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8 Actors and Directors Who Did Not Get Along

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When two highly paid creative visionaries work together, things don’t always go smoothly. Here are a few of the most memorable bust-ups between Hollywood directors and actors.


After reviewing the script for Three Kings, David O. Russell’s Iraq War action-comedy, George Clooney—who was angling for film industry legitimacy at the time—desperately wanted in. But the feeling wasn’t mutual. “Russell hated Clooney’s style of acting, which he considered a lot of head-bobbing and mugging for the camera,” Sharon Waxman wrote in Rebels on the Backlot. After Nicolas Cage—Russell’s first choice for the role of U.S. Army Special Forces Major Archie Gates—declined, and Warner Bros. nixed the director’s other choices (including Dustin Hoffman), Russell awarded the part to Clooney.

The relationship, which wasn’t great to begin with, deteriorated as the actor struggled with Russell’s constant coaching and improvisational directing style. Things finally came to a head when Russell, whose behavior toward the crew Clooney severely disliked, threw an extra to the ground (Russell would claim he was demonstrating how he wanted the extra to treat Ice Cube in the scene they were filming). The details that followed differ from one account to the next, but what’s certain is that the two ended up brawling and had to be dragged apart.

“It was truly without exception, the worst experience of my life,” Clooney would later say. Russell, for his part, said he would never again make a film with Clooney. In 2012, they reportedly buried the hatchet. In 2013, Russell told The New York Times that, "George and I had a friendly rapport last year. I don’t know if we would be working together. I don’t think we would rule it out. But the point is, much ado was made about things long passed.”


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Faye Dunaway, who vaulted to A-list status through a string of memorable roles in the late ‘60s and early ‘70s—most notably as Bonnie Parker in Arthur Penn’s Bonnie and Clyde—was used to having a collaborative relationship with directors. That wasn’t the case with Roman Polanski, who directed her in 1974’s Chinatown. In response to Dunaway’s inquiries about her character Evelyn Mulwray’s motivation, Polanski would bark, “Your salary is your motivation!”

If Polanski had a reputation for being a dictator on set, Dunaway was known for putting on airs. “She considered herself a ‘star,’ and did not go out of her way to ingratiate herself with the director or the crew,” wrote Peter Biskind in Easy Riders, Raging Bulls. The relationship took a hit after Polanski snuck up behind Dunaway and plucked a stubborn hair that he claimed was ruining his shot. And it went off the rails after Dunaway threw what was reportedly a cup of urine in the director’s face. The actress refuses to talk about the incident these days, while Polanski has called Dunaway “unhinged.”


Even in his old age, the legendary Marlon Brando could deliver a great performance. But he’d put a director through hell to get it. Nobody knew this better than Frank Oz, who memorably clashed with Brando while filming the 2001 heist movie The Score. According to reports, Brando frequently tried to change the shooting schedule and stubbornly clung to his own interpretation of his character, an aging mobster named Max. The Godfather actor became so incensed with Oz, a Muppets veteran who was directing his first drama after several successful comedies, that he refused to take direction from him. He would also refer to Oz as “Miss Piggy,” in reference to the Muppets character Oz voiced.

Things would have deteriorated further if not for Robert De Niro, who took over in the director’s chair when Brando refused to work with Oz, and who soothed the actor’s ruffled feathers on numerous occasions.


Shelley Duvall, who had scant formal training as an actress, spent her early career working with freewheeling directors like Robert Altman and Woody Allen. This did little to prepare her for collaborating with a perfectionist like Stanley Kubrick, who directed her in 1980’s The Shining. Duvall’s role as Wendy Torrance, who tries desperately to protect her son as her husband slips into madness, was a demanding one. And Kubrick’s antagonistic attitude toward her—captured in glimpses in the making-of documentary above, shot by the filmmaker’s daughter, Vivian—didn’t make things any easier.

“For a person who can be so likeable, he can do some pretty cruel things,” Duvall said in the documentary Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures. Kubrick shot scenes again and again—as many as 127 times, according to reports. Many believe Kubrick was intentionally wearing down Duvall in a way that would heighten her character’s desperation. But as Emilio D’Alessandro, Kubrick’s longtime assistant, recently recalled in an essay for Esquire, Kubrick was also annoyed with Duvall’s insecurities as an actress. “I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything,” said Duvall. “But I wouldn’t want to go through with it again.”


