Saturday, January 08, 2011

Decline and fail


Evelyn Waugh, interviewed in 1964, offers his opinion on James Joyce:
He began writing quite well and you can see him going mad as he wrote, and his last books... only fit to be set for examinations at Cambridge.

6 comments:

That's Not My Age said...

Excellent quote. And (re: your post below), Pete Postlethwaite, always worth a look as far as I'm concerned.

Vicus Scurra said...

Quite rich for someone who graduated from humour to "Brideshead". I shall stop writing when I am 94 in case I suffer such a decline.

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Miaow! Though almost more insulting to Cambridge graduates.

The militant working boy said...

Joyce was perfectly sane during his writing career. It is his readers who go mad.

Billy said...

Black Mischief is just a Firbank rip off.

Tim Footman said...

TNMA: Thank you. And yes, he was. A certain breed of un-pretty Brit actors (also Gambon, Spall, Alun Armstrong, Peter Vaughan, Geoffrey Palmer, a few more) can redeem the slightest material.

I did my undergraduate dissertation on Waugh, Vicus, and you're quite right, the last 20 years are a let-down. Even the much-lauded Sword of Honour isn't as gloriously cruel as his first half-dozen.

Well, Laura, what can you expect from someone who scraped a third at Oxford?

Very true, MWB. Although I've seen it argued that Finnegans Wake was meant to be a pretty conventional narrative, but because JJ was practically blind by the time he finished it, it made no sense whatsoever - which the editors mistook for genius. Mind you, I've also read an article arguing that Ayn Rand was a better writer than Joyce, which just proves the internet is mostly wrong.

True, Billy. But an amusing one.