Joyce and paralysis, a national condition

James Joyce
Photo (cc) Laura Appleyard.

From  today’s Guardian. Some things don’t change.

“My intention was to write a chapter of the moral history of my country and I chose Dublin for the scene because that city seemed to me the centre of paralysis.”

For Joyce, “paralysis” represents a moral failure resulting in the inability to live meaningfully. It appears on the first page of the first story, “Two Sisters”, in a sentence that offers a key to the whole book:

“Every night as I gazed up at the window I said softly to myself 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.”

From A brief survey of the short story part 32: James Joyce | Books | guardian.co.uk.