's first published novel (PMD
suggests that it might be Joyce
's second, with Dubliners
being the first. He's not certain, and neither am I at the moment, but I think he may well be right). By all accounts, it's a reasonably autobiographical
fictionalization of Joyce's childhood and adolescence by way of Joyce's alter ego Stephen Dedalus
. Stephen, of course, turns up later in Joyce's Ulysses
Some people find it intolerable because of the way the style tracks Stephen's growth and development
. When he is a child, the style is (on the surface) childlike; when he's a hyper-religious young adolescent, the style is bombastic
; etc. The odd thing is, it's not clear that Joyce could write any other way. He couldn't speak for himself directly; he could only create a doppleganger
and then speak for it
. His correspondence reads nothing like his fiction. He was only James Joyce
when he was being somebody else. Many years later, Jorge Luis Borges
anticipated this in his essay about Shakespeare
being "Everyone and No One
Much later . . .
My theory about Joyce's identity thing has been called into question: First by somebody I know who suggested that maybe Joyce just damn well didn't put much effort into his letters, and second by a selection of the letters themselves: Correspondence Regarding Joyce's "Dubliners". I'm still going to keep the theory, because I like it, and I like the Borges joke. Feel free to vote this node into oblivion; I don't mind. That wouldn't be random voting, of course, but maybe somebody can make an exception just this once. I'll just go back to voting up nodes with obscene titles now.