Considering American History X was Tony Kaye’s first film directing gig, you’d think he would avoid ruffling too many feathers. Well, think again. Apparently Kaye didn’t want Edward Norton for the lead role—Joaquin Phoenix was his first choice—and only agreed to the actor because he didn’t have time to cast someone else. The shoot, which lasted a quick 45 days, went off amicably enough. Afterwards, Kaye produced a rough cut of the film that pleased Norton and the studio, New Line. But then things went south.

Norton, along with New Line, gave pages of notes to Kaye on how to make his cut better, which the director did not take well. The two sides fought so bitterly that Kaye was banned from the editing room. New Line let him back in for a year, but then gave the reins over to Norton after Kaye said he wanted to completely rework the film. “I was so staggered by what [Norton] was doing to my film, and by the fact that New Line approved, that I punched the wall and broke my hand,” Kaye wrote in an essay for The Guardian.

What Kaye did next is the stuff of Hollywood legend: He took out ads in trade publications disparaging the project, scuttled the film’s premiere at the Toronto Film Festival, and ultimately fought to remove his name from the picture altogether. Norton, for his part, was incensed. “Let’s not make any mistake: Tony Kaye is a victim of nothing but his own professional and spiritual immaturity,” Norton told Entertainment Weekly. In the years since American History X came out, Kaye seems to have mellowed. In a 2007 interview with The Telegraph, he owned up to his bad behavior. “I did a lot of very insane things,” he said.



There was likely no actor-director relationship more tempestuous than the one between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski. Herzog was—and still is—an uncompromising filmmaker who gravitates toward risky projects, while Kinski was unstable and given to prolonged fits of rage. Put together, the two fought relentlessly. While filming Fitzcarraldo in the jungles of Peru, Kinski threatened to leave the set, and Herzog replied that he would shoot him dead if he tried. Later, an extra who was fed up with Kinski’s tyrannical behavior offered to kill the actor for Herzog. Their acrimony is the stuff of moviemaking legend, and yet both seemed to thrive off the energy it produced.

In an interview, Herzog said the actor’s rages were often his way of getting into character. After Kinski died in 1991, Herzog frequently expressed admiration for his acting skill and devotion. “I think he needed me as much as I needed him,” Herzog said in My Best Fiend, a 1999 documentary the director made about their relationship.


Despite the success of the first two Blade films, audiences just couldn’t get behind the third installment in the series, Blade: Trinity. Many observers chalked up the movie’s blandness to a troubled production, which included a bitter feud between star Wesley Snipes and writer/director David Goyer. Details were difficult to pin down during filming, but became clearer in a $5 million lawsuit filed by Snipes a year after the film released. In it, Snipes claimed that he never approved of the director or the script, which he claimed had a “juvenile level of humor,” and that this was a breach of his contract. Snipes also claimed racial discrimination during the casting process. So Snipes was not a happy camper before filming started, and according to costar Patton Oswalt, things really went downhill during filming.

In a memorable interview with The A.V. Club, Oswalt said that Snipes choked Goyer after they had a disagreement on set. Goyer, in response, enlisted a biker gang to act as his security detail, which unnerved Snipes to the point that he refused to interact with the director. According to Oswalt, Snipes would only communicate with Goyer by Post-It notes, which he would sign, “From Blade.”


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Although not well known these days, Henri-Georges Clouzot was a highly regarded director in the ‘50s and ‘60s. His suspense movies were so well-crafted, Alfred Hitchcock reportedly worried that Clouzot would unseat him as the “Master of Suspense.” Clouzot’s methods, however, were quite controversial. In one film, he made his lead actor undergo an actual blood transfusion. In another, he smacked an actress in order to get her angry for a scene.

In La Vérité (The Truth), Clouzot’s film about the trial of a woman accused of killing her boyfriend, the director slipped sleeping pills to an unwitting Brigitte Bardot in order to make her appear exhausted. He overdid it, and Bardot’s stomach had to be pumped. At another point, according to Jeffrey Robinson in his book Brigitte Bardot: Two Lives, Clouzot took the actress by the shoulders and shook her. “I don’t need amateurs in my films,” he said. “I want an actress.” Bardot slapped him. “And I need a director, not a psychopath!” she replied.

In later years, Bardot would say that La Vérité was her finest performance. But she still hated Clouzot, describing him as a “negative being, forever at odds with himself and the world around him.”

