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Budgen, Frank / James Joyce and the making of 'Ulysses', and other writings

Chapter four,   pp. 60-73 PDF (879.0 KB)

Page 69

Dublin are of the Irish literary movement. That movement, in the persons
of some of its most distinguished representatives, figures also in Ulysses
but in a proportion equal to its importance in the life of the city. 
 One important personality that emerges out of the contacts of many people
is that of the city of Dublin. 
 "I want," said Joyce, as we were walking down the Universitätsträsse,
"to give a picture of Dublin so complete that if the city one day suddenly
disappeared from the earth it could ' be reconstructed out of my book." 
 We had come to the university terrace where we could look down on the town.
 "And what a city Dublin is!" he continued. "I wonder if there is another
like it. Everybody has time to hail a friend and ' start a conversation about
a third party, Pat, Barney or Tim. ' Have you seen Barney lately? Is he still
off the drink?' ' Ay, sure he 
is. I was with him last night and he drank nothing but claret.' I suppose
you don't get that gossipy, leisurely life in London?" 
 "No," I said. "But then London isn't a city. It is a wilderness of bricks
and mortar and the law of the wilderness prevails. All Londoners say, ' I
keep myself to myself.' The malicious friendly sort of town can't exist with
seven million people in it." 
 But it is not by way of description that Dublin is created in Ulysses. There
is a wealth of delicate pictorial evocation in Dubliners, but there is little
or none in Ulysses. Streets are named but never described. Houses and interiors
are shown us, but as if we entered them as familiars, not as strangers come
to take stock of the occupants and inventory their furniture. Bridges over
the Liffey are crossed and recrossed, named and that is all. We go into eating-houses
and drinking bars as if the town were 

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