Pursuing the spirit of James Joyce

August 3, 2011 by

Things To Do

James Joyce Plateau where the writer used to come to relax - photo courtesy of Wiki Commons

Though first and foremost a Dubliner, the novelist James Joyce lived and died in Zürich and both adopted and was adopted by the city. For a portrait of the artist as an older man, as it were, Switzerland’s largest city is the place to go.

Aficionados of Finnegan’s Wake (a determined lot, these, as the book is one of densest and most impenetrable in all modern fiction) will be happy to find that a vibrant tradition of Joycean scholarship and memorabilia is alive and well in Zürich.

Begin your exploration at #9 Augustinergasse, the top floor of which houses the city’s James Joyce Foundation, where reading groups continue to savor and debate the author’s work. It is also home to one of the most extensive Joyce libraries and collections of memorabilia in existence.

Members of the foundation can also often be found taking refreshment a short distance from Augustinergasse at the James Joyce Pub. If the weather cooperates during your visit, indulge in a literary picnic at the so-called James Joyce Plateau, located at the confluence of the Sihl and Limmat Rivers, where Joyce frequently came to relax.

For your final stop on your tour of Joyce’s Zürich, disembark at the last stop on the number 6 tram line and enter the Fluntern Cemetery next to the Zürich Zoo. A statue accompanying Joyce’s grave shows the author seated with a book open, his head cocked in quiet contemplation.

If you have time on your hands and curiosity in your heart, the city is home to dozens of other related points of interest, places where Joyce resided, wrote, or simply frequented, as well as places that memorialize the writer and his most famous characters. The literarily inclined will not be disappointed.

-John Reality

Planning a trip? Browse Viator’s Zurich tours & things to do, Zurich attractions, and Zurich recommendations.

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