Alcoholic Authors II

Following on from last week, this is part two of my Alcoholic Authors series.

James Joyce

James Joyce

(February 2nd 1882 – January 13th 1941)

Notable works: Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, A, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. 

Irish novelist and poet James Augustine Aloysius Joyce is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the modernist avante-garde of the early Twentieth-century.  In 1999 Time Magazine named Joyce amongst the hundred most important people of the last century.  In 1998 Modern Library ranked Joyce’s seminal work, Ulysses, as the best English language novel of the Twentieth-century.  Another of his books, A, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, came in at number three on the same list.

Joyce was a notorious binge drinker, who was adamant that he could not write as well without the aid of alcohol.  There is no doubt that Ulysses, an innovative work that utilised a stream of consciousness narrative would have been very different had the author not been under the influence whilst writing it.  Various theories have been proposed as to why Ireland’s greatest ever writer drank so heavily, perhaps it was in part due to his father having been a heavy drinker or the fact that he was affected so profoundly by the death of his mother from cancer during his early adulthood.

During his time living in Paris Joyce was a drinking buddy of Ernest Hemingway.  The slightly-built, bespectacled Joyce was said to often start bar fights and then hide behind the much bigger Hemingway, yelling, ‘deal with him, Hemingway.  Deal with him.’

Hunter S. Thompson 

Hunter Thompson

 (July 18th 1937 – February 20th 2005)

 Notable works: Hells Angels, Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas, The Rum Diary.

The father of Gonzo journalism, a style of journalism written without claims of objectivity that usually takes the form of a first-person narrative, Hunter S. Thompson was an iconic figure in the counter-culture.  The writer first became well known internationally for his book, Hells Angels (1967).

The author was known for his lifelong heavy use of alcohol and drugs.  Substance abuse is a central theme in much of his writing, including his most famous work, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.  Thompson drunk a wide range of alcoholic beverages, whiskey being a particular favourite.  More often than not he was said to have started the day with beer and cocktails before progressing to straight liquor.  Never one for the vagaries of waiters  Thompson would typically order three to six drinks at a time.

At a first meeting with a New York publishers, a young Thompson allegedly drunk twenty double Wild Turkeys in about three hours.  At the meeting’s conclusion he walked out as if he had been sipping tea.  He once famously said,

‘I hate to advocate for drugs, alcohol, violence, or insanity to anyone, but they’ve always worked for me.’

Thompson suffered from a bout of health problems in later life, culminating in his suicide aged sixty-seven.  Per the author’s wishes his ashes were fired out of a cannon in a ceremony funded by friend and star of the movie adaptation of Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Johnny Depp.

Click here to read part one of Alcoholic Authors.


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