Joyce gave a number of lectures during his time in Trieste which provide insight into the development of his own thought and critical outlook. The first lecture, ‘Ireland, island of saints and sages’ was given on April 27, 1907 for the Università Popolare. Joyce was originally meant to give three lectures, but the other two, on the 19th Century Irish poet James Clarence Mangan and on the Irish Literary Renaissance were cancelled (though a partial copy of the Mangan lecture survives). In February, 1912, Joyce gave two more lectures for the Università Popolare on ‘Idealism and Realism in English Literature’ (Wlliam Blake and Daniel Defoe).
These lectures survive and provide considerable insight in to how Joyce viewed himself within the English tradition. Joyce’s final and most important lectures were a series of 10-12 lectures on Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’, given between November 1912 – February 1913 in the social hall of the Minerva Society . In his official request to the Police to present the lectures, Joyce described them as a ‘verbal commentary and critical and etymological analysis’ of Shakespeare’s play. Unfortunately, these lectures are no longer extant, but based upon the surviving notes we can see that Joyce read extensively and that his treatment also included a discussion of Elizabethan England and Shakespeare’s life and other works. Much of this material undoubtedly found its way into the ‘Scylla and Charybdis’ episode in Ulysses.