James Joyce arrived in Trieste on 20th October 1904 together with his partner Nora Barnacle to teach English to the local middle classes, write some great literary works and enjoy the life of a lively Mediterranean harbour city. Exactly one hundred years later, on the 20th October 2004, the ‘Comune di Trieste’, together with the University of Trieste, inaugurated the ‘Museo Joyce Museum’.
The museum presents visitors with a wide range of information and material (in printed, digital and video form) on the almost eleven years which the Irish author spent in the city; on the various flats where he lived; on the places he used to frequent – churches and taverns, newspaper offices, villas and brothels; on his family – both his children, Giorgio and Lucia, were born in Trieste, and his brother Stanislaus and two of his sisters joined him there; and, naturally, on the great literary works which he wrote or started while there. These comprise The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Exiles and the short poem Giacomo Joyce – his only piece set in Trieste. His masterpiece Ulysses’ first three chapters were conceived and written in Trieste, from where he asked his friend and colleague, Italo Svevo, the favour of bringing them to him in Paris, where he moved in 1919.
His friendship with Svevo, well-documented in the letters they exchanged, was one of the most meaningful relationships which Joyce entertained during his years in Trieste, so much so that the Triestine writer is thought by many to have been one of the models for the protagonist of Ulysses – Leopold Bloom. In honour of the latter, every year on 16th June – as is customary in Dublin – the ‘Museo Joyce Museum’ celebrates the Bloomsday, i.e. an event dedicated to Joyce and his work on the day on which the whole of his masterpiece Ulysses takes place.
Comune di Trieste
Video by TCD
With the contribution of Friuli Venezia Giulia