Rare recording of James Joyce reading; Happy Bloomsday!

Happy Bloomsday! Here's a rare reading of James Joyce performing his own work; as John Naughton notes, "When I first heard it I was astonished to find that he had a broad Irish-country accent. I had always imagined him speaking as a 'Dub' -- i.e. with the accent of most of the street characters in Ulysses."

James Joyce MP3

James Joyce MP3 (mirror)

(via Memex 1.1)

(Image: Revolutionary Joyce Better Contrast.jpg, Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain)


  1. This is Joyce reading the Anna Livia Plurabelle section of Finnegans Wake. It’s a chattering dialogue between two washer women who as night falls become a tree and a stone (based on actual events). Joyce called it an attempt to subordinate words to the rhythm of water, also the accent he’s putting on is supposed to be working class dub washer woman.

    I actually put a flash animation together for college using that piece of audio. It’s here if anybody’s interested: http://simonbursell.com/, just skip to the main menu, click on the first option and fast forward through the introduction.

  2. The via link is broken. Anybody know of any Bloomsday walking maps of Dublin for purchase?

  3. The works of James Joyce are still under copyright here in Ireland until 2011. His estate is jealously guarded by his grandson, Stephen Joyce, who delights in making legal threats against academics wishing only to use quotations from Joyce’s works and even against those just wanting to read sections from Ulysses aloud on Bloomsday. It is also alleged that he has destroyed his grandfather’s personal documents to prevent them from being studied by scholars.

    A couple of examples blogged two years ago.

    It’s possible that the copyright term here lasts until the end of the 70th calendar year since the author’s death, so Bloomsday won’t be free of this ham-fisted, money-grubbing heir until 2012.

    If you want a textbook example of why current copyright is broken, Stephen Joyce should be the chapter heading.

  4. It’s not that rare is it? I mean I bought it as an LP when I was in High School. If you could buy it at midwestern record stores it can’t be all that exotic, can it?

    Now my album of Bryon Gysin reading might be another matter….

  5. Always wondered if Finnegans Wake would make a lot more sense listened to rather than read.

  6. Yeah, I always pick up FINNEGAN’S, and try to stumble through it. It’s tough even with the Joseph Campbell key. Maybe the rhythm of his voice will will help.

  7. As a Sligo man who lived in Dublin for many years, and who reveres Joyce, I suspect his accent on those recordings was adapted to suit the text. I’ve done it myself reading aloud books from elsewhere in Ireland, and, considering Finnegans Wake is set in Chapelizod (West County Dublin and at the time practically in the countryside), Joyce had a different musicality in mind. I’m pretty sure Joyce had a similar accent to Beckett (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u0xwE5QNPd0)) and possibly even posher. Dubliners who inherit their provincial parents’ accents (especially after attending schools such as Belvedere and Clongowes) are as common as hen’s teeth…

  8. @fredh & paulr

    It’s Finnegans Wake, not Finnegan’s Wake. Joyce wanted even the title to have a couple of readings…

  9. Thanks, er…, somebody.

    I listed to the recording I linked to yesterday.

    It’s the same text, but NOT de-scratch-/pop-/click-ified.

    It’s much better!

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