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A Gesture towards James Joyce

Clive James, 5 July 1984

... conceding the lost battle. The gesture towards Finnegans Wake was deliberate: So much so that Joyce should have seen it coming Even through the eye-patch of his last years. He wrote a book full of nothing except writing For people who can’t do anything but read, And now their gestures clog the air around us. He asked for it, and we got ...

James Joyce and the Reader’s Understanding

Brigid Brophy, 21 February 1980

James Joyce and the Revolution of the Word 
by Colin MacCabe.
Macmillan, 186 pp., £8.95, February 1979, 0 333 21648 2
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... The aim of this work,’ Colin MacCabe announces, ‘is not to provide the meaning of Joyce’s work but to allow it to be read.’ ‘Well, ta ever so,’ I wrote in the margin. In 1922, when Ulysses was first published and copies were burnt by the New York Post Office, or 1923, when copies were seized by the Folkestone Customs, English-reading people might have thanked Mr MacCabe for, at least, a kindly intention ...

His Spittin’ Image

Colm Tóibín: John Stanislaus Joyce, 22 February 2018

... his father died. Synge makes an attempted parricide the theme of his Playboy of the Western World; James Joyce describes in Ulysses how Stephen Dedalus, disowning his own parent, searches for another father. Portrait of John Stanislaus Joyce by Patrick Tuohy (1923) Just as Oscar Wilde began to become himself the ...
... does it feel, then, being dead?’) let him speak in his own voice, not like a Yorkshireman or James Joyce. That photograph and its violence sit in an alien silence where a fraught polyphony might speak, but not epiphany – transcendent insights that replace missed moments of religious grace are not just missing but unmissed as a quill in a cindery ...

Thoughts on Feeling Carbon-Dated

Clive James, 24 January 1980

... supply of mental giants. A Goethe now would lack words to loathe Newton. It’s forty years since James Joyce named the quark. Now nobody’s nonplussed to hear light rays Get sucked down holes so fast they show up dark. Nor would the converse of that news amaze. It all gets out of reach as it grows clear. What we once failed to grasp but still were ...

Short Cuts

Thomas Jones: Ulysses vs. Ulysses, 13 December 2001

... judgment was handed down in a case brought against Macmillan and Danis Rose by the estate of James Joyce. Ulysses: A Reader’s Edition, edited by Rose, was published by Macmillan in 1997. Joyce died in 1941, and under the Copyright Act 1956 any of his work that appeared while he was alive passed out of copyright ...

The Last Cigarette

John Bayley, 27 July 1989

Memoir of Italo Svevo 
by Livia Veneziani Svevo, translated by Isabel Quigly.
Libris, 178 pp., £17.95, April 1989, 1 870352 40 8
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... in whose work ordinariness achieves a highly individual and idiosyncratic literary status – James Joyce and Italo Svevo. Growing older, a bit despondent, never feeling quite well – these are the symptoms of Svevan man which we all recognise, and from which we suffer ourselves. The Svevan ordinary man belongs to no recognisable social ...

Our Founder

John Bayley: Papa Joyce, 19 February 1998

John Stanislaus JoyceThe Voluminous Life and Genius of James Joyce’s Father 
by John Wyse Jackson and Peter Costello.
Fourth Estate, 493 pp., £20, October 1997, 1 85702 417 6
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... Joyce’s prose is ‘beautifully written’, as they used to say. Written, like his poems, in the old style of the Nineties. Paradoxically, it is not composed but spoken. The voice that echoes through it, the voices rather, and the tones, are those of the old artificer, the father of the tribe, Simon Dedalus, John Stanislaus Joyce ...

Joyce and Company

Tim Parks: Joyce’s Home Life, 5 July 2012

James JoyceA Biography 
by Gordon Bowker.
Phoenix, 608 pp., £14.99, March 2012, 978 0 7538 2860 1
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... that she will always be beholden to you, however you behave. Conscious or unconscious, such was James Joyce’s strategy with regard to Dublin, to Ireland. From the age of 22 until his death at 58 he lived in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Italy, Switzerland and France, but his creative attention remained focused on the Dublin he grew up in. Though ...