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25 Words That Are Their Own Opposites
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Images: iStock

Here’s an ambiguous sentence for you: “Because of the agency’s oversight, the corporation’s behavior was sanctioned.” Does that mean, "Because the agency oversaw the company’s behavior, they imposed a penalty for some transgression," or does it mean, "Because the agency was inattentive, they overlooked the misbehavior and gave it their approval by default"? We’ve stumbled into the looking-glass world of contronyms—words that are their own antonyms.

1. Sanction (via French, from Latin sanctio(n-), from sancire ‘ratify,’) can mean "give official permission or approval for (an action)" or conversely, "impose a penalty on."

2. Oversight is the noun form of two verbs with contrary meanings, “oversee” and “overlook.” Oversee, from Old English ofersēon ("look at from above") means "supervise" (medieval Latin for the same thing: super-, "over" plus videre, "to see.") Overlook usually means the opposite: "to fail to see or observe; to pass over without noticing; to disregard, ignore."

3. Left can mean either remaining or departed. If the gentlemen have withdrawn to the drawing room for after-dinner cigars, who’s left? (The gentlemen have left and the ladies are left.)

4. Dust, along with the next two words, is a noun turned into a verb meaning either to add or to remove the thing in question. Only the context will tell you which it is. When you dust are you applying dust or removing it? It depends whether you’re dusting the crops or the furniture.

5. Seed can also go either way. If you seed the lawn you add seeds, but if you seed a tomato you remove them.

6. Stone is another verb to use with caution. You can stone some peaches, but please don’t stone your neighbor (even if he says he likes to get stoned).

7. Trim as a verb predates the noun, but it can also mean either adding or taking away. Arising from an Old English word meaning "to make firm or strong; to settle, arrange," trim came to mean "to prepare, make ready." Depending on who or what was being readied, it could mean either of two contradictory things: "to decorate something with ribbons, laces, or the like to give it a finished appearance" or "to cut off the outgrowths or irregularities of." And the context doesn’t always make it clear. If you’re trimming the tree are you using tinsel or a chain saw?

8. Cleave can be cleaved into two homographs, words with different origins that end up spelled the same. Cleave, meaning "to cling to or adhere," comes from an Old English word that took the forms cleofian, clifian, or clīfan. Cleave, with the contrary meaning "to split or sever (something)"—as you might do with a cleaver—comes from a different Old English word, clēofan. The past participle has taken various forms: cloven, which survives in the phrase “cloven hoof,” “cleft,” as in a “cleft palate” or “cleaved.”

9. Resign works as a contronym in writing. This time we have homographs, but not homophones. Resign, meaning "to quit," is spelled the same as resign, meaning "to sign up again," but it’s pronounced differently.

10. Fast can mean "moving rapidly," as in running fast, or "fixed, unmoving," as in holding fast. If colors are fast they will not run. The meaning "firm, steadfast" came first; the adverb took on the sense "strongly, vigorously," which evolved into "quickly," a meaning that spread to the adjective.

11. Off means "deactivated," as in to turn off, but also "activated," as in the alarm went off.

12. Weather can mean "to withstand or come safely through" (as in the company weathered the recession) or it can mean "to be worn away" (the rock was weathered).

13. Screen can mean to show (a movie) or to hide (an unsightly view).

14. Help means "assist," unless you can’t help doing something, when it means "prevent."

15. Clip can mean "to bind together" or "to separate." You clip sheets of paper to together or separate part of a page by clipping something out. Clip is a pair of homographs, words with different origins spelled the same. Old English clyppan, which means "to clasp with the arms, embrace, hug," led to our current meaning, "to hold together with a clasp." The other clip, "to cut or snip (a part) away," is from Old Norse klippa, which may come from the sound of a shears.

16. Continue usually means to persist in doing something, but as a legal term it means stop a proceeding temporarily.

17. Fight with can be interpreted three ways. “He fought with his mother-in-law” could mean "They argued," "They served together in the war," or "He used the old battle-ax as a weapon." (Thanks to linguistics professor Robert Hertz for this idea.)

18. Flog, meaning "to punish by caning or whipping," shows up in school slang of the 17th century, but now it can have the contrary meaning, "to promote persistently," as in “flogging a new book.” Perhaps that meaning arose from the sense "to urge (a horse, etc.) forward by whipping," which grew out of the earliest meaning.

