A Portrait of James Joyce by a Young Man

I already wrote up one post about James Joyce when I remembered this watercolor painting I made about a year ago.  To further commemorate the occasion, I’ll post it here.

Watercolor painting made by Corey Pung

I decided to upload this for Bloomsday.

I’d like to go ahead and say a little bit about the author…

James Joyce’s posterity is one that goes usually one or two ways: you absolutely love his, or you completely hate it.  I fall into the first category, as you’ve guessed by now.  Of those who hate him, their reason is most likely this: the guy only tries to express how smart he is.  If you feel that way, you probably also dislike people who write about liking James Joyce too.  Will I agree that Joyce is smart?  Yes, yes I will, yes.  But as to the allegation that he only wrote to show off, I’d like to point out that the book parodies the academic lifestyle and completely demolishes intellectual pretensions.

In an early scene, a man’s wife asks him the meaning of the word “metempsychosis,” and when he elaborates a prolix answer, she scoffs “O rocks!” and she’s given the last word.  In another chapter, a young man walks along a shore using some of the most recherche, verbose, and anarchic language you’ll ever hear (example: “The ineluctable modality of all things visible…”) then stops to pick his nose and ponder at length where to place his booger; the scene’s similar to the famous scene in Samuel Beckett’s Malone where the character thinks for several pages about which of his pockets to store the stones he carries out of habit.  Every piece of intellectualism is countered with an example of basic actions.

If you still dislike James Joyce, know at least that you’re not alone.  David Gilmour, Roddy Doyle, H.G. Wells, Virginia Woolf, DH Lawrence, and Edith Wharton have all written of their distaste for his style and his content.  If you do like James Joyce, then, seeing as how today’s Bloomsday, ReJoyce!



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