James Joyce is the Mount Everest for English majors. We don’t want to climb the damn mountain but if you want to be a real mountaineer, well, you have got to climb that damn mountain.
That is how I see James Joyce and his library of creations.
I heard it once argued that if it wasn’t for the demands of the English college classroom Joyce would not be in print today. I was initially stunned by that concept, but as the years progress I begin to believe it more and more.
He is not someone who people pick up for a little “light” reading, and his characters and plots are not exactly the most moving. Yet, what Joyce does have is incredible creativity on the page, with language, characterization and, of course, his influence on stream of consciousness as a writing style.
I don’t want anyone to think I am dismissing Joyce. Hardly, I think he should continue to be required reading for English majors and writers (especially those that want to do something artistic and new as compared to pulp everyday fiction which flood our bookstores each year). He is the granddaddy of avant garde writing, especially around modern literature. I get all that… It’s just I find him… well… boring and frustrating.
Yes, if asked to describe Joyce I would probably use words like “influential” and “modern” and “avant garde,” but in my heart I would probably be screaming “too smart for his own good.” Continue reading