chapter  56
An Italian Comment on a Portrait 1917
Pages 3

Mr. James Joyce is a young Irish novelist whose last book, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, has raised a great tumult of discussion among English-speaking critics. It is easy to see why. An Irishman, he has found in himself the strength to proclaim himself a citizen of a wider world; a Catholic, he has had the courage to cast his religion from him and to proclaim himself an atheist; and a writer, inheriting the most traditionalist of all European literatures, he has found a way to break free from the tradition of the old English novel and to adopt a new style consonant with a new conception. In a word such an effort was bound to tilt against all the feelings and cherished beliefs of his fellow countrymen but, carried out, as it is here, with a fine and youthful boldness, it has won the day. His book is not alone an admirable work of art and thought; it is also a cry of revolt: it is the desire of a new artist to look upon the world with other eyes, to bring to the front his individual theories and to compel a listless public to reflect that there are another literature and another esthetic apprehension beyond those foisted upon us, with a bountifulness at times nauseating, by the general purveying of pseudo-romantic prose and by fashionable publishers, with their seriocomic booklists, and by the weekly and monthly magazines. And let us admit that such a cry of revolt has been uttered at the right moment and that it is in itself the promise of a fortunate renascence . . . in the midst of the great revolution of the European novel English writers continued to remain in their 'splendid isolation* and could not or would not open their eyes to what was going on around them. Literature, however, like all the other arts underwent a gradual transformation and Mr. Joyce's book marks its definite date in the chronology

of English literature. I think it well to put so much on record here not only for that which it signifies actually but also for that which in time it may bring forth.