Letter to Joyce

September 1915
5 Holland Place Chambers, Kensington

Dear Joyce,

I have just read the spendid end of 'The Portrait of the Artist', and if I try to tell you how fine it is, I shall only break out into inane hyperbole.

I think the Chapter V. went straight to the Egoist, or came when I was away and had to be forwarded at one,,, anyhow I have been reading it in the paper. I have been doing nothing but write 15 page letters to New York about the new magazine and my head is a squeezed rag, so don't expect le mot juste in this letter.

However I read your final installment last night when I was calm enough to know what I was doing, and I might have written then with more lucidity.

Anyhow I think the book hard, perfect stuff. I doubt if you could have done it in 'the lap of luxury' or in the whirl of a metropolis with the attrition of endless small amusements and endless calls on one's time, and endless trivialities of enjoyment (or the reverse).

I think the book is permanent like Flaubert and Stendhal. Not so squarish as Stendhal, certainly not so varnished as Flaubert. In english I think you join on to Hardy and Henry James (I don't mean a resemblance, I mean that there's has {sic} been nothing of permanent value in prose in between). But I think you must soon, or at least sooner or later, get your recognition.

Hang it all, we don't get prose books that a man can reread. We don't get prose that gives us pleasure paragraph by paragraph. I know one man who occasionally burries a charming short chapter in a long ineffectual novel . . . but that's another story.

It is the ten years spent on the book, the Dublin 1904, Trieste 1914, that counts. No man can dictate a novel, though there are a lot who try to. And for the other school. I am so damn sick of energetic stupidity. The 'strong' work . . . balls! And it is such a comfort to find an author who has read something and knows something. This deluge of work by subirban {sic} counter-jumpers on the one hand and gut-less Oxford graduates or flunktuates on the other . . . bah! And never any intensity, not in any of it.

The play has come, and I shall read it as soon as I can be sure of being uninterrupted . . .

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