Every new idea is an impossibility until it is born.Ron Brown
- Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality. It speaks of what seems fantastic and unreal to those who have lost the simple intuitions which are the test of reality; and, as it is often found at war with its age, so it makes no account of history, which is fabled by the daughters of memory.
- Every age must look for its sanction to its poetry and philosophy, for in these the human mind, as it looks backward or forward, attains to an eternal state.
- "James Clarence Mangan" (1902)
- Beauty, the splendour of truth, is a gracious presence when the imagination contemplates intensely the truth of its own being or the visible world, and the spirit which proceeds out of truth and beauty is the holy spirit of joy. These are realities and these alone give and sustain life.
- "James Clarence Mangan" (1902)
- There is no heresy or no philosophy which is so abhorrent to the church as a human being.
- All things are inconstant except the faith in the soul, which changes all things and fills their inconstancy with light, but though I seem to be driven out of my country as a misbeliever I have found no man yet with a faith like mine.
- Our civilization, bequeathed to us by fierce adventurers, eaters of meat and hunters, is so full of hurry and combat, so busy about many things which perhaps are of no importance, that it cannot but see something feeble in a civilization which smiles as it refuses to make the battlefield the test of excellence.
- Art is the human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.
- The Irishman, finding himself in another environment, outside Ireland, very often knows how to make his worth felt. The economic and intellectual conditions of his homeland do not permit the individual to develop. The spirit of the country has been weakened by centuries of useless struggle and broken treaties. Individual initiative has been paralyzed by the influence and admonitions of the church, while the body has been shackled by peelers, duty officers and soldiers. No self-respecting person wants to stay in Ireland. Instead he will run from it, as if from a country that has been subjected to a visitation by an angry Jove.
- I confess that I do not see what good it does to fulminate against the English tyranny while the Roman tyranny occupies the palace of the soul.
- To say that a great genius is half-mad, while recognizing his artistic prowess, is worth as much as saying that he was rheumatic, or that he suffered from diabetes. Madness, in fact, is a medical expression to which a balanced critic should pay no more heed than he would to the accusation of heresy brought by the theologian, or to the accusation of immorality brought by the public prosecutor.
- "Realism and Idealism in English Literature (Daniel Defoe - William Blake)," lecture, Università Popolare, Trieste (February 27-28, 1912), printed in James Joyce: Occasional, Critical and Political Writing (2002) edited by Kevin Barry [Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-192-83353-7], p. 179
- Christopher Columbus, as everyone knows, is honoured by posterity because he was the last to discover America.
- Love (understood as the desire of good for another) is in fact so unnatural a phenomenon that it can scarcely repeat itself, the soul being unable to become virgin again and not having energy enough to cast itself out again into the ocean of another's soul.
- Notes (1913) made by Joyce for his play Exiles
- You forget that the kingdom of heaven suffers violence: and the kingdom of heaven is like a woman.
- Writing in English is the most ingenious torture ever devised for sins committed in previous lives. The English reading public explains the reason why.
- Letter to Fanny Guillermet (Zurich, 1918-09-05)
- I want to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city suddenly disappeared from the earth it could be reconstructed out of my book.
- Said in conversation with Frank Budgen, Zurich, 1918, as told by Budgen in his book James Joyce and the Making of "Ulysses" (1934), ch. IV
- The pity is the public will demand and find a moral in my book — or worse they may take it in some more serious way, and on the honor of a gentleman, there is not one single serious line in it.
- To Djuna Barnes, in an interview published in Vanity Fair (March 1922)
- One great part of every human existence is passed in a state which cannot be rendered sensible by the use of wideawake language, cutanddry grammar and goahead plot.
- Referring to Finnegans Wake in a letter to Harriet Shaw Weaver (1926-11-24)
- Does nobody understand?
- Last words (January 1941)
- If I gave it all up immediately, I'd lose my immortality. I've put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that's the only way of insuring one's immortality.
- Joyce's reply for a request for a plan of Ulysses, as quoted in James Joyce (1959) by Richard Ellmann
- The demand that I make of my reader is that he should devote his whole Life to reading my works.
- Interview with Max Eastman in Harper's Magazine, as quoted in James Joyce (1959) by Richard Ellmann. Eastman noted "He smiled as he said that — smiled, and then repeated it."
- My words in her mind: cold polished stones sinking through a quagmire.
- Giacomo Joyce (1968)
- When I hear the word "stream" uttered with such a revolting primness, what I think of is urine and not the contemporary novel. And besides, it isn't new, it is far from the dernier cri. Shakespeare used it continually, much too much in my opinion, and there's Tristram Shandy, not to mention the Agamemnon.
- Said in conversation with Frederic Prokosch and quoted in Prokosch's Voices: A Memoir (1983), "At Sylvia’s." Joyce was replying to Prokosch's statement that Molly Bloom’s monologue in Ulysses was written as a stream of consciousness. "Molly Bloom was a down-to-earth lady" said Joyce. "She would never have indulged in anything so refined as a stream of consciousness."
