James Joyce 1882- 1941
Born in Rathgar, Dublin. He spent most of his life in exile in France, Italy and Switzerland often in poverty but supported by a loving wife and an ever-growing circle of friends who believed in his genius. Chamber Music was written in 1907 and Dubliners appeared in 1914. A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was published in installments in 1914-1915. Ulysses, now considered one of the major novels of the twentieth century, was published in Paris in 1922 but it caused much controversy and it was not published in the U.K. until 1936. His final work, Finnegans Wake was published in 1939. He died of a perforated ulcer in Zurich.
Two death masks were made of his face. His wife Nora chose a wreath with the shape of a harp for the music that they both loved. The day was cold and snowy. Nora felt the presence of a priest at the service would be inconsistent with James’ life and beliefs. Heinrich Straumann, the Professor of English at the University of Zurich, gave a short address and this was followed by Lord Derwent, British Minister to Berne. Maz Geillinger, the poet, also spoke. The tenor Max Meili, sang an aria, Addio terra, addio cielo, from Montverdi’s opera, L’Orfeo. As the coffin was being lowered into the ground Nora could see his face through the small glass window in the coffin and remarked how beautiful he was.
He is buried in Fluntern Cemetery, Zurich, Switzerland. The number of the grave was 1449 (photograph shows the original grave marker) and according to Fritz Senn, Director of the James Joyce Foundation in Zurich, it was situated on the right side of the first path into the cemetery, about two thirds way down.
Nora used to visit the grave regularly and remarked to a companion that Jim would probably have liked the place as he would be able to hear the lions roar from the adjacent zoo.
In 1948, the Irish government brought the body of W.B.Yeats back to be buried in Sligo. The remains were brought over in an Irish navy ship and a military guard of honour was present at the re-interment. Nora felt that the same honour should be accorded to Jim and she asked a number of people to make inquiries. But the church and the State were against such an event.
The lease of the grave expired after 25 years but the Swiss government provided a grave of honour for Jim and Nora. On Bloomsday 1966, they were reunited. The statue is by the American sculptor Milton Hebald.
The new grave is well signposted and is also included in the map at the entrance to the cemetery. The cemetery can be reached by taking the tram for the zoo. At the terminus the cemetery is situated before the zoo. Go in the first pedestrian entrance, walk to the top and turn right. Close by is the grave of Elias Canetti.
The inscription reads: James Joyce/ Dublin 2-II-1882 Zurich 13-I-1941/ Nora Barnacle Joyce/ Galway 23-III-1884 Zurich 10-Iv-1951/ George Joyce/ Trieste 27-VIII-1905 Konstanz 12-VI-1976/ Asta Osteewalder Joyce/ Munchen 8-III-1917 Konstanz 17-VI-1973
Their son Giorgio is buried with his second wife in the same grave. Photo of original grave by Fritz Senn
Further information, location and directions to the grave are to be found in "The End - An Illustrated Guide to the Graves of Irish Writers". Click here to order a copy of this book