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“After the ‘Ulysses’ author died, in 1941, Ireland declined to honour him as it had WB Yeats” — The Irish Times

The Norwegian author discusses the 20th century Irish modernist in the New York Times
james-joyceThis year marks the 100th anniversary of the publication of “A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.” Its genesis was long and tortuous — Joyce began writing his novel in 1904 — and the road to its canonisation as one of the seminal works of Western literature was not short either: The reviews spoke of the author’s “cloacal obsession” and “the slime of foul sewers,” comments that seem strange today, insofar as it is the subjective aspect of the book, the struggle that goes on inside the mind of its young protagonist, that perhaps stands out to us now as its most striking feature. What appeared at the time to be unprecedented about the novel seems more mundane to us today, whereas what then came across as mundane now seems unprecedented. Joyce’s novel remains vital, in contrast to almost all other novels published in 1916, because he forcefully strived toward an idiosyncratic form of expression, a language intrinsic to the story he wanted to tell, about the young protagonist, Stephen Dedalus, and his formative years in Dublin, in which uniqueness was the very point and the question of what constitutes the individual was the issue posed.

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An incredibly relevant and perceptive article on the psychopathology of fascism
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J. G. Ballard

The psychopath never dates.

Hitler’s contemporaries – Baldwin, Chamberlain, Herbert Hoover – seem pathetically fusty figures, with their frock coats and wing collars, closer to the world of Edison, Carnegie and the hansom cab than to the first fully evolved modern societies over which they presided, areas of national consciousness formed by mass-produced newspapers and consumer goods, advertising and tele-communications. By comparison Hitler is completely up-to-date, and would be equally at home in the sixties (and probably even more so in the seventies) as in the twenties. The whole apparatus of the Nazi super-state, its nightmare uniforms and propaganda, seems weirdly turned-on, providing just that element of manifest insanity to which we all respond in the H-Bomb or Viet Nam – perhaps one reason why the American and Russian space programmes have failed to catch our imaginations is that this quality of explicit psychopathology is missing. (more…)

American academic and writer shares his passion for the work of Samuel Beckett with Electric Literature

Colin Winnette: What motivated this recommendation?

Brian Evenson: It’s a book I’m very fond of, and I tend to think contemporary American fiction would be more interesting if more writers knew Molloy.I tend to think contemporary American fiction would be more interesting if more writers knew Molloy.

I think it’s also a very funny book (though weird humor sometimes) and has some amazing sentences. (more…)

Tuesday 16 June 2015
Stephen Fry
Stephen Fry
From the James Joyce Centre in Dublin: We are delighted to announce that Stephen Fry will be joining us for this year’s Bloomsday Festival! Stephen will be interviewed as part of our ‘Bloomsday Interview’ series by Senator David Norris at the O’Reilly Theatre on Bloomsday (Tuesday, 16th June) at 8pm. You can reserve your tickets for this very special event through the Bloomsday website here. We will be releasing the full Bloomsday programme on Monday. [See the Programme]

Aashish Kaul (3:AM Magazine) on Joseph Frank’s 1945 study

‘As Joseph Frank points out in his early study from 1945, Spatial Form in Modern Literature, Joyce, in Ulysses, works with the assumption that his readers are Dubliners, intimately acquainted with Dublin life and the personal history of his characters, thereby allowing him to refrain from giving any direct information about them; information that, contrary to his intentions, would have betrayed the presence of an omniscient author. What Joyce does, instead, is to present the elements of his narrative in fragments, as they are thrown out unexplained in the course of casual conversations, or as they lie embedded in the various strata of symbolic reference, allusions to Dublin life, history, and the external events of the twenty-four hours during which the novel takes place. The factual background, which otherwise is so conveniently summarized for the reader, must be reconstructed in this case from fragments, sometimes hundreds of pages apart, scattered through the book. As a result, Frank argues, the reader is forced to read Ulysses in the manner he reads modern poetry – continually fitting fragments together and keeping allusions in mind until, by reflexive reference, he can link them to their complements. Indeed Joyce himself, although his model was Aristotle, says as much of Ulysses in a letter to Ezra Pound of 9 April 1917: ‘I am doing it, as Aristotle would say – by different means in different parts.’ [Read More]