Saturday, November 18, 2017

Sleep's Reprieve From a Waking Nightmare

In my daily literary devotions (reminded of my late mother's Bible studies) of Joyce's Ulysses, I came across this Henry James letter to Edith Wharton that says in part, "Life goes on after a fashion, but I find it a nightmare from which there is no waking save by sleep." Of course, one of the most famous sentences in Ulysses (the second episode known as "Nestor") reads, "History, Stephen said, is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake."

Was Joyce influenced by Henry James? Not necessarily according to The Joyce Project that enlightens: "The letter was not published until 1920, so Joyce could not have been thinking of it as he wrote Nestor ... But all these uses of the same image suggest that it was widely current in the culture of the time."

And farther down the rabbit hole I travel. Ulysses is an endless adventure.

1 comment:

Charles Gramlich said...

I have not yet been able to make it through. But you give me hope! :)