19. Go means "to proceed," but also "give out or fail," i.e., “This car could really go until it started to go.”

20. Hold up can mean "to support" or "to hinder": “What a friend! When I’m struggling to get on my feet, he’s always there to hold me up.”

21. Out can mean "visible" or "invisible." For example, “It’s a good thing the full moon was out when the lights went out.”

22. Out of means "outside" or "inside": “I hardly get out of the house because I work out of my home.”

23. B**ch can derisively refer to a woman who is considered overly aggressive or domineering, or it can refer to someone passive or submissive.

24. Peer is a person of equal status (as in a jury of one’s peers), but some peers are more equal than others, like the members of the peerage, the British or Irish nobility.

25. Toss out could be either "to suggest" or "to discard": “I decided to toss out the idea.”

The contronym (also spelled “contranym”) goes by many names, including auto-antonym, antagonym, enantiodrome, self-antonym, antilogy and Janus word (from the Roman god of beginnings and endings, often depicted with two faces looking in opposite directions). Can’t get enough of them? The folks at Daily Writing Tips have rounded up even more.

This piece originally ran in 2015.

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12 Facts About James Joyce
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Hulton Archive/Getty Images

June 16, 1904 is the day that James Joyce, the Irish author of Modernist masterpieces like Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and who was described as “a curious mixture of sinister genius and uncertain talent,” set his seminal work, Ulysses. It also thought to be the day that he had his first date with his future wife, Nora Barnacle.

He was as mythical as the myths he used as the foundations for his own work. So in honor of that June day in 1904—known to fans worldwide as “Bloomsday,” after one of the book’s protagonists, Leopold Bloom—here are 12 facts about James Joyce.


In 1891, shortly after he had to leave Clongowes Wood College when his father lost his job, 9-year-old Joyce wrote a poem called “Et Tu Healy?” It was published by his father John and distributed to friends; the elder Joyce thought so highly of it, he allegedly sent copies to the Pope.

No known complete copies of the poem exist, but the precocious student’s verse allegedly denounced a politician named Tim Healy for abandoning 19th century Irish nationalist politician Charles Stewart Parnell after a sex scandal. Fragments of the ending of the poem, later remembered by James’s brother Stanislaus, showed Parnell looking down on Irish politicians:

His quaint-perched aerie on the crags of Time
Where the rude din of this century
Can trouble him no more

While the poem was seemingly quaint, young Joyce equating Healy as Brutus and Parnell as Caesar marked the first time he’d use old archetypes in a modern context, much in the same way Ulysses is a unique retelling of The Odyssey.

As an adult, Joyce would publish his first book, a collection of poems called Chamber Music, in 1907. It was followed by Dubliners, a collection of short stories, in 1914, and the semi-autobiographical A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (in which Clongowes Wood College is prominently featured) in 1916.


While attending University College Dublin, Joyce attempted to publish a negative review—titled “The Day of the Rabblement”—of a new local playhouse called the Irish Literary Theatre in the school’s paper, St. Stephen’s. Joyce’s condemnation of the theater’s “parochialism” was allegedly so scathing that the paper’s editors, after seeking consultation from one of the school’s priests, refused to print it.

Incensed about possible censorship, Joyce appealed to the school’s president, who sided with the editors—which prompted Joyce to put up his own money to publish 85 copies to be distributed across campus.

The pamphlet, published alongside a friend’s essay to beef up the page-count, came with the preface: “These two essays were commissioned by the editor of St. Stephen’s for that paper, but were subsequently refused insertion by the censor.” It wouldn’t be the last time Joyce would fight censorship.


By the time Nora Barnacle and Joyce finally married in 1931, they had lived together for 27 years, traveled the continent and had two children. The couple first met in Dublin in 1904 when Joyce struck up a conversation with her near the hotel where Nora worked as a chambermaid. She initially mistook him for a Swedish sailor because of his blue eyes and the yachting cap he wore that day, and he charmed her so much that they set a date for June 14—but she didn’t show.

He then wrote her a letter, saying, “I looked for a long time at a head of reddish-brown hair and decided it was not yours. I went home quite dejected. I would like to make an appointment but it might not suit you. I hope you will be kind enough to make one with me—if you have not forgotten me!” This led to their first date, which supposedly took place on June 16, 1904.

