Joyce the inverted nationalist

James T. Farrell and James Joyce
James T. Farrell (left) and James Joyce

In 1944 the New York Times commissioned then widely read novelist James T. Farrell--an "ethnic proletarian" novelist who came of age in the radical context of the Depression, author of Studs Lonigan etc.--to make a commentary on James Joyce. Farrell wrote about his main topic: being Irish in the Irish diaspora. Below is the first paragraph of the essay Farrell wrote for the December 31, 1944 Times and here is a link to the whole piece.

This race and this country and this life produced me," declares Stephen Dedalus--artistic image of James Joyce himself--in "A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." "A Portrait" is the story of how Stephen was produced, how he rejected that which produced him, how he discovered that his destiny was to become a lonely one of artistic creation. It is well to look into the life out of which Stephen came, to discuss the social and national background of this novel. In Ireland a major premise of any discussion of her culture and of her literature is an understanding of Irish nationalism. And it is at least arguable that Joyce was a kind of inverted nationalist--that the nationalism which he rejects runs through him like a central thread.

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