- James Joyce and His Critics: Some Classified Comments
- The Johns Hopkins University Press and Faber & Faber Ltd
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544 ] James Joyce and His Critics: Some Classified Comments1 The Egoist, 4 (June 1917) 74 CAUTION: It is very difficult to know quite what to say about this new book by Mr. Joyce– Literary World [London]. DRAINS: Mr. Joyce is a clever novelist, but we feel he would be really at his best in a treatise on drains–Everyman [London]. CLEAN-MINDEDNESS: This pseudo-autobiography of Stephen Dedalus, a weakling and a dreamer, makes fascinating reading . . . No clean-minded person could possibly allow it to remain within reach of his wife, his sons or daughters.–Irish Book Lover [Dublin]. OPPORTUNITIES OF DUBLIN: If one must accuse Mr. Joyce of anything, it is that he too wilfully ignores the opportunities which Dublin offers even to a Stephen Dedalus. . . . He has undoubtedly failed to bring out the undeniable superiority of many features of life in the capital . . . . He is as blind to the charm of its situation as to the stirrings of literary and civic consciousnesswhichgiveaninterestandzesttosocialandpoliticalintercourse .– New Ireland [Dublin]. BEAUTY: There is much in the book to offend a good many varieties of readers, and little compensating beauty.–New York Globe. The most obvious thing about the book is its beauty.–New Witness [London]. STYLE: It is possible that the author intends to write a sequel to the story. If so, he might acquire a firmer, more coherent and more lucid style by a study of Flaubert, Daudet, Thackeray and Thomas Hardy.2 –Rochester (New York) Post-Express. The occasional lucid intervals in which one glimpses imminent setting forth of social elements and forces in Dublin, only to be disappointed, are similar to the eye or ear which appears in futurist portraits, but proves the more bewildering because no other recognizable feature is to be discerned among the chaos.–Bellman (U.S.A. [Minneapolis]). [Editor’s Note: In the sentence quoted above, “lucid intervals” is to be parsed with “are similar” and “eye or ear” with “proves.” The adjective “recognizable ” is apparently pleonastic.]3 [ 545 James Joyce and His Critics REALISM:Itisaruthless,relentlessessayinrealism.–SouthportGuardian [England]. To put the literary form of rude language in a book makes some authors feel realistic.– Manchester Weekly Times. Mr. Joyce aims at being realistic, but his method is too chaotic to produce the effect of realism.– Rochester (New York) Post-Express. Its realism will displease many.–Birmingham Post. Mr.Joyceisunsparinginhisrealism,andhisviolentcontrasts–thebrothel, the confessional– jar on one’s finer feelings.–Irish Book Lover. The description of life in a Jesuit school, and later in a Dublin college, strikes one as being absolutely true to life–but what a life!–Everyman. WISDOM : Is it even wise, from a worldly point of view–mercenary, if you will–to dissipate one’s talents on a book which can only attain a limited circulation?–Irish Book Lover. ADVANTAGESOFIRISHEDUCATION:OneboyfromClongowesSchool is not a replica of all the other boys. I will reintroduce Mr. Wells to half a dozen Irish “old boys” of whom five–Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is one–were educated at Roman Catholic schools and have nevertheless become most conventional citizens of the Empire.4 –Sphere [London]. COMPARISON WITH OTHER IRISH AUTHORS: The book is not within a hundred miles of being as fine a work of art as Limehouse Nights, the work of another young Irishman.5 –Sphere. There are a good many talented young Irish writers to-day, and it will take a fellow of exceptional literary stature to tower above Lord Dunsany, for example, or James Stephens.6 –New York Globe. IMAGINATION: He shows an astonishingly un-Celtic absence of imagination and humour.–Bellman (U.S.A.). RELIGION: The irreverent treatment of religion in the story must be condemned.– Rochester (New York) Post-Express. TRUTH: It is an accident that Mr. Joyce’s book should have Dublin as its background. –Freeman’s Journal (Dublin). Heisjustified,insofarastoomanyDublinersareofthecalibredescribed in this and the preceding volume.– New Ireland. Notes 1. “Eliot is doing a June Egoist on ‘What the fools have said of Joyce,’” Pound wrote to John Quinn on 17 May. “I don’t know that that is the title, but it’s the subject” (EP/JQ 116). TSE was appointed assistant editor of the Egoist in June, simultaneously with its publication of Prufrock 1917: Journalism 546 ] and Other Observations. The Egoist had serialized Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the first novel by James Joyce (1882-1941), from Feb 1914 to Sept 1915. Since no English publisher would accept it, it was first published in America...