Review: Giacomo Joyce by James Joyce

Pretty much the definition of “transitional”, I better be careful not to write too much here or else the amount of words here will dwarf the amount of words featured in this slim volume. I don’t know if I’ve historically liked or been able to appreciate works as short as this off the bat and maybe that’s what’s happening now. I think with T.S. Eliot’s Prufrock And Other Observations, for example, I probably like it better after I read Poems and The Waste Land, both of which were later packaged with it. This book does further develop the stream-of-conscious or inner monologue technique that would lead to Ulysses more than A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. But the work is obviously lacking when stacked up against those more formidable masterpieces. Perhaps Joyce wanted to condense but when he got to a certain point of condensation the technique proved ineffective. This work is most comparable to Chamber Music and Pomes Penyeach, and much like those works there’s simply too many elements missing for it to be true vintage Joyce. None of these shorter pieces match up to Prufrock and Other Observations or The Waste Land, and the reason for that given Joyce’s prodigious acumen, which for most of Ulysses actually eclipses all of Eliot’s work, is unknown. What you end up with is something surprisingly dull and even seemingly formless like Joyce’s sub-Ibsen expression Exiles, arguably the worst of what I call his apocrypha. In all contexts, this seems no more than an exercise anticipating the incredible emotional ground Ulysses would cover.

Final Grade: C

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