Finnegans Wake is Joyce’s final book, written over a 17-year period. Often regarded as the most difficult English work of fiction, the book has a stream-of-consciousness style that takes the form of a dream narrative. The first line of the book is a fragment, which is a continuation of the last line of the book. Thus, the book is a never-ending cycle in itself.
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James Joyce (1882–1941) was born in Dublin. He received his early education at two Jesuit schools, Clongowes and Belvedere. In 1898, he enrolled in University College in Dublin, where he studied English, French, and Latin, graduating in 1902. While at university, Joyce was involved in the theater and literary movements in the city. Following graduation, Joyce moved to Paris to study medicine. When the French lectures proved too difficult to follow, Joyce dropped out and returned to Dublin. Following his mother’s death in 1904, Joyce moved to Zurich and then to Trieste (at the time in Austra-Hungary), where he was a school teacher for 10 years. On the eve of WWI, Joyce moved back to Zurich, where he gained a patron whose support allowed him to focus on writing instead of teaching. In 1920, Joyce moved to Paris until 1940, when he returned to Zurich to escape the Nazis. He died in 1941 after surgery for a perforated colon.