Luigi Guarnieri
Il segreto di Lucia Joyce (Lucia Joyce's Secret)
La Nave di Teseo, April 2022, 178 pages

Now that Lucia Joyce’s ghost has vanished into thin air, she carries with her a secret that until today no one has really been able to reveal.

Lucia was born in Trieste in 1907. Second-born of James and Nora Joyce, she lives her childhood with her parents and her brother Giorgio in precarious economic conditions. After Trieste, Joyce begins a continuous wandering between Paris, Switzerland – especially Zurich – and some brief returns to Ireland. It is in Paris that Joyce comes into contact with writers, artists, the well-off bourgeoisie and generous benefactors. In this context – a standard of living beyond the writer’s real possibilities, a success that struggles to take off despite a fervent interest in his work by some admirers of exception, a delirious family routine – Lucia and Giorgio grow in a strange relationship of symbiosis. Thus Giorgio’s marriage is experienced by Lucia as an abandonment, and she is also rejected by three men within a short period of time (including Samuel Beckett and the sculptor Alexander Calder). The only field in which she is able to express herself is dance: she attends theatrical and choreographic courses, she makes female friends who inspire her and she delves into artistic areas far from those of her father.

Her first psychic breakdown marks the beginning of an ordeal – clinics and asylums, experimental therapies, Jungian psychoanalysis, contradictory and never verified diagnoses – that will last all her life. Discovering the secret of Lucia’s obscure mental illness, for which Joyce always felt guilty, will become a real obsession for the author of Ulysses, and will risk destroying him.

Luigi Guarnieri reconstructs and recounts the unique relationship between the eccentric James Joyce and his beloved daughter with moving and engaging participation, offering a fascinating literary investigation of art, feelings and the vicissitudes of the great writer and his family.

Luigi Guarnieri

Luigi Guarnieri - © Jerry Bauer / Actes Sud

Luigi Guarnieri was born and lives in Rome. Doctor of Human Letters at the University of Pisa and with a diploma from the Experimental Cinematography Centre in Rome, he wrote many theater and radio plays. He is the author of novels translated in many countries: L’atlante criminale. Vita scriteriata di Cesare Lombroso (2000), Tenebre sul Congo (2001), La doppia vita di Vermeer (2004), La sposa ebrea (2006), I sentieri del cielo (2008) and Una strana storia d’amore (2011), Il sosia di Hitler (2014), Forsennatamente Mr Foscolo (2018). His most recent novel is Il segreto di Lucia Joyce (2022).



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