- There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present.
- To Jacques Mercanton, on the structure of Ulysses, as quoted in James Joyce: The Critical Heritage (1997) by Robert H. Deming, p. 22
- I laugh at it today, now that I have had all the good of it. Let the bridge blow up, provided I have got my troops across... Nonetheless, that book was a terrible risk. A transparent leaf separates it from madness.
- On Ulysses, as quoted in James Joyce: The Critical Heritage (1997) by Robert H. Deming, p. 22
- I think I would know Nora's fart anywhere. I think I could pick hers out in a roomful of farting women.
- About his wife, Nora. Selected Letters of James Joyce. 
- Every night as I gazed up at the window I said to myself softly the word paralysis. It had always sounded strangely in my ears, like the word gnomon in the Euclid and the word simony in the Catechism. But now it sounded to me like the name of some maleficent and sinful being. It filled me with fear, and yet I longed to be nearer to it and to look upon its deadly work.
- "The Sisters"
- I had never spoken to her, except for a few casual words, and yet her name was like a summons to all my foolish blood.
- But my body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires.
- Gazing up into the darkness I saw myself as a creature driven and derided by vanity; and my eyes burned with anguish and anger.
- She dealt with moral problems the way a cleaver deals with meat: and in this case she had made up her mind.
- "The Boarding House"
- He was not sure what idea he wished to express but the thought that a poetic moment had touched upon him took life within him like an infant hope. He stepped onward bravely.
- "A Little Cloud"
- He tried to weigh his soul to see if it was a poet's soul. Melancholy was the dominant note of his temperament, he thought, but it was a melancholy tempered by recurrences of faith and resignation and simple joy. If he could give expression to it in a book of poems perhaps men would listen.
- "A Little Cloud"
- But there was no harshness in the eyes which, looking at the world from under their tawny eyebrows, gave the impression of a man ever alert to greet a redeeming instinct in others but often disappointed. He lived at a little distance from his body, regarding his own acts with doubtful side-glances. He had an odd autobiographical habit which led him to compose in his mind from time to time a short sentence about himself containing a subject in the third person and a predicate in the past tense.
- "A Painful Case"
- One by one they were all becoming shades. Better pass boldly into that other world, in the full glory of some passion, than fade and wither dismally with age.
- "The Dead"
- Yes, the newspapers were right: snow was general all over Ireland. It was falling on every part of the dark central plain, on the treeless hills, falling softly upon the Bog of Allen and, farther westward, softly falling into the dark mutinous Shannon waves. It was falling, too, upon every part of the lonely churchyard on the hill where Michael Furey lay buried. It lay drifted on the crooked crosses and headstones, on the spears of the little gate, on the barren thorns. His soul swooned slowly as he heard the snow falling faintly through the universe and faintly falling, like the descent of their last end, upon all the living and the dead.
- "The Dead"
- These are just a few samples, for more quotes from this work see Ulysses
- History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.
- Ch. 2: Nestor
- It soared, a bird, it held its flight, a swift pure cry, soar silver orb it leaped serene, speeding, sustained, to come, don't spin it out too long long breath he breath long life, soaring high, high resplendent, aflame, crowned, high in the effulgence symbolistic, high, of the ethereal bosom, high, of the high vast irradiation everywhere all soaring all around about the all, the endlessnessnessness... (271)
- The heaventree of stars hung with humid nightblue fruit. (683)
Finnegans Wake (1939)
- Phall if you but will, rise you must: and none so soon either shall the pahrce for the nunce come to a setdown secular phoenish. (4.15-17)
- But all they are all there scraping along to sneeze out a likelihood that will solve and salve life's robulous rebus (12.32-33)
- For that (the rapt one warns) is what papyr is meed of, made of, hides and hints and misses in prints. Till ye finally (though not yet endlike) meet with the acquaintance of Mister Typus, Mistress Tope and all the little typtopies. Filstup. So you need hardly spell me how every word will be bound over to carry three score and ten toptypsical readings throughout the book of Doublends Jined (may his forehead be darkened with mud who would sunder!) till Daleth, mahomahouma, who oped it closeth thereof the. Dor. (20.10-18)
- came at this timecoloured place where we live in our paroqial fermament one tide on another (29.30)
- in the Nichtian glossery which purveys aprioric roots for aposteriorious tongues this is nat language at any sinse of the world (83.10-12)
- In the name of Annah the Allmaziful, the Everliving, the Bringer of Plurabilities, haloed be her eve, her singtime sung, her rill be run, unhemmed as it is uneven!
- Page 104.
- I am a worker, a tombstone mason, anxious to pleace averyburies and jully glad when Christmas comes his once ayear.
- Page 113.
- 'Tis as human a little story as paper could well carry (115.36)
- Can you nei do her, numb? asks Dolph, suspecting the answer know. Oikkont, ken you, ninny? asks Kev, expecting the answer guess. (286.25-27)
- Three quarks for Muster Mark! (383.1)
- These lines were the source of the name of the particular entities known in modern physics as Quarks
- Julius Caesar.
