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Nora Barnacle, The Enigmatic Inspiration Behind James Joyce’s Ulysses

Of all the people who made Ulysses possible, the most important is Nora Barnacle, the woman who fled Ireland with Joyce when he decided to become an artist, the woman whose letters inspired some of his most beautiful and obscene writing and the woman whose first evening with Joyce in 1904 hovers over everything that happens in Ulysses (Ulysses takes place on June 16, 1904, the day they had their first date). The story surrounding the novel shows us how high modernism emerged from the low regions of the body and the mind. It shows us how artworks containing the extremities of experience -- rapture and pain -- went from being contraband to being canonical. It's a snapshot of a cultural revolution.


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