Review: “Ulysses” by James Joyce


He is the only individual the writer has met outside of a madhouse who has let random and intentional thoughts flow from his pen the moment they are produced. He does not seek to give them an order, a sequence or an interdependence. His literary output would seem to corroborate some of Freud’s assertions. The majority of writers, practically all, transfer their conscious and deliberate thought to paper. Mr. Joyce transfers the product of his unconscious to paper without submitting it to the conscious mind, or, if he submits it, it is to receive approval and encouragement, perhaps even praise. He argues with Freud that the unconscious represents the real man, the man of nature, and the conscious mind the man of artifice, the man of convention, of opportunity, the slave of Mrs. Grundy, the sycophant of the Church, the plastic puppet. of society and the state. When a master technician of words and phrases sets himself the task of revealing the product of the unconscious of a moral monster, a pervert and an invert, from an apostate to his race and his religion, the simulacrum of a man who has no cultural background or personal self-respect, who can neither be taught by experience nor taught by example, as Mr. Joyce did when drawing the painting by Leopold Bloom , and faithfully reproducing his thoughts, determined, wandering, and obsessive, he undoubtedly knew very well what he was undertaking, and how unacceptable the vile content of this unconscious would be to ninety-nine out of a hundred men, and how furious they would be to see the disgusting product thrown in their face. But that has nothing to do with what I’m concerned here, namely, was the job done right and is it a work of art, to which there can only be an affirmative answer .

I dare to prophesy: ​​not ten men or women out of a hundred can read “Ulysses” to the end.

Mr. Joyce has no respect for organized religion, for conventional morality, for style or literary form. He has no conception of the word obedience, and he does not bend his knee either before God or before man. It is very interesting, and most important to have the revelations of such a personality, to have them firsthand and not in disguise. Until now, our only channels of information on such figures have been through lunatic asylums, for it was there that disclosures such as Mr. Joyce’s were made without reservation. Lest anyone interpret this statement as a subterfuge on my part to challenge Mr. Joyce’s sanity, let me immediately say that he is one of the healthiest geniuses I have ever known.

Finally, I dare to make a prophecy: not ten men or women out of a hundred can read “Ulysses” to the end, and of the ten who do, five of them will do so as a feat. I’m probably the only person other than the author to have read it twice from start to finish. I learned more psychology and psychiatry than in 10 years at the Neurological Institute. There are other angles from which “Ulysses” can be viewed with profit, but they are not many. – Dr Joseph Collins

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