James Joyce's Paris

Photos and descriptions by Marylin Bender
April 2000

James Joyce spent nearly 20 years in Paris,
 the longest and most productive stretch of his life
in exile from Ireland.   At the urging of Ezra Pound
he arrived in July 1920  with the goal of finishing Ulysses
which was published by Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare
and Company,  a bookstore on the rue de l’Odéon in 1922.
Numerous references to Paris are embedded in Finnegans Wake,
 published in May 1939. Eight months later,  the Joyces left the city
gripped by fear of advancing German armies.

The Hotel Lenox
 9 rue de l’Université

The Joyce family’s first temporary lodgings in Paris,
  recommended by Ezra Pound in the
  fashionable 7th arrondissement on the Left Bank.


The Hotel Lutétia
& Brasserie
45 Boulevard Raspail, 6th arrondissement
 This grand Left Bank hotel was Joyce’s last residence in Paris from October 1939 to February 1, 1940. He liked to dine in its Brasserie restaurant. After the German takeover in June, the hotel housed part of the Nazi command. From April to August 1945, (as the plaque commemorates) it served as a welcome center for survivors of the concentration camps.

Square James Joyce
The French honor writers and artists by naming streets after them. In 1999, Joyce was recognized with this little garden near the Bibliothèque Nationale in the 13th arrondissement. It is bordered by streets named after Abel Gance, the film director, George Balanchine, the ballet master and Valéry Larbaud, the novelist and great friend of Joyce.

billboard for Jardin James Joyce
on Abel Gance Boulevard


Victoria Palace Hotel
6 rue Blaise Desgoffe,  6th arrondissement.
 The Joyces lived here from August 1923
 to October 1924 when he had begun writing Finnegans Wake.
 The initials V.P.H. appear in the Wake (99.13; 284.n4; 286.11)


reconstruction in the Musée Carnavalet, Paris
Joyce and Proust met on May 18, 1922 but there are a number of conflicting versions of what occurred and little evidence of their assessment of each other's work. "What he envied Proust were his material circumstances: 'Proust can write; he has a comfortable place at the Etoile, floored with cork and with cork on the walls to keep it quiet. And, I, writing in this place, people coming in and out. I wonder how I can finish Ulysses." (Ellmann, pg. 509). When Proust died on November 18, 1922, Joyce attended his funeral.  Furthermore, cork had a special significance for Joyce: his father was from County Cork. Always the punster, Joyce once mounted a portrait of his father in a cork frame.

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