Sunday, April 3, 2011

James Joyce

For each of the quotes below, the subject is Ulysses.

He is a millionaire of words and styles. Aside from the prodigious funds of voices that constitute the English language, his commerce spreads wherever the Irish clover grows, form Castilian doubloons and Judas's shekels to Roman denarii and other ancient coinage. His prolific pen exercises all the rhetorical figures. Each episode exalts yet another poetic strategy, another private lexicon. One is written in syllogisms, another in questions and answers, another in narrative sequence. [...] Joyce is as bold as the prow of a ship, and as universal as a mariner's compass.
In using myth, in manipulating a continuous parallel between contemporaneity and antiquity, Mr. Joyce is pursuing a method which others must pursue after him. They will not be imitators, any more than the scientist who uses the discoveries of an Einstein in pursuing his own, independent, further investigation. It is simply a way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility of and anarchy which is contemporary history.
If you have ever tried to stand and bend your head so as to look back between your knees, with your face turned upside down, you will see the world in a totally different light. Try it on the beach: it is very funny to see people walking when you look at them upside down. They seem to be, with each step, disengaging their feet from the glue of gravitation, without losing their dignity. Well, this trick of changing vista, of changing the prism and the viewpoint, can be compared to Joyce’s new literary technique, to the kind of new twist through which you see a greener grass, a fresher world.

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