She would continue to be his muse throughout their life together in both his published work (the character Molly Bloom in Ulysses is based on her) and their fruitful personal correspondence. Their notably dirty love letters to each other—featuring him saying their love-making reminded him of “a hog riding a sow” and signing off one by saying “Goodnight, my little farting Nora, my dirty littlef**kbird!"—have highlighted the NSFW nature of their relationship. In fact, one of Joyce’s signed erotic letters to Nora fetched a record £240,800 ($446,422) at a London auction in 2004.


While Joyce’s persistent money problems caused him to lead a life of what could be categorized as creative discomfort, he had to deal with a near lifetime of medical discomfort as well. Joyce suffered from anterior uveitis, which led to a series of around 12 eye surgeries over his lifetime. (Due to the relatively unsophisticated state of ophthalmology at the time, and his decision not to listen to contemporary medical advice, scholars speculate that his iritis, glaucoma, and cataracts could have been caused by sarcoidosis, syphilis, tuberculosis, or any number of congenital problems.) His vision issues caused Joyce to wear an eye patch for years and forced him to do his writing on large white sheets of paper using only red crayon. The persistent eye struggles even inspired him to name his daughter Lucia, after St. Lucia, patron saint of the blind.


In 1904, Joyce—eager to get out of Ireland—responded to an ad for a teaching position in Europe. Evelyn Gilford, a job agent based in the British town of Market Rasen, Lincolnshire, notified Joyce that a job was reserved for him and, for two guineas, he would be told exactly where the position was. Joyce sent the money, and by the end of 1904, he and his future wife, Nora, had left Dublin for the job at a Berlitz language school in Zurich, Switzerland—but when they got there, the pair learned there was no open position. But they did hear a position was open at a Berlitz school in Trieste, Italy. The pair packed up and moved on to Italy only to find out they’d been swindled again.

Joyce eventually found a Berlitz teaching job in Pola in Austria-Hungary (now Pula, Croatia). English was one of 17 languages Joyce could speak; others included Arabic, Sanskrit, Greek, and Italian (which eventually became his preferred language, and one that he exclusively spoke at home with his family). He also loved playwright Henrik Ibsen so much that he learned Norwegian so that he could read Ibsen's works in their original form—and send the writer a fan letter in his native tongue.


There are about 400 movie theaters in Ireland today, but they trace their history back to 1909, when Joyce helped open the Volta Cinematograph, which is considered “the first full-time, continuous, dedicated cinema” in Ireland.

More a money-making scheme than a product of a love of cinema, Joyce first got the idea when he was having trouble getting Dubliners published and noticed the abundance of cinemas while living in Trieste. When his sister, Eva, told him Ireland didn’t have any movie theaters, Joyce joined up with four Italian investors (he’d get 10 percent of the profits) to open up the Volta on Dublin’s Mary Street.

The venture fizzled as quickly as Joyce’s involvement. After not attracting audiences due to mostly showing only Italian and European movies unpopular with everyday Dubliners, Joyce cut his losses and pulled out of the venture after only seven months.

The cinema itself didn’t close until 1919, during the time Joyce was hard at work on Ulysses. (It reopened with a different name in 1921 and didn’t fully close until 1948.)


The publishing history of Ulysses is itself its own odyssey. Joyce began writing the work in 1914, and by 1918 he had begun serializing the novel in the American magazine Little Review with the help of poet Ezra Pound.

But by 1921, Little Review was in financial trouble. The published version of Episode 13 of Ulysses, “Nausicaa,” resulted in a costly obscenity lawsuit against its publishers, Margaret Anderson and Jane Heap, and the book was banned in the United States. Joyce appealed to different publishers for help—including Leonard and Virginia Woolf’s Hogarth Press—but none agreed to take on a project with such legal implications (and in Virginia Woolf’s case, length), no matter how supposedly groundbreaking it was.

Joyce, then based in Paris, made friends with Sylvia Beach, whose bookstore, Shakespeare and Company, was a gathering hub for the post-war expatriate creative community. In her autobiography, Beach wrote:

All hope of publication in the English-speaking countries, at least for a long time to come, was gone. And here in my little bookshop sat James Joyce, sighing deeply.

It occurred to me that something might be done, and I asked : “Would you let Shakespeare and Company have the honour of bringing out your Ulysses?”

He accepted my offer immediately and joyfully. I thought it rash of him to entrust his great Ulysses to such a funny little publisher. But he seemed delighted, and so was I. ... Undeterred by lack of capital, experience, and all the other requisites of a publisher, I went right ahead with Ulysses.

