Richard Ellmann, James Joyce

James Joyce by Richard Ellmann My rating: 4 of 5 stars Biography must be the most traditional, even rigid, of the prose genres, exceeding murder mysteries or romance novels. It marches from birth to death (or from family history to cultural legacy) at the stately pace of the old three-volume Victorian novel and with the … Continue reading Richard Ellmann, James Joyce

Against Celebration: Bloomsday vs. Dallowayday

Two years ago, Elaine Showalter suggested that we balance Bloomsday (June 16, the day whereon Joyce's Ulysses is set) with Dallowayday: Like Joyce’s Ulysses, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs Dalloway is set in a single city on a single day: London on 13 June 1923. But while Bloomsday on 16 June is the occasion of riotous celebrations … Continue reading Against Celebration: Bloomsday vs. Dallowayday

Bloomsday Notes: Jung on Joyce

The emergence of a literature which is predominantly concerned with the exploration of both a social reality and individual consciousness is a relatively recent phenomenon. Its first clear manifestations date from about the third quarter of the seventeenth century when the collective projection represented by the Christian "worldview" gradually began to break apart. Inevitably, this … Continue reading Bloomsday Notes: Jung on Joyce

Bloomsday Thoughts: Blasphemies, Monuments, Traditions

The nightingales are singing near The Convent of the Sacred Heart... —T. S. Eliot, "Sweeney among the Nightingales" Joyce was an apostate, renegade, heathen, exile, dissident, blasphemer—and so perhaps the most faithful way to celebrate Bloomsday would be to blaspheme Joyce. In his bracing 1988 essay, “Against Ulysses,” Leo Bersani does just that. Despite its venerably … Continue reading Bloomsday Thoughts: Blasphemies, Monuments, Traditions

Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan

Jimmy Corrigan, the Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware My rating: 2 of 5 stars In lieu of an essay, some notes (with spoilers): 1. I both intellectually acknowledge the brilliance of this book and viscerally dislike it. 2. I bought it and began reading it in late 2000; I set it aside after … Continue reading Chris Ware, Jimmy Corrigan

Mina Loy’s Bloomsday

This follows from an earlier suggestion of mine to celebrate Bloomsday by quoting not only Ulysses, but also the works that Ulysses made possible. One of the more interesting contemporary comments on Ulysses is the poem dedicated to it, in 1922, by the modernist poet and futurist feminist Mina Loy: The Normal Monster sings in … Continue reading Mina Loy’s Bloomsday

Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

I find a lot to criticize and very little, almost nothing, to like in the Tom McCarthy essay that is making the rounds, but I will confine myself to one point: It is not just that people with degrees in English generally go to work for corporations (which of course they do); the point is that the … Continue reading Labyrinth vs. Network; or, Why Modernism Is Not Google

On Bloomsday

Late in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49, his heroine, Oedipa Maas, having stumbled upon the long transatlantic conspiracy of a Tory Anarchist underground postal service founded by a disinherited Spaniard and used by the plotters and by the dispossessed, wanders all night around San Francisco.  There she encounters evidence of the postal underground … Continue reading On Bloomsday