James Augustus Joyce was born in Dublin in February 1882, the eldest son of a well-off family. At the age of six he was sent to Conglowes Wood College, the leading Jesuit school in Ireland, and later to Belvedere College. The strict religious discipline that was enforced during his education was an intense aspect of his formative experience. The personal conflicts concerning sexuality and religion that he suffered during his adolescent years, repelled him, first from the idea of joining the priesthood, and then from the idea of organised religion in a broader sense (they are recorded in his semi-autobiographical novel A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). By contrast, it seems it was the freedom and honesty of art that appealed to him. As a youth, he was particularly influenced by Modern Drama as represented by Ibsen, and by the poetic style of the "Decadents", such as Oscar Wilde.

1903 was the year of the death of Joyce's mother. He had been pursuing medical studies in Paris but returned to Dublin to be near her, where, several months later, he met Nora Barnacle, the woman who would remain his partner until his death in 1941. Just five months after their first meeting they eloped to Pola, in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Joyce never returned to Ireland. He had begun a lifetime of self- imposed exile which would take him from Pola, on to Trieste, later to Paris, and then finally to Zurich where he died. It was during this tumultuous period of his life that he began the first two of his major literary projects: the novel Stephen Hero, which ultimately became A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man; and the first short stories for publication in the Irish Homestead that would later be collected in Dubliners. It is the paradox of Joyce's literary legacy that although Dublin remained the subject of his art, and although his attitude became increasingly sympathetic towards it, he remained, for the rest of his life, physically detached - an exile.

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