Joyce was born into a Roman Catholic Irish family. His early life was molded by the conservative religious and moral values of late Victorian Ireland as well as the nationalistic passions that led to Ireland’s independence from Great Britain in 1922. He left the church in his late teens and exiled himself from Ireland after 1904, only rarely to return. Nevertheless, he never escaped his Irish and his Catholic background, which formed the core of the subject matter in his short stories and novels.
At his preparatory school Joyce was incensed when books were locked up and restricted. While at the university in Dublin he wrote an essay criticizing the parochialism of Irish-language drama that was censured by the university authorities because it mentioned an author listed in the church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum. Refusing to accept the censure, Joyce published the essay privately.
While living in Italy with his future wife, Nora Barnacle, Joyce wrote a series of short stories about Dublin life. Dubliners was later recognized as a brilliant work, but Joyce faced considerable difficulties in getting it published. The first English printer he approached objected that his book contained immoral passages contravening English law. In contrast to Ireland after independence, England had no censorship board to pass judgement on literary works before their publication, but offending works could be prosecuted after publication....
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