02 July 2017

#147 James Joyce

One of Joyce's most valuable bequests to writers is that none of them ever need to write a novel like Ulysses again; a benefaction unhappily sometimes disregarded, especially in the US. One feels that Joyce, even if pretty able, is not quite in the Proust, Dostoevsky, even Balzac, class; useful to be learnt from, but not to be imitated [...] His obsession with himself, paying a good dividend in certain respects, was a handicap in others, narrowing the sphere of vision. As regards the novel itself, one wishes the Brothel scene was done in the same manner as the Martello Tower. I feel certain Joyce simply found himself unable to bring that off, falling back faute de mieux on "experimental" methods, not because those really gave a better picture. Perhaps it might be argued this stuck closer to the Ulysses myth.

Anthony Powell, Journals 1982-1986, Friday 20 June 1986
Contributed by Peter Kislinger