Selected Criticism: Prose, Poetry

Selected Criticism: Prose, Poetry

Selected Criticism: Prose, Poetry

Selected Criticism: Prose, Poetry

Excerpt

Contemporary sensibilities, if suddenly transported into the physical world of 1900, would experience a sense of oppression and a queer kind of emptiness and freedom. To transport the reader into the full atmosphere of this world was a major concern of Joyce. The action of Ulysses takes place during a single day in 1905, in what, in all practical senses, was then a provincial city in a dependency of the British Empire. We receive from the pages of Ulysses --from its special combination of naturalism and impressionism--a distilled sense of actuality: a sense of untoward squalor and specialized glitter; a sad and ugly pathos and an outmoded and naive gaiety; a sense of the hidden massiveness of institutions opposed to an extreme particularization of individuals. Newspapers, advertisements, and popular entertainment are at an awkward professional level; a surface gentility coats the basic density of peasant character. Basic decoration and design, from clothes to the façades of buildings and the vehicles in the street, are heavy and . . .

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