracked lookingglass of a servant.

Kingstown pier, Stephen said. Yes, a disappointed bridge.

I fear those big words, Stephen said, which make us so unhappy.

History, said Stephen, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.

Stephen jerked his thumb towards the window, saying: -- That is God
Hooray! Ay! Whrrwhee!
-- What? Mr Deasy asked.
-- A shout in the street, Stephen answered, shrugging his shoulders.

Vulcanic lake, the dead sea: no fish, weedless, sunk deep in the earth. A dead sea in a dead land, grey and old. Old now. It bore the oldest, the first race. The oldest people. Wandered far away over all the earth, captivity to captivity, multiplying, dying, being born everywhere. It lay there now. Now it could bear no more. Dead: an old woman's: the grey sunken cunt of the world.

Come forth Lazarus! And he came fifth and lost the job.


Monsieur de la Palisse, Stephen sneered, was alive fifteen minutes before his death.

Unsheathe your dagger definitions.

It is as painful perhaps to be awakened from a vision as to be born

Bosh! Stephen said rudely. A man of genius makes no mistakes. His errors are volitional and are the portals to discovery.

If others have their will Ann hath a way

Our national epic has yet to be written, Dr. Sigerson says. We are becoming important, it seems.

Coffined thoughts around me, in mummycases, embalmed in spice of words. Thoth, god of libraries, a birdgod, moonycrowned. And I heard the voice of that Egyptian highpriest. In painted chambers loaded with tilebooks. They are still. Once quick in the brains of men. Still: but an itch of death is in them, to tell me in my ear a maudlin tale, urge me to wreak their will.

As we, or mother Dana, weave and unweave our bodies, Stephen said, from day to day, their molecules shuttled to and fro, so does the artist weave and unweave his image.

His own image to a man with that queer thing genius is the standard of all experience, material and moral.

The mocker is never taken seriously when he is most serious

You know Manningham's story of the burgher's wife who bade Dick Burbage to her bed after she had seen him in Richard III and how Shakespeare, overhearing, without more ado about nothing, took the cow by the horns and, when Burbage came knocking at the gate, answered from the capon's blankets: William the conquerer came before Richard III.

A father, said Stephen, battling against hopelessness, is a necessary evil.

Paternity may be a legal fiction.

-- Force, hatred, history, all that. That's not life for men and women, insult and hatred. And everybody knows that it's the opposite of that that is really life.
-- What? Says Alf.
-- Love, says Bloom. I mean the opposite of hatred.

But oblige me by taking away that knife. I can't look at the point of it. It reminds me of Roman history.
-- Stephen to Bloom

His attention was directed to them by his host jocosely and he accepted them seriously as they drank in jocoserious silence Epp's massproduct, the creature cocoa.

O Jamesy let me up out of this
-- Molly

Finnegans Wake

End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousandsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
(628.13 to 3.3)

Phall if you but will, rise you must: and none so soon either shall the pahrce for the nunce come to a setdown secular phoenish.

But all they are all there scraping along to sneeze out a likelihood that will solve and salve life's robulous rebus

Behove this sound of Irish sense. Really? Here English might be seen. Royally? One sovereign punned to petery pence. Regally? The silence speaks the scene. Fake!
(12.35 to 13.1-3)

Countlessness of livestories have netherfallen by this plage, flick as flowflakes, litters from aloft, like a waast wizzard all of whirlworlds. Now are all tombed to the mound, isges to isges, erde from erde.

For that (the rapt one warns) is what papyr is meed of, made of, hides and hints and misses in prints. Till ye finally (though not yet endlike) meet with the acquaintance of Mister Typus, Mistress Tope and all the little typtopies. Filstup. So you need hardly spell me how every word will be bound over to carry three score and ten toptypsical readings throughout the book of Doublends Jined (may his forehead be darkened with mud who would sunder!) till Daleth, mahomahouma, who oped it closeth thereof the. Dor.

came at this timecoloured place where we live in our paroqial fermament one tide on another

in the Nichtian glossery which purveys aprioric roots for aposteriorious tongues this is nat language in any sinse of the world

'Tis as human a little story as paper could well carry

and look at this prepronominal funferal, engraved and retouched and edgewiped and puddenpadded, very like a whale's egg farced with pemmican, as were it sentenced to be nuzzled over a full trillion times for ever and a night till his noddle sink or swim by that ideal reader suffering from an ideal insomnia: all those red raddled obeli cayennepeppercast over the text, calling unnecessary attention to errors, omissions, repetitions and misalignments:

The answer, to do all the diddies in one dedal, would sound: from pulling himself on his most flavoured canal the huge chesthouse of his elders (the Popapreta, and some navico, navvies!) he had flickered up and flinnered down into a drug and drunkery addict, growing megalomane of a loose past. This explains the litany of septuncial lettertrumpets honorific, highpitched, erudite, neoclassical, which he so loved as patricianly to manuscribe after his name. It would have diverted, if ever seen, the shuddersome spectacle of this semidemented zany amid the inspissated grime of his glaucous den making believe to read his usylessly unreadable Blue Book of Eccles, édition de ténèbres, (even yet sighs the Most Different, Dr. Poindejenk, authorised bowdler and censor, it can't be repeated!) turning over three sheets at a wind, telling himself delightedly, no espellor mor so, that every splurge on the vellum he blundered over was an aisling vision more gorgeous than the one before t.i.t.s., a roseschelle cottage by the sea for nothing for ever, a ladies tryon hosiery raffle at liberty, a sewerful of guineagold wine with brancomongepadenopie and sickcylinder oysters worth a billion a bite, an entire operahouse

The flushpots of Euston and the hanging garments of Marylbone.

