James Joyce: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

James Joyce: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

James Joyce: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2

James Joyce: The Critical Heritage - Vol. 2


This set comprises 40 volumes covering nineteenth and twentieth century European and American authors. These volumes will be available as a complete set, mini boxed sets (by theme) or as individual volumes. This second set compliments the first 68 volume set of Critical Heritage published by Routledge in October 1995.


October 1928

176. Early reaction from Stanislaus Joyce


Letter to his brother (7 August 1924), quoted in Ellmann, James Joyce, pp. 589–91, and in Ellmann, Letters, Volume III, 1966, pp. 102–6.

An extract from a long letter concerning Ulysses and Work in Progress.

…I have received one instalment of your yet unnamed novel in the Transatlantic Review. I don't know whether the drivelling rigmarole about half a tall hat [Finnegans Wake, p. 387] and ladies' modern toilet chambers [Finnegans Wake, p. 395] (practically the only things I understand in this nightmare production) is written with the deliberate intention of pulling the reader's leg or not. You began this fooling in the Holles Street episode [the 'Oxen of the Sun' episode] in Ulysses and I see that Wyndham Lewis…imitates it with heavy-hoofed capering in the columns of the Daily Mail. Or perhaps—a sadder supposition—it is the beginning of softening of the brain. The first instalment faintly suggests the Book of the Four Masters and a kind of Biddy in Blunderland and a satire on the supposed matriarchal system. It has certain characteristics of a beginning of something, is nebulous, chaotic but contains certain elements. That is absolutely all I can make of it. But! It is unspeakably wearisome. Gorman's book on you [James Joyce, The First Forty Years] practically proclaims your work as the last word in modern literature. It may be the last in another sense, the witless wandering of literature before its final extinction…I for one would not read more than a paragraph of it, if I did not know you.

What I say does not matter. I have no doubt that you have your plan, probably a big one again as in Ulysses. No doubt, too, many more . . .

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