September 22nd, 2007 – by: travelman727
View of Trieste across Adriatic Sea
TRIESTE & JAMES JOYCE
Trieste, once the principal port of the Habsburg Empire, is now capital of the Italian Friuli Venezia Giulia region. It has a population of around 240,000 and is situated in the northeast of Italy, just two hours from Venice and an hour and a half from the Slovenian capital of Lubljana.
James Joyce spent almost 11 years in this beautiful cosmopolitan Adriatic city between 1904 and 1920. Although day-to-day life was hard, it was here that the exiled Irish writer completed Dubliners, wrote A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Exiles, conceived and began Ulysses, and gathered much inspiration for Finnegans Wake. He forged a number of important literary friendships with local writers and was deeply immersed in the social, cultural, artistic and political life of the city, which he referred to as "la nostra bella Trieste".
The positive aspects of his Triestine sojourn were aptly described by his Paris friend, Louis Gillet:
Castello di Miramare
(Joyce) liked to remember his happy days and spoke preferably of Trieste. His thoughts lingered on this topic with delight. There for a few short years he had enjoyed some moments of respite; fate had spared him some time. This… city, half-Slavic and half-Italian, with the gaiety of the Midi, the medley of languages, the animation of a harbor and an already exotic, oriental flavor, had given him an extreme pleasure: there were no classical monuments, no Roman mementos as in Split or Ancona. But there was the rock of Ithaca and on the sea, the sail of Ulysses.