JAMES JOYCE IN PADUA by Louis--Ed. & Trans. Berrone

JAMES JOYCE IN PADUA

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In completing an examination for a teaching position at the University of Padua in 1912, James Joyce set forth a manifesto against realist literature which he'd follow for the rest of his life. Professor Berrone (English, Fairfield Univ.) discovered the two 1,500 word essays and now releases them along with his close, lucid commentary. Although Joyce scored higher on the exam than any other applicant, he never got the job (his University of Dublin degree didn't meet Italian requirements), but his efforts give us a glimpse of his critical theory at the vital point when A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man was half-finished and Ulysses was in the planning stages. Considering the restraints of time and unanticipated topics, Joyce responded with remarkably textured arguments and engaging prose. In the first essay, written in Italian (Berrone includes a translation), he iconoclastically condemns the Renaissance as a tragic turn from the spiritual to the material and the impetus for a realist literature obsessed with details at the expense of ideas. Appraising Dickens in the next essay, Joyce again strikes out at realism by commending the Englishman's exaggerated characterizations which transcended ""the world of tiresome reality"" and entered a ""borderland of the fantastic."" Besides carefully annotating Joyce's references, Berrone speculates on the origins of Joyce's precepts and indicates how they were later realized in the three epic novels. He succeeds in making a strong case for the significance of his find, and his book should be vital to any future scholarly appreciation of Joyce's work.

Pub Date: Nov. 4th, 1977
Publisher: Random House