A Successful Career in the Civil Service.
- Page 306.
- Matching the names with the sentences.
- We expect you are, honest Shaun, we agreed, but from franking machines, limricked, that in the end it may well turn out, we hear to be you, our belated, who will bear these open letter. Speak to us of Emailia. (410.20-23)
- The last word in stolentelling! (424.35)
- He caun ne'er be bothered but maun e'er be waked. If there is a future in every past that is present Quis est qui non novit quinnigan and Qui quae quot at Quinnigan's Quake! Stump! His producers are they not his consumers? Your exagmination round his factification for incamination of a warping process. Declaim! (496.34 - 497.3)
- End here. Us then. Finn, again! Take. Bussoftlhee, mememormee! Till thousandsthee. Lps. The keys to. Given! A way a lone a last a loved a long the / riverrun, past Eve and Adam's, from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodius vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs. (628.13 to 3.3)
Stephen Hero (1944)
- Stephen Hero was an early version of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, abandoned by Joyce in 1905, published posthumously in 1944.
- He comes into the world God knows how, walks on the water, gets out of his grave and goes up off the Hill of Howth. What drivel is this?
- This triviality made him think of collecting many such moments together in a book of epiphanies. By an epiphany he meant a sudden spiritual manifestation, whether in the vulgarity of speech or of gesture or in a memorable phase of the mind itself. He believed that it was for the man of letters to record these epiphanies with extreme care, seeing that they themselves are the most delicate and evanescent of moments. He told Cranly that the clock of the Ballast Office was capable of an epiphany. Cranly questioned the inscrutable dial of the Ballast Office with his no less inscrutable countenance:
—Yes, said Stephen. I will pass it time after time, allude to it, refer to it, catch a glimpse of it. It is only an item in the catalogue of Dublin's street furniture. Then all at once I see it and I know at once what it is: epiphany.
- Imagine my glimpses at that clock as the gropings of a spiritual eye which seeks to adjust its vision to an exact focus. The moment the focus is reached the object is epiphanised. It is just in this epiphany that I find the third, the supreme quality of beauty. ... No esthetic theory, pursued Stephen relentlessly, is of any value which investigates with the aid of the lantern of tradition. What we symbolise in black the Chinaman may symbolise in yellow: each has his own tradition. Greek beauty laughs at Coptic beauty and the American Indian derides them both. It is almost impossible to reconcile all tradition whereas it is by no means impossible to find the justification of every form of beauty which has ever been adored on the earth by an examination into the mechanism of esthetic apprehension whether it be dressed in red, white, yellow or black. We have no reason for thinking that the Chinaman has a different system of digestion from that which we have though our diets are quite dissimilar. The apprehensive faculty must be scrutinised in action.
- —You know what Aquinas says: The three things requisite for beauty are, integrity, a wholeness, symmetry and radiance. Some day I will expand that sentence into a treatise. Consider the performance of your own mind when confronted with any object, hypothetically beautiful. Your mind to apprehend that object divides the entire universe into two parts, the object, and the void which is not the object. To apprehend it you must lift it away from everything else: and then you perceive that it is one integral thing, that is a thing. You recognise its integrity. Isn't that so?
— And then?
—That is the first quality of beauty: it is declared in a simple sudden synthesis of the faculty which apprehends. What then? Analysis then. The mind considers the object in whole and in part, in relation to itself and to other objects, examines the balance of its parts, contemplates the form of the object, traverses every cranny of the structure. So the mind receives the impression of the symmetry of the object. The mind recognises that the object is in the strict sense of the word, a thing, a definitely constituted entity. You see?
— Let us turn back, said Cranly.
- Now for the third quality. For a long time I couldn't make out what Aquinas meant. He uses a figurative word (a very unusual thing for him) but I have solved it. Claritas is quidditas. After the analysis which discovers the second quality the mind makes the only logically possible synthesis and discovers the third quality. This is the moment which I call epiphany. First we recognise that the object is one integral thing, then we recognise that it is an organised composite structure, a thing in fact: finally, when the relation of the parts is exquisite, when the parts are adjusted to the special point, we recognise that it is that thing which it is. Its soul, its whatness, leaps to us from the vestment of its appearance. The soul of the commonest object, the structure of which is so adjusted, seems to us radiant. The object achieves its epiphany.
- Having finished his argument Stephen walked on in silence. He felt Cranly's hostility and he accused himself of having cheapened the eternal images of beauty. For the first time, too, he felt slightly awkward in his friend's company and to restore a mood of flippant familiarity he glanced up at the clock of the Ballast Office and smiled:
— It has not epiphanised yet, he said.
- Irresponsibility is part of the pleasure of all art; it is the part the schools cannot recognize.
- I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.
- Harvey Spencer Lewis, in The Doctrine of Reincarnation Part 3, in The Mystic Triangle (June 1927)
- The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
- Men are governed by lines of intellect - women: by curves of emotion.