Poor Harold

C.H. Sisson, 3 December 1981

Harold Nicolson: A Biography. Vo. II: 1930-1968 
by James Lees-Milne.
Chatto, 403 pp., £15, October 1981, 0 7011 2602 7
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... the series gave me my first sight of the work of T.S. Eliot, Virginia Woolf, and I believe James Joyce, though I learn from the volume before me that Sir John Reith, reigning at the BBC, forbade Nicolson to mention Ulysses, then banned. Little encounters of that kind were to be expected in those days, and Nicolson seems not to have attempted to ...

Raiding Joyce

Denis Donoghue, 18 April 1985

James Joyce 
by Patrick Parrinder.
Cambridge, 262 pp., £20, November 1984, 9780521240147
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James Joyce and Sexuality 
by Richard Brown.
Cambridge, 216 pp., £19.50, March 1985, 0 521 24811 6
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Joyce’s Dislocutions: Essays on Reading as Translation 
by Fritz Senn, edited by John Paul Riquelme.
Johns Hopkins, 225 pp., £22.20, December 1984, 0 8018 3135 0
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Post-Structuralist JoyceEssays from the French 
edited by Derek Attridge and Daniel Ferrer.
Cambridge, 162 pp., £20, January 1985, 9780521266369
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... apparently, on being read in one way. By that criterion, Ulysses would appear to be a classic. Joyce relentlessly explicated it, and gave his fans the authorised version of its structure, but the user’s manual doesn’t limit the ways in which the book may be read. Nothing said about Ulysses seems to spoil it. But Finnegans Wake lacks this ...

What happened to MacDiarmid

David Norbrook, 23 October 1986

Hugh MacDiarmid: The Man and his Work 
by Nancy Gish.
Macmillan, 235 pp., £25, June 1984, 0 333 29473 4
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Complete Poems 
by Hugh MacDiarmid.
Penguin, £8.95, February 1985, 0 14 007913 0
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... prose’; he described the major long poem of his later years, ‘In Memoriam James Joyce’, as a ‘ragbag’, a poetic ‘Loch Ness Monster’. But critics are starting to recognise that neither the boasts nor the admissions of defeat are to be read too literally: his poetic task is both ‘impossible and imperative’. Nancy ...

Quashed Quotatoes

Michael Wood: Finnegans Wake, 16 December 2010

Finnegans Wake 
by James Joyce, edited by Danis Rose and John O’Hanlon.
Houyhnhnm, 493 pp., £250, March 2010, 978 0 9547710 1 0
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Joyce’s Disciples Disciplined 
edited by Tim Conley.
University College Dublin, 185 pp., £42.50, May 2010, 978 1 906359 46 1
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... Lewis Carroll seems an obvious precursor of James Joyce in the world of elaborate wordplay, and critics have long thought so. Harry Levin suggested in 1941 that Carroll’s Humpty Dumpty was ‘the official guide’ to the vocabulary of Finnegans Wake. Why wouldn’t he be? He was the inventor of the portmanteau word (‘You see it’s like a portmanteau – there are two meanings packed up into one word’), an inspired parodist of what Saussure later called the arbitrariness of the linguistic sign (that is, its being grounded in nothing but convention) and extremely proud of his ability to ‘explain all the poems that ever were invented – and a good many that haven’t been invented just yet ...

Ecclefechan and the Stars

Robert Crawford, 21 January 1988

The Crisis of the Democratic Intellect 
by George Davie.
Polygon, 283 pp., £17.95, September 1986, 0 948275 18 9
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... interest in the collection and presentation of minute facts impressed one of his Glasgow auditors, James Boswell, whose marvellous accumulation. The Life of Samuel Johnson, is a major peak in the Scottish eclectic tradition. In Edinburgh, formulating the canon of the new university study of English Literature, Blair tried to inscribe a marked Scottish ...

Magnificent Cuckolds

William Empson, 24 January 1991

... Frank Budgen’s last pamphlet ‘Further Recollections of James Joyce’ (1955) carries a bit of personal reminiscence which looks as if it might be more important than most. He remembers that he had one day remarked to Joyce that he could never understand why Bloom, in Ulysses, lets his wife commit adultery with Boylan; but we gather that after this leading question he offered his own answer, hoping it would irritate the great man into a correction, which shows he understood interviewers’ technique ...

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