Beach planned a first edition of 1000 copies (with 100 signed by the author), while the book would continue to be banned in a number of countries throughout the 1920s and 1930s. Eventually it was allowed to be published in the United States in 1933 after the case United States v. One Book Called Ulysses deemed the book not obscene and allowed it in the United States.


Ernest Hemingway—who was major champion of Ulysses—met Joyce at Shakespeare and Company, and was later a frequent companion among the bars of Paris with writers like Wyndham Lewis and Valery Larbaud.

Hemingway recalled the Irish writer would start to get into drunken fights and leave Hemingway to deal with the consequences. "Once, in one of those casual conversations you have when you're drinking," Hemingway said, "Joyce said to me he was afraid his writing was too suburban and that maybe he should get around a bit and see the world. He was afraid of some things, lightning and things, but a wonderful man. He was under great discipline—his wife, his work and his bad eyes. His wife was there and she said, yes, his work was too suburban--'Jim could do with a spot of that lion hunting.' We would go out to drink and Joyce would fall into a fight. He couldn't even see the man so he'd say, 'Deal with him, Hemingway! Deal with him!'"


Marcel Proust’s gargantuan, seven-volume masterpiece, À la recherche du temps perdu, is perhaps the other most important Modernist work of the early 20th century besides Ulysses. In May 1922, the authors met at a party for composer Igor Stravinsky and ballet impresario Sergei Diaghilev in Paris. The Dubliners author arrived late, was drunk, and wasn’t wearing formal clothes because he was too poor to afford them. Proust arrived even later than Joyce, and though there are varying accounts of what was actually said between the two, every known version points to a very anticlimactic meeting of the minds.

According to author William Carlos Williams, Joyce said, “I’ve headaches every day. My eyes are terrible,” to which the ailing Proust replied, “My poor stomach. What am I going to do? It’s killing me. In fact, I must leave at once.”

Publisher Margaret Anderson claimed that Proust admitted, “I regret that I don’t know Mr. Joyce’s work,” while Joyce replied, “I have never read Mr. Proust.”

Art reviewer Arthur Power said both writers simply talked about liking truffles. Joyce later told painter Frank Budgen, “Our talk consisted solely of the word ‘No.’”


Joyce had a childhood fear of thunder and lightning, which sprang from his Catholic governess’s pious warnings that such meteorological occurrences were actually God manifesting his anger at him. The fear haunted the writer all his life, though Joyce recognized the beginnings of his phobia. When asked by a friend why he was so afraid of rough weather, Joyce responded, “You were not brought up in Catholic Ireland.”

The fear also manifested itself in Joyce’s writing. In Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the autobiographical protagonist Stephen Dedalus says he fears “dogs, horses, firearms, the sea, thunderstorms, [and] machinery.”

But the most fascinating manifestation of his astraphobia is in his stream of consciousness swan song, Finnegans Wake, where he created the 100-letter word Bababadalgharaghtaka-mminarronnkonnbronntonnerronntuonnthunntrovarrhounawnskawntoohoohoordenenthurnuk to represent a symbolic biblical thunderclap. The mouthful is actually made up of different words for “thunder” in French (tonnerre), Italian (tuono), Greek (bronte), and Japanese (kaminari).


Fellow Modernist Virginia Woolf didn't much care for Joyce or his work. She compared his writing to "a queasy undergraduate scratching his pimples," and said that "one hopes he’ll grow out of it; but as Joyce is 40 this scarcely seems likely."

She wasn't the only one. In a letter, D.H. Lawrence—who wrote such classics as Women in Love and Lady Chatterley’s Loversaid of Joyce: “My God, what a clumsy olla putrida James Joyce is! Nothing but old fags and cabbage stumps of quotations from the Bible and the rest stewed in the juice of deliberate, journalistic dirty-mindedness.”

“Do I get much pleasure from this work? No," author H.G. Wells wrote in his review of Finnegans Wake. “ ... Who the hell is this Joyce who demands so many waking hours of the few thousand I have still to live for a proper appreciation of his quirks and fancies and flashes of rendering?”

Even his partner Nora had a difficult time with his work, saying after the publication of Ulysses, “Why don’t you write sensible books that people can understand?”


Joyce was admitted to a Zurich hospital in January 1941 for a perforated duodenal ulcer, but slipped into a coma after surgery and died on January 13. His last words were befitting his notoriously difficult works—they're said to have been, "Does nobody understand?"

Additional Source: James Joyce


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