Hearasay in paradox lust

Can you nei do her, numb? asks Dolph, suspecting the answer know. Oikkont, ken you, ninny? asks Kev, expecting the answer guess.

though a day be as dense as a decade, no mouth has the might to set a mearbound to the march of a landsmaul, in half a sylb, helf a solb, holf a salb onward the beast of boredom, common sense, lurking gyrographically down inside his loose Eating S.S. Collar is gogoing of whisth to you sternly how -- Plutonic loveliaks twinnt Platonic yearlings -- you must, how, in undivided reawlity draw the line somewhawre.
(292.25 -31)

All moanday, tearsday, wailsday, thumpsday, frightday, shatterday till the fear of the Law.

Three quarks for Muster Mark!

We expect you are, honest Shaun, we agreed, but from franking machines, limricked, that in the end it may well turn out, we hear to be you, our belated, who will bear these open letter. Speak to us of Emailia.

The Gracehoper was always jigging ajog, hoppy on akkant of his joyicity

The last word in stolentelling!

He caun ne'er be bothered but maun e'er be waked. If there is a future in every past that is present Quis est qui non novit quinnigan and Qui quae quot at Quinnigan's Quake! Stump! His producers are they not his consumers? Your exagmination round his factification for incamination of a warping process. Declaim!
(496.34 - 497.3)

End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousandsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.
(628.13 to 3.3)

Miscellaneous Works

This triviality made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By epiphany -- a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or gesture, or in a memorable phrase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that the themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments.
-- Stephen Hero

My words in her mind: cold polished stones sinking through a quagmire.
-- Giacomo Joyce

Remarks by Joyce

I have met you too late. You're too old for me to help you.
--A young Joyce to the 37 year-old Yeats

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's the only way of insuring one's immortality.

I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.
--About Ulysses

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.
--About Finnegans Wake; Letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver, 24 November 1926

You'd better translate ALP into French now, because if you wait any longer, I won't be able to remember what it means.
--Joyce to Soupault

Whatever spark of gift I possess has been transmitted to Lucia, and has kindled a fire in her brain.
--About his daughter, who was suffering from schizophrenia

Remarks about Joyce

I guess the man's a genius, but what a dirty mind he has, hasn't he?
--Nora Joyce

When a young man came up to him in Zurich and said, "May I kiss the hand that wrote Ulysses?" Joyce replied, somewhat like King Lear, "No, it did lots of other things too."
--Richard Ellmann

Is there any reason why your Ashplant shall not be made the centre of the collection in the "National Joyce Museum, Cabra?"
-- Oliver St. John Gogarty ("Buck Mulligan") writing to Joyce in jest, 1908

In respect to the recurrent emergence of the theme of sex in the minds of his characters, it must always be remembered that his locale was Celtic and his season Spring.
--Judge M. Woolsey writing on the "obscenity" in Ulysses, 1933

The 40 pages of non stop run in the end [of Ulysses] is a string of veritable psychological peaches. I suppose the devil's grandmother knows so much about the psychology of women, I didn't.
--Carl Jung in a letter to Joyce

It's a miserable ritual, a magical procedure. . . a homunculus of the consciousness of the new world -- our world passed away and a new world has arisen.
--Carl Jung on Ulysses, in the Europaeische Revue

If our society should go to smash tomorrow (which, as Joyce implies, it may) one could find all the pieces, together with the forces that broke them, in Finnegans Wake. The book is a kind of terminal moraine in which lie buried all the myths, programmes, slogans, hopes, prayers, tools, educational theories, and theological bric-a-brac of the past millenium. And here, too, we will find the love that reanimates this debris . . . Through notes that finally become tuneable to our ears, we hear James Joyce uttering his resilient, all-enjoying, all-animating 'Yes', the Yes of things to come, a Yes from beyond every zone of disillusionment, such as few have had the heart to utter.
--Joseph Campbell, A Skeleton Key

I would only like to know have I been strichnine by my illnest white wresting under my warm Coverlyette that I am as they say in my neightive land 'out of the mind gone out' and unable to combprehen that which is clear or is there really in your work some ass pecked that is Uncle Lear?
--Vladimir Dixon, from "Our Exagmination Round his Factification for Incaminaton of Work in Progress"

My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage-stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest, stewed in the juice of deliberate journalistic dirty-mindedness -- what old and hard-worked staleness, masquerading as the all-new!
--DH Lawrence on "Work in Progress." (Later Finnegans Wake.)

Ulysses towers over the rest of Joyce's writings, and in comparison to its noble originality and unique lucidity of thought and style the unfortunate Finnegans Wake is nothing but a formless and dull mass of phony folklore, a cold pudding of a book, a persistent snore in the next room, most aggravating to the insomniac! I am. Moreover, I always detested regional literature full of quaint old-timers and imitated pronunciation. Finnegans Wake's façade disguises a very conventional and drab tenement house, and only the infrequent snatches of heavenly intonations redeem it from utter insipidity. I know I am going to be excommunicated for this pronouncement.
--Vladimir Nabokov, interview 1967

Joyce might as well, in his last great dense book, have left us twenty pages of possible titles (perhaps he did; I must look again).
--Anthony Burgess

That James Joyce is indeed a black Irishman, wreaking a vengeance, even wilder than the I.R.A.'s, on the English language from within, invading the territory of its sanitary ego-presumptions with a flood of impure, dark languages flowing from the damned up sources of collective speech, savagely drowning the ego of the traditional speaker and depositing the property of words in everybody, in the total human community of those who speak and have spoken and shall speak.
--Carlos Fuentes, American Review, 1975

--Allen B. Ruch
23 June 2003

The sissymusses and the zossymusses in their robenhauses quailed to hear his tardeynois at all -- Send email to the Great Quail -- comments, suggestions, corrections, criticisms, submissions . . . all are welcome!

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