Saturday, December 16, 2006

Things you can only get away with in Joyce’s world

As I get near to the end of The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man there are several things about James Joyce’s world that make a real contrast with living in 2006 and so these are just a few I could think of

Walking around a capital city late at night dreaming up philosophical thoughts
Try doing that in London and you are likely to get your thoughts drowned out by the sirens, your eyes blinded by the neon or if you walk down by the river something a lot more sinister interrupt your night dreaming

Have an argument that becomes a shouting match with an Irishman about religion
A friend once thought it might be the right place and right topic of discussion to buttonhole a staunch catholic in an Irish pub and tell him that he thought there were aspects of his religion that were flawed. He was then floored in the more basic sense

Masturbating on a beach
It goes without saying this one, enjoyed by Bloom in Ulysses, is either going to go unnoticed or land you in hot water with the police or local vigilantes – take your pick

Go through a life that mirrors a work by Homer, Ovid or Saint Thomas Aquinas
With work, family etc you hardly have time to know that someone throwing a tin you in a pub is meant to be the Cyclops or that men singing in the corner by the piano doing bad karoke represent the sirens

1 comment:

Ecko Inc said...

Read your comments with interest. Been delving into Joyce's world for the last few months. Read Dubliners, Portrait of an Artist and Ulysses. Currently reading Richard Ellman's excellent biography of Joyce (I've a tendency to become immersed in a writer). Finding it very helpful in exploring the intensions of the author whose writing possesses such a dense style. Also found the website you recommend helpful as well. There are so many literary references in his work, one would be hard pressed to follow everything - but that's probably not the point; like a diamond, Joyce's oeuvre is multi-faceted, cutting into other texts and flashes intermittently between phantasmagoria and literary realism. His literature matures and evolves as he does which is what makes him a "modern genius" and contributes to the allegorical references and puns thickening throughout his works. Glad to see other people are enjoying his art. For myself, I'm plucking up the courage and stamina to tackle Finnegan's Wake...